Illegal Immigration Through Mexico and Canada

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Illegal immigration represents a potential threat to national security because of the possibility that terrorists or agents of hostile governments can enter the United States and remain undetected within illegal immigrant communities. The total number of illegal immigrants in the United States is not known, with estimates ranging between 12 million and 20 million (Chavez, 2006). The Census Bureau estimate of foreign residents that are not U.S. citizens is 21 million, which includes both foreign-born permanent residents and undocumented residents (U.S. Census, 2004).

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The Supreme Court has routinely upheld the constitutional authority of Congress to regulate immigration based on Article 1, Section 8 of Constitution. In Fernandez-Vargas v. Gonzales (2006), the Supreme Court upheld the power of the government to reinstate a deportation order for an illegal immigrant who had been deported and subsequently returned to the United States where the immigrant lived undetected for more than 20 years. In Calcano-Martinez v. Immigration and Naturalization Service (2001), the Supreme Court indicated that Congress had the power to eliminate the ability of permanent residents convicted of a felony to appeal a deportation order issued by an administrative court in the circuit court. In Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. National Labor Relations Board (2002), the Supreme Court determined a government agency was prohibited from awarding benefits to an illegal immigrant. The cases, however, have not definitively established a link between national security and illegal immigration.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (2007) has adopted a strategy of controlling illegal immigration through vigorous enforcement of existing laws. Pursuant to the strategy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had increased its interior enforcement activities, which resulted in the arrest of approximately 7,600 gang members. In addition, ICE has increased its efforts to find 35,000 illegal immigrants with pending deportation orders for criminal activity. Worksite enforcement, which is intended to identify illegal immigrants through their employment, has resulted in 4,000 arrests. The most recent Department of Justice (DOJ) statistics about illegal immigrants in the federal justice system is from 2000 (Bureau, 2000). The data at that time indicated 20% of the offenders were charged with smuggling aliens across the border and 5% were charged with misuse of visas. The remaining 75% were charged with illegal entry or illegal reentry. These statistics, however, did not include criminal activities by illegal immigrants not related to immigration status. Duran (2002) indicated that law enforcement authorities face significant problems apprehending illegal immigrants from Mexico who flee to their homeland after committing serious crimes in the United States.

The general research question of the study is: Does illegal immigration pose a national security threat to the United States? The extent of the threat to national security posed by illegal immigration is not clear at the present time because of the lack of data indicating that terrorists or agents of hostile governments illegally enter the United States. The specific research question of the study is: Does illegal immigration through Mexico and Canada pose a national security threat to the United States? Although illegal immigration occurs in other ports of entry, most illegal immigrants enter the United States through Mexico or Canada. The issue of illegal immigration is highly politicized, which results in reduced objectivity among researchers investigating immigration issues. At the same time, the government is expending a large amount of resources to control illegal immigration across the Mexican border, but expending fewer resources for security on the Canadian border. Because of the uncertainty about the effect of illegal immigration from Mexico and Canada on the issue of national security, determining the extent of the threat to national security resulting from illegal immigration is necessary to ensure resources are allocated appropriately. The literature review examines the previous research investigating illegal immigration and identifies the methodologies, theoretical models and findings used by the researchers.

Literature Review

Lobreglio (2004) used comparative legislative analysis to assess the likely impact of the proposed Border Security and Immigration Improvement Act (BSII) on illegal immigration. The BSII was introduced in Congress in 2004 as a sweeping immigration reform measure motivated by national security concerns as well as public pressure to curb illegal immigration. To evaluate the legislation, the research compared the provisions of the bill to the effect of prior statutes with similar provisions on controlling illegal immigration. The findings indicated the provisions of BSII would not provide an adequate remedy for illegal immigration because it did not address the labor market issues on both sides of the border. Prior legislation addressing illegal immigration with Mexico focused on establishing limits for temporary workers in the United States and reducing restrictions and barriers for temporary visas did not reduce illegal immigration. Some of the issues are cultural and educational, with many illegal immigrants unable or unwilling to make formal entry application to the United States. Illegal immigrants also avoid contact with immigration authorities because employers are willing to provide jobs without verifying immigration status or carefully examining stolen or forged identity documents.

