Immigration Law and National Security: A Tool Against Cartels and Terrorists

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 129

By Mark Krikorian and George Fishman on November 2, 2023

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In this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, the Center for Immigration Studies delves into the critical issue of addressing national security threats posed by foreigners, both legal and illegal, residing in the United States. Podcast guest George Fishman, a senior legal fellow at the Center, discusses legal tools that are available to serve the country in time of crisis.

Fishman explores the potential application of the Alien Enemies Act, a federal statute dating back to 1798, to expel cartel members and criminal alien gang members from the United States. The Trump campaign was the first to suggest this option. The Act grants the president the authority to deport natives or citizens of a nation with which we are in a declared war or that has invaded, or launched a “predatory incursion” against the United States. Fishman contemplates whether this statute could be applied to a country in which organized crime has become integrated into the government.

Fishman also discusses the role immigration law can play in dealing with Hamas sympathizers. Since 2005 federal law has rendered any alien deportable who endorses or espouses terrorism or who provides material support to a foreign terrorist organization like Hamas (designated as one by the Secretary of State in 1997). Material support includes aid such as funding, expert advice or providing equipment. President Obama weakened the provision, and then this summer President Biden did further, deeper damage by deciding that it is acceptable for an alien to provide “insignificant material support” and “limited material support” under specific circumstances, which has raised concerns about national security implications.

Non-citizens, even those here legally, who endorse or espouse terrorism are also deportable, and Fishman discusses his new paper examining calls by members of Congress to deport foreign students and others who have endorsed Hamas in the wake of its attacks on Israeli civilians.

In his closing commentary, Krikorian highlights a different security threat related to immigration: weaker countries employing mass migration as a weapon against stronger countries. For instance, Nicaragua has actively encouraged large numbers of Haitian migrants to enter Nicaragua, then funneled them towards the U.S. The intention is to use the promise of slowing down the flow as leverage, compelling the U.S. to loosen sanctions imposed on Nicaragua.


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


George Fishman is a Senior Legal Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies.


The 225-year-old ‘Alien Enemies Act’ Needs to Come Out of Retirement

What Specific Actions Can President Biden Take to Fight the Sheer Evil of Hamas?

Deport Foreign Students Who Celebrate Mass Murder: Should We? Can We?

Nicaragua is ‘weaponizing’ US-bound migrants as Haitians pour in on charter flights, observers say


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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".