The September 11th terrorist assaults not solely led to the tragic deaths of two,977 folks, they essentially modified the character of immigration legislation and coverage in the US.
Since 9/11, the U.S. authorities has considered each non-U.S. citizen searching for to enter the nation as a possible risk. Overseas vacationers and college students, momentary staff, everlasting immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented immigrants are all now evaluated at first by the lens of nationwide safety.
The objective of stopping international terrorists from ever once more mounting an assault inside the US is definitely comprehensible. However politicians have used the worry of one other terrorist assault to justify harsh immigration insurance policies that stereotype and dehumanize any non-citizen who needs to go to, work, or dwell in the US. This usually comes at nice value to civil liberties and with little worth to counterintelligence. And whereas the anti-immigrant insurance policies of the Trump administration have been notably egregious on this regard, no presidential administration of the previous 20 years has managed to maneuver past the fear-driven insurance policies of the post-9/11 period.
The one-minded give attention to safety after 9/11 was exemplified finest by the choice in 2002 to dissolve the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and assign its features to the newly created Division of Homeland Safety (DHS). The first mission of DHS was to forestall one other terrorist assault on U.S. soil.
DHS not solely took over the immigration enforcement duties of the previous INS, but additionally grew to become chargeable for offering immigration advantages, such because the granting of U.S. citizenship, lawful everlasting residence, and work authorization.
For many years earlier than it was absorbed by DHS, the department of the INS that had granted immigration advantages considered its work by a special lens. A part of its mission was to offer respectable customer support to individuals who have been making use of (and paying for) advantages. However that mindset modified utterly as soon as DHS took over the job.
Beneath DHS, the first objective was to forestall probably harmful people from acquiring advantages moderately than guaranteeing that certified people obtained advantages in a well timed trend.
The safety-first mentality of the U.S. authorities after 9/11 additionally grew to become obvious within the harsher remedy of refugees and asylum seekers. Some asylum seekers noticed their claims denied as a result of they’d been compelled to flee their residence nations utilizing fraudulent paperwork—despite the fact that they clearly couldn’t acquire legitimate paperwork from the governments that have been persecuting them. Even victims of terror teams have been denied entry to asylum or refugee standing as a result of they’d been compelled at gunpoint to offer materials help to their captors.
At a broader degree, 9/11 brought on many coverage makers and far of the general public to lose sight of the truth that immigration is a posh financial, political, social, and historic difficulty. Beneath the prevailing post-9/11 mindset, creating immigration coverage has change into little greater than devising new methods to maintain probably “dangerous” immigrants overseas. However managing migration is a way more advanced job, which requires recognizing the advantages of immigration.
The USA was as soon as near making a better-managed immigration system. Within the weeks earlier than 9/11, the administration of a Republican president—George W. Bush—got here very near negotiating a migration accord with Mexico that may have included the creation of a pathway to authorized standing for undocumented immigrants who’ve lived and labored in the US for a few years.
This effort was based mostly on a commonsense recognition of the long-standing historic ties between the 2 nations, in addition to the diploma to which undocumented immigrants (notably from Mexico) had change into built-in into the social and financial cloth of the US. Sadly, 9/11 obliterated the opportunity of such an accord.
The post-9/11 obsession with safety continues to carry again the formulation of any new plan to comprehensively handle migration. As an alternative, policymakers have spent 20 years throwing more cash, sources, and personnel into immigration enforcement alongside the border and within the inside of the nation. The rationale behind this endless sequence of enforcement-only measures is that we are able to’t danger creating a brand new and higher immigration system till we’ve change into actually “secure” by holding out or kicking out a adequate variety of “dangerous” immigrants.
Nonetheless, there isn’t any magic variety of deportations or expulsions on the border that can assure us absolute security from international terrorists—to not point out home-grown extremism. Concern won’t save us from one other terrorist assault. However worry will stop us from creating an immigration system that’s extra affordable and humane than the dysfunctional system to which policymakers have been clinging for 20 years.
FILED UNDER: Division of Homeland Safety