Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 25, 2015

George Will on immigration policy

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 25, 2015

The following is a brief excerpt from the George Will column that appeared in the Sunday Washington Post.  You can read the full commentary HERE.


It has come to this: The GOP, formerly the party of Lincoln and ostensibly the party of liberty and limited government, is being defined by clamors for a mass roundup and deportation of millions of human beings. To will an end is to will the means for the end, so the Republican clamors are also for the requisite expansion of government’s size and coercive powers…

The policy is: “They’ve got to go.”

“They,” the approximately 11.3 million illegal immigrants (down from 12.2 million in 2007), have these attributes: Eighty-eight percent have been here at least five years. Of the 62 percent who have been here at least 10 years, about 45 percent own their own homes. About half have children who were born here and hence are citizens. Dara Lind of Vox reports that at least 4.5 million children who are citizens have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant.

Trump evidently plans to deport almost 10 percent of California’s workers and 13 percent of that state’s K-12 students. He is, however, at his most Republican when he honors family values: He proposes to deport intact families, including children who are citizens. “We have to keep the families together,” he says, “but they have to go.” Trump would deport everyone, then “have an expedited way of getting them [“the good ones”; “when somebody is terrific”] back.” Big Brother government will identify the “good” and “terrific” from among the wretched refuse of other teeming shores…

Trump’s roundup would be about 94 times larger than the wartime internment of 117,000 persons of Japanese descent. But Trump wants America to think big. The big costs, in decades and dollars (hundreds of billions), of Trump’s project could be reduced if, say, the targets were required to sew yellow patches on their clothing to advertise their coming expulsion. There is precedent.


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Comment by William R. Cumming

August 25, 2015 @ 7:03 am

Interesting to watch as both parties AND all candidates except Trump self-destruct. And given time IMO Trump will self-destruct.

Why not just make legal all parents of a U.S. Citizen whatever and however the child became a citizen?

Of course the Immigration folks might need to give sonograms at the border?

Comment by Vicki Campbell

August 25, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

“Sonograms at the border” – okay, that’s actually pretty funny. My favorite is the slogan “Elect Trump and eliminate the middle man.”

But I don’t agree that all the candidates in both parties are self-destructing. Not at all actually. Bernie Sanders certainly hasn’t and isn’t, and I can’t imagine he ever will. He’s just too serious a candidate, and is in it for mostly all the right reasons rather than for mostly all the wrong ones, which could be said for almost if not all of the others on both sides.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

August 25, 2015 @ 2:42 pm

I’m behind in some response posts I wanted to offer about both Katrina and food security, but I just wanted to make a couple of comments about the whole Trump thing – which has left my entire family (including my Mother) talking about where we might all want to move if he gets elected).

First, both the tenor and content of Trump’s inexplicably hubristic bombasts and excessive demagoguery are nothing more than the logical extension of the growing and fundamentally racist narrative on immigration (and just about every other major issue) that Republicans in general have deteriorated into over time. The fact that George Will’s only concern in his op-ed is that it will make future Republicans unelectable reveals more than I care to know about the seeming lack of any relevant moral compass on the American political right at this point.

Second, I for one certainly lay a lot of the blame for the amazingly intolerant and just morally bankrupt place we’ve arrived at as a nation around the issue of immigration squarely at the feet of the Homeland Security establishment for the way its framed immigration as first and foremost a security issue rather than the overwhelming human rights crisis that it actually is – that is, by the way, largely of our own making, and to my mind, therefore, our actually responsibility to be dealing with in a much more constructive, humane and again, just plain responsible manner. Also, there is not one single terrorist, or would-be terrorist, that has ever been apprehended at any of our borders, ever, period! And yet we’ve massively expanded our Border Security personnel almost into oblivious already, with plans to do ever more, and are now spending billions on ever more high tech surveillance gear and equipment – for what again? Apparently its to protect Americans from all those desperate women and children pleading to be allowed to enter and receive assistance for and asylum from their anything-but-self-made plight. Welcome to 21st century “homeland security” Amerikan-style.

