Friday, April 26, 2013

Rand Paul: We Must Include National Security in Immigration Reform

From his latest piece in the Washington Times:

Any meaningful immigration reform must implement strong national security protections. After the Boston tragedy, there are basic questions: How did two individuals immigrate to the United States from a known hotbed of Islamic extremism, the Chechen Republic in Russia, to then allegedly commit acts of terrorism? Were there any safeguards? Could this have been prevented?

Does the immigration reform proposal before us address this?

Our immigration and visa system should give more scrutiny to individuals from high-risk areas of the world. We know that our flawed visa system was a significant part of the intelligence failure that led to Sept. 11. As National Review's Kevin Williamson noted, "If our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, particularly the State Department, had been doing a minimally competent job vis-a-vis visa overstays and application screening, at least 15 of the 19 [hijackers on 9/11] would have been caught."


In 2002, Congress created the National Security Registration System, but it was suspended in 2011 by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano. We know that system had problems, but the basic premise behind it — that extra screening is necessary for immigrants from nations that have a higher population of extremists — needs to be revisited and reinstituted. This should be a part of any comprehensive immigration reform.

In my home state of Kentucky, our refugee program has proven to be a problem. On Jan. 29, two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green, Ky., were sentenced to long prison terms for participating in terrorism and providing material support to terrorists while living in the United States. Does the current immigration reform address how this might have happened? Regardless, we need more scrutiny when accepting refugees from high-risk nations.

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