Three of the convicted terrorists who plotted to kill innocent soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., were illegal immigrants.
Some of the 9/11 hijackers were undeniably illegal, though one could argue that all were here illegally since none told visa officials their true purpose for entering the country – to fly planes into buildings.
A congressional report revealed that in 2005, border patrol agents apprehended 650 illegal immigrants from “special interest countries” (nations designated by the intelligence community as “countries that could export individuals that could bring harm to our country in the way of terrorism”).
Simply put, illegal immigration is a threat to America’s national security. As such, President Obama must make border security a top priority in his administration.
In the October 2008 issue of The American Legion Magazine, then-Sen. Obama said, “I think that we’ve got to have surveillance, virtual patrols. We’ve got to crack down on the employers that are really the magnets for illegal immigration. That can reduce the flows along the borders.
“Obviously, we got a national security and homeland security concern as well, but if border patrols are being pressured by huge volumes of illegal immigrants searching for work, that makes us more vulnerable in terms of looking after our potential security concerns.”
All are good ideas and The American Legion, an organization of 2.6 million wartime veterans, offers its complete support to the administration in enacting these initiatives.
We call on Congress to accept its responsibility as outlined in the U.S. Constitution. That is, “to provide for the common defense,” and, most important, to provide for the safety of the citizens of this country.
America is struggling with a global economic crisis. But it also has a crisis in the form of illegal immigration, a problem that clearly has economic consequences as well. It’s one that government at the federal level has failed to resolve and government at the local level is nearly powerless to address.
Many at the highest levels of government seem fearful of making the hard choices necessary to assure the safety and well-being of American citizens and foreign immigrants, legal or illegal.
The U.S. Code is clear and to the point: Illegal immigration is a violation of the law. And those groups or individuals who assist immigrants in illegally entering or residing in the United States also are in violation.
So, what’s the problem? In a word: enforcement. The laws are on the books, but they often are ignored.
The American Legion advocates a broad-based policy. That policy starts with the simple premise that America is best served by enforcing the current laws that regulate legal immigration into this country.
We recognize that it would be impractical to deport millions of people, but we have to at least start with a consensus that they need to follow an organized, legal path to citizenship.
In the meanwhile, our borders need to be controlled. We cannot have porous borders, nor can those who are here illegally have full access to the benefits that our society offers those who are legal residents.
The American Legion’s basic rationale in its opposition to illegal immigration is sound, non-discriminatory and equitable. That means no amnesty, in any form or by any name.
To pardon those who enter our country illegally or those who remain, illegally, beyond their legal status is unfair to law-abiding immigrants, and contrary to the best interests of a law-abiding society.
America is a nation of immigrants, but we also are a nation of laws. And if we fail to protect our borders, we may not remain a nation at all.
David K. Rehbein of Ames, Iowa, is national commander of the 2.6 million-member American Legion (www.legion.org), the nation’s largest wartime veterans organization. The American Legion’s “Strategy to Address Illegal Immigration in the United States” may be downloaded at http://www.legion.org/bulletins.