Department of Homeland Security

AOC Wants To Kill the Department of Homeland Security. Libertarians Have a Plan For That.

Libertarians have a lot of ideas about how to dismantle one of the most bloated, ineffective government departments ever.


The horseshoe theory of politics might be true after all. Today, self-described "democratic socialist" Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) endorsed an idea long advocated by free-market libertarians: abolition of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

During a Tuesday taping of The New Yorker Radio Hour, Ocasio-Cortez told host David Remnick that DHS has been a definitive failure that should probably go the way of the dinosaurs.

"I feel like we are, at a very, it's a very qualified and supported position, at least in terms of evidence, and in terms of being able to make the argument that we never should've created DHS in the early 2000s," said Ocasio-Cortez.

When asked flatly if she would get rid of the department, Ocasio-Cortez said "I think so," while re-upping her slightly less radical proposal to get rid of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is a department within DHS.

Should Ocasio-Cortez want to seriously pursue axing DHS, she'd find a ready ally in libertarian policy wonks, who've long called for breaking up the department and either spinning off or shuttering the numerous federal agencies in its portfolio.

Congress created DHS in 2002 by merging 22 disparate federal agencies responsible for everything from immigration enforcement to disaster relief. President George W. Bush promised at the time that the new department would "improve efficiency without growing government."

However, "the lean and efficient DHS that the president promised did not materialize," the Cato Institute's Chris Edwards wrote in a 2014 paper that argued for the abolition of DHS. Instead of the well-oiled machine we were promised, "DHS agencies are some of the most poorly managed in the federal government."

The largest of DHS's charges is the scandal-plagued Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which spent about a third of DHS's $60 billion budget this fiscal year.

Often remembered for its impotent response to Hurricane Katrina, FEMA has also been on the receiving end of more recent, scathing reports and audits.

In December, Politico reported that staff shortages during the 2017 hurricane season saw the agency promote people beyond what their abilities or skills would merit, resulting in some 38 percent of FEMA staff being in a position for which they were not qualified.

A 2016 DHS Inspector General's audit of the agency's spending during fiscal years 2014 and 2015 concluded that "of the $1.55 billion in disaster relief funds we audited, we found $457 million in questionable costs, such as duplicate payments, unsupported costs, improper contract costs, and unauthorized expenditures."

In September of 2018, FEMA Director Brock Long was found to have spent $151,00 of the taxpayers' money on unauthorized private travel.

It's not just FEMA. Undercover performance audits of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) found that TSA screeners miss anywhere from 70 to 95 percent of contraband moving through its checkpoints.

This general incompetence is exacerbated by individual episodes of TSA agents harassing and abusing the flying public. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the agency has some of the highest turnover rates and lowest levels of job satisfaction in the federal government.

Obviously, the thing driving Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives' animus toward DHS isn't TSA or FEMA, but the departments' immigration agencies, which include ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which runs Border Patrol.

These two agencies have been making headlines recently for the deplorable conditions in their migrant detention facilities. Ocasio-Cortez made a recent well-publicized visit to one such facility and was reportedly appalled by the conditions she found there.

A recent ProPublica investigation found that thousands of Border Patrol agents were members of secret Facebook groups where racist and sexist memes were frequently posted.

That's far from an exhaustive list of either agencies' scandals and misdeeds. Even when acting well within the letter of the law, their treatment of immigrants is enough to shock the conscience.

Really, the only DHS department that appears to be in not horrible standing is the Coast Guard.

The abysmal track record of DHS's various divisions—many of which have very different missions from each other—suggest that the department should be broken up altogether, Cato's Edwards wrote.

Functions like disaster relief should be delegated to the states, he suggests, while the TSA should be privatized altogether. Liberalized immigration policies that both progressives and libertarians could endorse would reduce the need for agencies like CBP and ICE. The later agency could probably be gotten rid of altogether.

It's questionable how much of this specific reform platform Ocasio-Cortez would support. That she openly acknowledges the abject failure of DHS puts her far closer to libertarians on this issue than most of her congressional colleagues.

NEXT: Two Lawsuits Argue That Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Blocking of Twitter Critics, Like Trump's, Violates the First Amendment

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  1. Don’t let the “socialist” label scare you. Democratic socialists like AOC are fundamentally on the same side as us Koch / Reason libertarians. This proposal is more proof of what I’ve been saying for months.


