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FIRST-PERSON: It’s time to amend immigration policies

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP)–After the horrific events of Sept. 11, President Bush rallied the courageous young men and women of America’s military to defend the nation against extremist Islamic terrorism.

And since Oct. 10, thousands of troops have been serving the nation; principally, in Afghanistan, the Philippine Islands, Somalia and other foreign lands where terrorists may harbor and represent a threat to the security of the United States and its citizens.

However, even as brave young Americans defend the country, immigration reforms stagnate in the United States Congress and much of the nation’s immigration policy continues to defy reason. In fact, old policies and current policies appear to undermine the very security of our deployed soldiers and to work against the cause for which they have now been sent into harms way.

Recently, Congress granted Alien Amnesty to one million immigrants who were in America illegally. This move comes at a time when borders are nowhere near secure, and when the national climate about illegal as well as legal immigration is fraught with anxiety.

Conceivably, most of the immigrants receiving amnesty are peace loving, law-abiding people; in the country because they seek the benefits of life in a democratic society, they simply want a better way of life for themselves and for their families.

On the other hand, it is safe to reason that there are those in the number that received amnesty that wish the nation great harm. Sadly, this legislative action points out the absurdity of current immigration policies and the way the business of immigration is now generally conducted in America by the United State Department of State.

According to Carl Limbacher of NewsMax.Com, “The department’s official non-immigrant visa application, otherwise known as D-156, actually states that applicants who admit they want to commit terrorist acts may still be good visa candidates” and as a result may legally enter the United States. What is more, this loophole in the State Department’s immigration policies makes it easy for citizens of Arab nations to freely enter the United States.

In the April 11 edition of The Washington Times, Rep. Tom Tancredo called this dangerous immigration loophole to the attention of the Times’ John McCaslin.

The law is obviously seriously flawed. If other such provisions exist in the mass of the country’s immigration policies, it points up the absolute contradiction of sending American troops into harms way to “fight and protect” against dangerous terrorists actions directed against the United States.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are at least eight million people in the nation without legal status.

When it can be stated with numeric certainty that so many illegal immigrates populate America’s cities and towns and the countryside, any number of whom might easily mean the country ill will, there is a dilemma in national security and a serious credibility issue regarding national immigration laws.

While no right thinking American wishes to deny legal immigration status to decent people seeking a better way of life, all Americans do want responsible, well thought out immigration practices that reflect absolute concern for the safety and well being of the country.

Immigration policies need to be non-political and must always reflect the best interest of Americans, especially those that defend America.

If there is, by national policy mandates, a disconnection between deployment of American troops and sound immigration laws and practices, the question then begs “Why send them into dangerous terrorist territories to (needlessly) jeopardize their lives”?

It must never be forgotten that Americans trained those, in the country legally, who flew the planes on Sept. 11 into the World Trade Center.

The very fact that the INS reinstated legal visa status to Mohammed Atta should give all Americans reason to be a little more than skeptical of current immigration practices and policies.

Until or unless current immigration practices are amended, serious thought ought to be given to future rapid deployments of American troops into terrorist nations.
Terriel R. Byrd, Ph.D., is assistant professor of religion and director of ethnic church ministries at Palm Beach Atlantic College, West Palm Beach, Fla.

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  • Terriel Byrd