Immigration and National Security: 2010 Update

Executive Summary

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — unlike previous terrorist attacks in the United States — tragically brought home to the American public that we are vulnerable to attack by international terrorists.

While the attacks of 9/11 shocked the nation, they were not unpredictable. In the years leading up to the attacks, FAIR repeatedly warned that our lax immigration policies and failure to enforce our laws exposed our nation to unnecessary risk. Since 9/11, FAIR has issued annual analyses of ongoing threats posed by immigration policies and practices and the reforms needed to reduce those vulnerabilities. The following discussion updates developments in the past year on the needed immigration reforms related to national security.

Despite the passage of nine years, there is broad consensus that much more needs to be done to protect ourselves against a similar attack in the future. The failed effort to detonate a massive car bomb in New York City’s Times Square in May demonstrates that a determined terrorist can exploit weaknesses in the system. That attempted act of terrorism failed only because of the ineptitude of the bomber.

In advocating for the elimination of immigration policy loopholes that we and the 9/11 Commission argue create vulnerabilities, we do not claim that achievement of those reforms will provide absolute security, but we do argue that failing to do so creates an unjustifiable risk for the American public.

The full report is available in pdf format.