Header

Sri Lanka Army

Defenders of the Nation

30th August 2018 14:03:06 Hours

“Science-Fiction, Biometric Scanners or Impermeable Borders won’t Solve the Challenges of Migration” - NPS Lecturer

Dr (Ms) Carolyn Halladay, Senior Lecturer in Homeland Security at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California USA in his presentation to the ‘Colombo Defence Seminar - 2018’ sessions, chaired by Mr H.M.G.S Palihakkara, Former Foreign Secretary claims that science-fiction, biometric scanners or impermeable borders won’t solve the challenges of migration but should be used for human benefit.

Here follows her full speech;

To my several former students among the Sri Lankan officer corps, I wish to add a special hello and my appreciation for your continued hard work as you apply your education and intellect to the advancement of your services and your country.

I am from the west coast of the United States. NPS is a graduate university offering Master’s and doctoral degrees in more than 70 fields of study to the US armed forces, civilians, certain other civilians in the public sector, and international partners. While I am an employee of the U.S. Navy, my comments here today are my own. They do not reflect the policy or position of the university, the U.S. Navy, or the U.S. Defense Department, nor should they be construed as such.

This talk and, indeed, my whole perspective as both a practitioner and a scholar of homeland security begins with the proposition that the greatest challenges and the greatest promise in homeland security are people: People in uniform, people in government, people in the civil service, citizens, leaders, men, women, children, people. In particular, I want to discuss the diverse effects of migration and demographic change people moving around the globe and people in various stages of life on the broader project of homeland security, as these factors are particularly relevant to the homeland security of your country and mine today. This analysis can, I think, be applied to a variety of people centered causes and effects in homeland security.

I probably should explain “homeland security” a bit further right here at the beginning. In the United States, there is a Department of Homeland Security a cabinet-level ministry that was stood up in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.More than 240,000 employees serve the nation in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cyber security analysis to chemical facility inspection. The US Coast Guard is part of DHS. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is part of DHS. Now, most of the component agencies within DHS existed before 2001, obviously. In the wake of the terror attacks, however, these agencies and their competencies were removed from the various ministries in which they used to be home and brought together as the Department of Homeland Security for improved cooperation, planning, and communications.

These missions tend to fall to the interior ministry or the home office in other states.I don’t want to give the impression, then, that I’m speaking particularly of DHS in the United States. Rather, I want to discuss what is “homeland security”as it applies to that realm of borders in security, intelligence, policing, and disaster response that, in my country, is in resolutely civilian hands. US legal and cultural precedent disfavors a prominent military presence in domestic security, border control, or domestic intelligence; it’s not even that normal to see active-duty military personnel engaged in disaster response. In such other states as Sri Lanka, these duties routinely fall to the armed forces, which is, in part, how I come to be speaking to you today on this theme. Anyway, when I speak of homeland security, I mean the domestic side of national security. As we will see presently, however, even the borders in aspect of security has significant regional and international influences and aspects and solutions, ideally.

So now let’s turn to the topic of migration. In 2017, 258 million people counted as migrants people of one nationality living in a different state. This figure sounds like a lot of people; it is about equivalent to the population of Indonesia, after all. In context, migrants account for just 3.4 percent of the world’s population right now.Still, globally speaking, migrant flows are higher than they have been since the end of World War II, according to the intelligence reports.

As such, migration forms a major political issue in the United States today, among other places. For one thing, the United States is the top destination nation for migration, according to UN Population Division statistics, with nearly 50 million international migrants in the country in 2017. In other words, about one in five of the migrants on the move, so to speak, today, is in the United States. The proportions hold true for illegal migration, was well, which accounts for the current very dim view of migration in the United States.

For the most part, migration to the United States owes to economics people are seeking a better life. The trend today is toward highly skilled and educated migrations coming to the United States overwhelmingly from China and India, in fact. These migrants tend to stay for short periods, gain new skills or perspectives, and go home or onto the next assignment. Often such work serves to improve the family’s finances at home. The United States is the No. 1 country for outgoing remittances, that is, money sent from legal work in one country to relatives in another country. Some $56.3 billion with a “b”left the United States in 2014 in the form of remittances. This sum sounds like a lot, but it actually forms 3 percent of GDP, which, by this measure, puts the United States at No. 87 in the world for outflows for remittances.

Fun fact: The United States is also the 21 stranked migrant-sending country, with 3 million outgoing immigrants in 2017. In other words, for every 100 people coming into the country in 2017, six emigrated elsewhere.

Now, Sri Lanka sees the opposite migration trend, with 40,000 international migrants in the country as of last year but with 1,727,000 Sri Lankans abroad. Overall, Sri Lanka is ranked 37th among sending nations of migrants. Still, it’s a significant proportion of the population. There are nearly 500,000 Sri Lankans in Saudi Arabia, for example. Presumably, many of these migrants work as household help or variously skilled labor.

Let me offer you some other national-level comparisons:

Australia is a net receiver (No. 9 destination), with just more than 7 million migrants in the country in 2017 and 542,000 Australians living as migrants elsewhere.Australia is No. 16 for outgoing remittances at $7 billion; it also is the No. 50 receiving country at $2.3 billion.

Canada is the No. 8 destination 7.861 million but also the 42nd sending nation (1.36 million). As a share of GDP, Canada is 1st in both sending and receiving remittances in 2014.

The UK is the No. 5 destination 8.8 million but also the 10th sending nation (nearly 5 million Britons outside the country, presumably because of the ease of living around the EU). I expect Brexit to change these numbers.

India is No. 12 among destination nations with a bit more than 5 million migrants in the country. It is the No. 1 sending nation, with 16.5 million Indians living overseas last year many to the United States, as I noted.

Let’s talk briefly about a very particular case: Syria. Syria is the 6th largest sending nation, with 6.8 million Syrians living as migrants in 2017.The war there has displaced these people. Between 1.1 million and 1.5 million Syrians have fled through a porous border to Lebanon, a country of about 4 million people. Consider the security implications within Lebanon now where one school child in three is a refugee from Syria. Millions more Syrians poured into Turkey and then into Europe, precipitating the rise of populist and even nativist political parties and movements throughout the EU that have imperiled mainstream governments possibly even the European Union itself. The specter of extremist terrorists hiding among these refugees and infiltrating the United States gave momentum to the travel ban that was finally approved by the Supreme Court in June this year. In fact, EO 13780 specifically denies entry to the United States by any Syrian national as a direct articulation of this fear.

The Syrian case or the case of the Syrians provides some important insights into migration as a security and, indeed, strategic concern in the future. The National Intelligence Council, in its Futures 2035 report, posits several trends that relate to migration in the near and medium term. One, for example, is climate change; both rising seas and increasingly unpredictable weather pose special challenges for island nations. What happens when whole chunks of, say, Maldives are lost to the ocean water or if another record hurricane season displaces entire coastal populations?

Add to the immediate and lasting pressures of mass migration a second Global Trends factor:“Ideas and identities are driving a wave of exclusion.” In other words, the migrants of the near future are likely to encounter receiving nations that do not welcome them. I’m thinking of recent reports about refugees in the Mediterranean, who were seen on their foundering vessel by several ships, but these ships did not stop to help because, amid virulent political turmoil about refugees in Europe, the captains were worried that they would be denied entry to ports or aid with the refugees aboard. These responses are nationalist in every sense of the word.

National-level responses are necessary but not sufficient. That is, if we regard each immigrant as a discreet, present-tense case of passport and visa control at the national boundary plus, perhaps, some additional reporting or registration with the authorities of the receiving countries then we see one broad category of homeland security considerations leading the response: border security. We would speak in terms of border governance and orderly crossings or improved identity verification (for example, biometrics) and screening.

Similarly, we might think of the emigrants the people leaving their home countries as sources of remittance monies. In some states, the diaspora population looms large in policy considerations and “engagement” outreach. From a homeland security perspective, the population of nationals living abroad also might present concerns if they are, for example, being unduly politicized either by parties in their new states of residence or as extensions of parties at home. (This concern persists about the Turkish population, naturalized or resident, in Germany, which has banned Turkish political rallies in several German cities.) In some cases, we might worry about radicalization or other problematic conversions, particularly as these migrants return home.

