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Immigrants and Terrorism

Page history last edited by David Hodges 13 years, 8 months ago


Your First Wiki Writing Assignment!

I promise I won't make you read and write about immigration policy and terrorism all semester, but since we spent a class period on the topic already today, I thought you might benefit from an opportunity to demonstrate what you learned about starting your argument with a clear and forceful thesis.


Make at least two comments on this article.

    •      THE FIRST can be brief, for practice, to get used to the process of contributing to a wiki.
    •      THE SECOND must make a substantial contribution to a discussion on this important topic.
    •      THE BEST would be a strong example of the opening paragraph of a "response essay" to this editorial. If you decide to post an opening paragraph, Start your comment with the words: "OPENING PARAGRAPH."


Make your first comment Friday (today!) so I know you can use the wiki.

Post your second comment no later than 5PM Sunday, September 12.


The article below first appeared in print October 23, 2001, just weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11. How much has changed since? I look forward to your replies, my friends. I can't wait to see you again on Monday!


Don't Blame Immigrants for Terrorism

by Daniel Griswold

Assistant Director of Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute


     In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, the U.S. government must strengthen its efforts to stop terrorists or potential terrorists from entering the country. But those efforts should not result in a wider effort to close our borders to immigrants.

     Obviously, any government has a right and a duty to "control its borders" to keep out dangerous goods and dangerous people. The U.S. federal government should implement whatever procedures are necessary to deny entry to anyone with terrorist connections, a criminal record, or any other ties that would indicate a potential to commit terrorist acts.

     This will require expanding and upgrading facilities at U.S. entry points so that customs agents and immigration officials can be notified in a timely manner of persons who should not be allowed into the country. Communications must be improved between law enforcement, intelligence agencies and border patrol personnel. Computer systems must be upgraded to allow effective screening without causing intolerable delays at the border. A more effective border patrol will also require closer cooperation from Mexico and Canada to prevent potential terrorists from entering those countries first in an attempt to then slip across our long land borders into the United States.

     Long-time skeptics of immigration, including Pat Buchanan and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, have tried in recent days to turn those legitimate concerns about security into a general argument against openness to immigration. But immigration and border control are two distinct issues. Border control is about who we allow to enter the country, whether on a temporary or permanent basis; immigration is about whom we allow to stay and settle permanently.

     Immigrants are only a small subset of the total number of foreigners who enter the United States every year. According to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 351 million aliens were admitted through INS ports of entry in fiscal year 2000 -- nearly a million entries a day. That total includes individuals who make multiple entries, for example, tourists and business travelers with temporary visas, and aliens who hold border-crossing cards that allow them to commute back and forth each week from Canada and Mexico.

     The majority of aliens who enter the United States return to their homeland after a few days, weeks, or months. Reducing the number of people we allow to reside permanently in the United States would do nothing to protect us from terrorists who do not come here to settle but to plot and commit violent acts. And closing our borders to those who come here temporarily would cause a huge economic disruption by denying entry to millions of people who come to the United States each year for lawful, peaceful (and temporary) purposes.

     It would be a national shame if, in the name of security, we were to close the door to immigrants who come here to work and build a better life for themselves and their families. Like the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center towers stood as monuments to America's openness to immigration. Workers from more than 80 different nations lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. According to the Washington Post, "The hardest hit among foreign countries appears to be Britain, which is estimating about 300 deaths ... Chile has reported about 250 people missing, Colombia nearly 200, Turkey about 130, the Philippines about 115, Israel about 113, and Canada between 45 and 70. Germany has reported 170 people unaccounted for, but expects casualties to be around 100." Those people were not the cause of terrorism but its victims.

     The problem is not that we are letting too many people into the United States but that the government is not keeping out the wrong people. An analogy to trade might be helpful: We can pursue a policy of open trade, with all its economic benefits, yet still exclude goods harmful to public health and safety, such as diseased meat and fruits, explosives, child pornography, and other contraband materials. In the same way, we should keep our borders open to the free flow of people, but at the same time strengthen our ability to keep out those few who would menace the public.

     Immigrants come here to realize the American dream; terrorists come to destroy it. We should not allow America's tradition of welcoming immigrants to become yet another casualty of September 11.



Comments (Show all 75)

David Hodges said

at 2:56 pm on Sep 12, 2010

I'm sure you're right about this, Carmen. If people trying to immigrate from Mexico into Texas are being shot when they try to cross the border, the shooters can't even claim that they knew the illegals were criminals, or dangerous, or that they had terror connections. To determine that, the immigrants would have to first be captured and detained. And that would mean they weren't far enough away to be shooting at. (You're not saying people are being arrested and questioned and THEN shot, are you?)

