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International Migration and Terrorism: Prevention, Prosecution and Protection - Susan Martin


Immigration policies aim to facilitate the entry of foreigners whose presence is desired, and to identify and deter the entry of unwanted foreigners. Since September 11, policymakers as well as the general public have questioned whether current policies and practices are capable of meeting these twin challenges. All of the terrorists suspected of blowing up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon entered the United States on valid visas. They resided and studied in this country and several European countries with little danger of apprehension—even though several had overstayed their permission to remain. In fact, some appear to have become radicalized by their experiences in Western countries, raising serious questions about the integration of ethnic and religious minorities. At the same time, in the aftermath of September 11, innocent immigrants who were wrongly suspected of links to terrorism found themselves harassed and detained.

Immigration policy changes cannot prevent terrorism, but they are key ingredients of the effort to combat terrorism. This paper outlines three areas in which improvements are needed: prevention of the movements of terrorists, prosecution of suspected foreign terrorists, and protection of the rights of foreign nationals who are unfairly suspected of terrorism.
The behavior of the September 11 hijackers exposed four problems in US immigration policy and procedures that permitted the entry and free circulation of the terrorists. First, many of the hijackers received visas to enter the US as tourists or students, so they could present valid travel documents at US ports of entry, that is, the computerized "look-out" system did not flag them as terrorists.

Second, even if the look-out system had identified them as terrorists, the hijackers may have been able to enter the US illegally via Canada or Mexico. The "back door" of illegal entry across the borders with Mexico and Canada remains relatively open. The vast majority of those who enter illegally over the Mexican border do so for jobs and higher wages and pose no security threat, but the same vulnerabilities that permit large-scale unauthorized migration could be exploited by terrorists to enter the US.

Third, the activities of the hijackers after their arrival highlight the inadequacies of efforts to enforce immigration policies in the interior of the country. The US does not track the movements of foreigners once they have entered. For example, one hijacker was admitted to the US to study English, but never showed up at the school that admitted him. There were no consequences. Under procedures in force on September 11, the INS took at least six months to notify a school that a foreign student has arrived. If the student does not enroll, it takes several more months for the school to report this to the INS. The INS has placed a low priority on locating absent students. The folly of the system was shown six months after the attacks when one of the flight schools was notified that one of the then dead hijackers had been approved for study.

Fourth, there are significant differences among countries in the treatment of immigration. In North America, there has been little effort to harmonize admission policies between Canada, the United States and Mexico despite the long shared borders. There are also problems within governments communicating information about potential terrorists, and between governments in coordinating anti-terrorism efforts.



There were warnings of potential problems before the September 11, 2001 attacks. For example, the National Commission on Terrorism in a 2000 report concluded that, "In spite of elaborate immigration laws and the efforts of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the United States is, de facto, a country of open borders." However, changing the immigration system to prevent the entry and activities of terrorists poses difficult trade offs between THE COMPETING GOODS OF security and privacy, civil liberties and commerce. As US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor asked: " at what point does the cost to civil liberties from legislation designed to prevent terrorism outweigh the added security that that legislation provides?"

There are three major areas in which changes in U.S. immigration policies may be able to help counter future terrorist threats without doing great harm to other values: improving visa issuance and entry inspections, curbing unauthorized entries, especially with the aid of human smugglers, and increasing interior enforcement.

Visas and Entry Inspections. At least 16 of the hijackers appear to have entered the US legally, with visas issued by US consulates abroad. Almost 10 million foreigners applied for visas to enter the US in 2000, and about 75 percent of these visa applicants received the visas they requested. Some 1,100 consular officers, most young people at the start of their foreign service careers, deal with visa applications in more than 200 consulates and embassies worldwide.

Visa officers have long been criticized for BEING TOO CAUTIOUS, denying visas to too many people with legitimate reasons to travel to the United States. Still, many applicants who intend to violate the terms of their visa have their applications approved. Consular officers have only a limited time to review visa applications, limited access to law enforcement look-out databases, and no effective feedback on the results of their decisions, such as who returns from the US as required by the visa and who does not. Immigration inspectors at US ports of entry also have only a limited time to review the documents presented by those seeking entry, particularly at land ports of entry on the Canadian and Mexican borders. Neither consular officers abroad nor inspectors at US ports of entry are considered law enforcement officers, and thus have been denied full access to the information stored in criminal databases.

