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Jewish World Review Oct. 22, 2001 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan 5762

Don Feder

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Terrorism must result in tighter borders -- IF Sept. 11 doesn't cause us to finally get serious about plugging our porous borders, nothing will.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein made the understatement of the year when she observed, "Clearly, something went tragically wrong with our immigration system."

Feinstein was referring to the ease with which terrorists have entered the United States, due to lack of adequate screening and an immigration system driven by special interests.

Did you know that mere membership in a terrorist group, or even advocating acts of terrorism, isn't automatically grounds for rejecting a visa application?

According to a state department handbook for consular officials, applicants should not be denied visas for simply belonging to the International Jihad to Annihilate Americans or shouting "Hurray, hijackers!" while leading an anti-American demonstration.

However, if the applicant is directly involved in terrorist activities, he can be excluded. Isn't that a relief?

If they provoked by the public burden or threat to national cohesion posed by illegal aliens, perhaps Americans will finally rise in indignation over a system that facilitates terrorism.

  • The Federation for American Immigration Reform has compiled a Terrorism Chronology, available on its Web site. Among other horror stories, it notes:

  • In 1990, Pakistani Mir Amal Kansi entered the country on a visa. When it expired in 1992, he applied for political asylum. While the application was pending, he was released with a work permit. A few months later, Kansi murdered two CIA employees outside the agency's headquarters.

  • Egyptians and Palestinians who took part in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center came here without visas. Due to lack of detention space, they were permitted to enter provisionally after asking for asylum. Those who allow jihad-land nationals to roam the country belong in an asylum.

  • In 1997, a group of Palestinians and Pakistanis were arrested on a tip-off to the New York police. (They had bombs and a note indicating they planned to attack the city's subway system.) One had been caught three times trying to enter the country illegally from Canada. On the third try, the Canadians refused to take him back. A judge ordered him to leave the U.S. in 60 days, but released him in the meantime. Another entered on a tourist visa but stayed on after it expired.

Some states have made it easy for illegals to get drivers' licenses, by not requiring motor vehicle agencies to verify an applicant's identity. Drivers' licenses have become our primary identity document, allowing holders to apply for welfare -- or board airplanes. Several of the Sept. 11 skyjackers had Florida, Virginia or New Jersey licenses.

Roughly 40 percent of all illegal immigrants enter on visas, then stay on illegally after their visas expire. The Immigration and Naturalization Service does little to track visa holders once they're here.

An article in the immigration-friendly New York Times admits, "Until Sept. 11, the system was geared to ease the way for commerce -- whether in the form of tourism, business or study."

The status quo has powerful patrons -- businesses who pay immigrants wages Americans won't accept, colleges desperate for students, politicians who rely on the ethnic communities for votes.

But immigration policy is a national concern. And Middle Eastern demolition crews aren't the only security threat.

Millions who come here illegally each year pose a different challenge. Many are unassimilable and constitute a growing alien bloc that could fragment the nation.

According to a poll by the newspaper Reforma, more than two-thirds of Mexicans disagreed with their government's decision to support the U.S. military action against Afghanistan. As Mexico is the principal source of illegal immigration, the reflexive anti-Americanism of its citizens should give us pause. President George Bush's proposal for another amnesty belongs on the back burner -- indefinitely.

Sept. 11 is often described as a wake-up call of one sort or another. In terms of controlling our borders, the phone is literally ringing off the hook.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate