Tags: Caldwell | McArdle | DHS | agency

AP's Alicia Caldwell Explains Structure of DHS

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Mar 2015 08:13 AM

Alicia Caldwell, immigration and homeland security reporter for The Associated Press, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal March 2 to explain how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is structured, as the department administers the 22 entities under its umbrella.

The appearance was part of C-SPAN's weekly Your Money series and is timely because the Republican Congress is battling the Obama administration over the funding of DHS as part of the conflict over the executive action last fall to upgrade the status of millions of immigrants.

Caldwell was interviewed by host John McArdle, who asked the reporter to compare the scope and staffing size of DHS with other federal agencies. She responded that DHS is the largest, most complicated agency one could think of, with 230,000-odd people who work for agencies from the Federal Protective Service, which patrols federal buildings, to the Coast Guard, Customs and Border protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) and a lot of other components as well. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was listed on a graphic, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and she mentioned the Secret Service, which used to be part of the Treasury. Thus, DHS is second in size and complexity only to the Department of Defense.

McArdle asked how much is at stake in the debate over extending the budget of DHS through the end of the fiscal year. The last budget request was for approximately $48 billion, which is being held up because of the president's action to authorize approximately 5 million illegal immigrants to receive a kind of normalized treatment for periods of three years at a time. They would not be granted legal status but would remain in limbo and not be subject to deportation. Republicans have argued that this is an illegal form of amnesty. A graphic showed that three large components of the budget are $13.5 billion for Customs and Border Protection, $13 billion for FEMA, $10 billion for the Coast Guard, $7 billion for TSA and $6 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The above list is just the five largest of the approximately 27 agencies that compose DHS. The agency USCIS, which handles the immigration casework, is at the center of the debate. With five days to go on the latest extension, McArdle asked what preparations are being made for a possible shutdown, and Caldwell explained that there's a lot of back office planning as to who gets to work during the shutdown period, with 30,000 employees furloughed as non-essential.

The other 85 percent of the department will continue to work. For example, the border and airport checkpoints will still be staffed. The employees would be working but their pay would be deferred. Historically the furloughed workers are also paid, even though they were prohibited from going to work or even check email. Examples of staff who would be furloughed are important payroll and secretarial staff. FEMA experiences the largest number of furloughs, potentially problematic if a storm were to occur. McArdle displayed a chart from The Washington Post that broke down the furloughs for each agency. Readers will recall that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has given assurances that there will be no actual shutdown.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Alicia Caldwell, immigration and homeland security reporter for The Associated Press, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal March 2 to explain how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is structured, as the department administers the 22 entities under its umbrella.
Caldwell, McArdle, DHS, agency
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2015-13-03
Tuesday, 03 Mar 2015 08:13 AM
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