The INS maintains the National Automated Immigration Lookout System, or NAILS, and the INS, Customs and the State Department use NAILS to screen foreigners seeking visas or entry to the US. NAILS is a name-based system that is effective only if an applicant uses a name that has been entered into the database; false names, supported by fraudulent documentation, can help an individual to evade identification with NAILS. Thus, an improved look-out database must be capable of matching not only names, which can be easily changed, but also biometric indicators such as fingerprints and facial characteristics. NAILS is also only as effective as the information placed into it. Often, the intelligence services have been reluctant to enter data from classified sources, fearing THE IDENTIFICATION OF THOSE WHO PROVIDED THE INFORMATION. Without this sensitive information, however, the look-out system will never function effectively in preventing known terrorists from entering the country.

Improving the databases available to consular officers cannot stop all terrorists because most foreigners enter the US without visas. About 530 million people, one-third of them returning Americans, cross U.S. borders each year. Some 350 million of these entries are foreign non-US residents, most of whom enter the US via the 150 ports of entry along borders with Canada and Mexico. Canadians do not need visas, and Mexicans living in the border region are admitted to the US with Border Crossing Cards that permit limited travel in the US. For these foreign visitors, unlike those with visas who are checked by both consular officers and INS inspectors, there is only one opportunity to identify them as terrorists—at the port of entry. The INS has 4,775 INS inspectors to inspect persons who enter the US, and these inspectors must process those arriving on foot or by car very quickly, especially during morning commutes, to avoid long lines.

Some 32 million non-Canadians and non-Mexicans have their "nonimmigrant entries" recorded by the INS; the 8 million who arrived with visas, and the 24 million who arrived under reciprocal visa waiver policies that permit nationals of 29 countries to enter the US for up to 90 days without visas. Thus, when French or Japanese tourists or business visitors show up at US ports of entry, the inspector examines their passports, and they are routinely admitted, just as US tourists and business persons are routinely admitted to WHEN THEY VISIT FRANCE OR JAPA.

One of the hijackers was believed to be a recently naturalized French citizen who entered the US under this visa waiver program. It would be foolish, however, to reinstate visa requirements on millions of bonafide visitors from countries with very low rates of visa abuse, thereby diverting staff from countries with much higher potential for visa abuse. It makes more sense to cooperate with the visa waiver countries to identify and prosecute nationals with terrorist links and thereby enhance protection for everyone.

Congress in 1996 required the INS to develop a system to record the entries and exits of all foreign visitors by October 1, 1998. For those arriving by air, entry-exit tracking involves the foreigner completing an INS form known as the I-94 and presenting it to the inspector upon arrival. When leaving the US, the foreigner returns the departure part of the form to the airline for transmission to the INS, but compliance is spotty. Those entering and exiting the US at land borders are also supposed to turn in I-94s forms, but many do not. In any event, I-94 forms are completed by hand and they cannot be used to track the departure of specific persons until the data are entered into a computer.

The universal entry-exit tracking system required in 1996 legislation was opposed by Canada and northern US border states for fear it would slow trade and tourism; the US Senate voted three times to repeal the requirement. Some 130 million persons crossed the 4,000-mile Canada-US border in 2000, and about $1.5 billion worth of goods cross the border each day. If each person had to be checked on entry and exit, cross-border commuting, trade, and tourism could be curtailed. As discussed below, cooperation between the United States and Canada jointly to manage its shared border is likely to be a more effective response to terrorist threats against both of our countries.

Similar opposition blocked plans to track the entry and exit of the 500,000 foreign students in the United States. When foreign students appear at US ports of entry, the INS notifies the school that the foreigner has entered the US. If the student does not enroll, the school is supposed to notify the INS, which can choose to devote some of its interior enforcement resources to finding the student and removing him from the US for violating the terms of his visa. This rarely happens.
During the late 1970s, when the US embassy in Iran was overrun and hostages were taken, questions were raised about the activities of Iranian students in the US who supported the takeover, some of whom were out of status. There was a call to track foreign students WHICH was renewed in the mid-1990s, after it was discovered that one of the foreigners involved in the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was in the US with an expired student visa. After September 11, colleges and universities dropped their opposition, and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program tracking system is expected to be fully operational in 2003.

Unauthorized Migration and Smuggling. The relative openness of the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders, as well as our long coastline, provides the opportunity for unauthorized entry. In FY2000, the US Border Patrol apprehended 1.6 million persons attempting to enter illegally (one person caught three times counts as three apprehensions). A large but unknown number of people eluded the Border Patrol and entered the US. The vast majority of these unauthorized migrants are Mexicans and Central Americans seeking better economic opportunities, but a growing number of migrants from outside Mexico and Central America are transiting Mexico to enter the United States.