Carmen Trinidad said

at 3:19 pm on Sep 12, 2010

NO,Im saying they are being shot without even knowing if they are illegal or that they had terrorist connections just because they are crossing the border; THE OTHER i saw in the news a situation like this a kid got shot just because he was next to the border when he wasing even trying to cross it.

Carmen Trinidad said

at 3:22 pm on Sep 12, 2010


David Hodges said

at 10:19 pm on Sep 12, 2010

If you want to correct your comments in future, Carmen, just rewrite them completely with the corrections, and I'll delete the erroneous original. It's the best I can do. I'm not able to edit your comments, only delete them.

qiang lin said

at 4:01 pm on Sep 12, 2010

From my personal point of view, I think the U.S government blame the immigrants for terrorism because immigrants cause the 911 terrorist attack,but this does not all the blame immigrants. Terrorist just used the security system's loopholes to made the 9.11 terrorist attacks. I think the U.S government need to upgraded the computer system and fix the security system's loopholes and Border Patrol pay more attention on the immigrant. It will not miss any terrorist make 911 terrorist happen again.

David Hodges said

at 10:22 pm on Sep 12, 2010

Qiang, it sounds as if you're responding to Wenjun's comment. Maybe you should find the "Reply" button above his comment and put your reply right there where everyone can watch the dialog between the two of you. (Or maybe Wenjun will see this comment of yours and reply to you here!)

wenjun zhou said

at 5:49 pm on Sep 12, 2010

...first of all, thanks for remind me to use capital letter Mr.Hodges . Secondly, I don't want to blame the security system at all and i just want to indicate the main culprit what cause 9.11 is not immigrant. As you said home-owners cause burglaries by not using better locks and surveillance cameras to protect their homes, I strongly agree with you in this opinion; more and more foreigners come to U.S.A also is a serious problem what U.S security system to face.

xiuyun ling said

at 10:36 pm on Sep 12, 2010

Like I said, we are seeking more opportunity that why we go to US. Terrorism destroy the reputation of our immigration。This is unfair to us。Immigrants impact the U.S. economy is very important。

David Hodges said

at 3:49 am on Sep 13, 2010

That makes sense to me, Xiuyun. I can see why legal immigrants and students on visas would be very angry about immigrants who commit acts of terror because it makes people suspicious of all immigrants.

Jahanvi joshi said

at 9:24 am on Sep 13, 2010

Well...according to me, without immigrants, this country would not have been populated as it is now. Immigrants come with their new ideas and with hope of success. Immigrants have helped USA to get better economics and reputation. Such as at the education level, immigrants from Albania, India, Spain or others are tend to do well in math than Native Americans. All imigrants are not tend to me terrorists. Some people enter to US with clear determination of getting success without even a single thought of harming anyone.

David Hodges said

at 8:08 pm on Sep 13, 2010

I know you're right, Jahanvi; I've met hundreds by now and I love you all. Well, to be honest, I didn't care for Ali very much, but he was just unpleasant. :) I hope you all stay and thrive and add to our rich diversity. I'll bet most border patrol workers feel the same way too about the individual immigrants they've come to know, but at the same time, they're sworn to protect the country from terrorists or dangerous criminals who bring ulterior motives.

shahar cohen said

at 9:34 am on Sep 13, 2010

The sentence i most agree with is, "The U.S. federal government should implement whatever procedures are necessary to deny entry to anyone with terrorist connections." i agree with this sentence and i think the gov't shouldnt let any person with a terrorist connections in to the country, because if a person has any connections to a terrorist organizetion i think it more likely that he or she involved in a terrorist acction. however, i dont agree that the U.S. federal government should implement whatever procedures are necessary to deny entry to anyone with criminal record, because i think many people with a criminal record have nothing to do with terrorism. For example, if a person has a record for the time he or sheteenager and it has niothing that can conect him or her to terrorism, i think he or she shouldnt have any problems getting in to the U.S.

David Hodges said

at 8:16 pm on Sep 13, 2010

Shahar, please don't let "textspeak" punctuation sneak into the wiki. Capitalize I when it means Shahar.

The way you and I define "terrorist connections," I agree with you completely, but I've never been comfortable with the way authority defines anyone it wants to oppress. I have a friendly, collegial relationship with many students from countries the State Department might be watching. My friends could easily belong to mosques or synagogues or churches that "have connections" to human rights organizations that "have ties" to groups whose members are suspected of subversive acts. I'm being a little outrageous to make a point, but I think you see what I'm getting at. "Terrorist connections" judged very loosely might prohibit me and you and our entire class from renewing our visas.

