National Security and the Constitution of Free Societies

On Friday, March 31st, 2017 the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS) partnered with the National Center for Policy Analysis and the Philadelphia Society to host a breakfast panel event entitled National Security and the Constitution of Free Societies. Guests gathered at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, TX for two panels on Immigration and U.S. Diplomacy and National Intelligence.

The first panel, “Balancing Immigration and National Security in a Free Society,” featured SFS Executive Director Joseph Humire and the Hon. Javier Fernández Lasquetty of the Universidad Francisco Marroquín, and was moderated by Philadelphia Society President Alejandro Chafuen.


Mr. Humire illustrated the role immigration policy plays in national security and the struggle policymakers face in protecting the nation as a whole while preserving individual liberties. He emphasized the essential role of national security policy in the U.S. government’s fundamental mission to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens, and added that immigration and border security constitute the “first line of defense” in creating national security policy. In the context of immigration and national security, he discussed the necessity of deemphasizing certain individual liberties in order to protect the nation.

Fernández Lasquetty focused on the national security implications of different kinds of immigration. While most public debates on immigration policy tend to focus on legal versus illegal immigration, he noted, another debate worth mentioning is the issue of permanent versus impermanent immigration. He elaborated this idea with a discussion on cultural assimilation of immigrants into a free society, considering the question of transience or intransience as factors in an immigrant’s decision to assimilate into a new society and culture.


Fernández Lasquetty argued that a classical liberal societal framework allows immigrants to assimilate not as a result of policy, but through responsible, free action; creating policy aimed at facilitating migrant assimilation assumes that all immigrants must be the same, rather than a diverse group of individuals. By focusing on policies that treat individuals as a homogenous block, he contended, the government wades into dangerous territory and risks catering to one individual or type of individual rather than adhering to systems and processes enshrined in the Constitution.

The second panel, entitled “Global Impacts of U.S. Diplomacy, National Intelligence and the Deep State,” featured the Hon. José Luís Sardón of the Peruvian Supreme Court and Ambassador Philip Hughes, who held several senior appointments in the Departments of State, Commerce, and Defense under the Reagan and Bush administrations. The panel was moderated by SFS Senior Fellow J.D. Gordon.


Mr. Sardón opened the panel with a discussion on how U.S. diplomacy and intelligence have impacted security issues in Latin America. He compared the Peruvian government’s response to terrorism with that of the United States. Sardón drew parallels between the fight against the Peruvian terror group Sendero Luminoso and the U.S. offensive against Al Qaeda. While acknowledging the differences between the two struggles— “Sendero Luminoso… was an eminently national phenomenon, while [Al Qaeda] still represents a global threat…” Sardón also argued that American ideas about Peruvian anti-terror actions fail to acknowledge the similarities between the two terror groups. “Both of them employed—or still employ—vicious violence against civilians to advance their ideological objectives” he stated.

Sardón further pointed to U.S. ignorance of the threats Latin American countries face from domestic and international terrorism. This is largely reflected in the manner the U.S. has presided over the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights over the past few decades. He cited instances in which the United States – though unwilling to accept the jurisdiction of the IACHR for itself – has filed cases with the Court regarding human rights abuses committed by Peru and other Latin American countries in their attempts to fight terrorism. Sardón pointed out U.S. hypocrisy in asserting moral authority over how other countries handle terrorists, while refusing to adhere to the same standards in its dealings with Al Qaeda and other global terror groups. He also noted that the U.S. “one size fits all” approach to anti-terror action has weakened Latin American nations’ ability to eradicate terror in their own territories.

As he concluded his remarks, Sardón expressed his view that American policymakers of all political leanings would recognize what he described as the hypocrisy of U.S. diplomacy in the region and hoped the new Trump administration would play a critical role in reversing these long-standing contradictions.


Ambassador Hughes concluded the panel, speculating how the Trump administration might shape its foreign policy, especially in areas of national security and diplomacy. He drew parallels between the issues faced by the Reagan administration in the 1980s and those faced by the Trump administration today, expressing his hope that the Trump administration would draw upon the policies and initiatives of the Reagan administration in forming its own diplomatic policy.

The event concluded with a brief question and answer session and remarks from Joe Barnett of the NCPA.

We thank all of our speakers, moderators, and guests for attending the event and contributing to the discussion on national security in a free society. Additional thanks go to the National Center for Policy Analysis and the Philadelphia Society for partnering with SFS to produce this event.