Connecting The Dots:
Why is the U.S. Continuing to Ignore the Intersection of Immigration and Terrorism?
By MICHAEL W. CUTLER
I begin with a quote:
“It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy.”
That statement is the first paragraph of the preface of the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel.
It’s my contention that the threat of a terror attack being carried out inside the United States is greater today than at any time since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Let me provide a bit of background: I’m a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service). In my early years at the INS, I worked as an immigration inspector. In that position I inspected arriving passengers at John F Kennedy International Airport to determine if foreigners should be admitted into the United States.
In a manner of speaking, I had my eye to the peephole of America’s front door. The corollary is obvious: homeowners and apartment dwellers perform the mission of immigration inspectors on a personal level by not admitting a stranger into his or her apartment without first peering through the peephole to decide if a stranger poses a threat before admitting that stranger.
On September 11, 2001 the ashes from the conflagration at what quickly came to be known as “Ground Zero” fluttered down on my neighborhood in Brooklyn, (more…)
Honduras to Arizona:
On the Road With Struggling Migrants in the Mexican Desert
BY ELLIOT GRANATH
“I don’t like swimming because I don’t float—I sink.” The young girl in the back seat has been rambling on and on, saying such things that only a young child could think of. I laugh and tell her I’m pretty sure that anyone can float.
Meet Sofia, a dark-skinned, 12-year-old Honduran girl with a bright smile and a brighter laugh. When I look at her I’m reminded of plenty of other children in my life—my younger cousins in Colorado, the two brothers that live next door, the giggling kids that I pass every day at the beach.
She even touts a gemstone shirt featuring Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens circa 2006.
But, unlike these other children, Sofia has one major difference: in about an hour, we’re going to leave her and her mother Paula at a migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico, at the U.S.-Mexico border. In a few days, they plan to cross the deadly desert to the north into Arizona.
Coasting through the dry, northern Mexican landscape, I’m in a beaten, white Subaru Outback with two other young U.S. volunteers, as well as Sofia and Paula. Despite seven years of Spanish classes, my confidence drops as this preteen girl begins to speak (more…)