Anti-Immigration Conservatives Get Silly After Boston Bombings

What does allowing more economic immigrants from Mexico have to do with stopping random terrorists?

Remember the story about the drunk who loses his car keys in the forest but looks for them under a lamp post because that's where the light is? Conservative calls to fight terrorism in the wake of the Boston attack by ditching immigration reform make just as much sense.

The difference is that the drunk's efforts were merely futile. Conservative efforts are also dangerous because they ignore the security threat that Big Government poses.

No sooner was it revealed that the two bombers were Russian emigres of Chechen heritage than Iowa's Sen. Charles Grassley declared that the attacks show that America needs to "beef up security checks," not let more newcomers in. Rep. Steven King, also a committed restrictionist from Iowa, demanded we pause and look at "the big picture" on immigration, as if seven years since the last failed effort at reform is not enough.

Most disappointing was Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky's switcheroo. Last month, he distanced himself from his party's harsh anti-immigration rhetoric. This week he counseled that we rethink visas for foreign students, never mind that neither of the Brothers Tsarnaev ever obtained one.

None of this, however, would have prevented the attack given that the Tsarnaev brothers obtained asylum around 2002 at the ages of 8 and 15 along with their parents, fleeing persecution in Russia. Reportedly, the older brother Tamerlan, a boxing champion, became radicalized only eight years later, after his mother, not seriously religious then, reminded him of his Islamic faith's strictures to wean him off alcohol and drugs. When he met his wife, Katherine Russell, at a nightclub, he was a nominally pious, somewhat confused young adult with few signs that he'd become a raving zealot.

That U.S. immigration authorities leave something to be desired when vetting dangerous foreigners has been apparent since Mohamed Atta, the 9/11 hijacker, was handed a visa after he flew a plane into the World Trade Center. But expecting the immigration system to predict that Tamerlan would become a lunatic is as reasonable as expecting psychiatrists to diagnose that Timothy McVeigh would become a terrorist when he was a toddler. The lack of omniscience in human institutions is not a curable flaw.

But if conservatives are looking for an agency to blame, there are better candidates. There is the FBI that gave Tamerlan a clean chit after being tipped off by Russian authorities of his suspicious movements during his visits home.

One can also question the Boston law enforcement's handling that allowed the brothers, first, to plant their bombs and then let the injured Dzhokhar, Tamerlan's younger brother, escape after a shootout. Above all, one can blame the First Amendment. Freedom of the press allows Inspire, an online terrorist guide, to openly instruct would-be terrorists such as Tamerlan on how to develop their grisly wares.

To fight terrorism, it would make far more sense to crackdown on the Internet than the border. But no one has put that on the table — not yet at least. Why?

Because Americans would be outraged. They intuitively realize that a country whose government has the power to throw people in jail for exchanging information would be neither free nor safe. Immigration is a far softer target, which is why conservatives, like the bumbling drunk, are going after it. But it is as dangerous to censor the flow of people as of ideas.

Requiring foreigners to go through rigorous background checks is perfectly legitimate. But shutting the border to economic migrants, whether computer geeks from China or apple-pickers from Mexico, in a vain effort to deter a future Tamerlan won't make Americans better off. Indeed, since the vast majority of immigrants are here because some American wants to hire them or marry them or whatever, the government can't chase them out without asserting Draconian powers overs Americans as well. Witness Alabama laws imposing a business death penalty by revoking the license of any company found hiring illegals. Or Arizona's effort to detain individuals not carrying their papers to prove their legality.

Every year, Americans are less likely to die through a terrorist attack than a lightning strike — or wrongful death by overzealous law enforcement. More immigration restrictions will make Americans less — not more — safe.

This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

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  • Live Free or Diet||

    Is it odd that one bombing doesn't make me feel insecure? Or is all this a media thing?

  • ||

    how very unsporting of you not to indulge in full-blown paranoia

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Yep, that's me!

    On 9/11/2001, I was on vacation on the shore of a rural area. I knew about the first tower being hit because my daughter complained she couldn't find the Cartoon Channel. While trying to think it through, I got dressed, put on my CCW, then made breakfast. While eating, I caught myself looking out at the water, absurdly scanning the horizon for passenger jets. Yeah right, Johnny Jihadi is out there thinking, "We'll bring down the Great Satan by hitting them in their fishing nets and corn fields."

    Over the last dozen years I've tried to do better.

  • evie778||

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  • WomSom||

    Sometimes man you jsut gotta roll with it dude.

    www.GottenAnon.tk

  • Cosmo Punch||

  • SIV||

    the Tsarnaev brothers obtained asylum around 2002 at the ages of 8 and 15 along with their parents, fleeing persecution in Russia.

