Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 6, 2015

Preconditions as precursors

Filed under: Border Security,Immigration,International HLS — by Philip J. Palin on September 6, 2015


According to Deutsche Welle, on Saturday about 6600 refugees crossed the border between Hungary and Austria.  Of this number more than 2000 are expected to continue on to Germany.  (Different estimates of the numbers involved are reported by other news outlets.)

Germany plans to process at least 450,000 asylum applications this year.  Some are predicting 800,000.

Also on Saturday another thousand refugees arrived in Sicily by boat. In both Austria and Italy, most of the current refugees are from Iraq and Syria.  Kurds from along the Syrian-Turkish border have been prominent in this most recent wave of migrants.

Fighting this weekend in Marea, Syria killed at least forty-seven, according to the BBC.  Located between Aleppo and Turkey, mostly Kurdish and FSA rebels are contending with ISIS forces for control of an area the government of Turkey has identified as a potential “safe-zone” for those displaced by the Syrian wars.

Friday several news reports noted that due to budget shortfalls, food vouchers distributed to over 4 million registered refugees currently in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey will be reduced by roughly one-third. In an effort to raise additional funds, these drastic measures were originally announced by the World Food Program in July.  The United States responded with an additional $65 million. But very few west of Ankara noticed.

Thursday at least thirty died when a boat carrying mostly Somali, Sudanese, and Nigerian migrants sank off Libya as it was attempting to cross into EU waters.

Early today (Sunday) the Irish patrol ship LÉ Niamh arrived at the port of Pozzallo in Sicily with 329 refugees and migrants on board after carrying out a rescue operation about 58km north of Tripoli, Libya on Saturday.  A photo feature in today’s New York Times Magazine focuses on the perilous journey thousands are risking between North Africa and Southern Europe.

Television images of the stand-off in Budapest and a dead three-year-old in the Aegean are new and personalize the issues. But the issues are not new.  Given violence, climate change, demographic patterns, stark economic differences, and socio-political turmoil the issues will grow old with all of us.

The map above was developed using 2010 data. But the general proportions have not changed much and are unlikely to shift appreciably in the next few years no matter what.  Rather we are now experiencing — or at least seeing on a screen — the outcome of choices made at the turn of the century.  Credible arguments can find reasonable cause well prior.  Today’s crisis might have been mitigated — potentially avoided — by different decisions over the last three to fifteen years.  This does not suppose alternate decisions would not have created other problems, but it is constructive to recognize how these problems did unfold.

Putting our North American situation in this global context might — though probably won’t — cool some incendiary attitudes regarding migration issues in this hemisphere.

We ought not, however, feel too cool and collected. There are burgeoning problems close to home.  According to the United States Border Patrol, during FY2014 three-hundred-seven people died attempting to cross the Southwestern border of the United States.  This was the lowest number of confirmed deaths since 2000.  But the accumulating totals are certainly incomplete.  The deserts of Southern Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas may be even less forgiving than the Mediterranean.  Television cameras are seldom nearby.

And while many have — quite appropriately — been moved to sympathy and action by the plight of those fleeing toward Europe, how many noticed that in August there were 911 murders in El Salvador (population 6.34 million) for a total of over 4200 since January? This even exceeds the violence of next-door Honduras, until recently the planet’s murder capital.

This late-summer the United States has — quite appropriately — been concerned by a spike in urban homicides.  To clarify the Central American context (and ours): Since the beginning of 2015 there have been 791 murders in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (combined population: about 15 million). Less than the August total for El Salvador alone.

Given the context I am amazed we have not — yet — seen more outward migration.

It is an awkward moniker, but the core concept of Homeland Security that unfolded from September 11, 2001 was to not be so surprised again; to not allow our imagination to so fail again; to not be so stubbornly blind and self-involved again.

We’re evidently dealing with a chronic condition… and mostly failing to develop the better habits that could contribute to better health.

[To be self-critical: In 2011 and early 2012 here at HLSWatch I gave continuing attention to Syria.  But then I chose to pull-back.  This was an intellectual, ethical, and professional error. I struggle with my own bad habits.]

TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE: DW reports: “The dam set up by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been broken, and every two hours or so a train leaves Keleti station headed for Munich – each with a couple of hundred refugees.”  Other refugees are on the move from Serbia toward Budapest.  New arrivals continue to be reported at Kos, Lesbos and other Ionian cities.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 7, 2015 @ 8:46 am

More evidence that the nation-state system is threatened IMO.
What is the new world order?

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 7, 2015 @ 9:37 am

Displacement: The New 21st Century Challenge, UNHCR, June 2013


Comment by Philip J. Palin

September 8, 2015 @ 3:50 am

Bill: The Westphalian consensus probably suffered its fatal event at the Somme. But it has been — and will be — a long expiration. To your other question, in my experience both good and bad flow every which way with a randomness that makes me wonder about the whole notion of what we may “deserve”. Perhaps a more productive question is, given current context how can the situation be sustainably improved?

