Believe it or not, there are other countries besides Russia that are a threat to the United States. Chief among them is Iran, long regarded by the U.S. government as the world’s foremost sponsor of terror.
Relations between the U.S. and Iran may now be at their lowest point since 1979, when revolutionaries took over the American embassy in Tehran and held Americans hostage for 444 days.
It can be argued that the situation today is far worse than 40 years ago. The hardline Iranian theocracy still regards America as “The Great Satan” while its aggressive navy acts as if it owns the Persian Gulf, a crucial part of energy markets and global economic stability. Iran has been transparent in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and President Trump recently deployed an aircraft carrier strike force to the Gulf region to back up his strong rhetoric. If neither side blinks, this could end very badly.
Iran has become far more than just a regional irritant to the interests of the United States in the Gulf. They are now staging operations in our backyard. Iran’s primary terror client, Hezbollah, has a growing presence in Latin America. This year, Navy Admiral Craig Faller, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, warned Congress that “Iran has deepened its anti-U.S. Spanish language media coverage and has exported its state support for terrorism into our hemisphere.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently confirmed that Hezbollah also maintains “active cells” in Venezuela. Iran is clearly taking advantage of the political chaos in Venezuela to establish a terror operation within striking distance of the United States.
With the Trump administration turning up the heat via economic sanctions and the dissolution of the Obama-era nuclear deal, Iran may be getting desperate. Direct military confrontation with the U.S. would be a losing proposition for Iran. Terrorism, however, is a low-risk, high-reward bet. If America were weakened by another massive terror attack in the homeland, it would advance the interests of the ruling Iranian mullahs and give them greater hegemony over the Middle East.
That’s where our immigration laws become a factor. While America fights with itself over what to do about our porous borders, the bad actors of the world have been paying attention. They see massive caravans from Central America demanding asylum, and many of the travelers gaining entry into the U.S. What better way to get operatives into the United States and execute a terrorist attack?
Rather than allowing federal immigration officers to remove new arrivals who may be security threats, some state and local elected officials inexplicably embrace “sanctuary” laws which forbid compliance with detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). While busy congratulating themselves for their superior compassion, these politicians are creating an incredibly dangerous situation that could result in a massive loss of innocent life.
Sound far-fetched? It is reality, and it’s happening right now. A recent investigation by the Immigration Reform Law Institute found that a number of states are using their sanctuary policies to shield illegal aliens who hail from nations identified by the federal government as state sponsors of terror.
Not surprisingly, California and its reckless, statewide sanctuary laws were the worst culprit. Of the aliens in California protected from immigration enforcement in the investigation, almost 90 percent of them were Iranian nationals. Who are these people? How did they get here? Do they have ties to the Iranian government or its affiliated terror groups? California Governor Gavin Newsom and his fellow travelers don’t want us to know the answers, and — the argument follows — you must be a hateful bigot if you have a problem with that.
Concern for this situation is borne not from xenophobia, but from legitimate concerns. For several years, national security experts have been warning us that there are Iranian sleeper cells currently in the United States, waiting for the green light from Tehran to launch devastating attacks.
Does this mean all migrants in the recent caravans are Iranian sleeper agents? Of course not. But given that many caravan migrants have little or no identification documents on them, is it that hard to believe Hezbollah could embed their operatives into a caravan?
In many ways America is still recovering from the attacks of September 11, 2001, and we cannot allow a similar attack to occur. One of the most infuriating aspects of 9/11 was that the hijackers were hiding in plain sight among us, and with a little more vigilance and scrutiny they could have been thwarted.
America can and always will be a welcoming home for legal immigrants who embrace our values. However, we no longer have the luxury of being naïve to the very real threats to our families and our nation. Sanctuary laws are not compassionate. They are irresponsibly dangerous, and we must demand they be eliminated.
Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.