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Angelo Paparelli on Dysfunctional Government

A Decade after 9/11: The Fear of Lax Immigration Enforcement Still Haunts America

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Today, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist savagery of September 11, 2001, the nation pauses to remember the fallen and reflect on how our country has changed in the decade past.  PBS and The New Yorker offer worthy contemplations on the changes since 9/11 and today, and two immigration lawyers, Cyrus Mehta and Jonathan Montag, on opposite coasts, ponder the immigration aftermath of the tragedy. (My own writings not long after the event are here, here, here and there.)

Amid the many reflections, Twitter has been even more abuzz than usual.  One exchange of tweets caught my eye. Michelle Malkin, anti-immigration commentator on Fox News, argued with a fellow who maintained that the none of the 9/11 hijackers were undocumented immigrants. She posted a link and got him to admit that although all of them had entered legally, three had overstayed their visas. She ended the exchange with this coup de grâce: 

Michelle Malkin
@michellemalkinMichelle Malkin 

[@TweepNameOmitted] You are willfully blind to the nexus between lax immigration enforcement & homeland security. Shame.


Few objective observers would deny that immigration enforcement and homeland security are linked, or that too lax an enforcement regimen could well threaten our country's safety. But a fundamental question remains. Has the federal government properly achieved the right balance in the middle between the extremes of super-enforcement -- a hermetically sealed country that would atrophy without external refreshment -- and a breezily open-door approach that allows the bad to enter with the good?  Has it balanced immigration enforcement with immigration benefits?

My answer would be mostly "no." The problem originated with Congress's effort to try and fix things.  It placed the benefits-conferring function of the abolished Immigration and Naturalization Service within the Homeland Security Department when it should have remained under the Attorney General at Justice.  No adjudicator can focus on eligibility for benefits when the mission and message of homeland security is that if there is the slightest, even phantasmagorical, doubt, keep people out.

Thus, we see the penchant for adjudicator rejection by any means necessary at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and at U.S. consular posts abroad of worthy immigration-benefits requests.  It matters not if the means are pretextual, circuitous, dilatory or disingenuous. Any boilerplate Request for Evidence, Denial, Refusal or Revocation based on spurious grounds will do.  The Congressionally-induced and media-generated perception of pervasive fraud as a straw-man for delay and refusal likewise will suffice.  Hypocrisy, thus, is salved by the false ointment of feigned patriotism. 

Real patriotism, in my view, would bear in mind these anti-Malkinesque messages, also found on Twitter:

USConsulate Chennai
@USConGenChennaiUSConsulate Chennai

#Obama: We remember that among the nearly 3,000 innocent people lost that day were hundreds of citizens from more than 90 nations. #911 

USConsulate Chennai
@USConGenChennaiUSConsulate Chennai

#Obama: As a nation of immigrants, the United States welcomes people from every country and culture. #911 


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for liberty_usa_stamp.jpgIn other words, we as a nation must heed the "Call to Courage" and "Reclaim . . . Our Liberties," as the ACLU reports.  Yes, of course, we must perform all manner of security checks, fully and efficiently, thoughtfully scrutinize all immigration benefits requests for compliance with law in good faith, and keep out the dangerous and undeserving. 

But never tie the tourniquets so tightly that you cut off our limbs. The torch-bearing Lady Liberty, who lights the Golden Door, must never become an amputee.

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  1. Jay's Avatar
    I really ejnoyed this lecture and I really think this is information is an essential part of learning about our country. This country was founded on people immigrating to the United States but recently we have come to look down on people immigrating to the United States. I ve be really good friends with a lot of people that have immigrated to the United States and it is crazy to see how much they have been discriminated against and looked down upon. Especially my friends that have immigrated from Mexico. These people have become a huge part of our communities. A lot of the time they are doing jobs that other people in the United States would never want to do. Not only do they do work in jobs that other people do not want to work in but they do an amazing job working in these positions.To me it is crazy that the same people that had their ancestors looked down upon for being Italian or Irish or any other ethnicity years ago are now looking down on Mexicans or people who immigrated from other lands. I m so sick of hearing the classic if you don t speak English you don t belong here. How many of our family members so long ago did not speak English either but they came here to start a new life to be able to provide for their family members and be something. It almost disgusts me that we can tell people now a days if you do not speak English you shouldn t be here.This lecture really reminded me of a woman I used to work with. In high school I worked at a grocery store making sandwiches and a woman from Mexico worked with me. She was one of the hardest workers at the company but when customers came up and she had trouble pronouncing some of her English words people gave her a hard time. She would get really upset about it and almost embarrassed at times because she tired to fit in here so much. She really tired hard to learn the English language and work as hard as she could. It broke my heart to see how people treated her at times. Sometimes it got so bad that I would even step in and try to protect her from how people were treating her.I really thought the statistics of this lecture were very interesting. I thought it was crazy how lately we have been making a huge deal about the increase in immigrants but really the immigrant levels have been consistent over time. I think this fact also shows how much media and other thing affect what we think of the world. It shows that we really don t think too much for ourselves and we let people tell us what is going on in the world without really looking into it ourselves.
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