National Security Expert: Immigration Is Not a Threat

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has erred in categorizing immigrants as a threat, national security expert Elizabeth Neumann argues in a paper published today.

In its first Homeland Threat Assessment, issued in October, DHS listed “illegal immigration” as a major threat but failed to back up the assertion with facts, “in stark contrast to the other threats listed,” writes Neumann, a former Trump administration assistant secretary of counterterrorism and threat prevention at the Department of Homeland Security and the current senior advisor to the National Immigration Forum on national security.

“…[F]or DHS to make this mistake suggests a political agenda designed to further create fear,” the paper reads. “In effect, the labeling of illegal immigration as a ‘threat’ elevates an undocumented immigrant to the same category as North Korea, ISIS, and the Sinaloa Cartel. It is inaccurate and irresponsible.”

Neumann includes steps the Biden administration could take to correct the record: Issue a new Homeland Threat Assessment or amend the current one, and rescind a 2018 DHS report that had questionable data quality and misleading findings. She also points to the value of immigration reform to address security vulnerabilities.

The paper is the third and last of a series in which Neumann also has laid out why refugee resettlement and rescinding the travel ban would benefit national security.

“Our national security leaders and career staff need to take the politics of immigration out of their assessment of national risks,” said Ali Noorani, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “We need an objective approach, and we need to recognize that immigrants and a modernized immigration system can help our national security.

“If the government remains political or dehumanizing in its assessment, extremism gains credence.”


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People visit loved ones by communicating through the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Friendship Park in San Ysidro, CA on Sunday, April 6, 2014. Many deported families and friends visit each other, mainly on weekends, at the park after being separated by immigration officials. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Corbis via Getty Images)
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