Enhancing National Security by Strengthening the Immigration System: The Case of Terrorism in Kenya
In Kenya, various departments are established constitutionally or through legislation to carry out prescribed functions to pursue or enhance national security interests. One of the key legislations is the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011. The legislation on immigration policy has a broad mandate and the Immigration Department is intended to regulate and control the entry and exit of both aliens and nationals of Kenya. While this security-related function is outlined in the instrument of legislation, some handicaps emerge on how the department should enforce some of her policy objectives when it is not constitutionally classified as an organ of national security. This study sought to assess the extent to which strengthening the Kenya’s immigration system can prevent terrorist activities in the country and hence enhance her national security. In so doing, it sought to analyze terrorist activities in Kenya between 1963 and 2015, based on manipulation of the immigration system; investigate the nexus between immigration and terrorism; identify the loopholes in Kenya’s immigration system which are exploited by foreign terrorists; and explore long-term solutions necessary for eliminating the systemic vulnerabilities to terrorist activities in Kenya. The study adopted a survey approach to data collection and several interviews were scheduled with key informants to gather the necessary sufficient data for answering the research question. The data collected was analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative techniques. The Department of Immigration headquarters in Nairobi and selected Border posts were the major participants in the study and the researcher was able to interact comprehensively with the policy implementation and coordination personnel during the study. While the findings of the study reveal that a relationship exists between immigration, terrorism, and national security, the Kenya’s Immigration Department currently lacks a documented chronological account of terrorist activities in Kenya from 1963 to date. In addition, the study findings indicate that the immigration system is characterized by a number of loopholes and systemic vulnerabilities, including inter alia, conflicting and overlapping immigration laws, corruption, inadequate staffing levels and poor working conditions for immigration officials, lack of collaboration and information sharing between agencies involved in border security, as well as underdeveloped human resource capacity of the immigration system. In order to address the identified loopholes and systemic vulnerabilities, with a view of strengthening the Kenya’s immigration system, preventing terrorism, and enhancing Kenya’s national security, the study recommends inter alia, the amendment of the Constitution to categorize the Immigration Service as a security organ;the need for close collaboration among agencies involved in border security; legislative reforms in the immigration sector; improved working conditions and staffing levels; strict enforcement of immigration laws; as well as involvement of the Muslim community in the war against terrorism.