Juninio Michel said

at 1:53 pm on Sep 13, 2010

Hello everyone....
What marvellous debate!! Love it!!
To add at the discussion... USA is a cosmopolitan country (composed of people from in many parts of the world).
We can not ignore the immigrants. Furthermore we (the foreigners ) played, play and we will play ever a preponderant role in the US economy, politics, culture etc.... "Remember, remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists”, says Franklin Delanio Roosevelt. We ( immigrants) are the real source of the economic power without doubts. It is not certainly true that terrorists are foreigners. Being terrorism is philosophizing. Anyone could be a terrorism no matter race you are.
Fighting terrorism is like being a goalkeeper. You can make a hundred brilliant saves but the only shot that people remember is the one that gets past you. I am outraged when they discriminate the immigrants. We should raise our voice saying "IT'S ENOUGH". Do not be silent anymore. In any problem , there are always many solutions. Why they do not try to find out the real solutions instead of accuse us. Even though i know it will be difficult but it's not impossible either.
Take care each other.

David Hodges said

at 8:30 pm on Sep 13, 2010

Thanks, Jeansenius! Good to see you here! What a brilliant analogy of the soccer goalie! The George Bush administration tried to make the other case while they were still in power, if you recall: They wanted credit for keeping the country safe from "any additional acts of domestic terror since the 9/11 atrocities. The reason nobody gets credit for a scoreless soccer game is that nobody knows whether the goalie did her job or the opponent's offense was awful!

Duong Thang Ly said

at 9:04 pm on Sep 13, 2010

According to www.dictionary.com, "immigrant" is defined as: "a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence". On the other hand, the U.S has been established by the large group of immigrations since Christopher Columbus discovered America continent in 1493 or we can say, all the U.S citizen right now are the descendants of the immigrants since 1493. Therefore, in my perspective, the only difference between "immigrant" and "citizen" is just the time people live in the U.S. When people say something about terrorist or terrorism, their mind always refer to someone come from other country, immigrants, to attack the U.S. What if the immigrant who live in the U.S long enough to become the U.S citizen and attack the the U.S as terrorist, are they called "immigrant" or "citizen"? People have had a very heavy stereotype about immigrants. I do agree with Juninio Michel that "we (immigrants) are the real source of the economic power without doubts". That was so unfair for being criticized because of your background. That is not much different between "immigrant" and "citizen".

David Hodges said

at 3:58 am on Sep 14, 2010

I think the definition most Americans would accept immediately is "born here" = "citizen." But obviously that creates a sticky problem for some of those Americans, who now wish to deny citizenship status to infants born in the US to parents here illegally. So, I guess that would mean "born here legally" = "citizen."

It's true that we find very moving those ceremonies we often see of "naturalized citizens" who have studied English and American history and passed the citizenship test, raising their hands to pledge their allegiance to the country on the day they become citizens. Anything other than that seems to make a lot of Americans very uneasy. And, to be honest, natural citizens of most countries feel the same unease about immigrants, don't you think? No matter how long my cousins live in France, the French never seem to consider them French, and their son who was born there seems only slightly less alien to his countrymen.

As you say, Duong, time turns immigrants into citizens, but if we're being honest, time in this case is measured in generations, not years.

Duong Thang Ly said

at 10:29 am on Sep 14, 2010

That was so sad when I read through, "No matter how long my cousins live in France, the French never seem to consider them French, and their son who was born there seems only slightly less alien to his countrymen". That was truth and especially in America. I saw a lot of people in this page have the same idea with me that immigrant have contributed a large part of America economics. I just do not understand that people always think about "terrorism", "illegal", "criminal" and something like that when they heard the word "immigrant". Is that a bias? According to the U.S history, the U.S government tried to fix "something" when "something" already happened rather than finding the way to stop it before it happen. "911" event is the obvious evidence.

David Hodges said

at 5:45 pm on Sep 14, 2010

I love you already, Duong. Let me ask you this. If I leave my house right now with a knife and puncture one tire of every 5th car I walk past while I walk around the park, is there anything you could have done to stop me? I could flatten hundreds of tires before I'm apprehended, if anybody actually notices what I'm up to. Nobody could predict that I would do such a thing: therefore, there would be no reason to try to prohibit me from doing it. I don't think we can reasonably say 9/11 was predictable and if it wasn't predictable, it's not preventable, unless you mean we should act in such a way that nobody would ever want to harm us. How possible is that?