In 1994, the INS changed its border control strategy from apprehension to deterrence. Before 1994, the INS attempted to apprehend all unauthorized foreigners who entered the US—this is reportedly one reason why the top of the border fence slopes into the US, making it hard for migrants in the US to return to Mexico when the Border Patrol seeks to apprehend them. Under operations known as Hold the Line, Gatekeeper, Rio Grande, and Safeguard, the INS sought to discourage migrants from attempting illegal entry by positioning Border Patrol agents visibly in urban areas.

These INS operations have not so far discouraged especially young men from attempting unauthorized entry. Instead, stepped up INS border controls encouraged migrants to turn to smugglers to enter the US, illegally through remote border areas. There may be 2 million migrants attempting unauthorized entry into the US each year. At $1,000 each for entries across the land border, this makes smuggling a $2 billion a year business, and opens a back door for terrorists to enter alongside migrants. The September 11 attacks would suggest that the border deterrence strategy be expanded so that enforcement reaches the tipping point that deters most migrants attempting unauthorized entry. However, border enforcement alone will not reduce unauthorized migration if employment in the US economy continues to be a reasonable prospect for those illegally crossing the border, as discussed below.

More generally, the growth in smuggling and trafficking presents challenges to any efforts to prevent the movements of terrorists. These operations have proven to have a global reach, able to move migrants from China to the United States, Afghanistan to Australia, and Africa to Europe—to give just three examples. The extent to which terrorist organizations derive part of their income from people smuggling is unknown, but the connection between some terrorist organizations and drug smuggling makes the question relevant. Moreover, there is little reason to believe that the smuggling and trafficking operations, which themselves show little if any regard for human life or dignity, would not move terrorists along with economic migrants if the price is right.

Interior Enforcement. There are an estimated 8 TO 9 million unauthorized foreigners in the US, up from 3 million in 1989, AND THE DATA SUGGEST THAT THEIR NUMBER INCREASED BY 700,000 A YEAR IN THE LATE 1990S. In 1986, the US enacted sanctions, penalties on employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers, as well as fines for employers who fail to check that the workers they hire are legally authorized to work in the US. These sanctions did not prevent unauthorized workers from getting jobs because of the widespread availability of counterfeit documents. Unauthorized foreigners can present counterfeit documents for employment and other purposes, and employers can copy them to protect themselves from sanctions.

Unauthorized Foreigners in the US: 1980-2000
Year Millions Annual Average Change
1980 3
1986 4 167,000
1989 2.5 -500,000
1992 3.9 467,000
1995 5 367,000
2000 8.5 700,000
Source: Jeff Passel, Urban Institute
About 2.7 million unauthorized foreigners were legalized in 1987-88

Although these unauthorized workers do not themselves pose a security threat, tolerance of their entry and presence in the country hampers efforts to close the back door of illegal migration—a backdoor that terrorists can too easily exploit for their own purposes. During the 1990s economic boom, INS work place enforcement efforts were curtailed, a result of pressure on the INS to apprehend and remove criminal aliens and employer and migrant advocate complaints whenever there was work-place enforcement.

There is no easy way to enforce laws against the presence of unauthorized foreigners inside the US, but there is a compelling national interest in finding an interior enforcement strategy that deters the entry and employment of unauthorized migrants. In 1994, the bipartisan Commission on Immigration Reform proposed the establishment of a computerized system that would enable employers to check the social security numbers of newly hired workers in a fashion similar to the way merchants submit credit card information for verification. The CIR, chaired by the late Barbara Jordan, was not recommending a national ID card, only a counterfeit resistant social security card and a system that employers could use to verify that the number PRESENTED BY NEWLY HIRED EMPLOYEES was valid. However, a coalition of employers, migrant advocates, and civil libertarians opposed the plan as "Big Brother" authoritarianism, and it was not implemented.

Instead, many states went in the opposite direction, making it easier for unauthorized foreigners to get drivers' licenses and ID cards. The rationale was that all drivers should have drivers' licenses, even if they were not authorized to be in the US, so they can learn the rules of the road and get insurance. Such a policy enabled several of the hijackers to get Virginia drivers' licenses and ID cards, since Virginia required only a notarized form co-signed by a Virginia resident or a notarized identity form co-signed by a lawyer to establish residency for the purpose of obtaining a drivers' license or ID card (Virginia changed its policies after September 11).

