Twenty years ago this month, the U.S. government took a sharp turn toward surveillance, racial profiling, and an immigration policy based on fear.

In March 2003, the newly christened Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, opened its doors. The department took everything from immigration enforcement and counterterrorism to airport security and disaster response under one gargantuan bureaucracy.

Despite these wide-ranging missions, the department’s unifying logic in the post 9/11 era has been to wage the so-called war on terror at home. The result has been systemic abuse of minority communities, a dangerous militarization of American life, and a massive waste of money that sapped resources from addressing the real threats to our homeland.

From its earliest beginnings, DHS has been associated with some of our country’s worst scandals.

Lindsay Koshgarian is the Program Director of the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, where she oversees

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