Our Weakening Homeland Security

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Saturday, June 22, 2019

This piece was inspired by this New York Times story, "ICE Is Expected to Begin Operation on Sunday Targeting 2,000 Immigrant Family Members".  Related story from the same moment:  "U.S. Cities Brace for Immigration Raids, Say They Will Not Participate."


My two cents.

The US Department of Homeland Security was authorized in the fall of 2002, and officially began March 1, 2003. It took some time to get the reorganization moving and departments and agencies reconfigured. When I moved to DHS just after Hurricane Katrina in fall 2005, 9/11 was still very fresh for the department created because of it.

The Bush Administration conducted ICE raids on packing plants in rural communities around 2005-2006.

The pushback was significant. The impacts to the communities were significant. DHS was still pretty new, and these were the first major aids under the new DHS umbrella.

ICE had been INS before so it wasn't new, but the homeland security perspective was. When the raids occurred, 9/11 was still pretty fresh on America's mind. How did those contribute to keeping us more secure? Not everyone asked that question, but enough did.

A change in approach occurred. Someone somewhere figured out that there were such a high volume of illegal immigrants, and that it would be wiser from a homeland security perspective to use limited resources to specifically go after dangerous high-value targets, known dangerous criminals, traffickers, drug dealers, potential terrorists, etc.

It doesn't mean that all other border security and immigration activities were stopped. But things were shifted around.

The homeland security machine since its creation has largely been built on the calculation that risk equals threat plus vulnerability plus consequences.

R = T + V + C

An immigration strategy that goes after those who are a *risk* because of one of those factors makes sense. Mitigating risk should be what homeland security does.

The current administration's nationwide immigration and southern border security actions are not about risk mitigation.

Their actions will *create* risk in the long-term. The horrors we are seeing will be remembered for a generation.

And we are nowhere near stopping them. It's not clear how we can do so, and they are ramping up. Consistently. This generally disorganized administration has figured out how to move this part of the government. And so they are. They are digging in. Their initial bungled attempts have been refined.

What they are doing is horrible enough. It needs all the attention it can get it.

What we don't talk much about is what isn't getting done.

How much strategic and targeted homeland security work can get done when there has been such a large-scale shift to support the detainment horrors at the southern border, and to conduct such large-scale immigration raids?

How many criminals are getting away, living in our communities who would otherwise be targeted? Traffickers? Cartel operators?

This administration isn't building homeland security with the Department of Homeland Security. It's doing exactly the opposite. It's creating fear and terror: the very things the department was created to fight.

It doesn't help to say this isn't who we are. Clearly it is. Who we want to be is what we have to figure out next.

I didn't leave my fire career and move to Washington DC to work in homeland security to have this happen. Yet here we are.

Fear mobilizes. The current president has figured that out. He learned something from 9/11: terror works.

I'm figuring out every day what I can do to help turn this country around. It's not for the faint of heart. We have to help each other figure out how we can stop this.

There will be more damage. Steel yourself. Get resilient. Find your fighting strength; what you can bring to the table. We're going to need it all.

Light it up.


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