A showdown worthy of High Noon may erupt over immigration if Obama, as anticipated, decrees amnesty for millions of illegal aliens via executive order. Republicans would decry the sheer lawlessness of Obama’s brazen unilateralism in a nation of equal and divided powers, not least Congress’s explicit constitutional mandate to write laws and Obama’s utter absence of authority to do so. Conservatives, and many moderates, fret about the fiscal and sociocultural impact of a wide-open southern boundary practically decorated with a 1,989-mile-long “Welcome!” sign. Thus the oft-heard demand for border security as Step One in immigration reform.
Concerns about health, education, and welfare notwithstanding, there are serious national-security reasons for immediately clamping down on the U.S.-Mexican “border.” It has devolved into a people-mover for illegal immigrants from certified terrorist states and other nations filled with zealots eager to kill Americans.
According to recently released data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 5,063 individuals from nations that harbor terrorists were arrested last year trying to cross into America from Mexico. None of these were Mexicans, Guatemalans, or Hondurans; they were citizens from far-away nations consumed by militant Islam.
- Afghanistan, where U.S. troops battle resilient Taliban fighters, is the home of 70 people arrested at the southern frontier in 2013 alone.
- Syria, birthplace of ISIS and a tempest-tossed nation that America drones even today, saw 72 of its countrymen captured at our border.
- Sudan, designated by the State Department as an official “state sponsor of terrorism,” was the starting point for 168 individuals who were stopped en route to the U.S.A.
- Iran, another state sponsor of terrorism, is busy trying to build an atomic bomb. A total of 257 Iranians got caught on our border.
- Nigeria – headquarters of al-Qaeda offshoot Boko Haram, which practices child-sex slavery and anti-Christian genocide – is the nation from which 492 people departed before getting snagged on the way into America.
Easily available online, Table 34 of a publication titled 2013 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics tallies these suspicious folks who were arrested last year. They hail from the four state sponsors of terrorism, as defined by the U.S. government (Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria), and ten “countries of interest,” as recognized by the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration. These nations are Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Yemen. Airline passengers who have visited any of these 14 locations receive enhanced TSA screening before entering America. (For further details, see spreadsheet here.)
Last year alone, 5,063 citizens of these 14 countries were arrested as they tried to penetrate America’s southern flank. Between 2004 and 2013, 68,287 such illegal aliens were stopped on their way into the U.S.A.
The vast majority of these people very likely left their oppressive, corrupt, strife-torn countries in search of peace, stability, and prosperity. Although they tried to break into this country without permission, most probably are harmless.
But even assuming that 99 percent of these people have innocent intentions, that means that 51 of them last year and 683 over the last 10 years sought to maim or kill Americans.
September 11 vividly illustrated the mass carnage that 19 such evildoers could perpetrate. Then there’s Major Nidal Hasan, a former Army psychologist who embraced radical Islam. In November 2009, this American-born lone rat whipped out a gun and opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas. He reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar” as he killed 13 people and wounded another 30.
Given the destruction and bloodshed that 19 Islamic extremists (or even one) can perpetrate, the idea that 51 or even 683 such potential killers could illegally gain access to the American homeland is truly chilling.
Remember: These figures represent only those who were caught by the U.S. Border Patrol. How many others from these hotbeds of mayhem and anti-Americanism slipped past U.S. security personnel and now walk among us? Nobody knows. And that is something that should keep Obama and members of Congress wide awake.
A version of this piece previously appeared on National Review Online.