“Neither the State Department’s consular officers nor the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s inspectors and agents were ever considered full partners in a national counter-terrorism effort,” concluded the 9/11 Commission in its report last week. “Protecting borders was not a national security issue before 9/11.”
The question now may be whether the commission itself placed a high enough priority on securing U.S. borders. While advocating technological advances for border screening, including biometric visas, the report offers no solid recommendation for securing our land borders against surreptitious, illegal entry. “It is elemental to border security to know who is coming into the country,” the report says in its recommendations section. “Today more than 9 million people are in the United States outside the legal immigration system. We must also be able to monitor and respond to entrances between our ports of entry, working with Canada and Mexico as much as possible.” Right. But how? The report makes no prominent recommendation.