Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Terrorism and Immigration Reform

September 11, 2001
One of the questions raised by the events in Boston last week is whether it should effect changes in US immigration policy.

As a child of the Holocaust I am very sensitive to immigration issues. The sorry actions of Breckenridge Long, a State department official who was thinly disguised anti Smite contributed mightily to the numbers of my people who perished in the Holocaust. From a PBS website:
(In) an intra-department memo he circulated in June 1940... (Breckenridge Long)  wrote: "We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way…

90 percent of the quota places available to immigrants from countries under German and Italian control were never filled. If they had been, an additional 190,000 people could have escaped the atrocities being committed by the Nazis. 
Needless to say I am very much in favor of immigration reform. Never again should the State Department be able to pursue such restrictive immigration policies. 

That said I understand the dilemma this country faces. America is a very desired place to live by people of all nations, especially those that are economically depressed. Illegal immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere have risked their lives trying to gain entry just so they could work at menial jobs. Jobs that very few Americans are willing to do. Those jobs provide income for their impoverished families back in their country of origin – even at the very low wages they make.

So an open door policy would mean a flood of immigrants coming in hoping to improve their lives. They would all be seeking the same number of limited jobs. The same menial ones that Americans are unwilling to do. There is a limit to how many of even those jobs are available. What America does not want is a new dependency class that will break our welfare system… and possibly even destroy our economy. So immigration must be controlled.

And yet there has been an almost free flow of illegal immigrants coming across our southern borders. There are an estimated 11million illegal immigrants currently living here.

In a perfect world, they should all be penalized for violating our immigration laws by being deported. But it is not as simple as that. Most of these people have jobs that actaully aid the economy. Jobs that would mostly go unfilled.  They have lived here many years, pay taxes, have families and are law abiding respected members of their new adopted communities. Their children have known no other world. Having been born here they are legally American.  They are also culturally American. Deporting their parents (who would take their children back with them - or leave them here in some sort of foster parenting situation) would be counter-productive and a great injustice.

In my view there needs to be a way to allow these people to stay here legally – unfair though their entry may have been. This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be penalties for what they did. But deportation would be an injustice in far too many cases – and it would probably hurt the economy.

Proposed legislation deals with these issues. Based on media reports I see a more or less fair resolution of the problem. It includes fines, requirements to have jobs, and a ten year waiting period that provides a path to citizenship. It also includes measures to tighten our borders so that crossing them illegally will be reduced by 90%.

But one thing I have not seen addressed is who we will be allowing in.

As a Jew and a child of the Holocaust - remembering the Breckenridge Longs of the world - I am loathe to base restrictions on any particular religion. But that is precisely what I am doing. I propose that Muslims be given extra scrutiny when they apply for immigration. If they are found to have any connection at all to Jihadism  they ought to be rejected. The point is that if an applicant is Muslim, immigration officials should require much more scrutiny of them than other applicants to determine that.

I am not proposing they should be completely barred. As I have said in the past many times, most Muslims are not terrorists. Most are law abiding citizens and should be given the same opportunities to pursue life, liberty, and happiness in a country based on that credo. Religious freedom embedded in the Bill of Rights is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. Immigration policy should reflect this. So I would never suggest that Muslims be barred from entry. Nor would I ever suggest quotas for them that are different than for anyone else.

But I do believe they should get extra scrutiny. There should be extra vigilance by immigration officials - backed by law that will enable them to profile Muslims and check their backgrounds more thoroughly.

It should be obvious by now that it is from their number that the greatest threat of terror comes. Radical Islamist/Jihadists are Muslim by definition. There is no way to separate them as a distinct ethnic or religious group. If an immigrant is Muslim - this ought to be seen as a red flag and it should generate extra scrutiny.

This should not be seen as racist or in any other way prejudicial. It is nothing more than prudence in light of recent history. A history that includes violence as the philosophy of one of their branches. A branch that believes in murder and carnage to achieve their religious goals. A branch that 2 American Muslims somehow gravitated to. Ignoring Islam’s part in this because of a misguided form of political correctness is why things like the Boston bombings happen.

Martin Richard, youngest victim the terrorist attack
I realize of course that the immigration scrutiny I suggest would have prevented Boston. The Tsarnaev brothers became fanatics long after they immigrated here. But that doesn’t mean we just ignore the fact that they were Muslim. Muslims should be examined to see if they have any ties to an Islamic fundamentalism that preaches violence. And even if they ‘pass the exam’ and are allowed entry, they should be monitored. If the 2 terrorists would have been monitored, this would have never happened.

There are some who may say that this is unfair to the vast majority of law abiding Muslims. Maybe so. But it is also unfair to the families of the victims that they were not.

In this great country of ours, where freedom of religion and the right to privacy are paramount, I can understand the extreme opposition to this by civil libertarians. In a vacuum they would be right. But if Boston has taught us anything, it is that sometimes one right supercedes another. The right to live without the fear of being blown to bits by the likes of the Tzarnaev brothers surely supercedes their right to privacy.

I don’t know about the constitutionality of implementing this kind of policy. But it should at least be considered and ways found to pass constitutional muster.

This will of course not eliminate all terrorism. We will still have the Timothy McVeighs of the world. But there can be little doubt where the source of the vast majority of terrorism in the world lies. And that is in the Islamist version of Islam.