Simcox (1988) investigated illegal immigration issues using an expert opinion methodology, and is based on a theoretical framework of examining the past as a means of predicting the likely course of future events. The general findings of the study suggest that the United States periodically experiences “compassion fatigue” (Simcox, 1988: 3) when the population perceives the cumulative numbers of legal and illegal immigrants as excessive. The various measures to limit immigration such as employer sanctions, however, have primarily affected legal immigration, but have not significantly deterred illegal immigration. In addition, the various policy initiatives to curtail illegal immigration such as eliminating the bracero or guest worker program for migrant workers in 1965 aggravated the problem by fostering the development of smuggling networks for Mexican and Central American nationals seeking employment in the United States. Simcox collected the opinion of experts at a time when the relationship between illegal immigration and national security was not a major issue because of a very low threat from non-governmental actors engaging in hostilities against the United States. As a result, the economic issues were the primary focus of the analysis.

Nevins (2002) argued that the attempts to control immigration have transformed the Mexican border from a relatively open nexus between nations to a militarized zone. Nevins claimed the effort to control immigration is motivated by a discriminatory intent with national security concerns used to mask the purpose of the government in appealing to populist pressure. In addition, Nevins argued that immigration has been historically unpopular in the United States because of the assumption that it leads to economic competition. Nevins (2002) used a qualitative approach for investigating the subject of illegal immigration on the Mexican border relying on a quasi-case study of Operation Gatekeeper. The case study analysis suggests the attempt to control immigration at the border with intensified security measures is ineffective and the resources could be better used for alternative approaches to solve the problem. The theoretical approach for the study was based on the presumed relationship between the evidence the author selected to demonstrate racial bias and the actions taken by the government to restrict illegal immigration.

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Bigo (2002) examined the hypotheses that the increased securitization of immigration issues is the result of an increase in racism, which is an argument similar to that of Nevins (2002). The approach used in the study appeared to have used inductive reasoning based on postulates, although the author did not specify how the method used to test the hypothesis. The postulates consisted of observations about immigration discourse, the motives of political actors, and the role of factors such as technology. The securitization of immigration is a successful strategy for political actors because it garners support from varied constituencies. It is also linked to a contemporary revival of the concept of state sovereignty to counterbalance globalization, with the physical border subject to greater control than the commercial, informational, and cultural borders. The study concluded that the racial elements related to immigration are the means by which the political actors mobilize the resources necessary to prevent illegal immigration. An underlying and unstated assumption in Bigo’s (2002) analysis is that illegal immigration does not pose a real threat to national security.

An examination of the border space between the United States and Canada by Konrad and Nichol (2004) found that the need to maintain commercial and traditional family ties increased the risk of terrorists entering the United States across the border. The methodology used in the analysis appears to have been based on a case study approach of the commercial corridors with increased border security following the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. The authors used anecdotal evidence to support claims about border security and illegal immigration, but did not indicate if they conducted a systematic search of the data for confirming or disconfirming facts. The increased security at the border focuses on funneling cross-border traffic into corridors with high technology surveillance used in corridors and other areas. The border, however, remains porous, with terrorists legally or illegally gaining admission to Canada easily able to cross into the United States at many unguarded locations. In addition, the United States considers the Mexican border a greater threat than the Canadian border because of greater trust in the Canadian immigration and law enforcement agencies. The anecdotal evidence the authors present includes incidents in which border officials apprehended known or suspected terrorists attempting to gain entry to the United States through Canada.

Mabee (2007) examined the effect of creating the DHS on the policy and discourse towards illegal immigration and border security in the United States. The method used in the study was to analyze the discourse about border security and illegal immigration following the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. The analysis focused on identifying the fundamental position of the arguments, which were largely qualitative in nature and based on projective interpretations of available information. The findings of the study identified two fundamental positions in the discourse. The first position was based on the assumption that the terrorist attacks did not create a significant need to securitize the borders of the United States, which have been traditionally porous and have not historically posed a national security threat. The second position was based on the assumption that the terrorist attacks demonstrated the inadequacy of past policy towards immigration control, with weak border control and illegal immigration a significant national security. Mabee (2007) also identified a constructivist approach to the issue of illegal immigration in most studies, which measure the behavior of political actors against the scholars’ perception of international norms of behavior. The normative approach inherently results in a judgment about the adequacy of a specific policy approach. Mabee’s (2007) findings indicated the discourse of political actors in the United States following 9/11 created a security threat related to illegal immigration. Prior to 9/11, the discourse on illegal immigration had characterized the issue as an economic and civil order problem. In addition, the creation of the DHS is likely to foster the continued perception of illegal immigration as a national security problem with the agency perspective contributing to the political discourse.

