Speaking at the recent AIM conference, Louise Rees, publisher of Information Digest, said that it is possible to make sure that immigrants are integrated into American society. She cited her own Irish background. The Irish came over, didn’t speak much English, but became Americanized over the course of generations. The problem today is that immigrants are not Americanized, and ethnic groups are kept culturally separate in the schools.
Rees said our big problem is that we don’t enforce our immigration laws. About half of the suicide hijackers should not have been here. They violated immigration laws in various ways. But it was not a law enforcement priority to find them.
It’s true that immigrants tend to bring with them old hatreds and settle in certain areas, and that leads to some violence. A revival of the Irish problem has occurred since the late 1960s, as Irish in America have set up support networks for the Irish Republican Army. Rees said IRA sympathizers in America have been caught monitoring the movements of British officials so they could be targeted for violence. She said Yugoslavian groups in America have fought one another and Cuban-Americans have tried to wage war on Castro from our shores.
In the early 1970s, there was an Iraqi in the U.S. who put together a network of Arab students from Texas that stole dynamite and planned to bomb targets in New York. The FBI discovered the plot through a wiretap on the Arab group. A judge found the wiretap to be illegal, but the Iraqi and the Arab students left the U.S. It was discovered that he was actually a Palestinian terrorist linked to Yasser Arafat. He was later apprehended in Italy and sentenced to prison here. There have also been shootings in the Washington, D.C. area by foreign terrorists.
Rees, who wrote the first study of terrorism in America for Congress back in 1974, said foreign terrorists have operated here for decades. She cited the case of a member of a German terrorist group who entered the U.S. from Canada planning terrorism at the Lake Placid Olympics. She was caught. Another who was caught was the bin Laden associate who was planning to bomb Los Angeles airport at the millennium. He was caught at the Canadian-U.S. border because a customs agent saw that he was perspiring heavily on a very cold day. A search of his truck found bomb-making material.
Regarding the September 11th attacks, Rees said it is clear that we did not have an efficient way to stop the visas for the Saudi nationals who were members of the gang. Once they were here, the FBI did not seem to be able to find them. “If one good thing comes from the 911 catastrophe,” she said, “let it be a decent, real and effective system of immigration control and enforcement. This will require serious expenditures. We need border security as well, which is currently a joke. And that may mean that we have to tell our president that he needs to fire the holdovers, transfer out and sack those who hide in the bureaucracy and do no work, and let’s hire people who can do a capable job of protecting us from the terrorists, criminal immigrants and temporary visitors.”