What’s happening here is the end result of having undocumented immigrants, especially (if not exclusively) from the global south, being viewed and labeled as a “threat” for absolutely no good reason whatsoever by any normal definition of the word, rather than as the human beings in need of help that they actually are – and with absolutely no admission whatsoever of the deeply causal role our national foreign policies in relation to them have played in their arrival at our border.

We have so lost our moral compass as a nation at this point, especially since the rise of what I call the homeland security establishment, that its honestly hard to imagine we ever had one (and it never was much of one to begin with). Mistreating people as a matter of public (or foreign) policy, whether at our borders, or around the world, is what has and will always make us insecure. It’s hardly rocket-science – and Google really isn’t that hard to use.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

August 25, 2015 @ 3:50 pm

Bill, it just occurred to me that maybe you weren’t kidding about the sonogram comment – please tell me you were.

I also wanted to add that Trump’s comments on just taking Iraq’s oil is indicative of what I’m talking about. Our invasion of Iraq could not have been more clearly about securing access and control of Iraq’s oil for western multinational corporations. When Trump essentially says ‘forget the pretense of democracy and nation-building, and just take the oil’ all he’s doing is putting the lie to the obvious deceptions and motives behind our middle east policies and war-mongering in plain street english and dumbing it down for your average American brute, and its definitely not pretty. The only thing more shocking is the lack of any discernible public outcry from anyone. And the way other Republicans now try to distance themselves from what has clearly been the foundation of intent underlying their prior politcal positions as well is really quite funny to watch. The one good thing that may come out of all this if Trump does eventually crash and burn is that it might make conservatives wake up and become a little more sane, realistic and politically responsible than they certainly have been, and start offering a far more intelligent, mature analysis and set of policies than they’ve seemed capable of up until now.

If he wins the primary, or worse still – the Presidency – all bets are off, and you can kiss this country good-bye. Unfortunately, I’m no longer expecting him to crash and burn, although I would still be surprised if he won the presidency – but only because of the size of the hispanic vote. Looking at the early demographics of who’s supporting Trump, if we were counting on your average white american to prevent him from taking office we would definitely be out of luck.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 25, 2015 @ 6:58 pm

Vicki! Thanks for you excellent comments as always and yes was kidding about the sonograms!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 26, 2015 @ 7:35 am

Donald Trump does not represent the Republican party and no such mass deportation of folks (law breakers) will take place and further, neither party has a clue in portraying any real leadership so forget these loyalties to those on both sides of the aisle who spew empty rhetoric and as we have clearly seen a self-serving Barry Obama and good ‘ol Ms. Hillary who all believe they are above the law and don’t give a hoot like many immigrants who have chosen to break the law in entering this country while many wait a year or two in lines at Embassies filling out proper application and presenting health documents, etc. —

We are talking about Homeland Security and a nation unlike most others who have pretty much no handle on who is entering or staying in this country and whether one likes the name – anchor babies – the fact is that the few who are working in this country versus those who are now on government support – the workers whose labor and payment in taxes to support law breakers – well a sign of the times in America where I guess political leaders “entrusted” by precious vote and sworn oath to office and to country – law breaking and high ranking politicians have disgraced our nation in apology after apology and antics portrayed which are horrendous, well folks, stop the bantering as there is no humor here….

The truth, we are broke with food banks striving to keep food on the shelves and a bankrupt nation likes so many others and when I hear folks talking about leaving the USA, where to for the greener pastures in the EU countryside are riddled with the same empty politicians and uncertainty in economic stability and further, despite the hooligans as politicians spewing continued empty rhetoric and having not a clue in bringing remedy to markets and the global economy which requires leadership and economic wizardry now that such failed policies have only adversely affected the global geopolitical landscape even further — it is YOU on “Main Street USA” who are supposedly at the helm of those who are supposed to be serving you – the People – and somehow the equation has been turned and we allow the White House to be stained and lawlessness to continue without ramification for so many today holding local, state and federal government “elected” positions — how dare you? We should have a handle on every person walking our streets and when DHS allows convicted felons to walk our streets and our borders are not closed and we have no system of checks on who is entering and who has overstayed their limit per visa, it is YOU on “Main Street USA” and who work with fewer and fewer workers and certainly having fewer and fewer federal reserve notes in hand – it is YOU who are burdened, but is it YOU who are also responsible for enabling the dysfunctional and self-serving politicians, so divisive and insulting towards our Judeo-Christian principles as good ‘ol Ms. Hillary and Barry Obama to name just a few —-