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 8, 2015 @ 12:19 pm

US preparing to take up to 50,000 Syrians??

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 8, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

Saved by the Bell?? Western Civs nation-state system now largely supported by nuclear weapons capability?

And the Germans baynonated many of the living FALLEN at the Somme!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

September 9, 2015 @ 7:13 am

Apparently the immigrants in Europe do not pose the same problem as in the US:

Influx of Illegal Alien Minors Energizes Violent U.S. Street Gang MS-13

SEPTEMBER 08, 2015 — © 2010-2015 Judicial Watch, Inc.

A government agency reveals that the nation’s most violent street gang has been energized by the barrage of illegal immigrant minors who have entered the U.S. through Mexico, confirming a Judicial Watch report last summer that gangs were actively recruiting members at shelters housing the new arrivals.

The tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, coined Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) by the government, came mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The Obama administration rolled out the welcome mat, quickly offering housing, food, medical treatment and a free education. The UACs have brought in dangerous diseases—including swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis— and have occupied our military bases as shelters. Many have been disbursed throughout the U.S., igniting a crisis for overwhelmed public school districts nationwide.

As soon as the UACs started arriving, Homeland Security sources told Judicial Watch that many had ties to gang members in the U.S. In fact, JW reported last July that street gangs—including Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13—went on a recruiting frenzy at U.S. shelters housing the illegal immigrant minors and they were using Red Cross phones to communicate. The MS-13 is a feared street gang of mostly Central American illegal immigrants that’s spread throughout the U.S. and is renowned for drug distribution, murder, rape, robbery, home invasions, kidnappings, vandalism and other violent crimes. The Justice Department’s National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) says criminal street gangs like the MS-13 are responsible for the majority of violent crimes in the U.S. and are the primary distributors of most illicit drugs.

Now the Texas Department of Public Safety confirms that the MS-13 has emerged as a top tier gang in Texas this year thanks to the influx of illegal alien gang members that crossed into the state last year. In a 19-page report, the agency writes that the number of MS-13 members encountered by U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley sector has increased each year, accelerating in 2014 and coinciding with increased illegal immigration from Central America during the same period. This clearly refers to the UAC crisis that saw over 60,000 illegal immigrants—many with criminal histories—storm into the U.S. in a matter of months.

Authorities in Texas expect the problem will only get worse. “Gang members from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador could be destined for locations in Texas with large Central American communities, including the Houston and Dallas areas,” the Texas Department of Safety writes in its report. Even if that doesn’t materialize, the state already has a serious gang crisis. “Reports of increased MS-13 gang activity have already surfaced in the Houston area,” the Department of Safety confirms. “MS-13 gang members are known for highly violent crimes, including brutal murders and dismemberments. Several recent crimes in Texas illustrate the criminal threat associated with MS-13.”

Here are some gruesome examples included in the agency’s report: “On September 15, 2014, the mutilated body of a 14-year-old middle school student was discovered in the woods near Houston after he was murdered with a machete. Initial information from the investigation indicates the victim was a U.S. citizen and an MS-13 member who was murdered after trying to leave the gang. In October 2014, a 14-year-old and three adult males were arrested and charged with murder in this case. The adult males are from El Salvador, and at least two are documented MS-13 gang members. In mid-August 2014, a 29-year-old 18th Street gang member was stabbed to death in Houston by a 16-year-old El Salvadoran member of MS-13. The victim suffered multiple stab wounds outside of a bar and was discovered a few days later in a bayou. According to investigators, the juvenile suspect revealed he illegally crossed into the U.S. in March 2014.”

Another huge concern is the relationship between street gangs and Mexica drug cartels, the report says, because it’s a very profitable partnership. “These groups pose the greatest gang threat to Texas due to their relationships with Mexican cartels, high levels of transnational criminal activity, level of violence, and overall statewide presence.” The lucrative gang/cartel business endeavors are also expanding into human smuggling and gambling, the Texas Department of Safety reveals in its report.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

September 9, 2015 @ 7:27 am

It’s truly appalling that we have DHS releasing known convicts back on the streets to walk with us and this issue of immigration clearly shows a government unable to document folk and enforce the laws just as Barry Obama et al have failed in their pledge and obligation to enforce the laws, however this morning while reading all about the mess in Europe very much a result of failed foreign policy and better said as no foreign US policy or a Clinton serving policy, today I am reading:

