-> This article about Homeland Security Investigations is part of Documented’s Glossary. We want to make it easier to understand the U.S. immigration system. If you want to know more about different visa types and immigration terms, please check our updated library here.
-> To find useful information for immigrants, such as where to find free food or legal representation, check out our Master Resource Guide.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a sub-component of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It is the second largest criminal investigative agency in the U.S. with more than 7,100 special agents and is responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats that affect “America’s travel, trade, financial and immigration systems.”
HSI is organized into eight divisions, including Domestic Operations, International Operations, and Investigative Programs, which include operations in areas such as cybercrime and financial and narcotics violations, as well as support for law enforcement.
Special agents at HSI investigate violations of more than 400 U.S. laws and have the statutory authority to enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act, U.S. customs laws, general federal crimes, the Controlled Substances Act, and many other aspects of U.S. law. In the fiscal year 2020, the agency made more than 30,000 criminal arrests and seized $1.8 billion in currency and assets.
Also read: Organizations Serving Immigrants in New York
HSI also has implemented the Biometric Identification Migrational Alert Program (BITMAP) and the Human Rights Target Tracking Team to prevent known or suspected terrorists, criminals, and human rights violators from entering the U.S. In fiscal year 2020, the U.S. refused 7,709 visa applications based on terrorist connections or derogatory information.
HSI has operational offices within and outside the country, as its objective is to also enforce customs and immigration laws beyond the borders of the United States.