Shocking revelations continue in the wake of the failed terrorist attack on Times Square as we’re informed by our government that Faisal Shahzad — the Pakistani-born terrorist responsible for the attack — was awarded American citizenship last year.
This latest disclosure exposes gaping security holes in our legal immigration system. Now image what granting amnesty to the estimated 12-20 million illegal aliens in the country will do to the system.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee injected common sense into the debate yesterday, pointing out the national security nightmare posed by giving millions of people illegally in this country instant legal status to hide behind.
“Every aspect of our immigration system has been used by foreign terrorists to gain a safe haven in the United States,” Smith said. “A massive amnesty would not only fail to address this problem, it would overburden the system with millions of more individuals whose identities cannot be known or, as a practical matter, checked.”
Proponents of amnesty for illegal aliens argue putting them all in the system would offer the opportunity to identify who they are. But in actuality what amnesty would do is give carte blanche to terrorists by leaving them among millions of unscreened people legally inside the U.S. before first checking their identity and intentions.
Shahzad’s faulty background check is an example that terrorists already slip through the system even with a security screening. But he’s certainly not alone in that regard.
The Center for Immigration Studies conducted a post-9/11 study of terrorists and their abuse of our immigration system and wide-open borders. Some of the findings include:
Past amnesties for illegal aliens have facilitated terrorism. Mahmud Abouhalima, a leader of the 1993 Trade Center bombing, was legalized as a seasonal agricultural worker as part of the 1986 amnesty. Only after he was legalized was he able to travel outside of the country, including several trips to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, where he received the terrorist training he used in the bombing.
Past amnesties have not hindered terrorism. Mohammed Salameh, another conspirator in the 1993 Trade Center bombing, applied for the same amnesty as Abouhalima and was denied. But, because there is no mechanism in place to force people who are denied permanent residency to leave the country, he continued to live and work in the United States illegally and ultimately took part in the 1993 attack.
Foreign-born militant Islamic terrorists have used almost every conceivable means of entering the country. They have come as students, tourists, and business visitors. They have also been Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and naturalized U.S. citizens. They have snuck across the border illegally, arrived as stowaways on ships, used false passports, and have been granted amnesty. Terrorists have even used America’s humanitarian tradition of welcoming those seeking asylum.
At the time they committed their crimes, 16, or one-third, of the 48 terrorists in the study were on temporary visas (primarily tourist visas), another 17 were Lawful Permanent Residents or naturalized U.S. citizens, 12, or one-fourth, were illegal aliens, and three of the 48 had applications for asylum pending.
Although the 9/11 hijackers entered on temporary visas, LPRs as well as naturalized U.S. citizens have played key roles in terrorism on U.S. soil. For example, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, ringleader of the plot to bomb New York City landmarks in 1993, is an LPR, and Ali Mohammed, who wrote al Qaeda’s terrorist handbook on how to operate in the West, is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
The vast majority of terrorists in the study (41 of 48) were approved for visas by an American consulate overseas prior to entering the country. Of the seven who did not have visas, three snuck into the country and four arrived at a port of entry without a visa.
At least two terrorists, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and Ali Mohammed, should have been denied visas because they were on the watch list of suspected terrorists.
“It appears that even the background checks conducted prior to naturalization did not identify Shahzad as a national security risk,” Smith continued. “If we cannot detect a potential terrorist who submits himself to our security process, how can we expect to identify other potential terrorists or criminals who have been hiding behind their illegal status?”
“History should be our guide,” Smith added. “In the past, terrorist threats against America have been primarily by persons who came to the United States from abroad. We cannot afford to ignore this reality. In the interest of the security of all Americans, we must reject proposals to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.”
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