    Why were they being persecuted? Were they more of a target than the rest of the Chechens? With millions of hard-working , ambitious people trying to move to America why did we give preference to the family of a future thief and her terrorist sons and throw in 6 figure welfare subsidies to entice them to come here? Did the Tsarnev clan even pay for their own airplane tickets?

  • ||

    Forget it, SIV, it's Shikhatown.

  • ||

    None of this, however, would have prevented the attack given that the Tsarnaev brothers obtained asylum around 2002 at the ages of 8 and 15 along with their parents, fleeing persecution in Russia.

    What "persecution" exactly were they fleeing? And if things were so awful why did the parents go back to living in Dagestan?

  • WTF||

    What "persecution" exactly were they fleeing?

    The persecution of not having U.S. welfare subsidies, of course.

  • SusanM||

    The persecution that comes from a more than a decade of vicious terrorist attacks carried out by Chechen rebels.

  • WTF||

    "More immigration restrictions will make Americans less — not more — safe."

    How, exactly? I saw nothing in TFA to support this contention.

  • JWatts||

    Yeah, this strikes me as pure unadulterated horseshit. You could make a good argument that increased immigration is worth more than the decreased security. However, an unsupported statement that immigration restrictions will make America less safe is wishful thinking.

  • Chris Mallory||

    Dalmia won't be happy till America is a 3rd world hellhole like her homeland is.

    Air India is ready when you are Dalmia, go back home and destroy your nation. Leave mine alone.

    While you are at it, thank God that the British ended wife burning among your heathen kin.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Neckbeard. Had to look up that one.

  • ||

    it would be worth pissing you off just to inspire that sort of invective

  • Chris Mallory||

    "Every year, Americans are less likely to die through a terrorist attack than a lightning strike"

    Immigrants kill Americans in more ways than just terrorist attacks. Why not mention their numerous other crimes? Crimes that would not happen if they were back in their 3rd world homes.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Why don't you mention that you have digitally penetrated your daughter's anus, you sick fuck?

  • SugarFree||

    Because she wasn't some filthy immigrant. He was employing an honest, Christian, White American!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Fair enough.

  • SugarFree||

    The real question: Did he share with his Proud, White Brother and let American tag-team her with him?

  • Calidissident||

    The crime rate among immigrants is lower than it is among native born Americans. In addition, most crime is intragroup. If your argument is "well but they will surely increase the nominal number of crimes" then do we really want to go down that path of logic? How about banning children? Some of them will obviously grow up to become murderers.

  • dstarke||

    The crime rate of illegal immigrants is 100%.

  • Calidissident||

    It's also 100% among drug users. I'm talking real crimes, not crossing a line without government permission

  • Reggie1971||

    Sure it's a real crime. Since when do nations not have a right to control their borders?

  • lap83||

    "I'm talking real crimes"

    Have you been taking debate lessons from Tony? Seriously, that's crap.

  • sarcasmic||

    Life would be so much easier if people would accept that some things cannot be predicted or prevented.

  • Brian D||

    Never. I'm sure perpetual safety and security are just a few more laws away.

  • wareagle||

    none of those people work in govt, meaning the rest of us who get that you cannot legislate all risk out of all activity are still affected.

  • Cosmo Punch||

    Every year, Americans are less likely to die through a terrorist attack than a lightning strike

    That has to be the stupidest argument I've ever heard in my life. Sure, my chances of dying specificity in a terrorist attack may be one in a million. Likewise my chances of dying by being eaten by a bear, or hit by a meteorite, or being swallowed by a sinkhole. But in the aggregate, every one of those things increases your opportunities to get killed. So why does facing one risk justify introducing another?

  • Calidissident||

    Because we shouldn't restrict freedom based on paranoia?

  • JWatts||

    Every year, Americans are less likely to die through a terrorist attack than a lightning strike

    That has to be the stupidest argument I've ever heard in my life.

    It's also wrong.

    There are about 25 Americans killed a year by lightning, though the numbers were higher in the past. The death toll from the 9/11 attack far exceeds the total amount of Americans killed by lighting in the last 20 years.

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com.....52504754/1

    Shikha Dalmia is a propagandist.

  • wareagle||

    yes, it's always those silly xenophobic conservatives, isn't it. Although give credit where it's due: Dalmia takes a different path in distracting folks from the terror narrative and muslim connection. The NYT had its "we didn't do enough to help them assimilate" meme, and Shikha counters with "nothing wrong with immigration; everyone move along."

    I get that the chances of dying via terrorism are probably less than the odds of being hit by lightning; doesn't mean I'm going to stand atop a flag pole during the next t-storm to make the point.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The NYT had its "we didn't do enough to help them assimilate"

    Is that supposed to be a joke? Would not the NYT call any effort to assimilate anyone racist? What happened to multiculturalism?

