Immigration Is Not a National Security Threat

Elizabeth Neumann
Date of Publication: 
March, 2021
Source Organization: 
National Immigration Forum

Is unauthorized immigration a national security threat? This is the question addressed in this paper by Elizabeth Newmann, a former official in the Department of Homeland Security. In October 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its inaugural Homeland Threat Assessment, which listed “illegal immigration” as one of seven major national security threats. Unlike other “threats,” however, the Assessment’s evaluation of unauthorized immigration was not supported by facts. Also, based on the definitions used by DHS, immigration should have been described as a “vulnerability,” not a “threat.” Upon analyzing policies, executive actions, and rhetoric that came out of the Trump Administration, Neumann found that the prevailing effects of securitizing immigration as an existential national threat has been to move far-right descriptions of immigrants into the conservative mainstream, dehumanizing immigrants, and increasing violence against them. For example, the August 2019 attack against the Hispanic community in El Paso, Texas was motivated by the attacker’s belief in the “Hispanic invasion” rhetoric used by the then-President and his campaign. The author recommends that the Biden administration promote a respectful debate based on facts and transparency about security vulnerabilities created by the current immigration legal framework and acknowledge the need for statutory changes and modernization of border security and immigration systems. (Jasmina Popoja for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


Neumann, E. (2021, March 4). Immigration Is Not a National Security Threat. National Immigration Forum.