Friday, April 19, 2013


I want to talk about this week's major event. Of course, I'm referring to the bombing at the Boston Marathon. The loss of life is tragic, and finding those responsible is on everyone's minds, but I can't speak to those things better than anyone else.

What I can speak to is security. Our nation spends a lot of money on security, and a lot of people dismiss many of those security steps as theater, there to make people feel better about security. I'm not sure why that's a criticism, because the idea of terrorism is to make people feel worse. Cost-effectiveness aside, if your enemy's goal is X, then Not X seems to be a valuable goal.

I can't really speak to that much, though. I am in the Department of Homeland Security, but I work for an agency that's an outlier in the department: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Please refer to my disclaimer: I speak only on my own behalf, and my views are not necessarily representative of my employer.) It seems like just about every branch of DHS has a lot of agents out there with guns. FEMA doesn't, as far as I know, and neither does USCIS. So, how is it that we fit into the security picture? What makes my job worthwhile, in the greater scheme of things?

When DHS was created, the old INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) was split into three parts. Two are focused on enforcement, but USCIS is the branch that grants immigration benefits. Other than the simple fact of keeping those three elements loosely associated, it might not be obvious why USCIS is part of Homeland Security. But I think there's a very good reason.

Our immigration laws lay out a whole lot of legitimate reasons why someone can come to this country. Our job is to determine whether someone meets the requirements of the law. If they don't, we don't let them in. Our role in security is understood if you look at the converse of that: We keep out people who don't have a legitimate reason to be here. That's huge. There are other security aspects to what we do, but I think that's the biggest one.

This also leads to the biggest problem with illegal immigration. If we could put a stop to your run-of-the-mill illegal immigration, it would free up a lot of resources to go after the dangerous illegal immigrants. Just my two cents on that.

When they find the people responsible for this bombing--and they will--I can only hope that, if there were foreigners involved, we at least did our jobs. But even if we messed this one up, I feel better by not granting benefits to certain criminals, because the reality is there's a whole lot more danger from good old-fashioned crime than there is from terrorism.

No comments:

Post a Comment