Watching the markets open this morning and still maintaining that China’s valuations too high and we will see an add’l 30% decline causing disruptive markets and coupled with more promised tension in the Middle East and given the lackluster policy makers there in the EU and here in the States with abysmal and nothing less than failed leadership which might very well include Chinese leadership where I am suspect that despite many perceiving China’s leaders as having some sort of wisdom and understanding of economics better than others, well, at least from my perspective and hopefully I am wrong, the uncertainty ahead dispels the pundits who have kept pointing to long term recovery – we’ll see and only God truly knows….

I truly believe WAR looms ahead and the Department of Homeland Security and those in cyber security who have allowed us to be so transgressed despite billions — yes, billions in tax dollars budgeted and obviously wasted without your shout out and demand for transparency, a present failed US WH administration for example who has promised so much including transparency and jobs, and neither as “All Lives Matter” and who in the Black community truly cares about Black lives when 140+ Black precious lives have been slaughtered on the streets in Baltimore since…and look at Chicago and we don’t see job creation and training, an orientation to teaching why “family matters” and rather we see babies being torn apart and their limbs and livers sold — How dare you?

Homeland Security? I doubt in much of a calamity, despite the billions and billions in federal reserve notes expended, Homeland Security or even the Red Cross will arrive and certainly this unacceptable and outrageous attack on authority, the killing, the cold blooded killing of our brave first responders, our police officers, brave men and women who are the only one as first responders to show up despite one’s color or religious preference, well folks, wake up and demand a government who will stand forthright for good ‘ol Glory like so many veterans who have given Life or limb to allow you to live with such freedom!

God Bless America!

Christopher Tingus
“Main Street USA”
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA

Comment by Taylor O. Murphy

August 26, 2015 @ 11:37 am

Just to be explicit regarding a couple of matters that our more ideological colleagues seem prepared to mis-represent:

Mr. Will is clearly arguing that the Republican Party will pay the price IF neither its leaders nor its rank-and-file repudiate the inhumane,impractical, morally repugant,and admittedly unconstitutional measures advocated by Mr. Trump. Electabilty is not Mr. Will’s principal concern, rather it will be a tertiary effect if much more serious concerns fail to be addressed vigorously. There is an angry, reactionary rump using Mr. Trump to express their frustration. It is a big fat rump. It does not, however, reflect a workable majority of the American right,much less the American nation. It is a serious mistake to confuse disdain for complicity. Yelling back is not the only way to respond. Trump will not take Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina. He will return to being a vulgar celebrity and real-estate developer.

AND the United States is not bankrupt,as international demand for our debt(at very low returns)demonstrates and as the interest in migration to the United States both legal and illegal confirms. Along with the rest of world, we are moving through a dynamic and historic economic transition. As events in China (or Japan or Brazil or you-name-it)suggest this is a treacherous period. But the US has shown greater fiscal, monetary, and structural strength, agility, and resilience than most.

After years of reading this blog, this is my first comment. In making it I am urging others to step up. Philip Palin was gone for most of mid-summer. Chris Bellavita and Arnold Bogis been absent too long. Every blog will have its bad days and its trolls. But Homeland Security Watch has long been a place where big issues are engaged in a non-ideological, humble, thoughtful and holistic manner. This ethos has characterized most commentators as well as those posting. Authentic questions are asked. Uncertain answers are offered. Real thinking. Increasingly rare. Very valuable to me.

This seems to be a time when those of us on the periphery need to contribute to preserving the shared commons we value. Let’s go to it.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 26, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

Thanks Taylor and regret and apologize that sometimes my comments which I intend as NONPARTISAN and not those of an ideologue fail.

