An Examination of Immigration and the Threat to American National Security
Pincus, Matthew E.
MetadataShow full item record
Since 9/11, the connection between immigration and terrorism has significantly increased due to heightened levels of political polarization and the implementation of numerous antiterrorism policies in response to the attacks. There is a chorus of national security experts who contend that continued inaction in resolving immigration concerns will lead to increased security vulnerabilities at our borders and thus will present the United States with greater national security challenges. The aim of the following thesis is to analyze the essential components of this linkage to accurately determine the legitimacy of the threat posed by immigrants, including migrant workers and naturalized citizens. The author examines the effectiveness of post-9/11 antiterrorism policies and their impact on immigration. By identifying the nature of the relationship between immigration and terrorism, this thesis proposes a series of policy recommendations for the United States to better counter the most urgent threats facing our nation. Within the context of the immigration reform legislation introduced in the Senate in April 2013, the first chapter of this thesis provides an assessment of migrant workers as a national security threat by examining the impact of guest-worker programs on the security of the U.S.-Mexico border. The second chapter focuses on the effectiveness of antiterrorism policies since 9/11, including their impact on immigrants and immigrant communities. The final chapter determines the role of assimilation in the increase of homegrown terrorism among Muslim American immigrants – including permanent residents and citizens. In identifying assimilation as the correct focus for policymakers and law enforcement agencies, the author issues recommendations that emphasize counter-radicalization strategies rather than the use of traditional antiterrorism policies. The author concludes that it is misguided to continue to broadly link immigration with terrorism. Perhaps most alarming, post-9/11 American antiterrorism policies have damaged relations with immigrants further jeopardizing national security. These policies coupled with inadequate assimilation programs have created resentment among immigrants and in some cases, fueled their radicalization. Policymakers should be concerned about this growing threat and should invest resources in community-based counter-radicalization programs rather than continue to implement deficient antiterrorism policies. The author concludes the extreme necessity for comprehensive immigration reform, which should focus on all of the elements discussed in this thesis.