National Security immigration priorities interface threat assessment

View from the field: As part of an intelligent assessment of the prospects for success or failure of immigration reform proposals, an understanding of the historical, cultural and socio-economic underpinnings of our present system needs to be taken into consideration.  One glaring fact of our current immigration demographic is that the large majority of the present undocumented population is from Mexico, a historically Catholic country with a strong tradition of religious practice and belief.  Perhaps this is an underlying factor in the criticism of current attempts to reform, pardon, provide amnesty, increase opportunities, and otherwise expand access for these populations to legitimate legal and economic opportunity.  As a criminal lawyer for more than 25 years in the military and federal courts, it would be incompetence to overlook the credibility, motive to fabricate, and bias of any particular witness, including the defendant.  And at the risk of being presumptuous, perhaps it may be giving too much credit to critics and opponents of expanded immigration policy alternatives to suggest that some of the opposition may rest with an underlying hostility to these predominantly Catholic immigration populations themselves.  Recently, a journalist appeared on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News program suggesting that media folks who ascribed to organized religion were considered to be on the fringes of that industry, even suggesting that to be seen leaving mass might provoke suspicion and doubt about their free-standing abilities as journalists.  So, if this group questions the validity and relevance of organized religion, is it possible that strong resentment may similarly affect conservative opposition views regarding immigration reform policies affecting largely Catholic populations from Mexico and Central America? 

Amongst the roughly 1.5 million undocumented persons residing in Texas, nearly 80 percent are from Mexico according to the Migration Policy Institute.  The number of immigrants from Mexico decreases to less than 60 percent nationwide.  California has approximately double the undocumented population of illegals.  One tangible indicator of the assimilation trends of these groups is the strong Catholic component and hierarchical support for these communities.

In a high threat environment such as the Middle East and sub-Saharan and Horn of Africa where central governments are being challenged by Islamic extremist movements and terrorist organizations, the challenge is to realistically assess our own national security objectives wherein immigration and reform policies may benefit traditionally stable, and yes, religiously faithful populations seeking assimilation into the US cultural, legal and educational systems.  The dynamic of incorporating relatively law-abiding and modestly educated immigrants into the fabric of US mainstream existence where roughly a quarter of the population has attended some high school appears to be a positive at so many levels, not the least of which is our national security strategy and comprehensive approach to immigration reform. 


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