Terrorists exploiting US immigration laws, study suggests

[JURIST] Suspected and convicted foreign-born terrorists regularly exploit federal immigration laws to enter or remain illegally in the US, according to a new study released Tuesday by the Center for Immigration Studies [advocacy website]. According to Immigration Benefits and Terrorism: Moving Beyond the 9/11 Staff report on Terrorist Travel [report text], 59 of 94 foreign-born nationals convicted or indicted on terror charges between 1993 and 2004 broke federal immigration laws prior to or in conjunction with participating in terrorist activities. CIS says that strict enforcement of immigration law at overseas consulates, ports of entry and within the US, must "be an integral part of our efforts to prevent future attacks on U.S. soil." In a companion report also released Tuesday, Keeping Extremists Out: The History of Exclusion and the Need for Its Revival [report text], CIS argues that:

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 such 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 With the end of the Cold War, Congress effectively repealed ideological exclusion, meaning that only active terrorists on watch lists could be barred, while those promoting the ideologies of such terrorists would have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, 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.
Last week, US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced plans to tighten US borders [JURIST report] and a DHS spokesman has said that the department has enacted several measures, including stricter background checks, visa security systems and sharing intelligence with international allies, in order to ensure that potential terrorists cannot take advantage of US immigration law. AP has more.


 

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