Times Square Bomber Highlights Need for Exclusion Policy

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on May 9, 2010

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, not a good friend of immigration controls, actually has cracked the door slightly to keeping out foreign extremists.

On NPR’s“All Things Considered” radio program May 5, Secretary Napolitano was asked by host Robert Siegel about Times Square would-be bomber Faisal Shahzad and his apprehension. The interesting part of the interview, from an immigration policy standpoint, was this:

SIEGEL: A lot of good skill in that. I want to ask you a question about Mr. Shahzad, who became a and [sic] also about all people who become naturalized citizens.


SIEGEL: On his application, like everyone's, he was required to answer three questions about membership in the Nazi Party, one about membership in the Communist Party, one about other totalitarian parties and one about terrorist organizations, no names mentioned. Should that list of questions at least be changed to ask about organizations and movements that are really out to harm the United States in the present day?

Sec. NAPOLITANO: Well, perhaps. I think obviously there will be lots of questions asked like that, should we change the naturalization form. As you read it, I suspect the form hasn't been changed for quite a while, and that may be something to look at.


We had for many years the ability to exclude or deport aliens on ideological grounds – that is, because their political views were at odds with American political thought. We rejected Communists, anarchists, and other advocates of extreme foreign political ideologies. Here’s a history of that policy.

Secretary Napolitano's apparent openness to reinvigorating ideological exclusion policies is a welcome thing. We should take her up on this openness before the ACLU and its ilk gets to her. At this point, though, she's in the realm of common sense on this.