Olmedos and Soden (2005) examined the effect of changes to security at the Mexican and Canadian borders after 2001 on legal cross border traffic. The method used in the research involved quantitative analysis of the traffic patterns before and after the implementation of security measures at the border intended to reduce the threat to national security from terrorists posing as an illegal economic immigrant. The authors argued the terrorist attacks on the United States caused a sudden shift from the perspective that illegal immigration was a somewhat tolerable adjunct to economic integration to a perspective that it posed a significant threat to national security. The findings of the study indicated the increased security at the crossings on the Mexican and Canadian borders have imposed significant transaction costs on commercial activity and deterred legal border crossings because of excessive wait times. At the same time, no significant evidence exists suggesting that the increased security has reduced illegal immigration in the border regions. The authors, however, did no present data to support the argument that increased border security had no effect on illegal immigration.

The literature review identified two fundamental themes regarding the relationship between illegal immigration and national security. Some studies suggested illegal immigration is not a national security matter and increased attempts to control immigration are motivated by racism and the desire of political actors to capitalize on traditional anti-immigrant sentiment (Bigo, 2002; Lobreglio, 2004; Nevins, 2002; Olmedos and Soden, 2005). Only one study, however, provided some evidence suggesting that illegal immigration may represent a threat to national security (Konrad & Nicol, 2004). The literature also indicates that current measures to control the Mexican and Canadian border are not effective for preventing illegal immigration. The following section identifies the gaps in existing research, and establishes the theoretical framework for the study.

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Theoretical Framework

The literature examining the relationship between illegal immigration and national security is generally polemic with the research selecting facts or theories to support the argument favored by the authors. The previous research has established the existence of the perception of a threat to national security from illegal immigration and the decisions of political actors in the United States. In addition, the literature indicated the increased security at the Mexican and Canadian borders following the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 is intended to reduce the threat of terrorists entering the United States through illegal immigration networks. The findings from the various studies, however, have not definitively established a link between illegal immigration and an actual threat to national security. As a result, a gap in the literature exists about the relationship between illegal immigration through Mexico and Canada and actual threats to national security.

The research for the present study uses a predictive research approach in which the objective of the study is to evaluate the likelihood that illegal immigration thorough Mexico and Canada represents a threat to the United States. The fundamental approach in predictive research is to examine the relationship between the predictors and the criteria established for evaluating the relationship (Pedhazur and Schmelkin, 1991). Because the research design is qualitative, inductive reasoning rather than empirical methods are used to test the relationship between the predictors and the criteria.

The study is based on the political process model initially proposed by McAdam (1982) and expanded by Hillsman (1993). In this model, the political events in a nation establish the conditions necessary for the development of social movements in support of or in opposition to certain actions by political actors. The social movement can consist of various societal elements including NGOs, the media and in some cases bureaucratic actors with an interest in the issue. The model also proposes the existence of a cognitive shift among the population in which a large number of people suddenly become aware of a change to a situation warranting concern and requiring action. The change in perception can be based on objective facts or subjective assessments of the situation. Political actors can influence the cognitive shift by fostering greater attention on an issue or a problem with rhetoric or policy decisions. The movement continues until it achieves a political response ostensibly addressing the issue causing the concern.

The political process model presumes the political actors are rational although the social forces influencing the political actors may not be rational. Many political actors, however, are involved with the formation of policy, each motivated by different factors (Hillsman, 1993). The most important determinant for the rational actions of the political actors is their understanding of national and personal goals.

Since its formulation by McAdam (1982), researchers have used the political process model as a framework for the analysis of both domestic and foreign policy decision making. It is particularly applicable to situations in which a radical policy change occurs. Eisenger (1997) used the political process model to analyze the policies adopted by domestic urban political leaders in response to constituent concerns. MacKinnon (1999) used the model to analyze the foreign policy decisions during the Clinton administration. In addition, Mackinnon (1999) expanded the model to postulate four power centers in the formulation of policy at the federal level consisting of the president, the federal bureaucracy such as DHS, Congress and public opinion.

In the current study, illegal immigration is the manifestation of a social movement in which individuals residing in poor nations seek employment in the United States to improve their standard of living (Nevins, 2002). A large population of immigrants in the United States results in the formation of various social movements both in supporting and opposing immigration. In the political process model, the government responds to the domestic political pressure to limit immigration by placing restrictions on the number of immigrants legally entering the nation each year. The policy response is rational because it attempts to address the concerns of all constituencies by controlling the level of immigration. The policy response also recognized the cost and logistic difficulties associated with fully controlling all illegal immigration at the Mexican and Canadian borders (Konrad and Nichol, 2004). The terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, however, altered the cognitive awareness of various groups in the United States about national security issues. At the same time, the immigration discourse identified illegal immigration as one of the possible threats to national security in the post-9/11 environment. The increased cognitive awareness of illegal immigration led to the policy response of increasing security on the Mexican and Canadian borders. The response was rational because the political decision makers were attempting to meet the demands of various constituencies. The development of policy following the terrorist attacks on the United States suggests that the separate policy considerations of national security and illegal immigration merged to a single policy towards border security.

The political process model can support predictive research because it examines the factors influencing political actors in the past to establish a foundation for predicting their future actions. It also provides a framework for assessing the validity of claims about the relationship between illegal immigration through Mexican and Canadian borders and national security. The steps for employing the model in the research involve identifying the key political and social forces influencing the development of policy towards illegal immigration across the Canadian and Mexican borders. The second step involves identifying similar political and social forces influencing national security policy. The third step for using the model focuses on determining the factual information about the relationship between illegal immigration across the Mexican and Canadian borders and threats to national security. The fourth step in applying the political process model is to analyze the effectiveness of the policy in reducing the threat to national security from illegal. The final step in the process is to use the analysis to predict the future threat to national security from illegal immigration through Mexico and Canada.


Key political and social forces influencing the development of policy towards illegal immigration

Prior to the 09/11 US attack, the policy makers in the United States were not keen on addressing the illegal immigration, even with the continued concern by the general public. As Ginsburg (qtd. In Kerwin and Stock) puts it’s the policies used in control of immigration or rather control of the borders have proved to be inadequate. It is due to a number of factors related to political and social nature and circumstances that the development and refinement of these immigration policies and laws has been harbored.

So since its inception, the United States has attracted and relied on immigrants to grow its economy in addition to other infrastructure. In the 19th century, for instance, the immigrants were a major source for the manpower used in construction of the transcontinental railway line. Furthermore, it is arguable that in the 20th century, immigrants – in relation to the entire population- contributed immensely in creating and designing programs for the United States national security and, as a result, in the defense system of the country. For instance, Werner von Braun, Ailbert Einstein and Enrico Fermi have had immense contribution to the development of the United States. Moreover, in recent times, several notable immigrants have had enormous contributions to the American culture, more so in the entertainment and broadcasting sectors. Noting that this is not the complete list, Canada contributed such immigrants like Lorne Greene, Jim Carey, Peter Jennings, William Shatner, Michael J Fox, Pamela Anderson, Yvonne De Carlo into the entertainment and broadcasting industry of the United States. These personalities, who are or have been in the front line as far as policy issues are concerned, represent the openness mature of the United States as a nation comprised of immigrants of varying backgrounds who have been received in open arms by the American society. It is not to say that these represent all the immigrants, the United Kingdom and Spain have similarly introduced Bob Hope, Angela Landsbury, Jane Seymour and Penelope Cruz; while Mexico and Cuba have provided Anthony Quinn, Gloria Estefan, Ricardo Montalban and Andy Garcia into the list of significant personalities who have immigrated and been assimilated into the United States (Camarota, 2005). Moreover, Madelyn Albright who originated from Czech Republic as well as Henry Kissinger, a Germany native contributed in formulation of policies in their capacity as United State’s Secretaries of State (Camarota, 2005). Additionally, General John Shalikashvili, formerly of the Polish nationality served in the United State’s Armed Forces, and at some point chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Going further and exploring more recent examples is the Austria’s native, Arnold Shwartzeneggar, who is celebrated for his great achievements including his self-earned A-list personality status in the entertainment arenas as well as his position as a governor of California, an important state in American governance. These individuals have been accepted into becoming citizens of the United States together with other immigrants who have also made noticeable contributions to the government and culture of America.

