Immigration and National Security (2008)

A Checklist of Unfinished Reforms

In the seven years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks that took nearly innocent 3,000 lives, national security reform measures have been proposed, legislated, and partially implemented. Yet public officials and security experts warn that we continue to live in danger from the ongoing efforts of al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations that strive to inflict damage on our homeland. For example, security experts warn that attacks are possible to disrupt the November elections.

The undetected presence of the 19 foreigners in the United States who carried out the 9/11 attacks demonstrated that immigration law — the regulation of who enters our country under what conditions and for what length of time — is an integral aspect of national security policy. Of course, the issue of national security is much broader than just the immigration-related aspects, and the issue of immigration policy and enforcement is much broader than the aspects that relate to national security, but there is a very large area of overlap between the two. That area is the focus of this checklist of unfinished reforms.

The public needs to know how it can be better protected at home from this threat from abroad. The questions that must be asked are:

  • What were the loopholes in 2001 that allowed international terrorists to enter and freely organize to carry out the 9/11 attacks?
  • What has been done to close those loopholes?
  • What remains to be done?
  • What are the impediments to further progress?

Long before the 9/11 attacks, FAIR warned that our unsecured borders and lax enforcement of our immigration laws posed a threat to our national security. We have advocated for specific reforms to minimize the risks to our nation and our citizens. On the seventh anniversary of those attacks we review those proposed remedies and how they would address three aspects of immigration-related threats to national security. These three areas of vulnerability are:

  • The ability of terrorists to legally enter the country in order to carry out future attacks.
  • The continuing political unwillingness to control our borders against illegal entry, thereby undermining security advances gained by greater control over legal entry.
  • The ability of terrorists who have gained entry into the country to escape detection as they prepare to carry out future attacks on the American public.

Read the full report in pdf format.