The Corner

The Half-Baked Immigration Response to 9/11

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official checks a bag at Terminal 4 of JFK airport in New York City, May 17, 2017. (Joe Penney/Reuters)

The 9/11 attacks were, at their heart, a failure of our immigration system. The 9/11 Commission staff report on the killers’ exploitation of immigration and border weaknesses (which the report called “terrorist travel”) started with these words: “It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country.”

As a result, a wide variety of steps were taken in the wake of 9/11 to make it harder to violate immigration laws. But because any tightening of our system intended to exclude or catch terrorists will inevitably

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