    1. I honestly don’t care about the various bad ideas she proposes, when she’s willing to say stuff like this I’m behind her. It would take a lot of harm through bad economic policies to come anywhere close to equaling the net good for basic human rights that would come from disbanding DHS and abolishing ICE.

      1. when she’s willing to say stuff like this I’m behind her.

        Just because a rabid dog bites a bad guy does not mean the dog shouldn’t be put down.

        1. I’m willing to get behind her too, albeit in a somewhat different, and clothing optional manner, than was suggested.

          1. If you can get it up for a vicious freedom hater like her, then you need a reality check more than she does.

            1. I do not understand all the guys that think she is sexy…Personally, I think she is not hot at all & her repulsive politics makes her downright ugly!…I’d rather make it with Tulsi Gabbard!

              1. Actually, it goes to the bigger point about what makes a person attractive. Sure, we all judge a book by the cover. But a some point, the content either entices or repels, and the pretty cover means nothing.

                In fact, the attractive packaging juxtaposed against the hideous content can provoke and even greater repulsion than normal since it flatters to deceive. Lots of examples like that in real life.

                Hell, for all I know it’s a recognized mental condition: being attracted to that which should disgust you.

      2. ‘Even a broken clock is right twice a day”
        “Every once in awhile, a blind squirrel finds an acorn!”

    2. I’m still waiting for someone to leak some smartphone videos of her getting banged, lezzing out, sucking cock, or some combination of the above.

      Come on, we all k ow they’re out there.

    3. Um she wants to do it so we’d have open borders which would destroy the country making it vulnerable to a communist revolution not because it violates the NAP.

  2. She seems pragmatic and level headed

    1. She seems like a socialist.

    2. I prefer her head to be not level, as in bobbing up and down, while she maintains eye contact.

      1. Watch the teeth.

        1. That is a risk. I’m willing to be she’s had a lot of experience by now though.

      2. To the reader: Next time you wonder why libertarian are not taken seriously remember this post. The reason is that people assume that libertarians are represented by these knuckle dragging Neanderthal misogynist.

        1. What a little prog bitch

        2. Neanderthals were feminists.

  3. Liberalized immigration policies that both progressives and libertarians could endorse would reduce the need for agencies like CBP and ICE.

    Because if you let more people in, there were be fewer criminals and such who want to come in as well? Really

    Also the “C” in CBP and ICE stands for Customs. That need isn’t going away any time soon.

    1. Open borders aren’t just for people, John, they’re for AK-47s too.

    2. no need for Customs if you just allow free trade for real

  4. I think we can safely assume she would find/create other federal agencies to take over the DHS budget. That would be a cause for the split with libertarians as much as the privatization of any DHS functions.

    1. Yep. All that money would go to liberal indoctrination centers. Currently called colleges and universities, they would be consolidated, in the name of cost savings and efficiency, and only those approved by the political elites would be admitted.

      1. trains to Hawaii cost a lot too

    2. BINGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I love the idea of getting rid of FEMA and turning it over to the states. But FEMA is a giant cash cow for states hit by disasters and for counter terrorism grants. Good luck ending that gravy train.

    Privatizing TSA is really the only thing in this article that is both realistic and a good idea.

    1. The creation of DHS was largely an org chart reshuffling in the name of “doing something” to solve the rivalries between mostly existing agencies and make them play nice with each other. Except for TSA and a couple of other things there was little new created.

      1. The creation of DHS was largely an org chart reshuffling in the name of “doing something” to solve the rivalries between mostly existing agencies and make them play nice with each other.

        While that’s true, you might also characterize it as vertically integrating law enforcement on a national level. It allowed cooperation between agencies that previously had deliberately been kept separate.

      2. Some of it makes sense. I’ve got a niece in the FBI works with security sweeps on large public venues and is expert at defusing explosive devices. I don’t mind those functions at all, as it is very unlibertarian to get blown up by bombs.

        1. It is very libertarian to have your fellow citizens get blown up by bombs and accept that as the price to pay for the pacifist ideal.

      3. and the last thing libertarians want is a more efficient police state

  6. coherent sentences not a thing anymore?

  7. Lets get rid of Social Security, Medicare, ObamaCare, and Medicaid while we’re at…says Libertarians.

    Oh wait, AOC is not down for that with supposedly all the things her and Libertarians have in common?

