As Border Challenges Persist, Let’s Not Confuse the Real Threats

Words matter. Especially when it comes to defining national security threats. 

In October 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its inaugural Homeland Threat Assessment, a comprehensive document that identifies the major security threats facing the United States. 

The assessment listed “illegal immigration” as one of seven major threats facing the U.S., placing it alongside cyber attacks by foreign adversaries, foreign and domestic terrorists, and transnational criminal organizations. By listing illegal immigration as a major threat, DHS asserted that illegal immigration has the “potential to harm life, information operations, the environment, and/or property.”

But DHS failed to provide facts to back up this assertion and instead focused on why increased migration flows, like what we see currently at the U.S. southern border, happen. The agency did not make the case that migration actually leads to harm.

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