Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Live Blog: Security and Immigration in a Post 9/11 United States

Bookmark and Share

12:05 p.m. Edward Alden, Senior Fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, is delivering a talk today at the Humphrey Institute entitled, "Security and Immigration in a post-9/11 United States. Alden is the author of the recent book, The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration and Security Since 9/11.

12:10 p.m. Alden says 20 years ago Alden says the U.S. did have a porous border, and even 10 years ago it was still largely porous, although there had been some crackdown on the southern border. But now, he believes, critics like Bill O'Reilly and Lou Dobbs are simply wrong: the U.S., he says, is now both keeping people out that should be kept out, as well as those we should let in, such as many professionals.

12:13 p.m. Alden gives the example of a renowned surgeon from Pakistan who had done his years of training in the U.S. The surgeon had to go back to Pakistan to wait for a work visa to accept a position at UCLA, in 2002, and had to wait more than 9 months to get such a visa.

12:18 p.m. How did the U.S. come to its current post-9/11 customs and visa policies? Alden explains how the targeting of drug smugglers by the U.S. Customs service through information provided by U.S. airlines. Customs had access to both foreign and domestic flights, but rarely looked at domestic flight data, as it was considered legally questionable. It was through this information that the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were identified - not by the FBI or CIA. This led to a series of initiatives - such as fingerprinting of those arriving into the U.S. (unless coming from Canada or Mexico). The theory is that better information is the best defense against terrorism. The second development that occurred after 9/11, in light of the fact that several 9/11 hijackers had been pulled over by local law enforcement officials while they were out of status (in the country illegally). The idea thereafter was to use U.S. immigration laws to as effectively as possible to share information between agencies.

12:29 p.m. After 9/11 Alden says approximately 1,000 Muslim men were arrested on 'technical' immigration violations and held sometimes for years. Alden claims many of these apprehended foreigners were beaten in jails, and none of them were found to be terrorists.

12:32 p.m. As a result of these new policies, Alden says universities from across the country began to feel the effect of the delays in the processing of student and work visas by the fall of 2002. Alden says in order to keep out a few people that may do the U.S. harm, the U.S. kept out thousands that would have contributed to our nation.

12:35 p.m. Alden does not give data, thus far, as to the thousands of foreigners to whom the United States has issues visas, and are studying and working in the nation after 9/11.

12:40 p.m. The default position of the Department of Homeland Security is to see U.S. borders as the primary way to defend the United States against threats and attacks, even if it inconveniences innocent people in the process.

12:42 p.m. Alden says a society as open as the United States, with borders as large and as unguarded as this nation, cannot use the border as the primary means to defend itself against all of the serious threats the Department of Homeland Security wishes to guard against (terrorists, drug smugglers, illegal immigrants etc.).

12:45 p.m. Alden summarizes that by keeping out bad people, America is keeping out good people. Alden does not demonstrate evidence, however, that America is, in fact, keeping out the 'bad people.'

12:57 p.m. Alden says there have been "atrocious violations" in basic human rights and American values in how the U.S. has treated foreigners, such as frequently incarcerated asylum seekers and their families as they wait for their cases to be adjudicated.

1:01 p.m. Alden says there are three reasons there have not been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. First, there is not a home-grown terrorist threat, like there is in Europe. Secondly, al Queda is probably holding out for a larger terrorist attack. Thirdly, Alden attributes the measures instituted by the U.S. government as really making a difference (e.g. terrorist watch lists, document security measures) in preventing attacks.

1:08 p.m. Alden says prior to 9/11 there was a 'clock' for U.S. agencies to reject or raise a red flag to prevent an applicant to come into the country (of 30 or 60 days), and, if no objection was raised, the State Department cleared them. After 9/11, this clock was suspended, and agencies have had unlimited time ever since to approve or deny their visa requests.

1:21 p.m. Alden admits there are no silver bullets in his book. In terms of looking to other nations for best practices, Alden says the U.S. has learned some from Australia, but has also pioneered many of its security practices (e.g. fingerprinting foreigners). In general, however, Alden believes that, in general, other countries, such as Germany and Japan, have done better in facilitating both security and openness in their policies.

Previous post: Heading (North) West, Young Man? Not So Fast, Minnesota
Next post: Why MinnPost's Plea for Forgiveness of Minnesota's Famous Fugitive Is Unfounded

5 Comments


  • I think Alden makes a good point in needing to find a balance between security and openness. Genuine skills should not be allowed to be lost to the US because of an need to over secure.

  • Very interesting talk. Is there any way to obtain a full transcript?

    The situation is getting better nowadays, actually. A couple years ago it was common to hear of people, Ph.D. students for example, who got stuck outside the U.S. for many months because of security checks. Most times it wasn't because their backgrounds were so complicated, rather how long it took for the agencies to open their cases for investigation. For this reason foreign students and workers were reluctant to attend conferences or visit families, fearing their return visas would be delayed. It still happens today, but less often.

  • The U.S. became a leader in innovation and science due to many professionals and scientist that were lured for the chance of a better life. During this economic downturn, many have adopted the philosophy of limiting the amount of foreigners in the work place and the intellectual community in an effort to advance those locally. If the U.S. is to continue its role as a leader in science, arts, economy and health, it will need the best minds from around the world.

    As it is many students are being deterred due to lack of employment or visas. The U.S. needs to adopt an approach that will encourage the world's best minds, athletes and artists so that the U.S. can continue its development and role.

  • Great discussion. I'd like access to a full transcript as well. I especially like the notes on how post 911 securities are pretty much torpedoing the US's ability to find and recruit qualified professional to fill H-1B work visas.

    There are literally companies here in San Diego that have had to shut their doors due to their inability to recruit qualified foreign workers for highly skilled jobs. It's truly a travesty and this long-promised immigration reform by Obama is no where to be seen.

    It's not a great time to be an immigrant looking to naturalize here in the US. Nor is it a good time to be an immigration attorney regardless of the market.

  • I also agree that things are not walking in a positive direction regarding immigrants. True development in any field is only possible with gifted people and resources. Cutting the supply of foreign minds can have a real detriment in the long run.

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Strange Bedfellows: A Historical Review of Divided US Senate Delegations

    Over the last century, states have been twice as likely to be represented by a single political party in the U.S. Senate than have a split delegation; only Delaware, Iowa, and Illinois have been divided more than half the time.

    Political Crumbs

    Haugh to Reach New Heights

    The North Carolina U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis may go down to the wire next Tuesday, but along the way Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh is poised to set a state record for a non-major party candidate. Haugh, who previously won 1.5 percent of the vote in the Tar Heel State's 2002 race, has polled at or above five percent in 10 of the last 12 polls that included his name. The current high water mark for a third party or independent candidate in a North Carolina U.S. Senate election is just 3.3 percent, recorded by Libertarian Robert Emory back in 1992. Only one other candidate has eclipsed the three percent mark - Libertarian Christopher Cole with 3.1 percent in 2008.


    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting