• Climate migrants
    Tiffany Challe

    The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a protected refugee as someone who leaves his or her home country due to racial, religious, or social persecution, or reasonable fear of such persecution. These refugees have the right to seek asylum and protection from participating members of the United Nations (though these countries are not obligated to take them in). However, people displaced by climate change do not fit this definition. At the international level, there is no legal mechanism in place to protect climate migrants’ rights and to ensure assistance from other countries. For climate relocation to work, governments need to care and commit to international responsibility and burden-sharing. However, in the current global political context of fear of terrorism, an increased refugee influx into Europe, and an overall rise of xenophobia, countries are more likely to opt for stricter policies on cross-border migration.

  • Immigration & politics

    Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy in June 2015 with a bold, double-edged promise: that he would build a “great wall” on the border separating the United States and Mexico, and that he would make Mexico pay for it. That polarizing statement, since repeated ad nauseam by commentators on both sides of the political spectrum, quickly went on to become one of the defining hallmarks of Trump’s presidential campaign. According to three political scientists from the University of California, Riverside, Trump’s remarks also galvanized his voter base in the initial stages of his campaign, particularly in areas that had experienced considerable Latino population growth in recent years.

  • Travel ban

    President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on 27 January 2017, effectively barring individuals from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States for ninety days. Within a day of his decree, thousands of protesters flooded airports around the country in opposition to what was quickly deemed a “Muslim ban,” and by 6 March, the order had been formally revoked. Researchers say that the profound response to the ban represents “one instance in which the priming of American identity shifted citizens’ opinions toward more inclusive, rather than restrictive, immigration-related policy stances.” Overall, the findings suggest that American identity can be “primed” to produce shifts in public opinion. It also demonstrates that public opinion may be more malleable than previously thought.

  • Biometric exit program

    DHS has installed experimental face-recognition system in nine U.S. airports. If DHS’s current plans are executed, every traveler flying overseas, American and foreign national alike, will soon be subject to a face recognition scan as part of this “biometric exit” program. A new report notes that neither Congress nor DHS has ever justified the need for the program. Congress never provided a rationale for it. Congress never provided a rationale for it while DHS has repeatedly questioned “the additional value biometric air exit would provide.” The biometric exit program also stands on shaky legal ground, and to make matters worse, the face scanning technology used by DHS may make frequent mistakes. “The privacy concerns implicated by biometric exit are at least as troubling as the system’s legal and technical problems,” the report notes.

  • Subterranean security

    Underground settings are becoming increasingly relevant to global security and safety. Rising populations and urbanization are requiring military and civilian first responders to perform their duties below ground in human-made tunnels, underground urban spaces, and natural cave networks. DARPA two weeks ago announced its newest challenge — the DARPA Subterranean Challenge – to accelerate development of critical lifesaving capabilities.

  • Climate change & migration

    New research predicts that migrants applying for asylum in the European Union will nearly triple over the average of the last fifteen years by 2100 if carbon emissions continue on their current path. The study suggests that cutting emissions could partially stem the tide, but even under an optimistic scenario, Europe could see asylum applications rise by at least a quarter.

  • Visa Waiver Program

    Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen last Friday announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State and other federal agencies, is taking action to strengthen the “already robust national security and immigration enforcement elements” of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP is a comprehensive security partnership with many of America’s allies. VWP permits citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa.

  • Border fence
    Julián Aguilar, Kiah Collier, and T. Christian Miller

    Long before President Donald Trump promised to build a wall, Homeland Security used its powers of eminent domain to seize hundreds of acres of land in south Texas to construct a border fence. Under the law, if the government takes or damages your property, it’s supposed to pay to make you whole again. In Texas, the agency has paid $18 million to landholders over the last decade. But scores of Texas landowners who have lived in the shadow of the border fence for years were never compensated for any damage to their property values.

  • Border security
    Julián Aguilar

    The Department of Homeland Security’s announced this week a near-record decline in the number of people caught trying to enter the country illegally. Yet the Trump administration still wants to hire thousands of more border agents.

  • Subterranean warfare

    Subterranean warfare—whether involving human-made tunnels, underground urban infrastructure, or natural cave networks—has been an element of U.S. military operations from the Second World War and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. As above-ground commercial and military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities continue to grow more capable and ubiquitous, adversaries are increasingly heading underground to circumvent detection. Rapid global urbanization, furthermore, is accelerating the frequency and complexity of dangerous subterranean environments faced not just by warfighters, but also by emergency responders performing search-and-rescue missions underground: in collapsed mines, for instance, or municipal or urban settings wrecked by natural disaster. DARPA issues a Request for Information which seeks concepts for novel systems and component technologies to disruptively augment military and civilian operations underground.

