Border security and Boston attack highlight nexus between terrorism, immigration

April 15, 2013

With bi-partisan comprehensive immigration legislation ready to move forward this week in the Senate, an old and well-documented issue could derail the immigration train’s momentum.

Immigration reform, a “hot-button” topic in Washington for decades, continues to have a polarizing political effect on policy. A few weeks ago at a DC press conference, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that Congress should not rely on border security metrics as a “trigger” to bestow legal status to the so-called 11 million illegal immigrants residing in America.

“Relying on one thing (illegal border crossings or border apprehensions) as a so-called trigger is not the way to go,” Napolitano explained to reporters. “There needs to be certainty in the bill so that people know when they can legalize and then when a pathway to citizenship … would open up.”

The Secretary’s stance is not new; she has been traveling to U.S./Mexico border cities assuring reporters the “border is as secure as it’s ever been.” In other words, move along folks nothing to see here (Read story from San Diego press conference).

The DHS Secretary recently had trouble explaining to Congress why she hadn’t developed a metric measuring true border security. “That is a very … difficult thing to do in any kind of statistically significant way.”

While ignoring actual border security is the Administration’s modus operandi, the absence of discussion regarding those who come to U.S. seeking to kill Americans is thundering in its silence. Border Patrol refers to them as OTMs or “Other Than Mexicans.” As it turns out the OTMs are the fastest growing group of illegal border crossers that Border Patrol apprehends.

Retired Senior Special Agent (INS), contributor to the 9/11 Commission, and National Security expert Mike Cutler points out the “gang of eight” or in his words the “eight gangsters” fail to acknowledge and address the terrorism issues that overshadow border security and comprehensive immigration reform.

The 9/11 Commission Report and the 9/11 Commission Staff Reports on “Terrorist Travel” performed in-depth analyses of how the terrorists, who attacked the American homeland on September 11, 2001 were able to enter the United States and embed themselves in the country as they prepared to launch their murderous attack.

The first paragraph of the 9/11 Commission Report preface states:

“It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.”

The report was published in 2004.

National Security Fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), Janice Kephart concurs. “9/11 consisted of 19 individuals who abused a lax border system to enter, assimilate and carry out attacks on September 11th,” said Kephart, who was also counsel for the September 11th Commission. “We cannot afford to bifurcate from the issue of immigration its inevitable connection to national security. When we do, terrorists will inevitably use our immigration system, assimilate and carry out an attack. We have been lucky up until now to have either bombs not detonate or investigators thwart an attack… Having a solid border security system that can determine potential terrorists before they set foot in America, or are given immigration benefits to stay in America, is a step towards prevention. Unfortunately, it is not part of the current immigration rhetoric. But it should be.”

Also, Special Agent Cutler cites another significant paragraph under the title “Immigration Benefits” found on page 98 of the Commission’s report:

“Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.

It is absolutely impossible to comprehend how, given all of these facts, there is even a debate about whether or not our borders should be secured and our immigration laws be enforced in such a way as to deprive terrorists the opportunity to enter our country and embed themselves in our country.”

Cutler warns that the current immigration reform legislation’s lack of background checks would provide a legal pathway for terrorists to set up cells and prepare for another homeland attack. “It is insane that the administration is providing identity documents at Citizenship and Immigration Services without having any way to ascertain who they really are,” he said.

Cutler also testified at a series of Congressional hearings roughly six years ago about an earlier version of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which he said fortunately the American electorate soundly defeated.

“At that time I referred to Comprehensive Immigration Reform as being the ‘Terrorist Assistance and Facilitation Act’ in an Op-Ed I wrote for the Washington Times. The title of my commentary was: Immigration Bill a “No Go.”

Cutler says he was gratified that Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee quoted from his Op-Ed (with attribution) on three separate days on the floor of the United States Senate during contentious floor debates on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Talking about the 2013 version of immigration reform, Cutler highlights many red flags.

“If Comprehensive Immigration Reform was to be enacted, there would be no way to verify the identities, backgrounds, entry data or intentions of the millions or, more likely, tens of millions of aliens who would be granted immediate employment authorization,” Cutler argues. “This would irreparably undermine national security. The present administration is providing undocumented aliens with identity documents without even conducting face-to-face interviews.”

Cutler goes on to explain the latest terror attack in Boston; “We don’t know who carried out the attack in Boston- but it is important to note that one of the primary reasons for our border and immigration laws is to prevent the entry of enemies and terrorists.”

While the details are still emerging from the attack today in Boston, it’s important to keep in mind the attack has the earmarks of an al-Qaeda style-assault. It’s curious that the perpetrators timed the “twin bombs” to detonate well after the Boston Marathon elite runners, mostly foreigners/Africans, cleared the scene. Leaving primarily Americans’ dead or maimed and injured.

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© Copyright 2013 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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