National Security

“I absolutely believe that the next attack we have will come from somebody who has come across the border illegally. Anybody who believes we’re safer [since 9-11], they’re living in Neverland.” – Eugene Danes, retired deputy director of the Border Patrol sector in Blaine, WA.

In the years after 9/11, our nation is still facing virtually open borders and non-enforcement of existing immigration laws. The threat of this recently tragically manifested in case of the Boston Marathon bombers. "For every person we catch, two or three get by us," according to T.J. Bonner President of the National Border Patrol Council. And once they're in, interior enforcement for thousands who manage to slip through or come leglly but overtsay illegally is sorely lacking.

Two problems are the shortage of Border Patrol agents and the lack of consistent prosecution of illegal border-crossers. Although thousands of agents have been added since 2001, there still aren’t enoughc--currently only 21,000--to protect the 6,900 miles of border the United States shares with Canada and Mexico. Of those who are caught, “The majority are offered and granted ...voluntary removal back to Mexico,” said an assistant chief Border Patrol agent in Washington. And terrorists know thi s.

In recent years, it has been reported that terrorist operatives have begun spending time in Mexico and other Latin American countries to absorb the language and culture and prepare to cross the US border—sometimes with the help of smugglers.

In 2013 (the most recent year that statistics are available), over 153,055 deportable “OTMs”—a Border Patrol acronym for “other than Mexicans”—were located in the United States. OTMs include those from “special interest” nations—countries known for sponsoring or supporting terrorism, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. When caught by the Border Patrol, OTMs, like so many other illegal border crossers, are typically arrested and released with a “promiso,” a promissory document stating that they will show up for their immigration hearings. Most don’t show.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller once told the House Appropriations Committee that he was aware that individuals from countries with known aterrorist ties had entered the United States under false identities. Are we doing enough to stop them? Obviously, we did not do enough to prevent the 19 jihadi terrorists, all of whom were aliens in our country legally and illegally, from hijacking four commercial jets on September 11, 2001, with tragic and catastrophic consequences. While our national security and anti-terrorism institutional arrangements have been improved significantly over the past decade, our porous southern border is an Achilles heel.

 

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