However, eventually people stopped paying much attention to the color of the threat level for that day, and the news media stopped talking about it. Now, it is not discussed at all. Was it effective? Perhaps as a short-term measure, but certainly not as a long-term solution. The government argues that the American people are much safer today, because there have been no more terrorist attacks. However, correlation does not prove causation. The fact that there have been no more attacks up to this point does not necessarily prove that the United States is actually safer. It simply proves there have not been more attacks, for whatever reason.
September 11th certainly remains etched in the minds of the American people. Often so much so that they are untrusting of people who are "not like them." An immigrant from the Middle East may have a difficult time in the United States today, especially if he or she is openly Muslim and dresses accordingly. The attacks of 9/11 have taught many Americans to fear and distrust all Muslim people, and to believe that they all want to kill Americans. This is certainly not the case, and there are many peaceful Muslims, both in the United States and in many other countries. The issue is not so much one of national security, but of a lack of understanding of the culture and beliefs of others.
Illegal Immigration from Mexico
States near the Mexican border are fighting what appears to be a losing battle with migration (Ewing, 2006). People from Mexico want to come to America for a better life, but they often do not want to wait for legal channels, which can sometimes take years. Instead, they come into the country illegally, often risking their lives and handing over all their life savings to do so. Often, they speak no English. However, there are many small border towns where they will not be detected, and where many of the residents are just like them and also speak their language. They can live there for years, their children can go to school, and they can get jobs to support their families. Sometimes they steal identities or purchase fake identification. In other instances, they simply avoid detection by "flying under the radar" in the sense that they work jobs where they are paid under the table, in cash, and do not need identification to do so (Ewing, 2006). They are harming national security in a far different way than the terrorists, by breaking down the economy and financial security of the United States from the inside.
As can be seen by the following graph from the Pew Hispanic Center, the vast majority of illegal immigrants in the United States come from Mexico, with another, significantly large group, coming from countries in Latin America. The seriousness of the matter has been seen in bills such as Arizona's SB1070, in an effort to protect a border that some states believe is not being properly protected by the United States government.
The Drug Cartels and the Fight Over the Border
One of the reasons there is such a dispute over illegal migration into the United States and how it is affecting national security is the perceived lack of consideration by the federal government when it comes to making sure the border is secure. States like Arizona are in the midst of a fight to control their own borders, so they can work to keep out illegal immigrants (Ewing, 2006). Most notably, the border states want to keep out the drug dealers, who are bringing not only thousands of pounds of illegal narcotics into the United States, but all the violence that goes with that kind of lifestyle. The Pew Hispanic Center has done a great deal of research into the issue, and has come up with the following graph, representing the most common occupations when it comes to illegal immigrants and where they are locating jobs in which they can be hired despite their status.
As can be seen, there are many manual labor jobs where one's immigration status does not matter. Not everyone will see that as a threat to national security, but consider this: not only is illegal immigration bringing drugs and violence into the United States, but it is very easy for many of these people to get in and find jobs. If terrorists want to infiltrate the United States, they do not have to come in from other countries across the world. All they need to do is go to Mexico. From there, it would be very easy to cross the border and live illegally in the United States, until such time as the instituted a collective strike. The immigrants coming in from Mexico are doing harm to the economy, but they are not terrorizing the country. Despite that, it would not be difficult for terrorists to follow the same pattern and path of getting to the country, only to do much more than take jobs and get free healthcare without paying taxes on their under the table wages. Arizona and other states that are deeply concerned about their border are so concerned because of the alleged failure of the American government to do something about the lack of border security.
It is not possible to "fix" the border overnight, and the money must come from somewhere. Still, there have been other national security issues in the past, and the government has been quick to act in order to protect the people. In the case of the border, frustrations are continuing to grow because there are so many people who do not have the authority to do anything about the border security, and they have to sit back and watch as nothing gets done. Anyone who lives in a border state, especially closer to the actual border, will say that there is much work to be done, and that safety in those areas has been compromised. It is just a matter of time until that spreads to other parts of the country. With the number of immigrants coming in, and the problems with drugs and violence, problems with border security are truly becoming problems with national security.
every since its beginnings, the United States has been a welcoming country where everyone had a chance at realizing their dreams. While it still has these characteristics in many ways, there are cracks in the armor that are being seen throughout America. Terrorist attacks on American soil - something many people would have said could never happen - have taken place and have not been expected. New security measures have been put in place in an effort to stop attacks from happening again. So far they appear to have worked, but it is difficult to say how long it will be before someone finds a way around the measures and new measures have to be addressed yet again. Individuals have already proven that it is possible to get prohibited items past TSA screeners at some airports, so there are no guarantees of safety, even with the new security measures. Not all states have the same residency requirements, either, making it easy to get driver's licenses and other documentation in some states, while it is much more complicated in others.
The Mexican/American border is a serious bone of contention for many people, as well. Arizona and a few other states are at serious risk because they do not have enough border protection. The United States government is not doing what it should to protect the border, and it does not want to allow the states at greatest risk to protect their own borders, so more migrants just keep pouring in every day. Some are caught and returned, but many more get through and are never noticed. They live "off the grid" in the sense that they do not pay taxes or have jobs where they must prove their eligibility to work in the United States. They often send their children to school, though, and get medical care - all of which are paid for by American taxpayers. If that does not threaten national security at its deepest level, what does?
Balin, Bryan. State Immigration Legislation and Immigrant Flows: An Analysis Johns Hopkins University, 2008.
Bauder, Harald. Labor Movement: How Migration Regulates Labor Markets, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
De La Torre, Miguel a., Trails of Hope and Terror: Testimonies on Immigration. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 2009.
Esbenshade, Jill. Division and Dislocation: Regulating Immigration through Local Housing Ordinances. Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, Summer 2007.
Ewing, Walter a. Border Insecurity: U.S. Border-Enforcement Policies and National Security, Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, Spring 2006.
Immigration Policy Center. Economic Growth & Immigration: Bridging the Demographic Divide. Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, November 2005.
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