Ed Klein: Hillary Adviser Urges Her to Cut a Deal on Email Scandal

Listen, laws whether immigration or highly classified docs released by anyone sworn by oath must be enforced and again as I have said from day one, good ‘ol Ms. Hillary should be placed under House arrest for suspicion in breach of faith: treason! Enough of this lawlessness and now there is talk herein about the US accepting 50,000 Syrians – a country which has been bankrupted how many more trillions than when this White majority w/o any bias voted (twice) to elect Black man into office who has broken laws and done nothing but spew his empty political rhetoric – not visited the Chicago city streets he comes from to help precious Black youth and only to promote divisiveness – Standing shoulder to shoulder at the Benghazi Massacre in blatant lie is enough to place both under house arrest for suspicion in breach of faith – treason I shout again and again — and moreover, news this morning that the Russians are in Syria – nothing new to many of us including ISIS being supported by the Turkish secret police and oh my, the corrupt politics – we are so broke and we cannot afford any more immigrants and especially if unwilling to follow the laws yet hell, none of the politicians we “entrust” by precious vote care to abide by or enforce so bring on “Donald” – the deal maker or “Bernie” the socialists because certainly both sides of the aisle and special interests groups could give a damn about the good ‘ol USA and our Democracy, a Democracy so diminished that our US military has been dismantled by this Chicago city street slicker and nothing more!

God Bless America!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

September 9, 2015 @ 8:42 am

Mr. Tingus: MS-13 is a significant concern. Many in Europe have similar — and even more existential — concerns regarding their recent migration.

MS-13 originated in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles. In the 1980s and 1990s the United States attempted to suppress it by deporting many in the founding generation to El Salvador. Whatever this mitigated in Southern California it accelerated in Central America. By trying to treat a symptom, we both strengthened and spread the disease.

Migration, especially from endemic violence and life-threatening poverty, will not be solved by walls, deportations, or other forms of deterrence. When we ignore root causes — especially when we contribute to these causes — we increase the potential harm for everyone.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 9, 2015 @ 11:12 am

Gangs definitely an HS problem IMO!

Comment by Vicki Campbell

September 9, 2015 @ 1:57 pm

Mr. Tingus, I don’t know why your racism and xenophobia have been allowed back on this blog, but I really wish it hadn’t been – and I strongly urge others to rethink it, as you’ve certainly showed yourself incapable of keeping it under wraps for long. I’m not one to encourage censorship at all, and usually much prefer to error on the side of openness than exclusion, almost every time – but there are times when exceptions are necessary, and I think your combination of fundamentally false statements and racist xenophobia underpinnings is one of those few times. That’s because its an especially deadly combination, as we’ve seen again and again in this country, from Dylann Roof on back, on and on. It is one thing to make either completely factually incorrect statements, or comments so otherwise misleading or exaggerated that they might as well be factually false – which you do constantly. And its another to make what are either clearly or surreptitiously racist, xenophobic comments. Both are pretty darn bad, by any decent, thinking adult standard. But to combine both in the toxic and increasingly nauseating way that you do with the potential power and reach of social media is just beyond what I think should be the basic bottom line – simply because of their combined deadly potential. Unfortunately, ignorance, racism and xenophobia tend to go hand in hand, so there you have it.

Indeed, its your clear lack of concern for the facts or the truth that reveals your racism so clearly for all to see. But I just honestly don’t have the time to correct it all, because your need to deceive in order to denigrate seems so extreme. Just as an example, you commented a few days ago that the out-of-wedlock, teen birthrate amongst Black Americans was soaring when it fact it has been steadily declining for quite a few years now, and the Black teen rate of decline is greater than in any other subgroup – just as one example amongst many of your racist, xenophobic presumptions, that apparently are so self-evident that no actually grounding in facts is required.

Or there’s the above you just posted about how “the Obama administration rolled out the welcome mat, quickly offering housing, food, medical treatment and a free education,” you once again are simply not stating the facts. In fact, the courts recently ruled very much against the Obama administration’s policy of detaining as many as possible at the border in very ill-equipped, prison-like detention centers where often clearly fairly traumatized women and children have had a great many problems getting access to even the most basic health care, no matter how sorely needed, or certainly education, etc. of any kind, much less proper legal counsel or asylum hearings – and are often also mistreated more generally. The policy of detention and withholding of most services was quite intentional, and designed to deter further immigration – but the courts ruled the policy to be in violation of quite a few human rights laws, which it certainly was, and ordered it to stop (which the administration has been slow to actually do). And gangs and drugs across the border are certainly a problem, but really only because of Americans’ ridiculous and certainly insatiable demand for and consumption of drugs – no more and no less.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

September 9, 2015 @ 6:47 pm

Vicki: You have asked about my decision to allow Mr. Tingus’ comments. You are not alone and not the first. As Mr. Tingus knows, I find many of his comments personally painful. I may also over time have become a bit inured. In the specific case of the comments on this thread I perceive that (whatever their character) Mr. Tingus reflects the attitudes of some millions of Americans. I am inclined to allow expressions of opinion, even those that I find personally repugnant. This is especially my position on topics of public policy where I want to “hear”, even if I fundamentally disagree. I am glad that above and previously you have challenged Mr. Tingus on both accuracy and attitude.

