The 9/11 attacks were, at their heart, a failure of our immigration system. The 9/11 Commission staff report on the killers’ exploitation of immigration and border weaknesses (which the report called “terrorist travel”) started with these words: “It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country.”
As a result, a wide variety of steps were taken in the wake of 9/11 to make it harder to violate immigration laws. But because any tightening of our system intended to exclude or catch terrorists will inevitably do the same for all other immigration lawbreakers, powerful interests opposed these measures, leaving many of the initiatives stalled or unfinished until today. A few examples . . .