Video: Immigration Enforcement Needed to Counter Criminal and Terrorist Threats

Article author: 
Dan Cadman
Article publisher: 
Center for Immigration Studies
Article date: 
8 October 2014
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

A new video interview from the Center for Immigration Studies highlights the value of robust and routine immigration enforcement to discover and disrupt criminal or terrorist conspiracies involving non-citizens. While some government officials may downplay the threat to the United States from groups such as ISIS, a veteran of past national security investigations involving foreign terrorists voices concern about existing vulnerabilities in our immigration system.

In the video, Dan Cadman, a Center fellow, discusses the enormous value that immigration authorities, who have wide authority to question foreign visitors, can bring to national security investigations and the prevention of terrorist acts. Immigration officers have many authorities that are unique and invaluable to national security and can complement the FBI domestically and the CIA abroad. “It doesn’t take many people with mal-intent to fundamentally change our country," he said. "On 9/11, just 19 people changed the way we live.”

View the full interview.

Interview highlights:


  • How an immigration investigation was used to remove one of the 9/11 hijackers from the conspiracy: Immigration officers picked up Zacarias Moussaoui and held him in custody as an immigration detainee for some period of time. Only afterward did people understand who he was and what he represented.
  • How foreign criminal cartels, narco-traffickers, and terrorist groups use similar means to exploit vulnerabilities in our immigration controls to move people and contraband into position in the United States to be available when necessary. He emphasizes that national security is certainly endangered by international cartels. They are not involved only in narcotics trafficking, but indiscriminate murder, migrant trafficking, littering the roadways of Mexico with beheaded bodies, and now devoting themselves to making massive profits within the United States as well as south of the border. Their reach is tremendous. The American people need to understand that cartels are a national security threat in every context.
  • How important it is to complete entry and exit screening systems for foreign visitors. Cadman contends that for an exit system to have any meaning, it must track all ports — land, air, and sea. “If it is not doing all three, it is not fully effective, and the ability of federal officers to find aliens who are overstaying will be greatly inhibited,” states Cadman.
  • How the current system for screening legal immigrants is inadequate to detect aliens who may be a threat and prevent them from embedding in our communities. There is tremendous pressure on immigration adjudicators to move things through the system in the absence of a smoking gun, which is completely contrary to the notion that prevention should trump incident.

View all the Center’s video interviews.