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Immigration as Primary National Security Concern or Should Humanitarian Concerns Prevail?

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A recent Rasmussen Report showed that U.S. voters rate the current immigration crisis as a greater national security problem than Russia and the situation in Gaza with Palestinians and Israelis.  Thirty-seven percent (37%) of likely U.S. voters saw immigration as the primary concern, thirty-one percent (31%) for Russia and twenty-three percent (23%) for Gaza.

All three issues are at critical points of concern on the global scale currently.  The renewed fighting in Gaza has brought much attention to a conflict some had forgotten and others never fully understood.  Now, social media and a younger generation of the U.S. population are getting involved and bringing awareness to the injustices.  The annexation of Crimea in March and Putin’s current support for rebels in Eastern Ukraine have severely called into question any lasting alliance with Russia.  Russia had been a strategic partner; key to resolving conflicts in Iran, Syria and other critical conflict areas so the United States needs to evaluate how it will manage in the long-term without this working relationship.

But what does it mean to have immigration at the top of our national security concerns compared to these crises?  The Pew Research Center shows a 117% increase in the number of unaccompanied children ages 12 and younger caught at the U.S.-Mexico border during this fiscal year.  These numbers have tripled in less than a year.  At the end of July 2014 most recent figures had shown this included more than 57, 525 children.  Not taking into account the adults that are also still crossing the border in large amounts, these are record numbers of unaccompanied children.

It is humanitarian crisis of epic proportions for our nation for several reasons.  These people are escaping thriving crime and poverty in their home countries.  Once here, the sheer numbers overwhelm the U.S. Border Control and the resources allocated have been unrealistically inadequate to curb the flow of these migrants.  Federal law requires that undocumented immigrant minors from countries other than Mexico (which in most cases mean El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) be detained prior to their appearances in immigration court.  In the interim the United States is required to provide their health care and basic needs before releasing them to relatives or guardians.  Yet, the United States and its present infrastructure is not equipped to handle the current numbers so conditions at the border and at these detention centers are inadequate with the overwhelming capacity.  This is why the current problem is further compounded as the public questions the humanitarian treatment of these underage migrants. They have fled dangerous and squalid conditions and now U.S. facilities and the hopes of a better future for these migrants are also being called into question.

Immigration is rising in opinion polls as a concern relating to national security due to the recent influx of child migrants from Central America.  It is important that it is rising as this may finally elicit the much-needed substantive action from Congress. Illegal immigration and border security have been troubling for years, yet Congress continues to stall on any monumental immigration reform. Oftentimes it is inevitable crisis that ensures action.

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