In the almost 16 years since retiring from FEMA new fields and new issues have definitely started to impact HS and EM.

One major arena is technological change and our dependencies on those changes.

IMO WMD detection, prevention, and anti-poliferation and respnse and recovery are still the top tier concern, then CIP and it primary subset now-cyber security. And finally domestic intel collection, analysis, desemination. While preserving civil liberties and privacy. This triumphervate [sic] was the basis for creation of DHS.

But now issues are arising and vulnerabilities. At the top of the list I would put the FAILED STATE syndrome or reality. If nation-states fail [and US policies may be encouraging that failure] and the US does not defend that system then no real HS or EM.

Thanks for finally comment and an excellent comment.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 26, 2015 @ 12:03 pm

Will the linkages in a globalized financial world help bring down that world?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 26, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

Bill: In my experience — and in my understanding of network theory — those linkages can cut either way. Whether turbulence settles into something like prior patterns is a matter of how deep the “strange attractor of meaning” ends up being. Attractor and meaning are specific terms of art in the context of Complexity, but I’ve always been tempted to a generalized application of the terms as well.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

August 26, 2015 @ 8:48 pm

Mr. Murphy, I see no one in any way being inappropriately ideological, and the beginning of your comment simply rewrites Will’s editorial, which very clearly is focused on one thing, and one thing only – what wins or loses elections. Unlike you, he makes absolutely no mention or reference much less any protestations whatsoever against anything Trump has proposed as being either “inhumane” or “morally repugnant” – not by a long shot – and that was and still is my point. It was indeed all about standard Republican fair: small vs big government, “family values” (which is very ideological, versus say just valuing people, period, in all their diversity, regardless of their marital status, which the right has a comparatively poor record of doing), and again, the primary focus, which is the importance of not alienating an important segment of the electorate, Hispanics, that Republicans need to win. Would it be that he actually sounded at all concerned about more than “big brother” I assure you I wouldn’t have said what I did – and there was nothing ideological, partisan or unthinking about it.

Beyond some basic generalities, there is little equivalency between the 2 parties in our country at the moment in terms of how they function on almost any issue, including homeland security – and discussing or criticizing one party over another based on those differences if they’re accurately represented and relevant to the issues at hand is hardly what constitutes partisanship. The original post was about the current very clear leader of the Republican primary’s fairly extreme views on immigration within the context of his party’s overall electability in relation to them. Addressing and indeed criticizing both is not only appropriate, but also necessary, and is fair game – and to do so is neither partisan, ideological or thoughtless. To my mind, partisanship is when you’re for one party and one party only regardless of the facts or situation or issues involved, and have completely inconsistent responses and analyses to the same political policies or behavior based on what party is involved rather than on the merits. And that is not anything I’ve offered up, and frankly I don’t think that Mr. Tingus, who I couldn’t possibly usually disagree with more, is being or doing so underneath it all either, although I think his party affiliation is pretty clear. It is however a major criticism I have of Mr. Tingus that he only seems concerned about dishonesty, or the illegal usurping of power or whatever when he thinks these transgressions are being committed by our first black president or arguably the most prominent, successful female political leader of our era, rather than wherever those transgressions can be found, and they can certainly be found in fairly large measure within the white male-dominated right, which he has nonetheless never complained or criticized once that I’m aware of– but this actually seems to me more about unconscious race and sex bias than anything else. It is not unlike how the only time the issue of humility or not being humble enough seems to come up is somehow by men when self-confident women expressing their views with strength and conviction is involved, etc. – if you know what I mean. I will also say forthrightly however that I don’t think I have seen anyone who comes close to deserving the title of “troll” on this blog since I’ve been reading and occasionally commenting on it over the last 5-6 months.