    1. For us Koch / Reason libertarians, the highest priority is to eliminate the government agencies that deport undocumented Americans. Only after that’s done should we talk about eliminating Medicare.


      1. I don’t know which commenter is handling this account, but ever since I realized it’s a parody account I’m thoroughly enjoying it. 🙂

    2. Imprisoning innocent people is a more serious moral failing than taxing too much. Both are bad but it’s a question of priorities.

      1. You’re right. They should be sent home, not imprisoned. Save some $

    3. Boy, do I upset these Lefty trolls.

      1. It’s fun, isn’t it? I thoroughly enjoy their agony.

  8. Hey TreasonNN, since DHS was created there hasn’t been one terrorist attack on American soil, so it seems like they’re doing their job pretty damn well.

    1. And Since I started finally wearing a seatbelt at the age of 29, I haven’t been in a car accident. Clearly all people need to do is wear seatbelts and car accidents will cease to exist, amirite????

      1. >>>finally wearing a seatbelt

        where’s the fun in that?

  9. “Libertarians have a lot of ideas about how to dismantle one of the most bloated, ineffective government departments ever”

    You have a plan to cut the welfare state? Oh, you mean the department that costs billions, not trillions….


  10. Stopped clock, and all that.

  11. For the most part, the DHS agencies already existed prior to the creation of DHS under other departments. The rationale for putting them under DHS was to foster cooperation between them because there are turf politics between departments. Moving them back to their original departments is a defensible idea, getting rid of them entire is less so.

    It is interesting that AOC is willing to throw out DHS, something the Democrats wanted after 9/11, because of her animus against any regulation of immigration. Remember the Dems “you cannot professionalize unless you federalize” slogan for justifying the creation of the slovenly TSA? It is nice to have a Democrat realize these were mistakes. The overpopulated condition of the facilities is because they were not built to process as many at once as have been coming. A condition her party has helped create and has done little to try and solve.

    1. This is true. There is very little going on now that wasn’t going on 20 years ago. The troubling crap is the stuff we don’t see, eg., the secret surveillance beast.

      1. Which Reason doesn’t give two shits about.
        Can’t even put Aaron Mate into morning links

        1. Aaron Mate? For what reason?

  12. “lean and efficient”

    Not something the federal government excels at.

  13. She also wants all transnational disputes adjudicated by the International House of Pancakes.

    1. Pancakes do make everyone more congenial.

  14. Some fun facts about the creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security:

    Vote count: 90-9 for.

    Notable “Yea”:

    Hillary Clinton
    Barbra Boxer
    Chuck Schumer

    Notable “Nays”:

    Robert Byrd
    Ted Kennedy

    1. If Hillary Clinton made a “mistake,” it was ultimately the Bush Administration’s fault for misleading her. Like what happened with her Iraq vote.


  15. “Have a plan for that”? Is Reason seriously trying to pander to Elizabeth Warren fans?

    1. you know who else had a lot of plans?

      1. Libertarians. A will to a more radical transformation of society is unlikely to be found in any other philosophy of governing in the world this side of North Korea, and they’re pretty much set anyway.

  16. This would be like a stopped clock so long as we count the time in seconds to find her positive/negative ratio: 1/86400

  17. Democratic Socialist AOC wanting to break up a Federal bureaucracy only proves that she is a loose cannon (not that I have anything against cannon, but they need to be reasonably secure before firing, or the recoil can have bad effects).

  18. Great way to make that never happen. AOC, shut up and do menial labor like Aunt Nancy says.

    The ludicrous bureaucratic bloat is the second reason I wanted DHS eliminated almost since day 1. The first reason is that it sounds like something a retard from an Orwell novel would come up with. Orwell never predicted W., did he?

    1. Making Homeland Security a full fledged department was something Daschle and Gephardt insisted on. Bush did not resist it, but it was not his idea,

      1. Republicans are never responsible for anything, are they? Not even when their names are affixed to it.

  19. This is all bullshit. The answer to everything is to apply the NAP to the government. We all know that. Why are we talking about the symptoms and not the disease?

      1. What would cause you to enforce your property rights?

        1. I don’t understand the question.

          I’m pro–property rights. This conversation is about the simpleminded limitations of the NAP.

          1. The linked article claims enforcing property rights is the basis of libertarianism. I asked why would a person need to enforce their property rights? The answer of course is another person initiating force.

