Closing Immigration Loopholes That Benefited Capitol Bomber

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on February 20, 2012

The case of would-be suicide bomber Amine el-Khalifi, who targeted the U.S. Capitol on Friday, highlights a number of fixes we need to make in order to keep the United States free of immigrant threats.

My colleague Janice Kephart has blogged on the fact that el-Khalifi, a 29-year-old Moroccan man, is an illegal alien. That is, he has no business being in this country to begin with. Kephart, formerly a counsel to the 9/11 Commission, points out how the Obama administration's executive amnesty policy benefits such foreign enemies by providing a welcoming environment to those foreigners who break our immigration laws so deliberately.

To recap: el-Khalifi was caught in an FBI sting operation. The G-men supplied el-Khalifi with inert bombs in a suicide vest and a machine gun. He headed for the American capitol at noontime intent on blowing up the landmark of liberty. He thought he was doing this for al-Qaeda.

The Washington Post reported: "Khalifi arrived in the United States when he was 16 and was living as an illegal immigrant in Northern Virginia, having overstayed his visitor's visa for years, officials said."

With an estimated 40 percent of illegal aliens having overstayed a temporary visa, this definitely poses a problem. Congress should focus on visa overstays and close that route to an illegitimate American life, once and for all.

We could help increase our degree of protection against this kind of illegal immigration. For instance, we should finally finish implementing the long-mandated yet unfinished exit portion of an entry-exit system. The Bush administration put a partial, voluntary exit portion of the U.S. Visit system in place at select ports of entry/exit.

That's not good enough. Nor does it live up to the statutory requirements of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and the 2002 Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act. We should have had a fully integrated entry-exit system, with every foreigner leaving the U.S. required to register his or her exit from the country, long ago. Need I mention that several 9/11 hijackers were visa overstayers? We've known about this vulnerability for a while now.

On the front end, as well as during aliens' time in this country, we should aggressively seek to bar or remove any foreigner whose political beliefs constitute radical stances at odds with American beliefs. We must restore ideological exclusion. This policy helped protect our nation against foreign enemies during the Cold War. It would equally safeguard us from those holding radical, violent ideologies that threaten our nation today.