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June 27, 2022

Are we barking up the wrong immigration tree?

For months, activists against illegal immigration have patrolled
parts of the Mexican border, demonstrated against art work they
dislike or complained vocally against the tide of illegals who
continue crossing into America with impunity.
For months, activists against illegal immigration have patrolled parts of the Mexican border, demonstrated against art work they dislike or complained vocally against the tide of illegals who continue crossing into America with impunity.

These activists and their allies in Congress often suggest the porous southern border is an open invitation to terror. Yet, despite a steady increase in border apprehensions of illegals in the “other than Mexican” category, there is no evidence of even a single terrorist or terror suspect crossing into the United States from Mexico illegally.

That’s because it’s so easy for enemies of America to get into this country legally.

A prominent recent example was the Pakistani Muslim cleric

Shabbir Ahmed, working in the Central Valley city of Lodi when arrested last month in connection with the federal arrests which authorities billed as the breakup of an Al Qaeda-linked terror cell.

Ahmed admitted in court that he preached several mosque sermons in his native Pakistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks urging thousands of congregants to support Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaida and battle American troops in Afghanistan. “Whoever is against Islam, we will destroy him,” he thundered in November 2001, referring to American troops in Afghanistan. Calling for the overthrow of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, an American ally, he shouted, “If this is rebellion, we are not afraid… Blood is going to be spilled in Pakistan.”

How many Mexican illegals have ever engaged in that kind of rhetoric in their native country? How many would want to? None that anyone has ever documented.

Yet, the known rabble-rouser Ahmed did not have to sneak over the border, pay astronomical fees to often-brutal “coyote” smugglers or risk his life trying to evade the Border Patrol.

Instead, he arrived legally under a strange immigration rule allowing foreign priests and other religious workers easy, preferred entry to this country. The idea is that other immigrants need clergy who speak their own languages.

Over the last three years, more than 22,000 persons have been admitted under such “religious work” visas, more than 1,000 of them from predominantly Islamic countries. Most were sponsored by tax-exempt religious organizations operating in this country. Ahmed, now charged with overstaying his three-year visa, arrived early in 2002.

Another religious-work immigrant was Sheik Abdul Rahman, the Muslim cleric convicted of planning the 1994 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. Rahman actually had been subsidized by United States agencies while preaching in Pakistan during the 1980s-era Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

In all, 173,664 legal immigrants came to America from Mexico during fiscal 2004, according to the federal Office of Immigration Statistics.  Another 1,283 arrived legally from Saudi Arabia, 12,888 from Pakistan, 1,787 from Yemen, 6,590 from Egypt and 779 from Sudan.

The figures were similar in 1999, when most of the 9-11 attackers arrived legally in this country from Saudi Arabia.

One serious question: Should immigration authorities be expending more effort on keeping illegal immigrants from crossing over from Mexico or would their time be better spent making thorough background checks of legal immigrants like Rahman, Ahmed and the 9-11 hijackers?

The perfect answer, of course, would be to check out everyone and police the border well. But that ideal combination has never been achieved, and constraints on manpower, budget and poor record-keeping in the immigrants’ native countries make it plain the ideal will not soon be reached.

Meanwhile, even though no one has charged Lodi’s Ahmed with incendiary anti-American preaching while here, others legally here certainly have done that or worse.

In Cleveland, Imam Fawaz Damra, from Egypt, praised the murder of Jews. In Los Angeles, Imam Wagdy Ghoneim, from Saudi Arabia, preached support for suicide bombings against Americans and Israelis. In Florida, two professors allegedly raised money for terror organizations.

The bottom line: If it’s terror we’re worried about, the most likely perpetrators and agitators are not poor immigrants from Mexico. Which means that if America tightens up immigration laws at all, the first emphasis should be on places that tend to produce terrorists, not those sending forth strawberry pickers and nannies.

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