For instance, in the US, stateless people might lack identity documents, according to DHS.
The department believes making changes will help stateless people get better access to legal immigration status and benefits.
Typically, people around the world who are stateless have challenges including an inability to get jobs or government services and difficulty getting travel documents, a DHS official told CNN.
DHS, which is responsible for managing the US legal immigration system, will also increase the data available on stateless people in the country.
The move could impact hundreds of thousands of people in the US.
There are populations all over the world at risk of statelessness. For example, some Kurds from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Lebanon might be stateless and children of Syrian refugees at risk of statelessness, because several destination countries do not grant birthright citizenship.
“Your life is severely constricted, by virtue of the fact that you don’t have a state, you don’t have a country,” the official said.
There are no comprehensive government statistics on the number of stateless people in the US or the number who have applied for immigration benefits, which is part of the reason to create a definition, according to DHS.
“We are doing something historic, that’s a major step toward protecting a significant number of people,” the official said, adding that this was a priority of the Biden administration.
Asked why this is happening now as opposed to previous administrations, the official said that despite its magnitude, the issue has had to compete with other immigration priorities.
“DHS is committed to pursuing initiatives to enhance recognition of, and protections for, vulnerable populations, including stateless individuals within the United States,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Wednesday.