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

    Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

    Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

    Political Crumbs

    Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

    Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


    Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

    Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


    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