Homeland Security

Lawmakers must reevaluate immigration detention system

It takes a certain chutzpah for Congress to pass a law that grants discretion to the executive branch and then complain when the executive branch actually uses that discretion. But that's exactly what happened recently when the Department of Homeland Security freed 2,000 people from immigration detention.
When news of the detainee releases broke in late February, Republican lawmakers waxed indignant, calling the move “abhorrent” and claiming, in a flurry of outraged letters to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, that the freed detainees included violent criminals and child molesters.


Path to citizenship for all immigrants is paramount

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people suffer from some of the highest rates of discrimination in the workplace, in health care, and in our communities. Undocumented immigrants too face significant employment and economic insecurities that make it difficult to put food on the table, pay the bills, and otherwise make ends meet for themselves and their families.

It stands to reason then that those at the intersection of these two already marginalized populations — those that are both LGBT and undocumented — are among society’s most vulnerable. It also stands to reason then that this population would especially benefit from immigration reform that included a pathway to earned citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States today.


Family reunification must be part of immigration reform

It may not be as sexy as legalization or STEM, but don’t be tempted to dismiss family-based immigration as a quaint, but merely historical tribute to the self-reliance and perseverance that has shaped us as a nation of immigrants. 

Immigrant families are the unsung workhorses of our economy, the engine that fuels newcomers’ successes and community integration. Ever since our union was founded, new Americans have relied on the support of this web of relationships. Families share a deep commitment to one another and our nation. To ignore the unique strength of these ties risks sabotaging our nation’s economic strength, and threatens our very identity as Americans.


US warns of rising threat of cyber attacks to national and economic security

Top U.S. spies announced this week that cyber attacks are even more concerning than dangers posed by terrorism. The Obama administration has clearly outlined its concerns about cyber attacks with its cyber security initiative and recently signed an executive order for the improvement of critical infrastructure.

There is a popular misconception that the U.S. government is the main target of cyber attacks. While the Department of Homeland Security is forced to deal with a barrage of attacks on a daily basis, every organization is a target. Approximately 90 percent of IT infrastructure in the U.S. resides in the private sector and the reality is that most organizations skimp on computer security. Many also forget how interconnected organizations are with each other. For example, law firms are vast data warehouses of intellectual property through their involvement in civil litigation but might not be at the forefront of network security.


Why the truth about 'Zero Dark Thirty' matters

I’ve always been struck by the metaphor of the frog in a pot of water, where over time as the heat increases, the frog gets used to it until eventually, he’s accepted his own poaching and death. Had the frog been thrown into a pot of boiling water, he would have jumped out and saved himself.
This is not dissimilar to what is happening in the debate over the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” and the use of torture by the CIA. Where 15 years ago, few would have supported the use of torture by the United States under any circumstances, today as we fudge the facts and play with the terms, as some of our national leaders including our former president, vice president, and CIA director endorse the use of torture, as the public dialogue treats the use of torture as a public policy debate as opposed to a criminal act, we are accepting torture as an anti-terrorism option and in so doing, poaching our most cherished values.


Respect family unit in immigration reform

The national conversation taking place around immigration is at its core about how we define ourselves as Americans, and about our relationships with one another. A critical issue that often escapes the limelight is that of the broken family-based immigration system which keeps loved ones apart, often for decades.

As of November 2012, around 4.3 million people were waiting to obtain visas in order to join their family members who reside in the United States. A significant number – 1.8 million – are seeking to unite with immediate relatives who are Asian Americans. Family members from China, India and the Philippines, for example, have been waiting between 10 and 23 years to receive visas that will enable them to join their U.S. citizen or permanent resident relatives in America.


Citizenship application process needs reform

As experts on law and policy continue to debate the prospective shape of immigration reform, they should not lose sight of the two groups of people who will have to navigate whatever process emerges from these deliberations – the applicants themselves and the U.S. government employees who have to process them. Thinking about how those two groups behave, and what they would need to be successful under a new immigration regime, presents good arguments for leveraging both existing processes and new technology.


Deadline for introducing immigration legislation looms

Mehdi Mahraoui dreams of getting his doctorate in social work because he wants to improve his community and he is passionate about social justice. Like many 22-year-olds, Mehdi has a lot of dreams. Unlike other young people his age, Mehdi may have to put his dreams on hold.

Mehdi was brought to the United States from Morocco at age seven. Until late last year, he was undocumented. His oldest sister and both of his parents, however, remain in deportation proceedings. If they are deported, Mehdi will be the sole care taker of his eight-year-old sister who is a U.S citizen.


Rand Paul was right to highlight US drone policy

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or so that's what our founders once declared.

With that responsibility, the Federal government has a duty to protect its citizens, providing certain unalienable rights.

So, it's no surprise then that Republicans and Democrats alike joined with Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Wednesday supporting his filibuster to protest John Brennan's CIA nomination and bring attention to Obama's overreach of the Federal government with the U.S. drone program (of which Brennan was one of the chief architects).


Rand Paul's message to Obama: Don't drone me bro

The most positive outcome of Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster — which ended when Paul was forced to take a bathroom break — was giving the American public a sense of the treacherous path that President Obama’s drone program could take, i.e. the targeted killing of Americans here at home. It was a marathon civics lesson and a scathing critique of President Obama’s civil liberties record.