**The names, number of people, and places recounted of in this story are left purposefully vague due to the fact that the individuals still have loved ones in Cuba and fear reprisals.**
The Cuba-Trinidad Route for Illegal Immigrants Into America
A few short weeks ago, my wife and I attended a church service in the Washington, D.C.-metro area. After the service, we were invited to lunch. While there, I was introduced to a group of young men who had recently escaped from Cuba. They regaled us with the tale of their recent, harrowing passage from a small inland village in Cuba, through Trinidad, and into the United States.
My wife and I were told of the pain that these Cubans experienced just trying to leave Cuba (which the Obama Administration has just given a new lease on life with its recent diplomatic rapprochement, but that’s another story for another time). After escaping the hell that was the Cuban jungle, these young Cubans paid a boat captain off to take them across the Caribbean Sea into Trinidad. Once there, these young men–classified as “illegals” by the Trinidadian government–realized that they were not alone.
Arriving through one of the open maritime borders to Trinidad, these Cuban immigrants realized they were but one small contingent of Illegals moving through the Caribbean, all headed toward one destination: the United States of America. When speaking to these refugees, and when looking at recent analyses of Illegal Immigration into the United States, one cannot help but notice that while economics is a key aspect of this issue, the main drivers of Illegal Immigration are issues of politics and security.
What’s more, antipathy toward Illegal Immigration has less to do with racial prejudice and more to do with a justifiable fear of criminality, terrorism, and negative political influences upon the host country. The simple fact is that it seems far less that masses of migrants are flowing across the broken border with Mexico and more that political refugees, criminals, and possibly terrorists are coming into the U.S. from Mexico.
It Is Security and Politics That Drive the Illegal Immigration Debate
If 2016 will be remembered for any one thing it will be regarded as the year of Illegal Immigration. Indeed, the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States has been almost entirely predicated on this contentious issue. As I have documented elsewhere, the recent Brexit vote was based mostly on the issue of the European Union’s extremely lax border controls.
Whatever economic benefits that immigrants (either illegal or legal) have conferred upon the UK, clearly, a majority of Britons felt that the cultural and political ramifications of ceaseless immigration flows was simply too dangerous to their national security. The same is also true of the United States. In a time of political instability and national insecurity (vis-a-vis terrorism and increased criminality on the border), many Americans no longer view current immigration policies (or lack thereof) as a net benefit to society.
While economic woes are a component of this complex issue, I do not believe that it is the driver of them. Please keep in mind that much of the Illegal Immigration to the U.S. has declined by a full two-thirds since the Great Recession began in 2007.
Also, please keep in mind, that as of 2015, Illegal Immigration has once more picked up (although for seven years it was at what’s known as “net zero,” in other words, very few people were migrating here illegally).
If it was all about the economic woes of white, working-class Americans, as the Mainstream Media would have us believe, then this issue should have gone away years ago, as Illegal Immigration had been in decline until 2015. But, it is not primarily about that. Indeed, this issue is about the uncertainty of just who we are allowing into America and what their intentions are that seems to be the question that most want answered.
This explains why Donald J. Trump, a highly unorthodox presidential candidate, has been resonating with many Americans. While it is easy to write his support off as nothing more than racial bias on the part of a dying breed of mostly-White, Blue-Collared Americans, such an assessment is both unfair and inaccurate.
This may just be an understandable concern over criminality, political corruption, and terrorism that is driving most people to support Mr. Trump’s unorthodox campaign.
Under this assumption, then, it should come as no surprise to you that it is not just Mexicans seeking work who are moving back-and-forth across America’s southwestern border. It is a great many Illegal Immigrants from not just Latin American states other than Mexico (such as Cuba), but it is also a large number of immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Are they all seeking work? Many of them are. But, is that the end of it? Most certainly not.
Indeed, the Cubans that I had the pleasure of speaking with a few weeks prior indicated that when they arrived in Trinidad, they realized that they were, in fact, a minority population among the lot of Illegal Immigrants who arrived onshore with them.
According to one of the Cubans, a majority of the Illegal Immigrants transiting through Trinidad with them, heading toward America’s porous southwestern border, were “Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.”
This Cuban refugee, solely focused on surviving a rough stay in the hostile Trinidad, and achieving his goal of passage to America, dared not busy himself with the intentions of other Illegal Immigrants, such as the Pakistani and Bangladeshis he happened to be traveling among.
