1 year ago

Government Security News August Digital Edition


Border Security/Immigration Why the Department of Homeland Security should also end private prison contracts By Walter Ewing, American Immigration Coucil For two years, women and children from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have been fleeing to the United States to escape the extreme violence of gangs which control large swaths of territory within their home countries. And for two years the Obama Administration has responded to this humanitarian crisis by locking up the women and children seeking protection and then deporting them back to the countries where their lives may be in danger. In defiance of its obligations under international law, the Administration is Photo: Neil Conway trying to deter future Central American asylum seekers by coming down hard on current Central American asylum seekers. During that first “surge” of refugees two years ago, the Administration knew exactly what it needed to get a handle on the crisis: a bigger and better prison for women and children. And so, according to the Washington Post, the Administration handed a $1 billion, four-year contract to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) to build a “massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum.” In the sweetest of sweetheart deals, CCA “gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility.” The facility in question is the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. According to the Post: “In 2015, the first full year in which the South Texas Family Residential Center was operating, CCA—which operates 74 facilities—made 30 14 percent of its revenue from that one center while recording record profit. CCA declined to specify the costs of operating the center.” The Administration’s heavyhanded approach to the social turmoil currently engulfing Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala may mean big money for private contractors, but it’s not going to be an effective deterrent to women who are running for their lives or the lives of their children. If you or your child face murder, rape, or forced induction into a gang if you stay, as opposed to a slim chance of asylum if you head to the United States, then common sense dictates you head to the United States. Moreover, even looked at from a purely financial standpoint, CCA isn’t running a very cost-effective prison. The Post writes that: “When 2,400 people are detained, the government spends what amounts to $285 per day, per person, according to a Post calculation. When the facility is half-full, More on page 43

Donald Trump’s shortsighted immigration plans won’t secure the homeland By Walter Ewing As any serious national security expert will tell you, trying to find a potential terrorist by treating all immigrants or Muslims as security risks is far too vague to be effective. Accurate intelligence and effective information-sharing across agencies is the key to national security—not profiling. Yet in a bombastic August 15 speech, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump offered up blatantly bigoted and utterly pointless proposals on national security including ideas like instituting an “ideological screening test” and “extreme vetting” to determine which would-be immigrants to the United States (especially Muslims) harbor “any hostile attitude towards our country or its principles.” Leaving aside Trump’s nativist histrionics, it would be a serious mistake to embrace policies that conflate immigration enforcement and counter-terrorism efforts, implying that immigration enforcement is a way to catch terrorists. In reality, immigration enforcement is not designed to catch terrorists; it is meant to catch people who violate immigration laws. Immigration-enforcement mechanisms might snare a terrorist if supplied with specific intelligence gleaned from counterterrorist operations, but immigration enforcement by itself is very unlikely to stumble upon and actually identify a terrorist. Without the right information in the right hands, even the most efficiently constructed immigration-enforcement and border-control mechanisms are not going to catch a terrorist. This is precisely why the 9/11 Commission did not recommend that we adopt ethnic or religious profiling to help prevent another terrorist attack in the United States. Identifying threats actually depends on the development of “actionable intelligence” which identifies a specific threat, and then sharing that information with immigration and border-enforcement personnel. 31 Photo: Gage Skidmore This approach is a little more subtle than profiling millions of people, which actually undermines intelligence gathering by alienating ethnic and religious communities and the countries from which they come. A group of people who feel themselves to be under government attack is not likely to share information with (and report tips to) the same government which is attacking them. Nor are the governments of their home countries as likely to partner with the United States in counterterrorism operations. In evaluating the typically outlandish ideas thrown around by Trump, we should never forget that, shortly after 9/11, the federal government created the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). Under NSEERS, 83,000 men from Muslim and Arab coun- More on page 44