As matter of fact, this scenario has an impact on the development of policies regarding illegal immigrations. Each and every individual resides with his or her own opinion and it would not be a wonder to have these personalities taking the issue of illegal immigration lightly. In retrospect, they might feel that they once hoped for the opportunity. Do not forget that some of these successful immigrants are in the front line as far as policy formulation and law formulation is concerned. Therefore, considering the conservatives who insist on tougher laws for the illegal immigrants, creation of appropriate and effective policies to address illegal immigration might prove to be a slow and difficult process.

Economic conditions and needs of both the United States have played a great role in development of the immigration policies. Throughout history, America has been known to rely on immigrants to supplement its labor force. The use of immigrant labor has not only raised issues of concern in recent history, but the outcomes are the manifestations of the issues that surround formulation of immigration laws and policies. For instance, during the middle of the twentieth century America came to an agreement with Mexico so that America could utilize Mexican transient labor. Moreover, recently, the United States designed a formal program known as Bracelo that was meant to have US utilize immigrant labor force ( Consequently, America partnered with the Mexican government to supply labor force during the Second World War in a bid to solve the significant shortage of agricultural laborer in the United States as a result of deployment of troops. The program, which started in 1942 and lasted until 1964, employed approximately 4.5 million individuals of Mexican origin mainly in California and Texas ( This program was design as to be implemented temporarily where guidelines were to be strictly adhered to by both the employers and the laborers, where the rights the laborers were protected, and at the conclusion of the program, the Mexican Laborers were return to their country. Building on this, development of policies necessary to curb illegal immigration through the Mexican border would not have come as priority to the acquiring of the labor force. This is in light of the fact that laws that would have appeared as mishandling the Mexican nationals might have thwarted the efforts of the United States to acquire these laborers. And although the Bracero program presented was guarded by the bilateral agreement that ensured the control and regulation of the program it had its own problems. The situation could not be made worse if the officials in Mexican government were not implicated in overt promotion of illegal immigration through published literature and policy statements. It is worth to note that law enforcement officers in Mexico have contributed to promotion of illegal immigration by their illicit acts that include receiving bribes along the Southern border of the United States. So although, most programs are intended to be beneficial, more so economically, their existence might also present political challenges and compel the United States to compromise some of its responsibilities such as protecting its border.

Effectiveness of the policy in reducing the threat to national security

In discussions on the effectiveness of policies addressing national security, is important to first define the term national security. While often defined as safeguard from physical harm, national security has wider meaning, and usually touches –besides the physical aspects – on protection of the “vital economic and political interests, the loss of which could threaten the fundamental values and vitality of the state “((Jordan, Taylor and Mazarr, 1999). Therefore, national security recognizes the roles of both political and economic interests as a benchmark of state power; economic strength and viability add to the direct factors determining national security. Again, security is dependent of obedience of values. So given that national security strategies and policies in a democratic society rely on public support, it is paramount for them to mirror on fundamental public values. Respect for human rights and civil liberties are some of the key public values that are safeguarded by United States constitution.

After the September 11th attack, the United States identified various inadequacies in the immigration system that served as the building block for the terrorists’ actions. Mentioning only a few, the plane hijackers use fake passports and visa that were acquired through false pretense. Moreover, although some terrorists were known by the secrets agents, this information was denied to the immigration agents (The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 2004). In light of this and arguing that if information was shared to the relevant officials the occurrence might have been avoided, it is substantial to conclude that the relevant US policies at the time were ineffective in addressing national security.

In recent times, however, the United States policy makers and law enforcement officers have been up in arm, in an attempt to redesign and enforce policies that safeguard the national security. The US government had considered the use of its immigration system, which it ultimately implemented on a dramatic scale, in preventing similar attacks as well as a basis for prosecution of terrorists. This is a case of inadequacy in policy design. For instance, although illegal immigration is wrong, it would not be sensible to generalize and classify illegal immigration as terrorist activities. In spite of the public cry, the United State s government through the Department of Justice deported about 531 illegal immigrants; cases of mistreatment of these deportees were reported (The 9/11 Commission Report, 2004 ), an act that was greatly condemned by Office of Inspector General. Such a scenario is likely to provoke diplomatic rows, especially with the governments of these deportees, and hence further threatening the national security of the United States; in fact, nation could collaborate with the agenda to counter the action, especially given that the handling of the matter was flawed. On the hand, these measures could help reduce illegal immigration and the direct effects associated with it. All in all, United States has continually made efforts in formulation of immigration policies that aim at preventing criminal activities while ensuring legal immigration is effective.

