20 Years After 9/11: Lessons Learned, Improvements Needed

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 20

By Mark Krikorian and Todd Bensman on September 9, 2021

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Listen to "20 Years After 9/11: Lessons Learned, Improvements Needed" on Spreaker.


There is no more important tool for preventing future attacks on U.S. soil than the nation’s immigration system. The 20th anniversary of the attacks that claimed thousands of American lives is an appropriate occasion to reflect on the role immigration failures played in the 9/11 attacks and the progress made in limiting opportunities for future terrorism. Americans may disagree on the level of immigration, and its costs and benefits, but few would argue against the importance of keeping foreign-born terrorists out of the country and apprehending terrorists who have entered the U.S.

In recognition of the 9/11 anniversary, the Center for Immigration Studies is publishing a new report by Todd Bensman, the Center’s senior national security fellow, analyzing the immigration failures which helped lead to the tragedy and examples of post-9/11 terrorists and others posing threats to U.S. interests who have weaponized travel visas and entry permits.

In this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Bensman discusses the role of immigration law in protecting the American people. He highlights the importance of the National Vetting Center and the national security implications of an open southern border. What further policy changes are needed to keep us safe?

In the closing commentary, Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and host of Parsing Immigration Policy, discusses the positive developments in immigration processing and enforcement since 9/11, as well as needed upgrades which have not been completed. He concludes by emphasizing that one of the biggest gifts for potential terrorists would be an illegal-alien amnesty, which Congress is currently considering, hidden in a larger budget reconciliation bill.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Todd Bensman, Senior National Security Fellow

Related Reports

9/11 + 20: America still struggles to vet entering foreigners for national interest threats

Twenty Years After 9/11 and the REAL ID Act Still Isn’t in Effect

Collection of Biometric Data From Aliens Upon Entry to and Departure From the United States

REAL ID Delayed Yet Again


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".