Nothing compromises our domestic defense against Islamic terrorism more than our failure to control who enters the country. The alien-smuggling trade is the “sea in which terrorists swim,” explains David Cohen, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and an ex-CIA expert on al-Qaeda.
Yet fear of offending the race and rights lobbies has trumped national security at DHS. This spring, for example, Asa Hutchinson—the department’s undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security and now a contender for the top job—shut down a successful border-patrol initiative to catch illegal aliens.
A specially trained team had apprehended about 450 border trespassers in several Southern California cities. The Los Angeles Times, La Raza and every other advocacy group for illegal aliens protested that the arrests were racially motivated and that they were “scaring” illegal aliens.
The White House promptly called the team off, and Mr. Hutchinson appeased the race hustlers by denouncing the initiative as “racial profiling.” He followed up with a memo to every U.S. immigration, border patrol and customs agent declaring that “preventing racial profiling is a priority mission of this department.”
Every week, agents in the border patrol’s Swanton sector catch Middle Easterners and North Africans sneaking into Vermont. And every week, they immediately release those trespassers with a polite request to return for a deportation hearing. Why? The Department of Homeland Security failed to budget enough funding for sufficient detention space for lawbreakers.
In May alone, Swanton agents released illegal aliens from Malaysia, Pakistan, Morocco, Uganda and India without bond. Since all these aliens chose to evade the visa process, none has had a background check by a consular official that might have uncovered terrorist connections. All are now at large in the country.
The number of people caught at the southern border from “countries of interest”—terror dens—is on the rise: This year’s list includes people from Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and—in greatest numbers—Pakistan. In early December, border patrol officers captured a Bangladeshi man named Fakhrul Islam after he crossed the Rio Grande near Brownsville, in the company of a member of a Salvadoran gang suspected by U.S. authorities of helping al-Qaeda smuggle operatives.
At last report, the U.S. attorney’s office in Houston said Mr. Islam was to be held in federal custody until deported to Bangladesh. Law enforcement authorities told The Washington Times that al-Qaeda is well aware of the border patrol’s detention-space crisis and resulting “catch-and-release” policy, which it hopes to exploit to loose its agents into the country.
If the government were serious about ending illegal entry and its threat to national security, it would fund adequate detention space. Instead, the Bush administration plans to add only 117 new detention beds in 2005 (while probably losing another 1,400 beds for failure to reimburse county and local jails for the space it rents from them).