      2. Trying to classify all pollution as aggression makes no sense whatsoever. Maybe that is why I have never heard of it before. But I find the author’s 2nd problem with the NAP predictably in line with the main criticisms. Here is what it said:

        “Even if we grant that taxation is aggression, and that aggression is generally wrong, is it really so obvious that the relatively minor aggression involved in these examples is wrong, given the tremendous benefit it produces?”

        In other words, advocates of the NAP are not utilitarians. Is this a surprise? The NAP has always been the dividing line between the two main streams of libertarianism, excluding the consequentialists from the hard-core natural rights libertarians.

        The author’s confused arguments regarding a supposed conflict between the NAP and legal protections against fraud and also the protection of property rights are due to a contrived definition of aggression so narrow that no libertarian would ever agree with it. Aggression would absolutely include any form of theft, which would cover both fraud and an invasion private property. The non-aggression principle is not all that complicated, and it is not something made up by a bunch of crazy anarchists like Tony may suppose. Here are two quotes from Thomas Jefferson.

        “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.”

        “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”

        1. But it’s not immediately clear that fraud is a form of aggression, as explained in the piece. You can’t define aggression as physical force when convenient one day and then a mercurial metaphorical thing when it’s convenient on another. You might come across as someone trying to push an agenda just like everyone else, only with less care taken to ensure the well-being of people.

          1. Fraud just like physical force negates ones ability to use their mind to make rational decisions. That’s why it’s a form of aggression.

            1. Then so is pollution, surely.

              1. Have you inhaled any smog recently?

          2. I think it depends on exactly what we are willing to include in the term “fraud.” It’s not necessarily illegal to lie about x, but if I agree to pay a certain amount for x, and I end up not getting what was agreed on, then I was, in essence, robbed. Or do you not think theft counts as aggression either?

            1. I think if someone commits legitimate fraud against you and you turn the cops on them, you’re the one initiating actual, physical force, not them.

              It’s either actual, physical force initiation that’s the subject at hand, or it’s something else, at which point things do get more complicated.

              1. The subject at hand is aggression. Physical force, threats of force and fraud all fall within its purview.

  20. Let’s make a deal. Get rid of it and send the few valid functions to existing agencies in exchange for getting rid of the Dept of Education and/or the Dept of Energy. Let the dealing begin.

  21. FEMA is pretty damn crucial to have. Getting rid of it would be a disaster for a lot of rural areas in the midwest.

    1. There were natural disasters prior to FEMA.

      1. Yeah, and people + farmers got fuuuuuucked before FEMA. Do you like your electrical grid to get restored and remain fully operational after a freak April snowstorm? You like FEMA. Trust me.

        1. FEMA doesn’t do that. It hands out money.

          1. Whose money do you think rural electric distribution systems use to rebuild their networks 2-3 times a year after the regularly-occurring ice storms in the midwest? These damages are typically $10 – $50 million each time.

            The use bridge financing from private lenders followed by a payoff issued by FEMA several years later.

  22. Shame Reason can’t endorse Ocasio-Cortez for president. Yet.

    But ain’t AOC such a cute moniker? Like Che. Or Fidel. Or HIllary. Or Mayor Pete. Or Beto. Or puke.

  23. ICE and Homeland Security special agents have been involved in many large drug seizures. Including a huge one in the Caribbean last year. Shortly after leaving his job Tom Ridge privately told my mother that DHS thwarted many terrorist plots the public will never know about. Because the information is classified. When Alexandria-Cortez says she wants to abolish these agencies the terrorists and drug cartels are cheering.

    1. End drug prohibition. Why would the the DHS hide terrorist plots? Wouldn’t they get more money advertising them?

  24. Ms. Cortez is right about some things. This is one of them.

    1. She may be right but for the wrong reasons.

      1. That’s it. It’s all just part of a bigger agenda. She couldn’t give a flying fuck what she’s right or wrong about. There is no right or wrong. There is only acquisition of power.

        Let Reason support her. She’ll take it. Then she’ll put a bullet in their useful little heads.

  25. […] “The abysmal track record of DHS’s various divisions — many of which have very different missions from each other — suggest that the department should be broken up altogether.” — Christian Britschgi, Reason […]

  26. so intellectual dilettantes on the Left agree with some intellectual dilettantes in the libertarian sphere…not a big deal….

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