Most of the laws formulated after the 09/11 attack make it hard for individuals planning to enter the US borders illegally. The USA PATRIOT ACT, for instance, gives security officials the right to deny immigrants admission as well as to inject non-citizens out of the United States. In theory, subsequent laws and policies further ensured security at the borders, where they mainly focused on preventing easy access to the United States border for non-citizens. It is worth to note, however, most of these policies contradicted with the democratic provision of the United States constitution. So, even though the measures solved some security questions, to some extent it would be substantial to regard them as inadequate; the smart border, for example compromised the right the rights of the citizens in its provision.

Although, illegal immigration has greatly undermined the national sovereignty, the United States has failed in defending its borders and in enforcing the laws of immigration, a failure associated with incompetence and/or lack of resolve. United States status and policies existing at both the state and federal levels apparently make legal immigration meaningless, the concept of citizenship worthless, and status of illegal immigrant non-punishable. Furthermore, the law enforcement on these illegal immigrations including the associated activities such as terrorism and illegal drug trafficking, has been slowed by the increasing number of illegal immigrants in the United States

Factual information about the relationship between illegal immigration across the Mexican and Canadian borders and threats to national security

The ignorance on the significance of the magnitude and threats of illegal immigrants crossing the United State borders may have greater consequences if left unattended into. The current available information indicates that the impact of illegal immigration is stretching beyond just the United States’ social borders (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000). The large volume of illegal immigrants entering into the United States could pose a great threat to US national security through creation and sheltering of a huge population that has doubtful or ambivalent loyalty to this nation. Ignoring these groups would be a recipe for terrorist opportunities for entities like the infamous al-Qaeda and other malicious organizations that are opposed to the United States principles. More threateningly, is the fact that these likely restive groups of immigrants are susceptible to engagement in distant but plausible activities vocalized by extremist associations under the pretense of multi-culturalism (Nutting, 2003). This potential threat was identified by some congressmen, officials in Homeland Security, and more distressingly, by some officials in Iran government (Fund, 2005).

The United States culture, although modified, is to a large extent characteristic of the British way of life. Amusingly, this British-styled culture has shown a characteristic resilience in assimilating new immigrants of various backgrounds in a short time period. Note that this assimilation, which is universally known as the melting pot, has is greatly susceptible to terrorists exploitation for their criminal and evil activities. In fact, the heterogeneity in cultural orientation of the United States further adds to the potentials aspects that are favorable for exploitation by outside interests. Note that the history of the United States reveals that it is a nation comprised mainly of immigrants. All American citizens, except of course the Native Red Indians, have their ancestral origin outside the United States.

For the United States, organizations and individuals with sinister motives residing outside the United States’ borders have identified its open nature, its tolerance to immigrants, and of late, the inadequacy in policies for immigration enforcement. And to add salt to injury, the officials in Mexican government overtly promote illegal immigration through published literature and policy statements in document, while at the same time, law enforcement officers in Mexico contribute to promotion of illegal immigration by their illicit acts that include receiving bribes along the Southern border of the United States. MS-13 is an example of the evidence indicating that terrorists are collaborating with criminals (Seper, 2004). It is known that terrorists have made use of the weaknesses in inadequate United States procedures and its susceptible border points to achieve their objectives prior to the 9/1 US terrorist attack (Kephart, 2005) and there is a possibility of that happening again. In fact, officials in the Department of Defense as well as Department of Homeland Security reminds Americans that an occurrence of another terrorist act on the Americas soil is a matter when, rather than if. Nonetheless, such an attack through illegal immigration means must be curbed.

In demographics and statistics, illegal immigrations is a compromise to the United States national identity where it promotes a sub-class of partially-assimilated people who exploit modern technology such as media and internet as well as modern transportation advantage to preserve their original language, cultures and customs. As opposed to past immigrants, these modern-day developments have allowed this sub-class to operate solely for temporary economic spurs like wages and employment. Hence, immigrants are not obligated to put corresponding efforts to individually associate with the United States culture. Consequently, the qualities such as citizenship, loyalty, and patriotism, which ensure the existences of national-bond, are excluded.

