The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in 2002 to protect the United States from threats, including terrorism. There are three components of the DHS responsible for different immigration functions. These are: the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). While the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is still referred to by some people, the INS has not existed since March 1, 2003. The responsibilities previously performed by the INS, or Legacy INS, as it is correctly referred to now, were transferred to the DHS. The DHS, however, is not limited solely to immigration functions.
The USCIS is primarily responsible for immigration benefits adjudications. Many of the various applications and petitions filed to request immigration benefits are submitted to the USCIS. The USCIS WebSite provides information on their service center and local office locations in the United States, as well as locations abroad, processing times and case tracking functions, forms and procedures and related data.
The CBP is responsible for protecting U.S. borders. These duties include the inspections of individuals seeking to enter the United States. The CBP is stationed at the various ports of entry, including airports, land ports, and sea ports. They determine whether individuals should be allowed to enter the United States. The CBP WebSite provides helpful reference material for travelers, in addition to details regarding their work to secure U.S. borders.
ICE is the investigative arm of the DHS. With respect to immigration, ICE performs interior enforcement related to border control and immigration violations. They are responsible for investigations into matters such as the smuggling and trafficking of human beings and illegal goods. They are primarily responsible for the initiation of removal (formerly deportation) proceedings and the operation of immigration detention facilities.