“Immigration is not a security issue. It is an economic and a humanitarian, and a family issue,” -- New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, March 18 town hall, MSNBC
With all due respect, Gillibrand is wrong. Terribly wrong. Immigration is most certainly a security issue. Too many innocent American lives have been lost as a result of lax immigration policies. Enemies of our country, our values and our way of life are exploiting our immigration laws to wage war against us.
The documented cases where terrorists have used immigration to inflict damage against us are numerous. Some review is in order for those who have forgotten.
In 2015 Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, murdered 14 people and injured 22 in a hail of gunfire at an office party in San Bernardino, Calif. Farook’s parents had emigrated from Pakistan. Malik was born in Pakistan and entered the U.S. via a K-1 fiancée visa.
In 2016 Somali refugee and legal permanent resident Abdul Razak Artan rammed people on the Ohio State campus with his vehicle and stabbed others with a butcher knife. Thirteen people were wounded before Artan was killed by police. Inspired by ISIS propaganda, Artan had posted on social media, “America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially Muslims Ummah [community]. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that.”
Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., before being killed by police in 2016. At the time it was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Mateen called 911 during the shooting and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State. Mateen was born in the United States but his father, Seddique, emigrated from Afghanistan. Though he denounced his son’s attack, the elder Mateen hosted a Pashtun-language, California-based program that CBS News reported was full of pro-Taliban, anti-American rhetoric.
Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov, a native of Uzbekistan who entered the U.S. via a Diversity Immigrant Visa, commonly known as the visa lottery, used a vehicle to ram into pedestrians in Lower Manhattan in 2017. He killed eight people and injured 11 others. Police later found a flag and a document indicating Saipov’s allegiance to ISIS.
The list goes on and on, but anti-borders advocates only seem able to view the immigration crisis in terms of family separations at the border.
Receiving far less attention from politicians and the media is the fact that nations and terrorist groups are taking advantage of our compassionate nature with the intent of committing mass murder in the U.S. In what way is that not a national security issue? If these purveyors of mayhem wore uniforms, it would be logical to shut down the borders and deploy troops. But they come under the guise of asylum-seekers, so we as a nation do virtually nothing about it.
Even with the disturbing history of terrorists coming here as immigrants, the specter of more bloodshed looms. My organization, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, recently completed an investigation which found that more than 10,000 illegal aliens from countries the U.S. has designated as state sponsors of terrorism have been ordered removed or have pending final orders of removal, but are currently living in America.
The aliens in question hail from Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea. Some have been ordered deported because they committed a crime. Others may have overstayed their visa or unlawfully entered through our porous southern border. Regardless, the fact that they came from terror states and are currently unaccounted for in our homeland should concern anyone who values the freedom and security we have grown to expect in America.
There is also reason to believe that some are more than just petty criminals. U.S. intelligence officials and security experts recently testified in Congress about the existence of Iranian terrorist “sleeper cells” operating within the United States, waiting to receive orders to commit acts of terrorism. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has said there is mounting evidence that Iran poses a “direct threat to the homeland.”
The danger runs further than just this group of aliens at large. In the cases of Malik, Artan and Saipov, they came from countries that are not classified as state sponsors of terrorism, but are hotbeds of anti-American extremism nonetheless. How many other would-be terrorists have entered our country as refugees and are now living among us? Thanks to our overwhelmed and poorly-enforced immigration system, we may not know until more innocent lives have been lost.
Gillibrand is right in one respect: mass immigration does create economic, humanitarian and family issues. American citizens face economic hardships with greater competition for jobs and a strain on social services. American families are shattered when their loved ones are killed by criminals and terrorists who should not be in our country. Yes, senator, those are also security issues.
Dale Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.
Also published at: Dale L. Wilcox, Gillibrand Fails to Understand Immigration Is Indeed a Security Issue, The Daily Caller, April 17, 2019.