Julia Nguyen said

at 11:24 pm on Sep 13, 2010

I like the way that writer compares policy of open trade with free flow of people who come to The U.S. The border Patrol let free flow of people come to America and they do exclude by some way, such as visa. However, i think terrorism is the main problem because terrorism can be from The U.S citizens. Thinking a way to stop terrorist before they do is more important than exclude immigrant.

David Hodges said

at 4:02 am on Sep 14, 2010

Of course you're right, Julia. If only we had a better idea how to stop terrorism before it starts, we wouldn't be working so hard to deter people who have no terrorist intentions.

Julia Nguyen said

at 11:14 pm on Sep 14, 2010

I think the way you`re talking just temporary, it only decreases the lost but not a long term way. I think the best way to do is "mind" education because of terrorist have mind problem, or affect from cultural, environments, or maybe religions. Let think. You, me and everyone had nothing when we were born. We knew nothing and couldn`t define what is right or wrong? From the beginning, our mind were just like a blank paper, and whatever that paper had depended on what we have been through. So i think cultures, environments, and maybe religions are mutual keys that we have to head to. They lead people go to the right or wrong ways. Although easier said than done, we should try the best.

Juninio Michel said

at 11:02 am on Sep 14, 2010

There is no black ,no Latino, no Orientals (Asia), neither no white America, there is the United States of America. I do not know for why until today there is still a racial inequality in America. I am not merely pretending to safeguard the African- Americans or the foreigners but it would be good for America as a whole. I know there is a progress compared to previous years but it's not good enough. It should be a social responsability(sense of mutual responsability) and there’s got to be political will in the White House to make that happen. As Doctor King says" we might be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character".He is totally right.

David Hodges said

at 6:13 pm on Sep 14, 2010

I share your frustration, my friend. People should change? Of course. Equality should be automatic? You bet. Quality of character is the true test of a person? Undoubtedly. But does all that certainty mean we'll get the kind of world we all deserve? No. Not until we all become the kind of people the world deserves.

Jahanvi joshi said

at 11:48 am on Sep 14, 2010

I totally agree with what Juninio said that...there shouldn't me any racial discrimination and also it's not even easy for immigrants to leave their home country and settle down in a whole new country and learn their language but they come with a hope of getting success. I am not trying to say that illegal immigrants should have chance to live in USA. My point is,' Don't suspect everyone'. Suspecting innocents might even lead to hate from their side. I also agree with what Professor David commented on my opinion that, " The agents are sworn to protect the country from terrorists or dangerous criminals who bring ulterior motives." Even Immigrants wants to feel safe, they don't want to be surrounded by terrorism, but it's not right to arrest all only basis of suspicion. Truly, Sometimes this is what encourages people to become terrorists.

David Hodges said

at 6:40 pm on Sep 14, 2010

This is what makes life so interesting, Jahanvi. There are no easy answers and anybody who says there are is missing something. You speak for immigrants eloquently: they want to feel safe like everyone else, but the need to be protected from terrorists AND people who think they might be terrorists. I hope at least you feel safe where you are, in school, in my class, in the presence of friends who share an immigrant background.

xiuyun ling said

at 12:22 pm on Sep 14, 2010

Like I read a book ''Persepolis''. It is talking about the Islamic revolution. I learned a lot from that book. And they to train the poor children to become terrorist.Thousands of young kids, promised go to paradise after they died. That is pretty sad story. Don not blame the poor kids, all of the fault are authority's ambition

BABAR I. said

at 12:44 pm on Sep 14, 2010

Are u trying to say that Muslims are terrorists??

David Hodges said

at 5:59 am on Sep 15, 2010

I'll let this question stand, Babar, but it's more provocative than I would like to see us be with each other. I understand how sensitive this topic makes people, and I don't blame you for any reaction you feel. Please respond with reasonable statements of your own whenever you feel a point has been made poorly. Xiuyun's comment requires clarification which you could help provide.