Illegal immigration through the Mexican and Canadian border also undermines the Unites States social order due to the fact that it puts stress on law enforcement, education, health facets of the American community. For instance, a number of health care centers both in rural and urban areas have experienced the impact of these illegal immigrants, and as a consequence, reduced or abolish their services due to overwhelming the system by the volume or lack of payment (Cosman, 2005). It also worth to note that cases of disease, that were eliminated long time ago, being reintroduced into the United States by illegal immigrants have been reported (WorldNet Again, proponents of illegal immigrants have managed to obtain education subsidies at the expense of the tax-paying American citizen. What’s more, prisons have become increasing crowded with illegal immigrants who face penalties for all sorts of crimes.

A decade concluding the 20th century as well as the initial five years into the 21st Century have been characterized by an upsurge in illegal immigrants, mainly, from Mexico, who systematically and routinely cross through the southern border into the United States with the intention of residing permanently there; this contradicts the legal setup of the Bracero program. it is estimated that, since 2001, the number of illegal immigrants passing through Mexico into America every year exceed 1.125 million (Pickler, 2005); an equivalent of Dallas, TX.

In spite of the public concern since 1990’s about these illegal immigrations, this matter was blindly marginalized as far as matters of national security were concerned until a somewhat obscure occurrence in the Canadian border, where illegal immigration through its territory in to United States became notoriously excessive within the initial days of 2000. The United States leaders in charge of the nation’s security were hit by the reality of a much greater threat after Ahmed Ressam – an al-Qaeda associate – was comprehended at Port Angeles in December 1999 when security officers discovered he was planning to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport in the night of the millennium celebrations (The Washington Times, 2003).

Future threat to national security

If the United States officials and policy makers fails or delays in laying down policies and measures necessary to curb illegal immigration, a wave of new threat to the national security is likely to emerge. Abott, (2008) associates massive immigration with national security threat for the developed nations. On another account, statistics reveals that immigration, and particularly illegal immigration, is on the rise (United States Census Bureau, 2004), in fact, as the years progress the rate of illegal immigrants entering United States is alarming. Therefore, with the new arrival of people of diverse background in beliefs, culture, and track record, there is the likelihood of that these people will introduce new ways of thinking into the American culture. Not only that, these immigrants are bound to cause an advent of new types and rates of criminal activities forcing security personnel into task of dealing with these offenses, like knife crime and drunk-driving (Masood, 2007). Note that, the rise in illegal immigration (even legal migration) may ultimately result to chauvinistic militias and cults within the United States with the intention and capability to assault immigrants. It is evident that the United States population will continue to increase, of which two-thirds of this increase will constitute both illegal and legal immigrants (United States Census Bureau, 2004), and mainly from Latin America. What’s more, changes in global demographics may contribute to the America’s status of national security, with the likely consequence of “youth bulges comprising unemployed youths in developing nations (Treverton, 2005).

Immigration into the Unites States of America
Fig. 1: Immigration into the Unites States of America (U.S. Census Bureau)

Possible solutions

Before the onset of the Second World War, United States Southern border was marred by hostile activities instigated by Pancho Villa as subsequent raids on America’s citizens (Vandiver, 1963). The then President, order military troop to combat the situation. In this argument, although Villa escaped, calm was restored to the southern border of United States. Furthermore, this area stayed relatively uneventful for the better part of the 20th Century until in the 1970s. It worth noting that this situation was as result of United States’ domestic and foreign interests especially Vietnam and the World Wars.

The Wesphalian model provides a well comprehensible and widely accepted concept for citizens’ rights to be secure within their nation’s borders while the national government exhibits its ability to guarantee that security to its people. The constitutional need for the United States border control is necessary for the protection of general population, immigration control as well as for the proper commerce and trade regulation. Of pertinent, also is the necessity to intercept prohibited or counterfeit goods and prevent the spread of diseases. The United States Agents should be vigilant in identifying the immigrants entering the US borders. Their details for immigration should be known.

The United States, a country comprised of 48 states, has only two terrestrial borders: one is at the north bordering Canada while the second one is to on the south bordering Mexico. Here, the northern border is about 4000 miles in length. In spite of the fact that the United States is in dispute with Canada over the northern border (Seper, 2004), this entry point has not been adequately defended. Although the border has had almost insignificant incidences of insecurity, there was a discovery of drug smuggling in July 2005. Contrastingly, in the southern border, which is only half the distance of the northern border, there have been a number of resources, skirmishes and incidents in recent years that have woken the attention of the United States officials.

