Cover: Economic Security and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Economic Security and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Addressing a Changed World and Evolved Threat Landscape

Published Apr 13, 2023

by Daniel M. Gerstein, Douglas C. Ligor

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) contributions to U.S. economic security and, by extension, the economy itself are often misunderstood and undervalued. The country's economic prosperity depends increasingly on the flow of goods and services, people and capital, and information and technology across U.S. borders — both visible and invisible.

The challenges the United States faces from an interconnected world have never been more significant. As witnessed during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the American public has been affected greatly, and many of these challenges are rooted in previously unforeseen vulnerabilities to the U.S. economy. To ensure its economic security now and in the future, the United States should ensure both continued global economic leadership and security of its key economic advantages. To this end, the United States must continue to lead in trade, technology, information systems, innovation, human capital acquisition (through both education and immigration), and travel. These are all areas in which DHS is uniquely postured to support, facilitate, and promote U.S. economic leadership.

DHS plays a crucial role in proactively identifying and addressing the harmful influence on U.S. economic actors or sectors that would result in a geopolitical disadvantage to the United States and limit U.S. persons, companies, or entities from prospering in the global economy. This Perspective describes DHS's role in supporting economic security now and into the future. It begins by describing the evolving strategic environment and concludes by examining DHS's critical role in economic security.

Funding for this research was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from the operation of the RAND Homeland Security Research Division (HSRD). The research was conducted by the Infrastructure, Immigration, and Security Operations Program within the Homeland Security Research Division.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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