Just two days before Christmas, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) took the first step to prepare for a possible "surge" of unaccompanied minors in 2015. HHS posted a "Sources Sought" notice to gather information on "options for contract surge capacity to shelter and care" for children who enter the country on their own. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 placed the responsibility for such children on HHS instead of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
At this point, HHS is not estimating the number of children for which care may be needed in the coming year:
No decisions have been made regarding the need for surge capacity in 2015, but ORR is exploring options available should the need arise. The purpose of the temporary structures with staffing and services is to identify agencies capable of standing-up soft-sided structures, trailers, or other temporary structures that could shelter 100-2,500 children on federally leased or owned land.
The Washington Postreported in October that Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson placed the fiscal 2014 total of unaccompanied children at 68,434. After an enormous surge in the summer months, the numbers fell quickly in the fall. It is not yet clear if President Obama's immigration actions announced in late November have had any impact on that trend.
As the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) capture territory and establish a caliphate stretching across the now-eradicated Syria-Iraq border, hard-won gains secured with American blood and treasure are being lost. We are watching the rise of potentially the gravest threat to our national security in a generation, one that surpasses even the threat we faced on 9/11.
One of the minor disgraces of this year's campaign is that the presidential candidates act as if the war in Afghanistan doesn't exist. We have 84,000 troops fighting over there in very difficult circumstances; they've had a tough few weeks, with 41 killed in the last month, but the candidates barnstorm the country with barely a mention of the war or the troops.
Tuesday's Wall Street Journal features a very important piece on Afghanistan by Kim and Fred Kagan. The Kagans show how irresponsible it would be for the president to announce the withdrawal of a substantial number of troops in July, as some political advisers in the White House are advocating. They also point out how irresponsible it would be to establish a "bookend" of announcing the planned withdrawal of all the surge troops in 2012.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, famously said in 2007 that “in Afghanistan, we do what we can. In Iraq, we do what we must.” That strategic view was supposed to change when Barack Obama was elected president. It was candidate Obama, after all, who argued that the war in Iraq was the wrong war to be fighting, and a significant distraction from the far more important conflict in Afghanistan.
President Obama sure did cover a lot of ground last week in his address to the nation announcing the end of combat operations in Iraq. At times the speech resembled one of those late-night, beer-fueled freshman dorm bull sessions, where you start off discussing Led Zeppelin and end up ten hours later debating the ontological principle.
Though he'll regretably be remembered most for his turn in Rolling Stone, we should not forget Gen. Stanley McChrystal's contributions to his country, the Army, and the conflict in Afghanistan.
At McChrystal's Fort McNair retirement ceremony Friday, Robert Gates said of the general, "Over the past decade, arguably no single American has inflicted more fear, more loss of freedom and more loss of life on our country's most vicious and violent enemies than Stan McChrystal."