Threats To Homeland Security: Immigration Laws In Combating CBRN Terrorism
TOC o “1-3” h z u HYPERLINK l “_Toc380294531” Introduction PAGEREF _Toc380294531 h 1
HYPERLINK l “_Toc380294532” Loopholes in the immigration policies PAGEREF _Toc380294532 h 5
HYPERLINK l “_Toc380294533” The flaw of focusing on ethnic groups in immigration reforms combating CBRN threats PAGEREF _Toc380294533 h 7
HYPERLINK l “_Toc380294534” Recommendation and conclusion PAGEREF _Toc380294534 h 8
IntroductionThe importance of security of a country can never be gainsaid as far as its wellbeing is concerned. In fact, security has been recognized as one of the most crucial and fundamental pillars to the growth, development and sustainability of a country. This is especially considering its bearing on the capacity or ability of an individual to undertake economic activities as it tends to guarantee the enjoyment of other fundamental human rights. Needless to say, it would be impossible for individuals to engage in any activity, economic or otherwise unless they are guaranteed of a certain level of security. This explains why many governments have been spending an enormous amount of their budgets in averting threats to their national securities both inside and outside their borders. It goes without saying, however, that the threats of terrorism have increased in the 21st century. This has especially been enhanced by the advanced technology, which has not only enhanced the lethal nature of the weaponry but also complicated or hampered the capacity of security organs to combat such insecurity. These have taken the form of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. The increased threats of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear weapons triggered the United States into forming Homeland Security, charged with the responsibility of securing the United States from the numerous security threats that it faces. Its vision is stated as ensuring that the homeland is safe, secure, as well as resilient against any acts of terror or any hazards. In attains this vision through the prevention of terrorism and improving security, enforcement and administering of the immigration laws, securing and management of the borders, as well as securing and safeguarding cyberspace, alongside ensuring resilience to terrorism and other disasters.
Scholars note that the United States currently does not have a comprehensive or all-inclusive strategy for countering terrorism threats that involve nuclear, radiological, chemical, and especially biological weapons. As much as local, federal and state governments may have undertaken impressive strides in preparation for terrorism that involves these weapons, the sum of parts remains significantly larger than the whole. The United States is at crossroads on strategies that could comprehensively or ultimately eliminate the threats posed by terrorism.
Nevertheless, Homeland Security, while concentrating on the entirety of the CBRN threat, has paid close attention to the issue of immigration. As its mission states, Homeland Security aims at administering and enforcing immigration laws. The department has concentrated on effective and smart enforcement of the United States laws pertaining to immigration while facilitating, as well as streamlining the legal immigration process. It has taken measures that reform the enforcement of immigration, while placing its priority on the identification, as well as removal of criminal illegal immigrants who threaten public safety.
The question of illegal immigrants has been a contentious one since time immemorial. It is known to be an emotive issue even during political campaigns with different political factions calling for different measures pertaining to immigrants. Questions emerge as to the connection between immigration (especially illegal immigrants) and terrorism.
While there is no obvious or explicit link between the two, security experts are quick to point out that in the September 11 bombings, the 19 terrorists involves were foreign citizens. It is worth noting that while 13 of them may have gotten into the United States as students, tourists or business travelers, no data could be traced accounting for the entry of the rest. This is also connected to the fact that the perpetrators of other terrorist attacks were from abroad, most of whom may have entered the United States through legal means. For example, Ramzi Yousef who masterminded the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, Sheik Omar Abdel- Rahman who was convicted for plotting acts of terror in New York in 1995 and Amal Kasi, the individual who, in 1993, murdered two employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. Scholars note that, as much as it is essential that illegal immigrants (more so Muslim immigrants) are not used as scapegoats, it is imperative that policy makers acknowledge that the current threats of terrorism in the United States emanate, almost exclusively people who come from abroad. In essence, the immigration policy including border control, permanent and temporary visas issuance, as well as efforts that will deal aliens or illegal immigration are crucial in alleviating or lowering the likelihood of an attack in the future.
In addition, scholars have attempted to show how terrorists use almost every possible means to get into the United States including acquisition of legitimate visas and passports for entry or even stowing away illegally on gas tankers. Apart from seeking to to link immigration to terrorism, scholars focus on political refuges and asylum seekers as potential terrorists. They note that the political asylum comes as an appropriate route through which terrorists enter the United States. It is worth noting that the asylum keeps such individuals from being deported quickly, in which case they are presented with an opportunity to traverse the country. On the same note, a large percentage of asylum decisions are not founded on hard evidence, rather they are based on the words or the statements that applicants make. In essence, terrorists find it easy as they can make fraudulent claims and get into the United States.
In a detailed study that examined 212 known terrorists who had been killed or arrested in Europe and North America, Martin and Martin (2004) noted that all of them were visitors or 1st or 2nd generation immigrants. They hold the opinion that terrorists take advantage of the generous immigration policies in the West in order to infiltrate the United States so as to carry out the recruitment of new members, establish facilities that will promote their cause, as well as form sleeper cells in readiness for terrorist attacks.
While terrorism experts note that most illegal aliens have gainful employment in the United States, pat taxes and even have established roots and families in the society, they note that the current upsurge of illegal aliens and individuals who overstay their visas has increased the difficulty for the interior and border enforcement agencies in focusing or organized criminals, terrorists and violent felons. This is because such individuals make use of the anonymity that came with the current chaotic situation. On the same note, such individuals are seen to be fundamentally crucial in ferrying weapons as they are extremely difficult to track and net using the current laws. This underlines the importance of reexamining the immigration aspect in combating terrorism especially involving CBNR threats.