  • wareagle||

    it's the NYT; it is impervious to the charge of racism. You, on the other hand, are a commentor on H/R.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04.....ml?hp&_r=0
    In case you never saw the NYT article -

  • sarcasmic||

    distracting folks from the terror narrative and muslim connection

    What about it? The KKK claimed to be a Protestant Christian organization. Does that mean that all white Protestants should be treated as suspect?

  • wareagle||

    so it's false analogy Tuesday. Good to know. Klan-inspired activity growing where you live?

  • Rich||

    Americans ... intuitively realize that a country whose government has the power to throw people in jail for exchanging information would be neither free nor safe.

    Citation needed.

  • KenP||

    From my reading of the situation, Paul's concern may be justified. My reading indicates that educational visas are being misused. Academic independence doesn't mesh with reporting of student status. They won't report class attendance. Authorities don't have the manpower or will to try to find those taking advantage of the visa. Too many grey and even black results can occur. The current program seems to issue the visa and then let the rest fall under the radar.

  • Loki||

    Mohamed Atta, the 9/11 hijacker, was handed a visa after he flew a plane into the World Trade Center.

    Huh? How exactly was a dead man handed a visa? Is this a situation where the INS, in true bureaucratic efficiency, attempted to issue a visa for him after the terrorist attack, or did Shikha make a huge editorial mistake? If the former, this is the first time I've heard of it. Neither explanation would surprise me.

  • tarran||

    The INS issued Atta a visa months after he had died. It was beautiful.

  • HenryC||

    I am not with the conservatives, and am for easy to get green cards. However, the rules will no just apply to the economic immigrants from Mexico, but anyone anywhere, including some that are dangerous. A little danger is the cost of freedom though. I agree with that. It does not mean the objection are not real and reasoned. I just don't think the reasons are worth it.

  • Anders||

    Well it is a non sequitor for the reasons stated, but there should be concern about how the visa process works. Europe has provided an open door to muslim immigration for decades now and the results have been pretty disasterous - see Malmo, Sweden for example...

  • Homple||

    I doubt that those whooping for open borders will want to "see Malmö", where an ongoing real-life experiment is testing their free immigration theory. Interim results are not looking good for the theory. Loosely controlled immigration to a welfare state crates difficulties.

  • tarran||

    You mean the welfare state will collapse faster with open borders?

    You say that like it's a bad thing.

  • Cosmo Punch||

    Um, no...

  • Homple||

    It's what comes after the collapse, tarran, that worries me.

    Collapse
    ???
    Freedom and prosperity

    Underwear Gnomes are involved.

  • ||

    Requiring foreigners to go through rigorous background checks is perfectly legitimate.

    Interestingly enough, a process that is impossible when the foreigner enters through illegitimate channels. Which, interestingly enough, is really easy to do, judging by the half million or so people who do so every year. How exactly would we affect these rigorous background checks in Reasontopia with no physical presence on any United States border and automatic green cards for any person who successfully makes the trip? It's fine if you are willing to argue that the risk of terrorists using the same immigration routes as Jorge Rodriguez de la Cruz is worth the benefit of unrestricted immigration, but let's not pretend like its not a risk, or that it would be mitigated under an open immigration system - that would undermine the entirety of your philosophy.

  • Sesde||

  • EasyEight||

    It's not just preventing terrorism, its linked to broader public safety and expense issues. Crimes committed by illegal aliens has led to thousands of Americans being killed, injured, raped, robbed and traumatized, and it's fueling the expansion of the Mexican drug cartels in America. Illegals comprise a large percentage of felons in jail in many States, and despite claims to the contrary, consume more tax dollars in social welfare spending then they pay in taxes.

    http://www.cis.org/ImmigrantCrime

    You want to import cheap labor into America, the "economic refugee"? Fine, do it in a controlled and reasonable manner.

  • J_West||

    The question I would like to see answered is: Why has immigration become such an important libertarian issue?

    And also:

    What precisely are the benefits of immigration?

    How many immigrants will join the Libertarian Party?

    Is there any risk in a massive change in the ethnic composition of the USA?

    How many immigrants will organize for pro-liberty causes such as gun rights, ending the drug war, and dismantling the welfare state?

    Let us see anyone in the pro-immigration wing of the libertarian movement please answer these questions.

  • Reggie1971||

    Apparently the term isn't even "undocumented immigrant" anymore. Political correctness has mutated the term we use to describe people who enter our country in violation of the law as simply "immigrants". We now put them in the same category as the silly people who actually respect our laws and wait in line to become citizens.

  • Jim Carigan||

    The operational quote is, "The lack of omniscience in human institutions is not a curable flaw." How many 2000 page, unreadable, unread bills need to pass in congress for the groundlings to get that through their heads.

    There is no statist remedy for the desperate future of the Aryan dream.

  • Jim Carigan||

    We wanted a nation where everyone was exactly like us, so we asked the government to help. Now we have a nation where there are many not like us AND under an incompetent, malignant, oppressive government.

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