The United States southern border contains a number of U.S. border resources, hence a noticeable attention (Bonné, 2002). This status quo is as a result of the number of illicit drugs and illegal immigrants that regularly cross through the Mexican side. Additionally, the northern border with Canada has also been susceptible to me similar illegal drug activities occurring at the Southern side. It is worth noting that before the 09/11 attack the US borders were extremely porous. Even today, the borders pose a great challenge, especially given the large number of people and cargo transiting daily through these borders. To safeguard the borders, contribution of both national means and will is necessary.

Terrorist access prevention coupled with elimination of criminal activities indicates a level of rigid enforcement, which if not properly implemented would prevent efficient conduct of trade, a scenario which is unacceptable. Fortunately, technology development apparently provides effective solutions, especially with volume of goods involved in shipments. Irrespective of the solutions available for enhancing the physical security at the borders, there will be corresponding requirement for the increase in resources, and more importantly meaningful alteration in both policies and laws.

America must aggressively and consistently enforce laws that protect its borders while modifying or eliminating procedures or laws that are obsolete (72). The analyses of the 09/11 incidence revealed that culprit of the attack were foreigners who managed to circumvent border and immigration system weaknesses (The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 2004). Some of the culprits entered and stayed in the country through the disguise of expired student-visa (The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States). In this regard, there is a need to reevaluate and strengthen immigration laws and procedures where weaknesses are evident.

In regard to the procedures for law enforcement, alterations toward treatment of illegal immigrants are in the process (Debusmann, 2005). For instance, the House of Representatives Bill has several characteristics.

One the bill makes it a criminal offense “the act of crossing into the U.S. border; prior offenses were treated as merely civil offenses. Two, the legislation requires employers to verify the citizenship or legal residency of employees. Three, the federal bill gives more authority to local law enforcement agencies to arrest and detain illegal aliens” (Dougherty, 2005).

This bill is a good step, which needs to explore more issues. There is an inadequacy in the Bill where it fails to provide for penalizing self-declared local and state immigrant sanctuaries like Houston, Maine and Oregon through withholding of federal funding for social funding American states like Arizona and Georgia have pending bills that aim address the controversial money wire transfers, which are used regularly by immigrants to send money to Mexico. In addition, there is a pending issue free flow of illegal immigrants, which the United States should fix, besides the need to revise the requirements necessary for acquiring driver’s license. At present, Tennessee and North.

The State of Carolina is notoriously engaged in glibly issuance of driver’s licenses to any applicant without much scrutiny. The State of Virginia has heeded calls to tighten its process of acquiring driver’s licenses after noting that many terrorists arrested since the 09/11attack used false pretense to get these licenses. Therefore, unless such loopholes are sealed, illegal immigrants will continually have the opportunity to exploit weaknesses within the United States system. In attempt to fix the problem, the Real ID act was crafted and approved by President George Bush. Last but not least, the House Bill focus on principles like increased enforcement to existing policies and laws, emphasizing true authentication of immigrants’ legal status by officials, and buttressing employers’ penalties will be a good way to start the shrinking of the problem of illegal immigrants.


Illegal immigration is a serious concern especially when issues of national security are concerned. Broadly speaking, it signals to outside world, particularly enemies and potential enemies of the United States that its laws are meaningless; it is not capable of enforcing law at its borders, and that it incapable of safeguarding its citizens. In addition, illegal immigration has proved to offer concealment for terrorist opportunities, stress social resources, and spur crime growth. On another note, the origins of illegal immigrants are numerous with most of them coming from Mexico. In fact, illegal immigration coming from Mexico are mainly as a result of the criminal elements who are exploiting the inadequacy in United States enforcement on immigration law as enforcement, Mexico’s disrespect for United States rule of law, the Mexican economic downturn, and the Mexican society and government wage of information campaign against the United States.

In providing solution to the challenge of illegal immigration, it is paramount to use a national approach that addresses and prioritizes all root causes as well as prioritize the challenge. Each and every aspect of national sovereignty should emphasize the borders’ physical security and enforceable and coherent laws. With various ways to mitigate or solve these challenges, the best approach to executing these strategies will require significant commitment in patience, national will, and resources.


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