At the confluence of America’s two most pressing concerns-illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism-lay two equally pressing questions: First, how will proposed immigration reforms affect our ability to fight terrorists and protect America?
Second, how can we ensure that Muslim immigrants-who annually represent about 10 percent of our immigrants-and American-born Muslims embrace values that are consistent with those at the heart of American democracy?
Based on recent evidence, the answer to both questions should be cause for concern.
Whatever happens with the immigration legislation currently being considered in the Senate (and for the record, I’m against it), the reality that America’s sieve-like borders leave it vulnerable to terrorist infiltration and attack has been conspicuously ignored.
In the Senate bill, government authorities are given just one business day to conduct background checks in order to ascertain whether a visa applicant is a criminal or terrorist, after which he would receive a probationary Z visa, allowing him the right to work and not to be deported.
Even worse, for years state and local law enforcement have been hamstrung by locally enacted “sanctuary laws” that forbid police from making arrests or even inquiring into the immigration status of illegal aliens. The Senate’s amnesty bill fails to provide additional authority to local police on the frontline of homeland security. In fact it emphasizes the exact opposite, stating, “Nothing in this section may be construed to provide additional authority to any state or local entity to enforce federal immigration laws.”
Given that three of the Fort Dix terrorist plotters had been stopped by police a total of 75 times, and that two of the September 11th hijackers had been stopped by local police, without ever being questioned about their immigration status (all were illegals), one can only imagine how helpful greater local authority might have proved.
Finally, the legislation does nothing to promote immigrant assimilation, ignoring a reality that the recent Fort Dix episode highlighted: that the gravest threats to America may come from immigrants who have longresided in the country, speak English, hold respectable jobs etc., but who fail to embrace shared American values, respect for the rule of law and love of country.
It boggles the mind that a nearly 1,000-page behemoth immigration proposal-the first major immigration reform legislation in a generation, and the first since the September 11th attack-has virtually nothing to say about addressing possible terrorist threats.
But the inadequacy of proposed immigration refo rms is only part of the crisis. As a new Pew Research Center poll makes clear, America faces a potentially greater problem: American Muslims whose sympathies lie not with America but with its enemies.
Judging by the title of the Pew report, “Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream,” and the manner in which most Big Media outlets covered its findings (USA Today’s headline: “American Muslims Reject Extremes.”), one might conclude that there was nothing at all noteworthy in the over 100-page report. But in polling, as in life, the devil is in the details.
And the details of this poll highlight a troubling trend towards extremism among Muslim American youth. The survey of over 1000 American Muslims discovered that only 40 percent of respondents believed that Arab men carried out the 9-11 attacks. Pew further found that a majority (60 percent) of Muslims under 30 years old regarded themselves
as Muslims first and Americans second. Most disturbingly, over a quarter (26 percent) of young American Muslims said they consider suicide bombing “in the defense of Islam” acceptable in at least some circumstances.
Pew estimates that there are about 2.4 million Muslims in United States (other estimates place the number between 3 and 7 million). If this poll is truly representative, then that’s hundreds of thousands of American Muslims who endorse terrorism and feel 9-11 was a conspiracy.
These findings beg the question: Where are young American Muslims getting these disturbing ideas?
While many young American Muslims attend mosque hoping to find spiritual inspiration, what they are discovering, increasingly, is Jihadism. Many of the hundreds of thousands of American-born Muslims who frequent the over 2,000 U.S. mosques encounter imams (85 percent of whom, according to the Islamic Society of North America, are foreign born) who instruct their followers to withdraw from American culture.
Experts estimate that 80 percent of American mosques are funded by Saudi Arabia, which, according to a recent study by Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom, disseminates propaganda though American mosques that teaches “Nazi-like hatred of Jews” and Christians and spreads the radical Wahhabist ideology shared by Osama bin Laden and the 9-11 attackers. Freedom House also found that many American mosques “promote contempt for the United States because it is ruled by legislated civil law rather than by totalitarian Wahhabi-style Islamic law.”
And though terrorist experts have discovered at least 40 instances of extremists and terrorists being linked to American mosques in the last decade, the U.S. has yet to conduct any nationwide effort to investigate imams and Muslim clerics who preach hatred and jihad.
Clearly, we need to find out more about what Muslim Americans are being
taught in their places of worship. Sadly, some Muslim groups seem to be only interested in protecting the civil liberties of their constituencies, instead of the safety of the American people. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently demanded that
Homeland Security funds meant to protect places of worship from Islamic terror be provided in order to pay for security at Muslim mosques. And it worked. The Islamic Society of Baltimore received a $15,000 grant from DHS to upgrade security at its Maryland mosque.
Of course, connecting the dots between the immigration bill, the recent Pew poll and our government’s refusal to investigate the source of extreme Islamist ideologies, a common theme emerges: political correctness. We need to throw away political correctness when it comes to Islamic extremism, or it will end up killing us.
Contributing columnist Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of Campaign for Working Families.