If Kate is right, and the Senate is going to repeat the 1986 “grand bargain” (amnesty up front for promises of enforcement in the future), every senator needs to understand that he is voting to give legal status to terrorists — also just like in the 1986 amnesty.
That amnesty program granted legal status to, among others, brothers Mohammed and Mahmoud Abouhalima, who were involved in the first World Trade Center attack. According to the 9/11 Commission staff report on the immigration histories of terrorists (the large pdf file is here), the brothers received provisional legal status after claiming to be farmworkers. Mohammed was later rejected, when it became clear he was lying, but he just stayed on illegally, since there was no effort to remove even the relatively small number of unsuccessful amnesty applicants. Mahmoud, nicknamed “The Red,” successfully got a green card — i.e., permanent status — despite suspicions that he was lying. That permitted him to work and travel freely until he took part in the attack, then left for Egypt. But we don’t know all the details of Mahmoud the Red’s immigration history because, as the 9/11 Commission staf report says: “His INS immigration file (A 90 568 993) was not available for review. DHS informed us that the Privacy Act barred the Commission from obtaining immigration files on legal permanent residents and naturalized citizens, even those convicted of terrorism or related crimes.”
The kind of illegal aliens who are guaranteed — guaranteed — to be amnestied this time around are the Duka brothers, the Albanians being held in the Ft. Dix plot. There’s a Newsweek web column just posted tracing for the first time the immigration history of the Duka clan from what appears to be information directly from their immigration files. They snuck across the Mexican border in 1984 and applied for asylum in 1989: “While the asylum application was under consideration, the government effectively suspended any effort to deport family members as illegal aliens, the source familiar with their immigration history said.”
There is every reason to believe that if the Circuit City clerk hadn’t called the FBI (and assuming they hadn’t already attacked Ft. Dix), that the Dukas would all get amnesty under any Senate plan. After all, the only thing the immigration service would do is run their names through terrorism watch lists and crime databases looking for felony convictions; if there aren’t any hits, you’re in.
Having illegal-alien terrorists in your country is bad; having legal-alien terrorists, with all the rights and protections that come with legal status, is worse. And we’ll know whom to thank.