February 23, 2020         
The Mexican Ministry of Tourism Has Been Recognised by Queer Destinations and the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Associa   •   St. Jude Children's Research Hospital tops off Black History Month by honoring basketball legend Penny Hardaway, Dr. Trevor K. T   •   Toy Fair New York Opens Today; Exclusively Unveils 100,000+ New & Trending Toys & Games!   •   CEMEX Announces Ambitious Strategy to Address Climate Change   •   SmartBear and Drift Present Candid Panel Discussion to Spotlight Racial Challenges in Tech   •   Survival Guide for Allergy Season: Latest Tips According to Shirin Peters, M.D. With Bethany Medical Clinic   •   Every Kid Counts: Census Bureau Partners With Pediatricians and Child Advocates in Effort to Count Every Child in 2020 Census   •   Yellowstone Co-Creator Taylor Sheridan Signs Overall Production and Development Deal with ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Br   •   RRD’s Customizable Kits Streamline the Path to a Better Brand Experience   •   VTech® Grows Baby, Infant, Toddler and Go! Go! Smart Wheels® Lines with Engaging New Additions   •   BodyLogicMD Announces $5,000 Scholastic Scholarship for Medical Students Interested in Pursuing a Career Focused in Achieving Be   •   It's A Three-Peat! L.O.L. Surprise! Wins Toy Of The Year!   •   LeapFrog® Announces New Blue's Clues & You! Toys Joining Expanded Infant and Preschool Learning Toy Collection   •   Coding Critters from Learning Resources® Codes Its Way To The Top As This Year's Preschool Toy Of The Year Award Winner   •   2nd STREET USA, Inc. to Open First East Coast Store on February 22, 2020, in Manhattan’s NoHo Neighborhood   •   Red Oak Recovery® Announces CARF Accreditation for Foothills at Red Oak Recovery   •   HITN’s Inaugural ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Festival Announces Call for Entries   •   Top Toy Trends of 2020 Revealed at Toy Fair New York   •   Blake Shelton Joins the Lineup for the 2020 ‘iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One’   •   ADDING MULTIMEDIA Clean Beauty Meets K-Beauty: Feminine Care Brand Rael Expands Into Wellness Skincare Products
Bookmark and Share

Obama's National Security Strategy Could Upend Immigration Debate

New America Media, Op-ed, Edward Alden

 Mention immigration and national security in the same sentence, and the discussion quickly turns to terrorism, crime and illegal immigration, and the need to tighten the borders to protect against those threats. Just this week President Obama ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the border with Mexico in the latest effort to do just that. But even as that debate grows ever shriller in the wake of Arizona’s new immigration law, the Obama administration’s National Security Strategy released Thursday could finally turn that tired discussion on its head. The real threat to U.S. national security, it rightly warns, is not the people we fail to keep out but those we fail to invite in.

The National Security Strategy (NSS), which is sent to Congress every four years, is designed to lay out in broad terms the administration’s philosophy on what is needed to protect the vital interests of the United States. It generally focuses on short and long-term military and other security threats. The most famous NSS, which was released by the Bush administration in 2002, created the rationale for the subsequent invasion of Iraq by stating that the United States would act to pre-empt potential security threats.

That’s the only way in which immigration has ever figured in previous administration strategy papers – as a threat. Most have made some passing reference to the need to control illegal immigration. The Clinton administration’s first strategy paper also warned that American openness to immigration raised the danger of economic espionage. The Bush NSS of 2002 was entirely silent on the issue.

But the Obama administration’s strategy shows a deeper understanding of the contribution of immigrants to America’s national security. The paper, for the first time, places immigration reform in the broader context of U.S. national interests. It starts with an obvious but all too often overlooked point: that America’s economy is the foundation of its national security. The United States will be unable to meet its security and political commitments around the world unless the economy recovers and grows more strongly in the future.

The engine of that economic growth is innovation, the capacity of Americans to be the first to invent, design and reap the profits from the next generation of technologies that will transform the way we live. As President Obama put it in his introduction to the strategy paper: “Simply put, we must see American innovation as a foundation of American power.”

That’s where immigration fits in. The United States has been alone among the world’s big powers in its ability to attract and retain the most talented immigrants from across the world, and it has been a remarkable windfall. Some 45 percent of the nation’s science and engineering Ph.D.s, and 65 percent of its computer science doctorates, are earned by students who were born abroad. America easily leads the world in the number of patents issued each year, and a quarter of those go to immigrant scientists and inventors, a hugely disproportionate number.

The Obama strategy, while hardly sanguine about the many economic challenges facing the United States, explicitly recognizes the strengths that come from such diversity. Immigration, the paper argues, must be part of the overall American strategy for strengthening its human capital. Improved schools, better science and math training, increased international education and exchange, and the reform of immigration laws are all part of a strategy to “ensure that the most innovative ideas take root in America.”

“Our ability to innovate, our ties to the world, and our economic prosperity depend on our nation’s capacity to welcome and assimilate immigrants,” the paper says.

What the paper does not note is that the policies of the past decade have weakened that capacity. Foreign students, while still coming to the United States in large numbers, are increasingly looking to other countries, and the U.S. share of overseas students has been declining steadily. The Washington Post reported last week that Pakistani students, for instance, are almost entirely avoiding the United States because of fears that they will be associated with recent terrorist plots involving Pakistanis. Nor has the public debate over immigration reflected the idea that immigrants are this country’s greatest strength

The Obama administration has taken small steps to try to reverse these trends, in particular by improving the visa process. But without a broader reform of U.S. immigration laws, which remains hostage to a divided Congress, the United States will continue to make legal immigration far more difficult than it should be. At least the administration has finally made it clear the costs of that continued failure: nothing less than the future prosperity and security of the United States.

Edward Alden is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration and Security Since 9/11."



Back to top
| Back to home page
Video

White House Live Stream
LIVE VIDEO EVERY SATURDAY
alsharpton Rev. Al Sharpton
9 to 11 am EST
jjackson Rev. Jesse Jackson
10 to noon CST


Video

LIVE BROADCASTS
Sounds Make the News ®
WAOK-Urban
Atlanta - WAOK-Urban
KPFA-Progressive
Berkley / San Francisco - KPFA-Progressive
WVON-Urban
Chicago - WVON-Urban
KJLH - Urban
Los Angeles - KJLH - Urban
WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
New York - WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
WADO-Spanish
New York - WADO-Spanish
WBAI - Progressive
New York - WBAI - Progressive
WOL-Urban
Washington - WOL-Urban

Listen to United Natiosns News