- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 10, 2005

Less than two months after the first London subway terrorist bombings, the British government has crafted policies to keep out dangerous foreign ideologues. Four years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, the U.S. has yet to restore similar policies.

Until 1990, the United States had on the law books the means to exclude or deport the kinds of radical ideologues who polluted the hearts and minds of British-born but radicalized homicide bombers and Islamofascist operatives in America.

Since September 11, one thing should be clear: Mass immigration and our loophole-riddled system have facilitated alien ideologues’ agendas.

Foreign radicals, propagandists and sympathizers have always threatened American security and political order. Immigration has always been exploited by America’s enemies. But not until political correctness took root did we hesitate to exclude foreigners because of their dangerous beliefs.

September 11 and its aftermath — the unveiling of many terrorist cells, high sympathy in Islamic quarters, arrests and convictions of aliens who have used American freedoms against us — should have taught us national security isn’t possible without tightening immigration loopholes.

September 11 represented al Qaeda’s most successful attack within the United States. Osama bin Laden formally declared war in 1998. Harvard’s Samuel Huntington writes in his book “Who Are We?” that bin Laden targeted “Americans and their allies, civilians and military” for jihad because of U.S. power, Christianity and wealth.

Four years after the fateful attack by alien zealots, we still haven’t exercised common sense by reducing immigration to reasonable, manageable levels; faithfully, consistently enforcing immigration laws; or barring entry to aliens who espouse dangerous ideologies.

The latter, exclusion and deportation due to ideology, isn’t about keeping out people with novel or merely theoretical, opposing political viewpoints. Rather, we’re talking about the kinds of beliefs so at odds with fundamental American political principles as to border on treason if held by a U.S. citizen. We’re talking about threatening, subversive ideas. Such viewpoints don’t qualify as legitimate public dialogue.

Whether the threat came from aliens promoting Jacobinism, anarchism, fascism or communism, the United States always sought to bar entry of or deport the foreign advocates. This policy helped disrupt foreign conspiracies here.

Common sense dictates we should keep out foreign extremists who spew anti-American rhetoric and whip up zealotry against this nation. They obviously can do less harm from abroad than from within the country.

Ideological exclusion policies helped keep out members of subversive groups and aliens who taught or advocated dangerous ideologies throughout the 20th century, especially during the Cold War.

With the end of the Cold War, Congress effectively repealed ideological exclusion in the 1990 Immigration Act. The First Amendment was expanded to extremes and extended to extremists — including aliens, though they owe this nation no allegiance.

The result of ideological exclusion’s repeal is that only active terrorists on watchlists might be barred from entering the United States. Those promoting radical ideology must be admitted.

But we should be able to deny immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to, or to deport, aliens who studied at madrassas, trained at terrorist camps, attended anti-America rallies, side with al Qaeda and Hamas, “worshipped” at notorious Islamist mosques. Those who espouse dangerous politics (whether rooted in Marx or Mohammed) don’t deserve First Amendment protection; they certainly don’t deserve a visa.

Foreign ideologues have long sought to promote their beliefs and advance their causes on American soil. They’ve spied, spread propaganda, stolen state and industrial secrets, tried to make converts, raised funds, organized followers and otherwise exploited American freedoms.

When Congress rewrote immigration laws during the Cold War, an administration witness said, when it comes to screening aliens who hold dangerous ideologies, we should “err in favor of American security.” We should take that good advice again.

Immigration policy should become a useful tool in our own national security toolkit. We should restore robust ideological exclusion and deportation laws. That’s a very practical way to disrupt foreign enemies and their potential allies. It fits squarely in the mold of the Constitution not being a suicide pact.

James R. Edwards Jr., coauthor of “The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform,” is an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute.

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