I have, I think, made it clear to Mr. Tingus that I will remove ad hominem attacks and comments that are entirely off-topic. In recent months he has largely conformed to this minimum expectation… though even here the judgment is sometimes tough.

This is not a response to you with which I am entirely satisfied, but I clearly needed to respond.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

September 10, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

Phil, thanks for your response, but I really disagree with the essential premise underlying your approach – which is basically that ad hominems, ie. attacks, are out of bounds at the individual level, but fundamentally okay at the group level, even when the ad hominems are largely if not completely false (which is kinda what reveals it as an attack, rather than a difference of opinion or position), and that group constitutes a socially targeted, oppressed class, who’s disadvantaging, discriminatory if not sometimes quite severe mistreatment and subsequent reduced status and quality of life at the hands of a dominant group are regularly justified by such baseless and stereotyping attacks. This is what we’re actually dealing with here, and I strongly argue that the latter is both the far worse of the two, as well as fundamentally different and again, much worse – for all the reasons I stated above.

Put conversely, if people aren’t allowed to attack each other individually not based on the merits, they ought not to be allowed to do so collectively either – because again, the latter has far worse consequences for far more people (although I’m happy to have it be in effect at the individual level as well). And yes, it is sometimes a tough call, and yes again, except for this one exception, i very much prefer an atmosphere and ethic of open exchange to censorship generally as well.

Also, if one takes the position that you have, at bare minimum I think there’s an obligation of sorts to offer some basic counter to the factual lies as well as inherently racist attitude behind them – and at least since I’ve been reading this blog, I’m the only one doing the work of that (which IMO says little good about the general readership here), except for your comment yesterday, which I really appreciated (and was drop-dead surprised by) – but which also was not nearly enough. And I’m getting damned tired of trying to keep up with and respond to all his nonsense all by myself – so much so, I may well be the one getting kicked off soon enough, because I’m ’bout outta patience with it, and the vacuum of dead silence that always follows in his wake….. for what ever that’s all worth.

Again, I encourage you to rethink your position, and criteria, and open up to developing beyond a merely individual-based frame to a more socially inclusive and whole one regarding what constitutes an inappropriate attack in a social media setting. And although I may argue with you about your chosen figure, just because the attack is simultaneously being either felt or waged by many others changes nothing – and quite possibly may make the case for exclusion of such attacks even stronger.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

September 10, 2015 @ 6:53 pm

Vicki: You make a very strong argument vis-a-vis ad hominem versus “ad populi” attacks. I will be more attentive to this issue. The challenge is related to what I think you acknowledged can be “surreptitious” racism or other indirect forms of discrimination. The ad hominem standard arose from some especially vulgar beyond-the-pale not-surreptitious-at-all attacks. There are still surreptitious ad hominem references, that I have allowed.

I also respect your argument that if I am going to allow all opinions to be voiced then I have an obligation (or at least the community around the blog has an obligation) to correct what is factually incorrect and challenge the ethically suspect. In principle, I entirely agree. In practice, it is very difficult. For me alone perhaps in some ways simply impossible. In regard to Mr. Tingus I perceive many long-time readers simply skip. I am also aware that we have lost some commentators because they are unwilling to appear on the same page with Mr. Tingus. I never skip, but I very seldom respond.

So… am I willing to forsake my principled commitment to hearing alternative voices because I am unable to appropriately correct and contest with these voices? Should I exclude him for the good of the blog?

At least not yet. Part of this is because when it comes to a contest between free-speech and truth, I may have to root for both sides.

What is also at-play here — appropriately or not — is a sense of relationship with Mr. Tingus. He is a complicated man. There are times when the anger, fear and such seems to subside and I can perceive another human being struggling with complexity. I expect he is horrified to be labeled a racist. Mr. Tingus reminds me of many otherwise loving individuals who are able to dismiss whole categories of thought, experience, and other people. It is a frightful mystery.

But as our current political climate seems to attest, this is a mystery that encompasses, what?, at least thirty percent, perhaps closer to half (or even more) of likely voters. So… because it is a personal mystery with serious policy implications, I want to keep listening… hearing as fully as possible… even when it is personally painful.

You have certainly listened to Mr. Tingus. Rather than dismiss him, as I have sometimes done, you have honored him with your honest disagreement. I hope Mr. Tingus is also listening.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 20, 2015 @ 2:21 pm

According to reporter Eleanor Cliff on McGlouthlin Group 15 Chinese billionaires [of about 200] have fled China. US has no extradition treaty with China but recently returned a Chinese citizen at the request of the Chinese government.

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