We Let Too Many In
The September 11 terrorist attacks confirmed what we have long contended, namely, that America's borders and points of entry (sea and air ports) are wide open and offer little or no impediment to criminals and terrorists. Said Bill King, a retired senior Border Patrol officer and former head of the Border Patrol Academy, "It should be universally recognized that our borders are out of control...Both our borders (with Mexico and Canada) are sieves. Anyone can cross either border today."
An estimated 530 million people, one-third of them returning Americans, cross U. S. borders every year. Some 350 million are non-U.S. resident foreigners. Most arrive through the 150 ports of entry along the Canadian and Mexican borders. The INS has only 4,775 inspectors to process persons who enter the U.S. Inspections are cursory at best. Job seekers, criminals, disease carriers, and foreign agents and terrorists come at will.
Approximately thirty-one million foreigners legally enter the U.S. annually sporting one of more than fifty categories of visas. "Tourists" account for seventy-seven percent of visas issued by our overseas consulates, with business travelers making up fourteen percent and students and their families 1.8 percent. Screening of visa applicants is superficial. Of the nine million or more illegal aliens living in the U.S., at least forty percent of them walked right in through a port of entry carrying legally-issued visas and have simply remained here after their visas expired. They didn't have to wade the Rio Grande River or sneak across the Canadian border.
The foreign student visa program has come under renewed scrutiny since September 11. Hani Hanjour, who piloted the jet that was crashed into the Pentagon, legally entered on a student visa. He claimed he was going to study English at Holy Names College, a Catholic school in Oakland, California. Like many other "students," he never enrolled. Others show up for registration and later disappear as the semester wears on. In 1999 (the most recent year for which figures are available), there were 567,146 foreign students, who brought along 36,641 family members. Additionally, 275,519 "exchange visitors" with 43,841 relatives, entered to participate in educational programs, raising the total to 923,147.
In the first two weeks after the September 11 attacks, the U.S. State Department issued over 8967 new visas to Middle Easterners. Dual citizens make up more entrants.
Many more millions legally enter the U.S. without any visa at all. Nationals of twenty-nine countries can come in for up to ninety days for business or tourism without visas. During 1999, approximately seventeen million foreigners arrived under this program. Canadians do not need visas to enter the U.S., nor do Mexicans living in border areas who state they plan to visit or shop along the border. This program clearly invites abuse. The sheer volume of people coming into the U.S. overwhelms security efforts. Not only do we need a massive reduction in legal immigration and an end to illegal immigration but the number of visa carriers must be severely restricted. To enforce our immigration laws, many more Interior Enforcement officers (INS Investigators, of which there are only around 2000) are required.
In this issue of The Social Contract we offer a lengthy section of essays and testimony given in response to the terrorist attacks. In addition, on October 21, 2001, the Twenty-Fifth Social Contract Writers Workshop was held in Arlington, Virginia. Many of the salient reports given at the meeting are reprinted here.
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If you haven't seen it, we recommend the video report, Jihad in America The Terrorists Among Us by Steven Emerson whose testimony before a Congressional committee is reprinted in this issue. This hour-long program explores the Islamic terrorist network that was involved in the recent attacks, including segments from meetings held in various locations in the United States. The video retails for $14.98, but can be purchased at a discount through the on-line retailer, www.Amazon.com.
Wayne Lutton, Ph.D.