I would argue that Trump is the absolute caricature of the Republican party at this particular point in time, precisely because of how far to the wacko right the party as a whole has swung in both its policy analyses (to use the term loosely) and prescriptions (the very little anything reasonable or feasible is offered) as well as the unprecedented obstructionism all but the entire party has brought into every level of government at this point as well – and I am in a heckuva lot of good company in both feeling that way and criticizing it – and again, neither is ideological, partisan or thoughtless, especially when it is relevant to the matter at hand, which it obviously is. There is a time and place for everything, and sometimes the actual reality of things is so extreme and out-of-balance simply stating the clear facts of it makes the observer seem equally so. Republicans have no one to blame for any of that but themselves, and just because some Republicans are made uncomfortable by it or don’t want to be associated with it (or worse still, have no clue why it matters) doesn’t change the fact of it, or its relevance, either one. Trump really is the next logical step in the right’s slow-motion but full-on collapse into demagoguery, and that has had and will continue to have a very real impact on Homeland security policy, frankly probably more than any other. I also think that if more Republicans had spoken out long before now, both internally and publically, to counter the callous, brutish, usually uninformed (if not willfully dishonest) and certainly intolerant if not just discriminatory nature of much of their political positions and their obvious implications, perhaps the party wouldn’t have wound up where it is, and would instead be able to offer the nation, and by extension the world considerably better options than the likes of Donald Trump and his immigration and other policy nonsense (and no, I don’t think Trump is the worst the Republicans have been offering – I just think he’s less well behaved and more honest than anyone else).

Although I hope you’re right, I would also just add that your excessive confidence about how Trump’s simply not going to win in Iowa, NH or SC is certainly not grounded in his ever-rising double digit lead in each of the 3 states that he currently has, or the fairly even, broad-based, across-the-board support that he has in every segment of the Republican party according to a very recent Quinnipiac poll, or even more so in things like this LA Times article from just yesterday about a long-time Republican operative’s individual exploration into Trump’s rise in the party. From the article:

“In a nondescript office building adjacent to a sports bar in the Washington suburbs, one Republican operative spent Monday night trying to figure out what the heck is going on out there. Frank Luntz, a longtime GOP zeitgeist guru, assembled 29 Donald Trump supporters in a white-walled room — and a gaggle of reporters behind one-way glass. The goal, he said, was to try to drill down on how lasting, how real and how strong is the Mack truck that has jackknifed his party this summer.

Two hours later, he declared his answer: “He is much stronger, his support is much more solid than I ever would have expected.” At times, Luntz appeared rattled by what he was hearing.

Will Trump be the nominee? ‘It’s now totally conceivable that he will be,’ he said.”

I am hardly the first to observe that much of what Trump says is neither fundamentally true nor grounded in the facts, or that this is also exactly what is increasingly the case with ever more Republicans, no matter what the subject, be it Iran, Israel, immigration, terrorism in general or ISIS in particular, crime, the environment, the economy, climate change, or many other extremely important issues and problems facing our country and the world – and that striking lack of grounding in reality has sent HS policy down a fundamentally very bankrupt path, which the whole nation will suffer the consequences of (as well as pay for), as many others beyond our borders have and will. That is simply not any where near the overarching case to nowhere nearly the same degree with the Democratic Party, and that couldn’t be easier to prove. The criticisms I would level at the Democratic Party as a whole are fundamentally different than what we’re discussing here in relation to the Republican party, and considerably less relevant – AND all of that couldn’t be more relevant to the nature or functioning of the culture of homeland security or the formulation of HS policies as they currently exist, which is precisely what Trump’s proposal would become if he were elected (although god knows what it will be next week)– as well as why it was posted and is being discussed. The real human world is rarely very balanced or symmetrical at any one moment or point in time – and I would argue that artificially discussing it as though it were is a very far cry from what thoughtful, holistic discussion is ever about, or hardly what constitutes some unfounded or corrupting intellectual or analytic bias either one. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 27, 2015 @ 7:23 am

With trepidation I will offer the following, inspired by the exchange between Vicki Campbell and T.O. Murphy:

You can’t prove Rembrandt is better than Norman Rockwell – although if you actually do prefer Rockwell, I’d say you were shunning complexity, were secretly conservative, and hadn’t really looked at either painter’s work. Taste is a blood sport. (Jerry Saltz, Art Critic for the Village Voice and other publications)

And before further metaphorical blood is shed, I’m running for cover.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 27, 2015 @ 8:17 am

My final take for the moment at least on immigration legal and illegal and US policy.