There have been calls for a national ID card that could, inter alia, be required to board airplanes or be shown on demand to police and other authorities. Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Larry Ellison offered to donate the software for a national database, saying: "We've been so busy protecting ourselves against our government that we have made it impossible for our government to protect us." While his offer may have been self-serving, polls conducted in October 2001 found that a majority of US residents support a national ID card. Other democracies have such cards. For example, 11 of the 15 EU member countries have national ID cards, and they range from a voluntary card in France, which almost everyone carries, to a compulsory card that must be carried in Belgium, Germany, Greece and Spain.

International Cooperation to Prevent Terrorist Movements. Globalization has been the defining feature of the late 20th century. Global integration has been driven by technological progress and the desire for faster economic growth, and supported by political decisions taken at both the national and international levels. National decisions liberalized domestic economies and fostered the workings of the market, and international decisions led to agreements to liberalize trade and investment under the WTO, the European Union, and the NAFTA.

Globalization means cross-border connectivity, creating real and imagined bridges over borders to expedite flows of goods and people. The threat of terrorism may require gates on these international bridges, gates that may slow the economic and job growth that can reduce poverty and prevent illegal and unwanted immigration. As illegal immigration and terrorism make clear, in a global village, poverty some where can quickly wind up becoming a problem in the US.

International cooperation can help to prevent the threat of unwanted migration terrorism from slowing globalization. Cooperation and data sharing can help to identify suspected terrorists, and prevent them from moving easily from one country to another. Cooperation is also needed to combat smuggling and trafficking operations that could be used by terrorist organizations to move persons clandestinely. Information sharing among the highly developed countries is inadequate at best. In particular, the United States and the European Union countries do not regularly exchange information about the movements or presence of suspected terrorists.

Creating greater connectivity between the US look-out system and its EU equivalent, the Schengen Information System, will require a number of collaborative activities. Some steps have already been taken in this regard, particularly legislative provisions that will allow the sharing of pertinent data that heretofore had been restricted. Other issues still require sustained attention. For example, privacy standards in the United States and the European Union differ significantly, making the sharing of certain information problematic. Moreover, the inherent reticence of intelligence agencies to share information will have to be overcome if the look-out systems are to function effectively.

Canada and Mexico, already linked to the US via NAFTA, can provide a test of international cooperation to coordinate migration policies to deter terrorism. Several of the hijackers spent time in Canada, a country that accepts more immigrants per capita than any other, and has more liberal asylum and refugee policies than the US. Most of the alleged terrorist attacks financed and planned in Canada occurred outside North America, in places such as Sri Lanka. However, in December 1999, Algerian Ahmed Ressam was caught attempting to enter the US from Canada with bomb-making materials that he planned to use to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport. Ressam arrived in Canada in 1994, applied for asylum and was rejected. But because Canada stopped deporting Algerians in 1997, Ressam was not deported--despite several arrests on charges of breaking into automobiles. In 1999, with a forged baptismal certificate, he obtained a Canadian driver's license and passport under a false name, and made an attempt to enter the US. He was caught, and is now serving a prison sentence in the US.

Harmonizing US and Canadian immigration and asylum policies would make it harder to organize attacks on the US from Canada, and vice versa. If the two countries agreed on the criteria and used the same procedures for admitting foreign nationals, they could leave the Canada-US border largely unguarded, benefiting trade and tourism. Eventually, the concept of a common external border might be expanded to include Mexico, as suggested by Mexican President Vincente Fox, in the same manner that the European Union is expanding the Schengen Agreement to newly admitted Eastern European nations. Schengen currently permits free movement among 13 member nations, with entry and exit controls FOR ALL done by participating countries, SO THAT A FLIGHT FROM MADRID TO PARIS IS TREATED AS AN INTERNAL FLIGHT. Member nations agree on the list of countries whose nationals require visas, and then issue Schengen visas to visitors after checking a common database.

The freer movement of goods and people of the past several decades has been associated with faster economic growth and convergence in the economic and migration goals of most countries. Terrorists pose a new challenge to this evolving global system. As with past occasions in which countries were confronted with common challenges, tackling terrorism can result in closer cooperation that gradually leads to a convergence in immigration and asylum policies.


