Horowitz: ISIS Raises the Stakes of a Porous Border

During his Labor Day speech on Monday, President Obama attempted to invent a new constitutional right – one that should alarm all conservatives, especially during this time of grave national security concerns. As he ticked off his litany of principle rights he supports, such as “women’s rights and civil rights,” he added an item to the list – “immigration rights.”

It is with this oblivious utopian ideology that the Obama administration plans to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, including those who overstayed their visas, offering legal protection to thousands of individuals who pose as a security threat. He is also threatening to expand immigrant and non-immigrant visas without the support of Congress.

Conservatives must be clear, that while reasonable people can debate the amount and type of immigration from a policy standpoint, the notion of a constitutional or natural right for anyone in the world to come to the United States is a radical and dangerous one.  Moreover, with the proliferation of Islamic terror, such a policy would represent the most clear and present threat to our national security.

Most ordinary Americans – people who do not modify their common sense views to conform with the Washington elite – were probably watching the arrest of Ailina Tsarnaeva, the sister of the Boston Marathon bomber, and wondered the same thing: why do we let people who are potential security risks into our country in the first place? Why do we allow persecutors like the Tsarnaeva family into America as asylees?

According to the Heritage Foundation, between 2001 and October 2012, there have been 53 attempted terror attacks since 2001.  Almost every one of them was plotted by a radical Muslim who came here legally – through our front door – from a region of the world that clearly represents a security threat. 

We definitely need to go on offense against radical jihadists overseas when appropriate, and one can make a strong case for bombing ISIS into the Stone Age in the Middle East. But, the front line against any terror threat to our homeland is not abroad, it is at our points of entry. What is the point of expending American military resources overseas when we let terrorists in through our front doors – either with temporary visas or refugee and asylum status?

While our porous southern border represents a gaping hole in our national security, the criminal negligence of letting in terror threats through our legal points of entry is even more egregious. After all, the 9/11 hijackers did not fly into our buildings on planes that came straight from terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. They didn’t even come across our southern border. They were let into the country legally and were granted visas.

Last week, ABC News published a bombshell expose on the failure of our government to improve interior immigration enforcement and visa tracking even after the 9/11 terror attacks. They found that over the past year, 58,000 foreign nationals have overstayed their student visas, of which 6,000 represent a “heightened concern.”

In 2002, inspired by recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, DHS implemented the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System (NSEERS), a program which required visa recipients from countries that represent a security risk to register with a local ICE office. They had to account for exactly what they were doing in the country and could only leave the country through designated ports of entry. Hence, if an Egyptian national came here on a student visa, but dropped out of school in order to make bombs, DHS would have additional means of finding out about it. Obama’s DHS abolished the program in 2011, a move that, not surprisingly, was praised by theCouncil on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Not only do we let security risks into the country, it is clear that this administration has no interest in tracking them down. With the huge increase in student and exchange visitors from countries like Saudi Arabia – topping 96,000 in 2012 – it’s not a very comforting thought knowing that we have no way of tracking many of them. According to data compiled by the Brookings Institute, Saudi Arabian nationals received more student visas between 2008-2012 than all but three other countries. If only a small percentage of those receiving visas have jihadist proclivities, that’s an awful lot of ticking time bombs.

We need to ask important questions: is this the right time to massively expand visas and grant amnesty to all those who overstayed their visas – before we have any visa tracking system in place? At a time when student visas have grown from 662,966 in 2003 to more than 1.2 million, and without a security program in place, now is not the time to radically expand our visa programs.

Watching the massive anti-Israel protests throughout Europe over the past few months, many of which were filled with Nazi-innuendo, Americans are sure happy we don’t have to deal with that here. But in reality, these elements have been growing in many parts of our country, leaving many to wonder if the threats from ISIS are indeed already in the works in our heartland. According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, there are already at least 100 American Muslims fighting for ISIS.

Conservatives need to wake up and demand true immigration reform before we follow the footsteps of languishing European nations.


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