But even then, we are thinking of migration in and out in one dimension, as a national issue.I would argue that in framing the response in strictly national terms, we miss the greater homeland and national security implications and opportunities of migration.

The fact is that migration also marks a response to broader demographic trends. On the whole, the highly industrialized nations are facing declining birth rates in some cases, drastically declining birth rates. Put another way, these states are aging. This observation holds true for all of Europe except perhaps Russia, as well as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and even Singapore. Thus, even my characterization of most migration to the United States as economically motivated misses an important piece of context, namely what the United States (or any other country) gains for all this immigration talent, labor, expertise, know-how, and everything else the economy requires even if the native-born U.S. workforce is dwindling. Certainly, Angela Merkel was thinking in these terms when she welcomed more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees to Germany over the last three or four years. (An aging population also requires care-takers, especially medical professionals.) In this sense, immigration represents a brain-gain for the receiving state and, over the longer term (after the disruptions of the initial period), migration promises to fill the demographic gap. So it’s a happy ending, right?

Well, for the most part. But what about the folks at home that is, the states that these migrants have left to seek their fortunes?This outflow may represent a “surplus” of labor, particularly young labor, that exceeds the local capacity to absorb and employ homegrown workers. (In such cases, we are addressing a different demographic condition, a so-called youth bulge, which we expect to see in Afghanistan, for example, where the population of children and now young adults has outstripped the institutions and infrastructure that would school or employ them.) On the other hand, it might represent a brain-drain, to the extent that the sending country’s economy may not be able to sustain as many young, educated professionals as it creates and probably needs.

The corollary to brain-drain, amid these same conditions, is brain-waste, which refers to the underemployment or undervaluing of capable, educated people without prospects for gainful work in their field of expertise. Think here about an engineer who, for want of work, must earn a living as a day laborer or a computer expert who drives a taxi not because he wants to but because there are so few opportunities in his home country, despite a solid education. If such a person cannot or will not leave his home country in search of employment, his only other option is a job that does not use his education or skills. At the very least, this person represents a lifetime of lost opportunity for his home country, as well as himself. In terms of homeland security and in this case, we might also say “human security”you can imagine the ways in which this situation might play out poorly in terms poverty, mental and physical illness, loss of civic faith, radicalization, etc.

Trends in education and urbanization are expected to continue, according to the Global Trends 2035 report, which means more and more smart, educated job-seekers will be hoping to land a good job at home but will know they are highly employable elsewhere. Soon enough, the lost opportunities could multiply exponentially whole sectors could stagnate for want of new energy and ideas or of educated or skilled people to take undervalued or underdeveloped professional jobs.

Take, for example, cyber-security. If, as the Global Trends report posits, technology continues to spread and proliferate, cyber-security will become an even more pressing concern. But what if the brain-power just isn’t there anymore to keep the country’s capabilities current, let alone to innovate new defenses and strategies? Who will teach the next generation of homegrown experts?

What about regional solutions? There is some interesting work being done, especially in and on the ASEAN states, on the notion of “brain circulation” as an alternative model to the national approach. Brain circulation seeks to make the most of human capital and mobility on a regional basis, culminating in mutual recognition arrangements for seven professions accounting, architecture, dentistry, engineering, medicine, nursing, and tourism that have been in place since 2014. The plan seeks to facilitate the happy distribution of professionals and opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Needless to say, it seems we have by now gone quite a way beyond the immediate realm of the homeland, though the impacts on the homeland of even global migration are plain enough. We certainly seem to have exceeded the purview of the armed forces, the police, or any other homeland security professional. In a way, that’s my whole point: securing the homeland is not just something for the security services to do; the example of migration makes this point very clear. At some level, the causes and contexts are connected interlaced so elaborately that it seems folly to try to pick at just one aspect. Thus science-fiction biometric scanners or absolutely impermeable borders will not solve the challenges of migration, as they don’t speak to the causes or context. Rather, a human problem a problem of and by humans requires human insight, human expertise, and human ingenuity.As Ban-Ki Moon said, “Migration presents policy challenges but also represents an opportunity to enhance human development, promote decent work, and strengthen collaboration.” All of these things can only benefit the homeland and its security.