Immigration issues continue front and center in Washington, and for good reason.
The Supreme Court decision affirming the travel ban from a number of troubled foreign countries is a win for American security. It supports the decision to limit travel into the U.S. from countries that cannot properly vet travelers to make sure they are not a threat once they get here. That most of these countries are Muslim-majority is an unfortunate but real fact of life in a time when Islamist terrorists continue to advocate acts of violence against the American homeland. For New Yorkers particularly, the shadow of September 11, 2001, has not dimmed too much for us to painfully remember the loss life on that terrible day.
Sadly, the forces that attacked then are still at large in the world, and vigilance against them is firmly in the national interest. If we still need proof that terrorism can seep into countries lacking sufficient screening tools, the situation in Europe is instructive. European nations — because of their proximity to turbulent and unstable nations like Syria and Libya — have been particularly hard hit by these terrorists, who have attacked with guns, knives, and even vehicles, with deadly results.
This perilous situation in Europe is quickly coming to a head in places like Germany, Italy, and France. A recent report by Bloomberg News paints a troubling picture of the spike in criminal activity in Germany attributable to recently arrived immigrant groups. It seems these groups too often bring the violent ways of their former countries with them to Germany. The result has been a predictable backlash against immigration into Germany.
Closer to home, the American southern border continues to be a focus of an ongoing struggle to prevent criminal elements from overwhelming the U.S. immigration system. This problem is not new, but it is not getting better. In the whirl of negative publicity about families detained and separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, the frenzied U.S. press overlooked the fact that these same scenes had played out during President Obama’s administration. In fact, widely shown pictures of young children huddled in fenced-in holding areas turned out to be from the Obama era, not 2018. All of which simply shows that the immigration flood is not a partisan issue limited to the current administration. It’s been with us for a long time, and there are no signs it’s going away anytime soon.
So while we can all agree that keeping together young families with children who make it across the U.S. border is the most humane policy, it still leaves our border agencies with the nearly impossible task of screening out violent gang members who are slipping into our country with this human tide. Just this week we got another stark reminder right here in New York of how powerful and violent these gangs can be. A young boy was brazenly dragged from a bodega and stabbed to death by the “Trinitarios,” a particularly virulent Dominican gang that has been terrorizing the Bronx community.
The gang members who committed this heinous crime may have misidentified the victim as a member of a rival gang. Vicious gangs like the Salvadoran “MS-13” add to this volatile mix in New York. These gangs engage in pitched battles for control of their neighborhoods, and in the process kill and maim innocent bystanders caught up in the in-fighting.
All of this turmoil should propel some common-sense approaches to stemming violence caused by criminal elements who have invaded our border. But common sense seems to be in short supply these days in Washington. Bills that would have begun to address the immigration crisis were defeated in Congress this week by lopsided majorities. Why? Because fringe elements from both sides of the political aisle massed against any action.
Those on the left oppose any effort to shore up our border security. Some of the most radical would abolish U.S. border authorities and essentially create an open border with Mexico. Those on the right oppose any moves towards dealing even with immigrants who are here already. They oppose any “path to citizenship” for illegals and even resist measures to accommodate young immigrants who’ve lived here for years and are now are essentially assimilated into American society.
As long as this impasse continues, expect more very bad people to slip into the U.S. Expect more bloody gang killings. Expect more heart-rending scenes of separated families and children. Expect more of the same.
This column was originally published in the Long Island Herald Community Newspapers.
Former Senator D’Amato served a distinguished 18-year career in the U.S. Senate, where he chaired the Senate Banking Committee and was a member of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees. While in the Senate, Mr. D’Amato also Chaired of the U.S. Commission on Cooperation and Security in Europe (CSCE), and served on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former Senator is considered an expert in the legislative and political process, who maintains close relationships with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. He is regularly called upon for his advice and counsel, and is recognized for his incisive analysis of national and international political affairs. The former Senator will share insights gained from his years in Washington “with a clear-eyed view of the political forces that shape the world we live in today.” To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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