In the days following September 11, the government detained more than one thousand foreign nationals from Arab and Muslim countries that have been linked to terrorism. Most of the detainees were found to have no ties to terrorist organizations, but many --violated immigration laws or were found to have committed some criminal act IN THE US. The majority have since been released or removed from the country, but an unknown number are still in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Federal authorities identified another five thousand young men from these countries as potential subjects of interviews to determine if they had any pertinent information about terrorist activities. About half were located in the United States, the whereabouts of the remainder (whether they had left the country or were at another location within the U.S.) remaining unknown. Recently, the government announced an intent to interview another 3,000 migrants.

The United States has a number of special policies and procedures related to the removal of persons suspected of terrorist activities. These apply even if the individual is legally in the country at the time of apprehension. Section 237(4)(B), referring to the grounds that bar entry in Section 212(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), specifies that an alien who has engaged in a terrorist activity, or there are reasonable grounds to believe is engaged or likely to engage in such activity, is deportable from the United States. The section also applies to a person who, indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily harm, incited terrorism. Terrorist activity is defined to include hijacking or sabotage of conveyances, violently attacking protected persons, assassinations, the use of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons or devices, and other similar activities. Engaging in such activities include planning, providing material support, soliciting funds and soliciting individuals to conduct such activities. Perhaps the most controversial provision also allows the removal of an alien who is a member of a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary of State, which the alien knows or should have known is a terrorist organization. The USA Patriot Act, passed after September 11, expanded the definition of terrorist activity, for example, to include persons who have used positions "of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, or to persuade others to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization, in a way that the Secretary of State has determined undermines United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities."

The USA Patriot Act also expanded the bases for detaining aliens who are barred from entering or may be removed because of suspected terrorist activities or membership. The Justice Department may detain an alien for seven days without charging him or her for either an immigration or criminal offense. If the Attorney General certifies that an alien is excludable or removable on one of these grounds, the alien must remain in detention until removal from the country. If removal is not possible, the alien may continue to be detained upon a determination by the Attorney General that his or her release "will threaten the national security of the United States or the safety of the community or any person."

Immigration law also contains special removal procedures to be used when the government case requires the use of classified information that an alien is a foreign terrorist. The legislation establishes a removal court, composed of five US district court judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as well as a panel of special attorneys who have security clearances that afford them access to classified materials. The alien and his or her own attorney may not see the classified information; the special attorney is to assist the alien by reviewing the materials and challenging, if appropriate, the veracity of the information. The special attorney may not reveal the information to the alien or his or her attorney. The alien may only see an unclassified summary of the information if such a summary is available.

SO FAR, THE US government has not charged foreign nationals apprehended after September 11 under these terrorism-specific provisions. INSTEAD, MOST OF THOSE INVOVLED in removal proceedings have been charged with overstaying a visa or other violation of regular immigration law. Information about these cases is very limited, however, because the Executive Office of Immigration Review—the immigration court that hears regular immigration cases—has "closed the hearings in ‘special interest' cases, until law enforcement officials responsible for the terrorism investigations indicate that they no longer have an investigative interest in the alien." While one federal district court has ruled against the government's decision to close the hearings, the holding applies to only one case and has not led to a more general opening of the proceedings.

The use of immigration law as the basis for apprehending, detaining and prosecuting suspected terrorists has both advantages and disadvantages. Law enforcement officials note the difficulty of proving criminal charges against terrorists. Immigration violations are generally treated as a civil rather than criminal matter, and there is usually no question that the immigration laws have indeed been violated. In the meantime, potentially dangerous persons are taken off the streets. However, immigration law provides relatively few long-term benefits to law enforcement against terrorism. If someone accused of entering illegally, overstaying his or her visa or even falling within one of the excludable or removable terrorism-related categories volunteers to be removed from the United States, there may be no other ground to keep him or her in custody. If removed from the country, the person may be free to pursue terrorist activities abroad—bombing a U.S. embassy, for example, rather than a domestic U.S. target. Criminal prosecution and incarceration is a more durable solution in these cases.
Protection of the Rights of Immigrants and Refugees

In the days immediately following September 11, a rash of attacks against people believed to be of Arab or Muslim descent raised serious fears of a broad backlash against immigrants and immigration. An Amnesty International report issued the first week in October 2001 cited more than 540 attacks on Arab-Americans and at least 200 on Sikhs in the week following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. According to Amnesty, these attacks occurred in countries as diverse as Poland, India, the United Kingdom and Denmark as well as the United States.

