The fallout continues from President Donald Trump’s Monday morning tweet that some “Middle Easterners” were likely among the thousands of Central Americans in the U.S.-bound migrant caravan. To my mind and the minds of many homeland security professionals who know and understand this issue, the president was obviously referencing a homeland security problem about which I often write here, “special interest aliens” (SIAs). That’s government-speak for a category of U.S.-bound migrants moving along well-established Latin America smuggling routes from the countries of the Middle East, and also from South Asia and North Africa. For years, DHS agencies have tagged special interest aliens as posing a higher risk of committing terrorist acts because of the presence of Islamist terrorist organizations in some 30-plus Muslim-majority home countries.
And if Democrats, progressives, or their cable news allies want to believe this is crazy, racist, Republican fear-mongering, they’d have to somehow fit President Obama’s own DHS Secretary, Jeh Johnson, into the conspiracy for putting out this memo in 2016 about the high threat of special interest aliens.
A spin-fest ensued over this particular president’s suggestion about Middle Easterners moving through Latin America among Spanish-speakers. But his use of that term immediately struck me as a general reference to special interest aliens. Right and left slung rocks on cable TV and in the Twitter universe arguing over whether the president’s suggestion was fear-mongering electioneering not based in fact, or a legitimate kind of threat.
But out of all this came something useful, at least in terms of new public information about special interest alien migrants. These kinds of details don’t ordinarily see light of day because they’ve always been regarded as too sensitive for public consumption, and are often classified. But some interesting tidbits came out of the ruckus: