Post 9/11 Immigration enforcement: 10 years later

Categories: Immigration Lawyer Blog San Diego

Today America remembers that fateful day 10 years ago, when many fell victim to the largest terrorist attack on American soil. Since that date airport security has been enhanced,  providing an economic boom for the post-security bottled drink vendors in the airports.

Also the number of removal proceedings increased by 50% from 1.6 million to 2.3 million over the last decade compared with the period 1991 to 2001.  This also provided an economic boom for the private companies operating the immigration detention centers.

On the surface it would appear we must be safer, as the government took pro-active immigration measures to remove those that pose a threat. However, the numbers of removal proceedings for criminals, terrorists, and others posing national security threats actually declined. For example, there were 88 terrorism charges from 1991 to 2001 and then only 37 such cases in the last 10 years.

This seems misguided.

Another result of 9/11/2001 is the initiation of the NSEERS program which required individuals in the United States before September 10, 2001 from various  Middle Eastern countries to come forward, register, and be fingerprinted. The selection bias is obvious. Naturally, one can assume only the individuals without Al Qaeda or other terrorist ties came forward. The program did deport 13,153 people out of the 82,581 that came forward. The other part of NSEERS was registration, fingerprinting and interrogation of any nonimmigrant or immigrant from these countries seeking entrance to the United States. Many immigrant rights advocates criticized the program because of its inherent racial profiling.  NSEERS was terminated a few months ago on April 27th, 2011.

Are we safer? Who knows, but our government is certainly spending billions more to target noncriminal illegal immigrants.