Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

January 7, 2002


The terrible events of September 11th brought the issue of immigration reform squarely into the public spotlight. Most of the terrorist hijackers involved in the attacks were in the country illegally, having gained entrance using student visas that had later expired. The INS now admits that potentially tens of millions of aliens in the country are unaccounted for, many having simply disappeared after passing through customs. This in turn leads to fears that numerous terrorist cells may be operating within the U.S. and plotting future acts of terror. No amount of military might used abroad does us much good if the American people are not safe in their own communities.

Immigration policy must now be considered a matter of national security. America has the same sovereign right to defend itself against enemies when the enemy attacks us from within. Common sense tells us that we currently should not be admitting aliens from nations that sponsor or harbor terrorists, or from nations with whom we are at war. There were many fine German-Americans in the U.S. during World War II, but we certainly did not allow open immigration from Germany until hostilities had ceased and loyalties could be determined. While we generally should welcome people from around the world whenever possible, we cannot allow potential enemies or terrorists to enter the country now under any circumstances. Legislation I introduced in the fall would restrict immigration, including the granting of heavily abused student visas, by individuals from nations listed as terrorist threats by the State department.

We also must do a better job keeping track of the noncitizens who already have been admitted to America. Individuals who remain in the country after their visas have expired must be treated as lawbreakers. Remember, only U.S. citizens have the constitutional right to be on American soil; non-citizens are in the country at the discretion of the State department. We should not tolerate lawless behavior or anti-American activities from guests in our country.

It is far better to focus our efforts on immigration reform and ridding our country of suspected terrorists than to restrict the constitutional liberties of our own citizens. The fight against terrorism should be fought largely at our borders. Once potential terrorists are in the country, the task of finding and arresting them becomes much harder, and the calls for intrusive government monitoring of all of us become louder. If we do not want to move in the direction of a police state at home, we must prevent terrorists from entering the country in the first place.

Finally, meaningful immigration reform can only take place when we end the welfare state. No one has a right to immigrate to America and receive benefits paid for by taxpayers. When we eliminate welfare incentives, we insure that only those who truly seek America’s freedoms and opportunities will want to come here.