By Joe Guzzardi
August 3, 2015
When Americans learned the heartbreaking details surrounding Kate Steinle’s murder in San Francisco, they hoped that her shooting in that sanctuary city would motivate Congress to take action. Citizens oppose the policy of protecting aliens, and Kate’s killer was an especially egregious example of what can and often does go wrong.
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, the self-admitted murderer, is a five-times deported, seven-times convicted felon.
But hopeful Americans don’t know United States immigration history which indicates that after tragedy strikes, the federal government talks big but in the end does little to protect its citizens. Kate was a solitary victim. On 9/11, more than 2,900 Americans died because of permissive immigration policies. All of the terrorists had entered on temporary visas which were still active at the time of the attacks. Other terrorists including the Egyptian-born Ali Mohammed who is acknowledged to have written al Qaeda’s handbook, were naturalized citizens.
Immediately after 9/11, cries went up in Congress to crack down on fraudulent visas, and to get tougher at U.S. ports of entry. Some analysts predicted that at last the U.S. would get serious about enforcement. When it became known that some terrorists had student visas but never showed up to class, California Senator Dianne Feinstein called for stricter oversight. But the academic lobby, which profits from foreign-born enrollment, quickly condemned Feinstein, and her suggestion quietly died.
Today there are more than one million overseas students on campuses. Chillingly, a recent Department of Homeland Security report admitted that it has lost track of 6,000 foreign nationals who came to the U.S. on student visas. Peter Edge, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer who oversees visa fraud said: “Some of them could be here to do us harm.” Nevertheless, in its 2013-2014 annual review, the State Department revealed that during the prior academic year, 127,000 visas went to predominantly Muslim countries.
Another security idea that went nowhere post-9/11 is the exit-entry system. Over the past 17 years, Congress has passed eight laws requiring the implementation of an exit system at all ports of entry. After 9/11, three of these laws, based on 9/11 Commission recommendations, required that biometrics like fingerprints, facial recognition, or iris scans be used to verify the identity of foreign nationals both arriving into and departing from the United States. Relying on input from U.S. enforcement agents, the 9/11 Commission found that the hijackers used over 300 aliases to re-enter and depart the U.S. multiple times. As a result, the commission recommended that individual identity characteristics such as fingerprints and digital photos be used to verify identity, not just names.
Instead of activating the common sense exit-entry system which 15 nations either have or are in the process of effecting, former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano actively blocked the program, and called it a waste of time and money. And in another foolish measure that exposes American to more risk from terrorists and criminals, in 2013 President Obama cut 4,000 border patrol agents, 20 percent of its manpower.
The debate over sanctuary cities’ future is academic. Although the House passed a bill that would defund sanctuary cities, Obama vowed to veto it. But realistically, given the permissive attitudes toward enforcement and the well-organized, well-funded lobbies that resist measures to restrict immigration, even if legislation is signed, it is likely that nothing will happen.
If the loss of nearly 3,000 lives during the worst terrorist attack in world history isn’t sufficient cause for the White House to get serious about enforcement, a single tragic death like Kate’s won’t be enough either.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]