As America commemorates the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the question on everyone’s mind is, Are we safer than we were on September 10, 2001? Among the findings of the blue ribbon commission that investigated the circumstance that led up to the attacks of 9/11 were numerous failings in our immigration policies that were exploited by the terrorists who murdered some 3,000 people on that day.
A new report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Ten Years Later: We Will Not Forget, reveals many areas of immigration enforcement in which improvements have made it more difficult for terrorists to carry out attacks against this country. However, pressure from immigrant advocacy groups and some business interests have prevented other vulnerabilities from being remedied. More alarmingly, policies adopted by the Obama administration with the stated intent of focusing on terrorists and criminal aliens are actually creating a more hospitable environment for would-be terrorists.
Among the key areas of vulnerability identified in the report are:
- There still is no comprehensive system that collects entry and exit data from foreign travelers so we still have no means to identify those in the country legally or illegally.
- Continued high levels of illegal immigration. Large communities of people living outside the law serve as the haystack in which terrorists can easily disappear.
- Continued lack of border security. While improvements have been made in border security, hundreds of thousands of people continue to cross our borders without inspection. Terrorists can easily exploit our permeable borders to gain entry.
- The Visa Waiver Program (VWP). In spite of several foiled terrorist attacks attempted by holders of passports issued by VWP countries, business pressure has prevented any reforms to the program. Terrorists with VWP passports can still enter the U.S. without ever having been screened by consular officers abroad.
- Lack of secure identity documents. The ability of the 9/11 terrorists to obtain valid U.S. identity documents was cited by the 9/11 Commission as critical to their ability to perpetrated the attack. Vital documents are still too easy obtain, and implementation of legislation intended to address the problem, REAL ID, has repeatedly been delayed.
“Perhaps the most important way we can honor the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attack and their families is to take every reasonable step possible to ensure that such an attack never occurs again,” stated Dan Stein, president of FAIR. “Ten years later, a combination of complacency and political expedience leave gaping vulnerabilities in our defenses against a determined enemy.
“But, as we do that, we must remember that there is still much work to be done to ensure that our nation remains both free and secure,” Stein concluded.