It's hard to believe that just a few weeks ago one of the big issues facing Congress and the president was immigration policy. Obviously the events of September 11 have superceded these discussions, but it is also a relevant discussion in light of the terrorist attack on America.
I think it is apparent to everyone that foreign-born terrorists threaten our system of government and way of life. They take advantage of our generous immigration laws which invite future attacks.
In the past, the debate about immigration centered on whether our immigration laws allowed Latin-born immigrants to take American jobs or abuse the welfare system. Many proposed providing amnesty to illegal aliens. Although that proposal is probably been shelved indefinitely because of the attacks on America, other issues need to be addressed.
While we have focused due attention on our border with Mexico, we have neglected our border with Canada. There is now evidence that at least two of the terrorists entered illegally into this country from Canada. And when Arab-born aliens did come into this country, the federal government failed to track their whereabouts.
Of greater concern is the sad fact that most of the terrorists who attacked America on September 11 entered this country legally. They were holding either temporary visas or student visas! Once they got into this country they were able to blend into the rest of society until the day they attacked us.
In 1998 (the most recent year for statistics), the United States issues more than 30 million visas to foreign nationals. It is estimated that between 3 and 5 million still remain in the country after their visas expired. These so-called "overstays" account for nearly 40% of all illegal immigrants.
So what should we do? Columnists like Gary Bauer and Linda Chavez as well as various political leaders like Attorney General John Ashcroft and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) have put forward a number of recommendations. Here are some initial actions we should take:
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