Illegal Immigration: Why Now?
Jon Henke has an interesting piece in TCS looking at the hoopla over security our border with Mexico under the theme “Why now?” That is, given that a massive influx of cheap labor crossing the Rio Grande is not exactly new, why the near-hysteria over the issue?
He notes that, while national security concerns seem to be the latest argument, they are not particularly persuasive:
As John Tierney writes in The New York Times, the “fixation on ‘securing the border’ is a political — and psychological — problem, not a rational response to a genuine national threat.” If it were genuinely a response to a national security threat, the focus would not be on the Mexican border.
In fact, there are far better routes than the Mexican border for terrorists to enter the US. The Canadian border — much safer than the brutal southern desert — has about one-tenth the security of the Mexican border, even though at least two al Qaeda terrorists (Mohammed Atta and Ahmed Ressam) have used it to enter the United States in preparation for actual attacks.
What’s more, as Peter Beinart pointed out in the Washington Post, there are “many more potential jihadists in Canada” — which has a comparatively larger Middle Eastern population than Mexico — and Canadian authorities “estimate that roughly 50 terrorist groups operate in the country.” In fact, we recently “dismantled a human-smuggling ring that was running illegal immigrants into the United States through Canada”, including, inter alia, dozens of people from Pakistan, where much of al Qaeda is currently thought to be operating.
Compared to this, an invasion of hordes of produce pickers seems rather inconsequential.