Loopholes in the immigration policiesIn examining the link between immigration reform and the proliferation of the CNBR terrorism, scholars have examined the challenges in the immigration policy that leave loopholes exploited by terrorists in gaining entry into the United States. This reexamination is carried out using the case of the 9/11 attacks, noting that the same strategies could be used by future terrorists. First, it is noteworthy that when the 9/11 hijackers entered into the United States, they presented travel documents to the immigration officers at the port of entry. As much as their names and details were checked against the computerized systems, they had easy time obtaining the visas at the United States consulates, as well as pass through the inspection at the entry points. In this regard, it is apparent that intelligence pertaining to at least two of the hijackers was not shared between the consulates and the immigration authorities until these criminals had entered into the country. Secondly, tightening the procedures that are used in screening individuals entering in the United States using legal means would not necessarily have averted the possibility of these criminals entering the US. This is especially considering that illegal entry’s backdoor in the borders of Canada and Mexico is considerably open and accessible to any would-be immigrant. As much as the a large percentage of individuals getting into the United States through illegal means may be doing it for purposes of work and even pose no substantial security threat, the same vulnerabilities in regulation and control of borders that allow large-scale unauthorized migration may be taken advantage of by terrorists. Third, it is evident from terrorists’ activities that the United States does not track the activities and movements of immigrants and foreigners. This is especially considering that one of the hijackers had gained entry into the United States after being admitted to study English. However, he did not attend or go to the school in which he was admitted yet no consequences befell him. This is blamed on the fact that the procedure followed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in notifying schools about the arrival of a student into the United States takes at least 6 months, not to mention the additional months taken for the response of the school to reach the INS. In essence the INS is supposed to make a decision on the priority it should place in locating a foreigner who entered the United States but failed to participate in the activities that are permitted in his or her visa. It is noteworthy that tracking foreigners in real-time would not only be expensive but also expensive in such instances. Forth and most important is the fact that the hijackings underlined variations in the manner in which foreigners are treated across countries as shown by the variation in the manner in which a number of the hijackers in the US, Germany and Canada were treated, as well as the inability of the data systems of immigration and law enforcement agencies to share information between and within governments.
The flaw of focusing on ethnic groups in immigration reforms combating CBRN threatsNumerous governments have, for a long time, underlined the importance of undertaking sweeping measures that would reform the Immigration Policies so as to avert the possibility of CBNR terrorist attacks. However, it is noted that focusing on certain religions and ethnic groups undermines the legitimacy that western governments have in fighting against terror. Scholars note that the al-Qaeda among other CBNR terrorists tend to characterize the war against terror as the United States against Arabs or the West against the religion of Islam. The more the United States acts in a manner that paints the picture of West vs. Islam, the higher the likelihood that terrorist groups would attract support (and sympathy) for their terrorist cause. It is worth noting that an international response is required to meet international terrorism, in which case it is imperative that the broadest coalition between different governments is maintained. However, counterterrorism policies that seem to target certain religions or ethnic communities based on their nationality may antagonize their home governments or even the nationals counterparts at home, whose cooperation may be imperative in combating terror. In fact, countries may respond to measures that seem to target its citizens through withdrawing or a reduction in their support for initiatives that combat international terrorism.
On the same note, harsh measures related to immigration have reverberated in the immigrant community lowering the will of Muslims and Arabs to cooperate with the agencies in fighting terrorism. Immigrant populations have faced antagonism from these measures, in which case they fear law enforcement. This has hindered investigation efforts on terrorist activities the communities as they have increased government’s mistrust, in which case there is the likelihood of alienating immigrant populations that would be willing to cooperate.
Recommendation and conclusionDespite the ineffectiveness of immigration policy frameworks, Homeland Security must use them in preventing CBNR terrorism. Of course, reforms in immigration policies may not prevent terrorism but they come as fundamental in combating it. These policies are aimed at identifying, deterring the entry of, as well as apprehending terrorists.
First, it is imperative that Homeland Security synchronizes its data systems pertaining to criminal records. This data should be freely shared among all agencies that are charged with the admission of immigrants and foreigners, so as to allow the agencies to carry out comprehensive searches before allowing a foreigner to enter into the country.
Second, the Mexican and Canada borders come as crucial in the fight against CBNR terrorism. This is especially considering its porous nature that allows for the entry of illegal immigrants into the United States. While it may be costly and ineffective to close it, eliminating the possibility of entry for terrorists of any nature would be imperative. In this regard, it is recommended that the refugee and immigration policies between the United States and Canada, as well as Mexico are harmonized. This will allow for the preservation of a considerably open border without antagonizing immigrant communities and even without compromising on the security of the United States.
Third, it is imperative that communication between Immigration and Naturalization Service and other bodies is enhanced so as to allow for tracking, as well as early and easy detection and prevention of acts that would jeopardize the security of the United States. Individuals who seem to have stopped or diverted from their initial goal stated in their visas and passports would be detected early enough and either deported or investigated, which would allow for early detection and prevention of terrorism acts.
Needless to say, terrorism involving Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear weapons is rife and an immense threat to the stability of the United States. With homeland Security being charged with ensuring safety of United States, it is imperative that it reexamines its policies pertaining to immigrants and seeks their reform so as to enhance cooperation with immigrants and make it difficult for terrorists to exploit the loopholes to get to the United States.
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