  • Climate & immigration

    From Trump to Heinz, some of America’s most famous family names and brands trace their origins back to Germans who emigrated to the country in the nineteenth century. Researchers have now found that climate was a major factor in driving migration from Southwest Germany to North America during the nineteenth century.

  • Terrorism
    Alex Nowrasteh

    From 1975 through 31 October 2017, the annual chance of being murdered in a terror attack on U.S. soil committed by a foreign-born person stands at 1 in 3,808,094 per year. In all, 3,037 people have been murdered on U.S. soil by 182 foreign-born terrorists from 1975 through 31 October 2017 (this figure includes the nearly 3,000 killed on 9/11). Of those 182 foreign-born terrorists, 63 initially entered with green cards. Including Tuesday’s attack, those who entered on a green card killed 16 people, or about 0.53 percent of all people murdered in terror attacks on U.S. soil committed by a foreigner. If the number of injuries in Tuesday’s attack stays at 12, terrorists who entered on green cards have injured about 203 people during this period in attacks.

  • Immigration
    Ethan Lewis

    After a man barreled down a New York City bike path on Oct. 31, killing eight, President Donald Trump reacted by calling for an end to the “green card lottery” program that allowed the attacker to enter the country. As someone who researches the impact of immigration on workers, I believe their plans to change who can enter the country legally is a big mistake. We would be giving up a program that benefits American workers with very little chance of a gain in safety. Immigration that emphasizes diversity, rather than merely merit, tends to attract more people who specialize in occupations uncommon among U.S.-born workers. And, in fact, this is the key source of the well-known economic benefits of immigration. Studies show this tendency toward job specialization is a key reason the large volume of low-skill immigration does not drive down incomes of Americans. Other research shows that simply encouraging immigration from diverse origins lifts wages. Put differently, there is direct evidence that the sort of diversity that the green card lottery encourages makes all Americans better off. It would be a shame to give all of that up because of a tiny risk of terrorism.

  • Tunnels

    The Israel military (IDF) on Monday morning destroyed a tunnel Hamas fighters were building under the Israel-Gaza Strip. The Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza said that nine Palestinians were killed and eight others were wounded when the IDF blew up the tunnel. Israel this summer began work on an underground barrier meant to counter attack tunnels.

  • Border wall

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Thursday that construction for prototypes of the Border Wall has concluded in San Diego. The prototype construction phase is complete. CBP will now test and evaluate the finished products, provided by industry, to determine which wall design elements meets our needs. This testing and evaluation period will last thirty to sixty days.

  • Immigration

    Leaders of the populist, nationalist AfD party, which entered the Bundestag for the first time after Sunday federal election, have pledged to fight an “invasion of foreigners” with its new MPs. Alexander Gauland, speaking in Berlin the morning after the election results came in, said his party would “uncompromisingly address” immigration, an issue the party has campaigned on since late 2015. “One million people – foreigners – being brought into this country are taking away a piece of this country and we as AfD don’t want that,” Gauland told a press conference late Sunday. “We say we don’t want to lose Germany to an invasion of foreigners from a different culture. Very simple.”

  • Immigration
    Ethan Lewis

    Those who wish to restrict immigration often cite what they naïvely call “supply-and-demand economics” to essentially argue that the economy is a fixed pie that gets divided among a country’s residents. Fewer immigrants means “more pie” for the U.S.-born, as the story goes. I am an economist, and this is not what my colleagues and I say. The commonplace argument that increases in the volume of immigration, by themselves, lower wages and take jobs from Americans – an argument which Attorney General Jeff Sessions used to defend ending DACA – has neither empirical nor theoretical support in economics. It is just a myth. Instead, both theory and empirical research show that immigration, including low-skill and low-English immigration, grows the pie and strengthens the American workforce.

  • DACA

    The University of California on Friday filed suit in federal court against the Trump administration for wrongly and unconstitutionally violating the rights of the University and its students by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on “nothing more than unreasoned executive whim.” UC President Janet Napolitano was secretary of DHS from 2009 to 2013, and created the DACA program in 2012.

  • Harvey & immigrants
    Julián Aguilar

    Immigration enforcement and Border Patrol officials reiterated on Thursday that their agents are not conducting routine immigration operations during rescue efforts in Southeast Texas — despite rumors to the contrary. ICE spokeswoman said that the false reports about ICE conducting immigration enforcement operations during rescue missions “are furthering an unhelpful narrative that could ultimately discourage people from seeking help in a dire situation.”

  • Immigration
    Steven Mulroy

    President Donald Trump may pardon Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who illegally used racial profiling to enforce immigration laws. It’s true, Trump has the legal power to pardon pretty much anyone. But pardoning Arpaio could send the message that state and local officials can aggressively enforce federal immigration law, even if it risks racial profiling and violating the due process rights of citizens and noncitizens.