Juninio Michel said

at 2:14 pm on Sep 14, 2010

I hope there is not her point, Barbar. The True Muslims are peace-loving and hospitable people. Even though they say" Not all Muslims are terrorists, but nearly all terrorists are Muslims.” But perception is not reality. The data simply does not support such a hasty conclusion. Most of them are decidedly not being terrorists; they are victimized as we (FOREIGNERS) are by the actions of a radical few. They bear suspicions and anger, frustrations and hatred of many of fellow American citizens.
I am a servant of God. I do not support any religion at all. Science is the true ennemy of Religion. Science and religion, which have so much in common, often seem to be at "war" with one another these days. For many science has become their religion while others try to conform science to their religion. Both "heartless science" and "mindless religion" miss truths about the nature of our existence in the universe. Naturally each side is quick to point out the "errors and flaws" that are "obvious" in the other's position.
The ony thing that i am sure is we are all responsible for what is happening in the world vue lack of loves and understandings (knowledges and insight) . We must react............. leaving our all stupid prejudices, malevolences behind....... and move on.. Then the next generation would lived in a better world.

David Hodges said

at 6:01 am on Sep 15, 2010

Nicely said, Jeansenius.

yanwen mai said

at 5:00 pm on Sep 14, 2010

Eachtime,when people talking about 9.11,that was remine me ,I frist time saw the terrible scene of attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center from the TV.I ask myself
why some people willingness sacrifice oneself of themselves to harm some people their never has contact with?That
painful experience is difficult to erase inside of American'mind.Terrorism is not the easy one to understand for us.
we don't understand their thought and action.Why have this kind of preson linv in the world?Because of terrorism,there had increase a lot of war.Because of terrorism,seem the immigrant liek, also understand why American'government very seriously to treat immigrants. Their mush corroboration each immigrant's idetity and background befort get in to the U.S. Anyway,I hope on more will sacrifice in the future .STOP ,STOP,STOP, stop to make war terrorisms.

David Hodges said

at 6:06 am on Sep 15, 2010

Unfortunately, Yanwen, not everyone wants peace. Terrorism creates an atmosphere of hostility and antagonism that suits the needs of groups that feel they have no other way to address their grievances. It will be with us as long as people feel powerless to get satisfaction through legal action.

yanwen mai said

at 5:17 pm on Sep 14, 2010

What should we do with terrorisms? Only stop them get into the U.S,whatelse we .can do? we are immigrant came to the U.S. for the better life,why terrorisms came to U.S. for destroy other people life?

David Hodges said

at 6:07 am on Sep 15, 2010

It's hard if not impossible to predict who will be tomorrow's terrorist, Yanwen. Did they plan to attack the country before they arrived? Or did something happen to them while they lived here that made them want to do violence?

yanwen mai said

at 9:11 pm on Sep 16, 2010

I think they need more education because they r absurd,foolish and nothing. They thought they done something greatful thing,actually that was vacuously,smugly,and unconsciously foolish behavior.They feel they r poor ,unfair or weakness not because their country poor.That because they has this kind of lacking intelligence thinking.

Jahanvi joshi said

at 11:19 am on Sep 15, 2010

yes..of course Mr. David I do feel safe the place where i live and the places I visit and especially i feel more safer than ever in your class. It's just only my opinion toward immigrants who are facing problems. So far I have been feeling safe.

Juninio Michel said

at 1:50 pm on Sep 15, 2010

"The terrorism is a really tough task but it is not impossible either",said Mr David. Terrorism is an awful farce one by which too many innocent lives (often the foreigner's lives) are often punished for the actions of another. But the target (or the perception of the target by the terrorist) is rarely completely cleared of fault or provocation. Terrorists are not born , they are created. I support the idea of Jahanvi Joshi , saying, " Sometimes They provoke people being terrorists" vue the culture shock the foreigners are facing because they do not treat immigrants as well they deserve it. They are indifferent towards us. Be prepared to defend yourself without threaten no one. Or give your assistance.
The crimes related to immigration issue make me outraged. It is offensive. The USA is a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and we should ajust (accept) it as well.
We ( all people living on Earth) should move beyond this constrast and connect together for a better future.

IrinaSyrnikova said

at 6:57 pm on Sep 22, 2010

hello! I'm sorry for leaving a comment so late!
I agree that preventing terrorists from entering the country, control over illegal immigration and letting tourists or business partners come to the U.S. should be distinguished.
watching any program concerning this topic I always hear the same: terrorists would never be able to implement their plans without assistance from the inside of the country. So first it is necessary to find those criminals who provide terrorists with the information and help (they are not less terrorists than the actual suicide bombers).

IrinaSyrnikova said

at 7:03 pm on Sep 22, 2010

As for the extreme security measures... . I came back and forward to and from the US three times. All three times me and my friend underwent so called additional screening. it is quite unpleasant, furthermore, I cannot understand how it can help them to prevent for example terrorist attack...
Well.. maybe they thought we could carry drugs or weapons

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