But, I think we’d all be interested to know what those Pakistani and Bangladeshis were doing among the polyglot mix of Illegal Immigrants. We should be suspicious of such groups among the larger Illegal Immigrant community, not because we are predisposed to distrust or dislike Pakistanis, Bangladeshis (or any other ethnic minority from South Asia or the Middle East, for that matter). Rather, we must be suspicious because Pakistan and Bangladesh are hotbeds of Jihadist activity.
According to these anecdotal accounts, the number of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis that they encountered traveling up toward the United States numbered in the “many hundreds.” What are their intentions? Why are they taking such a circuitous route to enter into the United States? Why risk so much to cross illegally into the United States from South Asia? These are questions whose answers we’d like to know–and soon.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham has consistently stated that they plan on seeding their members throughout the refugee and Illegal Immigrant populations of North America and Europe, in order to conduct attacks. Al Qaeda also plans to do something similar. It has long been thought that Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist organization based in Lebanon, has been sending their agents through America’s broken border for several years.
The notion that there may be a handful of Wahhābīsts among these non-Hispanic Illegal Immigrants should be cause for concern. This is especially true, since Jihadist attacks outside of the Islamic world have increased exponentially in recent months (since May of 2016, there has been a Jihadi attack outside of Iraq and Syria every 83 hours).
The Islamic State has already perpetrated devastating terrorist attacks throughout Europe using refugees from Syria. Al Qaeda has massive support from the populations of both Pakistan and Bangladesh (as does the Islamic State), as I documented here.
Despite general Illegal Immigration from Mexico having remained at net zero from 2007-14, the fact is that transnational criminal and terrorist diasporas are migrating illegally to the U.S. from elsewhere at unprecedented levels. Multiple Jihadist groups have expressed interest in attacking America.
What’s more, the Border Patrol is woefully under-equipped, poorly funded, and improperly managed to make a difference here. These things taken together, along with the stories that the Cuban refugees shared with me a few weeks back, should serve as encouragement to U.S. policymakers to take a harder look at border security.
We would do well to remember that a nation-state incapable of securing its border is not really a state at all. It’s more of an amorphous entity, ready to be washed away by the ceaseless waves of humanity that flow over it. Border control is as old as the Westphalian state system itself. Indeed, it is the crux of it. For, what is a state without legitimate control of its borders? The U.S. has not known for some time who is coming into its territory. It is no longer just Mexican migrants seeking work. The Great Recession of 2008 and its after effects has seen to that. And, it is not even predominantly Latinos (a group not known for answering the call to Jihad) who are coming into the country illegally. It is now large swathes of people from states whose populations are viscerally anti-American.
It should neither be racist nor a stretch of the imagination to worry that the next big terrorist attack could come from the diasporas of Pakistanis or Bangladeshis who have arrived here illegally. And, just because these Illegal Immigrants are originating from either Pakistan or Bangladesh, does not mean that these Illegal Immigrants are, in fact, Pakistani or Bangladeshi, either. For instance, they could be Afghans who walked into Pakistan. Perhaps they were fighting–and killing–Americans in the battlefields of Afghanistan and decided to move over to the U.S. to strike at the heart of the so-called kufar.
The problem is that we do not know.
One solution would be to deploy U.S. Homeland Security and immigration services experts down to places like Trinidad. These oft-ignored states have become key hubs in the Illegal Immigration route into the U.S. through Mexico. DHS and immigration services experts could be used to coordinate with local authorities in places like Trinidad, in order to increase their capabilities at deterring Illegal Immigration.
Sending American immigration and DHS agents to consult with these local governments would also allow U.S. authorities to quickly identify the threats that may be coming up through our broken border. Such a system would be infinitely helpful to the beleaguered Border Patrol in the U.S. Yet, the Obama Administration refuses to take any kind of action. Given the way that the 2016 election is going (and the way that Brexit went), it is clear that most Westerners believe that the status quo is completely unacceptable.
A Simple Question
The simple question that seems to be driving this election–indeed Western civilization writ large in 2016–is: Who is coming through our porous borders? It’s not necessarily the poor, huddled masses seeking the landscaping jobs that Americans won’t do any longer. In many cases, it’s people with political or criminal (or both) agendas.
America needs to do more to protect itself. That isn’t racist. That’s common sense.