In the United States, at least, these attacks were relatively short-lived. A number of factors appear to have dampened the most egregious overreactions to Arab-Americans and Muslim immigrants. Elected public officials at the federal, state and local levels played an important role in deflecting anger that may have otherwise been directed at immigrants. President Bush, Mayor Guiliani and other officials quickly distinguished between the vast majority of law-abiding immigrants and the very few terrorists who had attacked the country. Visits BY POLITICAL LEADERS to mosques and cultural centers, as well as highly visible meetings with Muslim and Arab community leaders, demonstrated that Islam and terrorism are not one and the same thing. At the same time, early and vehement denunciations of terrorism by Muslim and Arab immigrants helped to alleviate public concerns. Public leaders demonstrated that they have great capacity to affect public perceptions, and, fortunately, this leadership was used to help protect minorities from abuses.

Although the backlash was not as great as some had feared, concerns persist about ethnic and religious profiling and targeting of Arab and Muslim immigrants for special treatment by government agencies. In the immigration context, the targeting can be seen most specifically with regard to the interviews conducted with temporary visa holders from selected Arab and Muslim countries. The government argued that the interviews were designed to obtain new information about possible future terrorist activities, but critics pointed out that there appeared to be ethnic and religious profiling involved in picking out persons to be interviewed—rather than concrete knowledge that the interviewee had relevant information to share with law enforcement officials. Police in several localities refused to cooperate with federal officials because of concerns that such profiling would hinder years of efforts to build trust in immigrant neighborhoods.

Profiling is not in and of itself problematic as a mechanism to identify potential terrorists. If based on solid information encompassing a wide range of indicators and used in conjunction with other law enforcement tools, profiling becomes one among an arsenal of techniques to give greater scrutiny to certain individuals relative to others. However, when profiling is based on crude characteristics—such as race, ethnicity and religion—it can be a counterproductive tool for law enforcement that places an excessive burden on innocent persons.

One group that is particularly in need of protection from overreactions to terrorism are refugees, who already have a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of their race, nationality, religion, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. THE DILEMMA IS THAT Many of those seeking refugee status come from the countries that are defined as terrorist producing or harboring. HOWEVER, THOSE FLEEING REPRESSIVE REGIMES MAY BE TREATED AS Security risks, SLOWING THEIR resettlement IN SAFE COUNTRIES. EVEN THOUGH no suspected hijacker entered THE US AS A REFUGEE, the refugee program was the only IMMIGRATION category IN WHICH ADMISSIONS WERE HALTED FOR ADDITIONAL SCREENING. REFUGEE ADMISSIONS HAVE BEEN RESUMED, BUT concerns about the safety of INS officials responsible for interviewing applicants have continued to delay processing. Since priority for admission is given to people, often women and children, whose lives are at risk in refugee camps, thousands of refugees may be harmed by further delays.

The terrorist attacks raise a further area of concern about the status of ethnic and religious minorities in developed countries. Several of the hijackers had spent considerable time in Europe and/or North America, studying or working. At least two of accused terrorists were naturalized citizens of European countries. This raises serious questions about the process of integration of religious and ethnic minorities in the West. If immigrants who are exposed to democratic values and institutions nevertheless turn to terrorism, one must question whether their experiences in the West have marginalized and radicalized them.

In the aftermath of September 11, questions of immigrant integration are receiving new attention, particularly in the European countries where some of the terrorists had lived for considerable time. Immigrants tend to live in residentially segregated neighborhoods. In Europe, unemployment among immigrants is very high, even among those with high levels of education. Discrimination appears to be a principal cause of economic and social marginalization. Right wing parties that gain votes with anti-immigrant rhetoric challenge democratic processes and make efforts to more fully integrate immigrants all the more difficult but necessary. It is all the more incumbent on mainstream political leaders to reach out to the ethnic and religious minorities and bring them into the political, social and economic mainstream.


September 11 placed new challenges on immigration policy. Immigration policy reforms cannot in and of themselves prevent terrorism, but they are a key part of any comprehensive approach to combat terrorism. Prevention, prosecution and protection must be the cornerstones of any new immigration policies adopted to fight terrorism. More specifically, immigration policies and procedures should seek to identify, deter the entry of, and, to the extent possible, apprehend terrorists for criminal prosecution, in keeping with internationally recognized standards for protection of civil liberties and civil rights. Finding the right balance between security and liberty is never easy, but if the United States is to maintain its position as the leading country of immigration, it is essential that we try.