Illegal Immigration and National Security

Illegal immigration is a hot topic right now and for good reason. I’m not sure why the President wants to award individuals for breaking the law.

Just in the past several days two news studies have come out on illegal immigration and national security. Here’s the release for the Center for Immigration Studies. The findings are shocking!

WASHINGTON (August 30, 2005) — Two new reports released today by the Center for Immigration Studies examine the role of immigration control in our efforts to prevent further terrorist attacks on American soil. Both point to the profound security challenges posed by a federal government policy of mass immigration and lax enforcement of the law.

The first paper, “Immigration and Terrorism: Moving Beyond the 9/11 Staff Report on Terrorist Travel,” illustrates how 94 Islamist terrorists used the immigration system to infiltrate and embed in the United States. The author is Janice L. Kephart, counsel for the 9/11 Commission and an author of the Commission staff¹s report on terrorist travel. The report is on line at

Other than the 9/11 hijackers included in the study, almost all of the terrorists examined have been indicted or convicted for their crimes. The report builds on prior work done by 9/11 Commission and the Center for Immigration Studies, providing more information than has been previously been made public.

The report highlights the danger of our lax immigration system, not just in terms of who is allowed in, but also how terrorists, once in the country, used weaknesses in the system to remain here. It makes clear that strict enforcement of immigration law—at American consulates overseas, at ports of entry, and within the United States—must be an integral part of our efforts to prevent future attacks on U.S. soil.

Among the findings:

  • Of the 94 foreign-born terrorists who operated in the United States, the study found that about two-thirds (59) committed immigration fraud prior to or in conjunction with taking part in terrorist activity.
  • Of the 59 terrorists who violated the law, many committed multiple immigration violations — 79 instances in all.
  • Temporary visas were a common means of entering; 18 terrorists had student visas and another four had applications approved to study in the United States. At least 17 terrorists used a visitor visa—either tourist (B2) or business (B1).
  • There were 11 instances of passport fraud and 10 instances of visa fraud; in total 34 individuals were charged with making false statements to an immigration official.
  • In at least 13 instances, terrorists overstayed their temporary visas.
  • In 17 instances, terrorists claimed to lack proper travel documents and applied for asylum, often at a port of entry.
  • Fraud was used not only to gain entry into the United States, but also to remain, or “embed,” in the country.
  • Seven terrorists were indicted for acquiring or using various forms of fake identification, including driver’s licenses, birth certificates, Social Security cards, and immigration arrival records.
  • Once in the United States, 23 terrorists became legal permanent residents, often by marrying an American. There were at least nine sham marriages.
  • In total, 21 foreign terrorists became naturalized U.S. citizens.
  • The second paper is “Keeping Extremists Out: The History of Ideological Exclusion, and the Need for Its Revival,” by James R. Edwards, Jr., an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute and Principal at Olive, Edwards, Brinkmann, L.L.C. It is on line at

    This paper describes the contribution immigration law has made and can make again in barring and removing ideological enemies from our shores. America has often faced the threat of foreigners promoting radical ideologies, including Jacobinism, anarchism, communism, fascism, and now Islamism. It is an unavoidable consequence of mass immigration; the higher the level of immigration, the more likely it is that individuals espousing hatred and violence toward America will gain entry.

    But whatever the level of immigration, excluding or removing noncitizens from the United States based on their promotion of radical beliefs (“ideological exclusion”) can help to protect the country. Historically such efforts have played this role, especially during the 20th century. With the end of the Cold War, Congress effectively repealed ideological exclusion, meaning that only active terrorists on watch lists could be barred, while those promoting the ideologies of such terrorists would have to be admitted.

    To end this vulnerability, Dr. Edwards argues that ideological exclusion should be restored, allowing aliens to be excluded or deported not only for overt acts but also for radical affiliations or advocacy. Such grounds for exclusion and removal should be based on characteristics common to the many varieties of extremism, rather than target a specific ideology.

    The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.