First some history. From 1924 the INS in DoJ was the principal federal agency involved in immigration policy development, implementation, and execution together with the State Department. That reign of misfeasance, nonfeasance, and malfeasance ended with the creation of the DHS. DoJ top priority in the run-up to the formation of DHS was getting rid of the INS. The DoJ largely succeeded.

Since the Clinton Administration both the Republicans and DEMS have promised Immigration Reform in all of the Presidential Campaigns.

Secretary DHS Michael Chertoff who became Secretary in January 2005 should have been the one fired IMO not Michael Brown. But Chertoff did redeem himself, in part IMO, by focusing on Immigration Reform working with President George W. Bush himself to draft immigration legislation. That work if enacted would have removed Immigration as an issue in Presidential politics for a generation. But Senate Republicans labeled the bill as AMNESTY LEGISLATION and killed the effort.

My belief is that immigration is a much more complicated issue than most understand. The reality is that immigration policy will in fact determine what kind of nation-state the
US is and becomes.

But on that score immigration analysis should totally exclude Mexico. The reality is that we the US and they the Mexicans are in fact one country. Proof in the demographics. economics, and politics of both countries.

Both the US and Mexico can correctly be labeled narco states even though supply and demand complicated. Keeping DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] in DoJ and not placing it in DHS has continued to reward the War on Drugs
warriors, a largely ineffective group IMO.

And Mexico and the USA are in fact again one country and analysis should be premised on that fact and not something else.

My guess is almost 60M Hispanics in the US legal and illegal, and of all shades from black to white.

Oddly, IMO the next big issue in immigration policy is not Mexico but Cuba with at least 60% of its 12M population culturally black by US standards. The Castro brothers cannot live forever.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

August 29, 2015 @ 11:42 am

Phil: your seemingly desperate need to analogize almost anything no matter how fundamentally disparate honestly seems to be bordering on the addictive at this point. At first I thought it was just the standard male method of ending conversation and/or avoiding meaningful contribution that actually expresses a clear statement or position of any kind, but now I’m not so sure. Addiction is a terrible thing – it clouds ones judgement, ruins relationships, breaks up families, and costs society millions. The good news is that there is hope, and help. The first step, however, is being willing to admit you have a problem…….

Comment by Vicki Campbell

August 29, 2015 @ 11:46 am

You are unusually good natured about it though – I will definitely give you that – and I do appreciate it.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 29, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

Vicki: We evidently have almost entirely dissimilar worldviews… and, if I was more confident of anything, I might be predisposed to find your literalism (not entirely right, but hard to specify in one word) as dangerous as you find my analogizing. But as far as I can tell, you are doing just fine. Our differences — whatever the sources — are microcosms of similar divisions across the homeland security domain (and beyond). While I admit the differences complicate policy-making and more, I mostly find the differences to be a source of creative tension. You and I have not yet found that productive meeting point here. But we may yet do so. Hope so.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 30, 2015 @ 11:37 am

Better analogizing as opposed to ambiguity [my biggest fault]!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 30, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

Bill: Ambiguity — to be uncertain, to entertain doubt, to lack clarity — is not necessarily a fault. Rather it seems to me evidence of serious, probably experienced, engagement with reality. The deciding factor as to fault or not is whether ambiguity is used as an excuse for failing to take needed action. From what I have heard of your time in federal service, a readiness to recognize complexity did not make you indecisive. When there was a need for action, you undertook to do the best you could given your understanding. When a wo/man is not certain, but is ready to undertake risk, especially to advance the cause of others, I call that courage. Too often the world is explained — and action taken — on the basis of self-interested and reductionist views of reality — self-generated clarity — that further warps any prospect for authentic ethical or empirical clarity. I appreciate your sort of ambiguity.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 31, 2015 @ 7:47 am

Thanks Phil> And yes no real certainty in most of the decisions on governance issues.

What look like good decisions in Washington can TURN OUT TO HAVE SECONDARY AND TERTIARY IMPACTS unanticipated originally.

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