20 Years After 9/11, Have We Learned Anything?


September 10, 2021

By Dale Wilcox

With the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks here, and the war in Afghanistan concluded, it’s worth revisiting how the U.S. government responded after that horrific day.

The September 11 attacks changed American life forever, led to two wars overseas, and gave the U.S. government unprecedented surveillance powers. However, little has been done to address the root cause of that tragic day: our broken immigration system. All 19 of the September 11 hijackers were from Middle Eastern countries governed, or heavily influenced, by sharia law.  At least five of the hijackers were living in the U.S. on expired visas. Yet, 20 years after one of the worst days in American history, the U.S. government has still done virtually nothing to remedy the main cause of that tragedy.

Of course, the U.S. government has taken many steps to prevent another 9/11 from happening, including the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. However, despite strong recommendations from the 9/11 commission, our government has failed to implement any changes to the U.S. visa program. It still remains very easy for foreign nationals to obtain a student or work visa, and then overstay their visa for months on end, just as several of the September 11 hijackers did. In fact, over the past 20 years, America’s national security at the border has become even more perilous. Despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, the U.S. is on track to see a record number of border crossings in 2021. America’s border is wide open, and terrorist organizations have and will exploit that.

In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that Hezbollah, an Iranian-financed terrorist group, was active in Central America, dangerously close to our southern border. More recently, a senior official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection told the Washington Examiner that the Biden administration was not taking seriously the threat of ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists coming to the U.S. through the southern border.

“I believe CBP and the Border Patrol are both taking it very seriously, but I can’t say the same as far as the administration,” the official said. “If I was a bad person that wanted to do harm to the U.S., I know now is the time to illegally enter the border. You have sectors and stations that cannot fully man their areas of operation and people are getting through.”

The anonymous border patrol official is right. These terrorist groups are well aware that our border is wide open and that the Biden administration has no plans to change that. Thus, the next 9/11 is just as likely to come through the southern border as it is from our broken visa system. Much like the COVID pandemic, the September 11 attacks led to increased, indefinite restrictions of the movement of American citizens, but applied no such restrictions to migrants and other foreign nationals.

There is no doubt that some of the measures enacted by the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies tasked with protecting our national security have been effective in preventing a repeat of 9/11, but virtually nothing has been done to combat the root cause of that horrible day, our broken immigration system. Nor did what happened on September 11 lead America’s ruling class to revisit their rigid, globalist philosophy. In fact, they have only doubled down over the past two decades.

The stark reality is that Islamic terrorism remains prevalent across the Middle East. The only way to protect our nation’s national security from the threat is to restrict immigration from that part of the world. Unfortunately, any immigration restrictions are anathema to permanent Washington and the current administration.

Twenty years after the September 11 attacks, our leaders remain derelict in their duty to protect our borders, and secure our homeland. I pray this negligence doesn’t lead to a repeat of one of the worst days in American history.

Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

Also published at: Dale Wilcox, 20 Years After 9/11, Have We Learned Anything?Townhall, September 10, 2021.

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