Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 13, 2014

Immigration: Prepping the bowl game

Filed under: Border Security,Congress and HLS,Immigration,Strategy,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on November 13, 2014

It appears our end-of-year celebrations and contests will include a sustained play-by-play on immigration policy.  USA Today warns of “political war” on the issue.  We will probably see the gaming continue deep into basketball season.  Baseball? The 2016 World Series?

Despite the clear importance of immigration policy and practice to the Department of Homeland Security (where it can be seen as consuming the majority of resources), I have not given much space to immigration in my own working concept of homeland security.

Given the perpetrators of 9/11 it makes some narrative sense why immigration, border, and related agencies were brought together in the new DHS.  I will not resist that how we facilitate flows of goods and people into the nation has some sort of security implication. (Though Prohibition and the drug trade and human trafficking and mass migrations across all of human history suggest how tough it is for a big place to be anything close to impermeable.)

In terms of a terrorist threat, while we can make it more complicated and — with unusually good intelligence or vigilance or luck — actually stop some threats at the border, I have never met a professional who thought any of our immigration and border apparatus to be equal to a well-planned terrorist operation.  Much more effective is to disrupt the planning in Yemen or Af-Pak or Raqqa or wherever.  Border protection is like football’s free safety.  If that is what’s left, it’s already been a very tough play. You really want to stop them at the line of scrimmage or farther back.

When it comes to other aspects of homeland security: preparedness, mitigation, resilience, response, recovery, etc., etc….  immigration has seemed to me tangential.  There are issues of communicating in languages other than English.  Some immigrant communities — or areas where they tend to live — are considered more vulnerable.  But there are also studies that find the tight social connections of recent immigrants to generate a resilience-advantage compared to wealthier but more isolated neighbors.

There are a few cases where immigrant communities have become flash-points for radicalizing clusters of (mostly) alienated second-generation young men.  But to view this as an immigration or border issue strikes me as, again, giving too much attention to the free safety and not enough attention to the front line. (If you can’t tell, more than forty years and thirty pounds ago I was a defensive tackle.)

But whatever the actual homeland security implications, Secretary Johnson and his senior staff are going to be plenty focused on immigration in the weeks ahead.

So… an attempt to frame the issue for our future dialogue:

I have already acknowledged a personal prejudice on this topic.  But I will attempt to listen and learn from those with alternative points-of-view.

There is a plethora of expert — and advocacy — resources available.  Just a few:

Migration Policy Institute

Bipartisan Policy Center: Immigration Task Force

Cato Institute: Immigration Studies and Commentary

American Immigration Council

Texans for Sensible Immigration Reform

Brookings Institution: Immigration Workstream

Immigration Reform Law Institute

Federation for American Immigration Reform

Heritage Foundation: Immigration Workstream

US Chamber of Commerce: Immigration Resource Collection

If you have other sources of information, please include them in your comments.  At some point I will try to develop an annotated list of sources.

Trying the football analogy again, the two teams that are coming onto the field this season strike me as having very different strategies and styles of play:

Pragmatists versus legalists

Economic offense versus economic defense

Passing strategy versus ground strategy

Maybe Oregon versus Alabama?  Perhaps suggesting comparisons that go well beyond the gridiron.

The differences between the contestants are, in any case, so profound that I expect it may not be much of a game to watch.  The ducks may just sort of ride the tide.

I’ve never been a big fan of purist approaches to just about anything.


After I posted on Thursday the two teams started sending pre-game signals to each other.  Actually it sounded more like set-ups for a boxing match than most football games.  Anyway…

The Washington Post gives Capitol Hill trash talk top-of-the-fold prominence: Before immigration action, sides dig in.

Politico leads with Defiant Obama: I will use my power.

The Hill also calls the President defiant.

Roll Call quotes Senator Cornyn warning Presidential action on immigration could lead to a failure to fund the government.

Defiance abounds.

Our English word “defy” has its origin in a vulgar Latin term fidere meaning to trust, to have fidelity. That de on the front reverses the meaning.  Defiance emerges from mistrust.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

November 13, 2014 @ 8:52 am

Thanks Phil! A good start and to refresh memories the rather excellent Bush/Chertoff efforts killed by REPUBLICANS in the Senate may be the start and end point after much efforts now.

Ask yourself whatever happened to plans for MASS IMMIGRATION EMERGENCIES assigned by statute to DoJ and INS in the 80’s?

Ask yourself why nobody any can explain why some sections of immigration law are civil statutes and some are criminal?

Ask what the future of Cuba/America relations holds after the death of the Castro brothers?

Why is Mexican immigration policy of the USA different than the rest of the world?

Does use of deadly force policy include drowning?

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 13, 2014 @ 11:54 am

Did I mention that IMO nation-states that cannot control their borders are not really nation-states but mere geographic areas? Perhaps someone can come with a new term? Instead of UN perhaps MOAGW–MEMBERS OF A GLOBALIZED WORLD! Or WWB-World Without Borders?

IMO the world is abandoning the NATION-STATE concept and moving towards CITY-STATES!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 13, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

While mankind has failed to understand the importance of – repentance – adhering to God’s laws, today failed leadership under oath and in pledge to uphold man’s laws and stand forthright in support of our Constitution like none other have led to deceitfulness and blatant lie, the self-serving ways we witnessed Barry and Hillary spew blatant lie shoulder to shoulder….

….and unfortunately those law breakers – yes, supposed leadership and certainly illegal immigrants, young and old, who have chosen Not to file proper application and health certification and wait in line like tens of thousands do annually top someday hope to be admitted into our country are nothing less than law breakers and unfortunately, unless we “enforce the present laws” and hold everyone accountable to our laws including Barry and Hillary, then the same lack of Respect by those we have elected by precious vote, individuals who have taken oath and disregard the law, well, then what do you expect from those who have no Respect for our borders, national history, our Judeo-Christian core values and our immigration and criminal laws….so folks, the future for America does not bode well for our kids already in over burdened classrooms and coping with ADHD and need not be hindered by non-citizens…and further folks, it is obvious we, too shall continue this precipitous fall in values and family tradition and disregard God’s laws as well as the laws enacted and frowned upon as so many look the other way….

We are now bankrupt some 18 trillion times and without jobs and more jobs, there is no question that this unjust burden placed on American citizen will end our beloved Republic for certain….The lack of transparency and the lack of discipline clearly point to a future not of equality, but more and more disparity!

The road ahead without question, much anguish for so, so many….it is so unfortunate. The law is the law and when the law is unenforced, riot and disharmony to prevail….

God Bless us all!

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 15, 2014 @ 11:52 am

Are there any published statistics on overstayed visas?

How would the US handle refugee flow from a Mexican Revolution?

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