We at CFIF have repeatedly highlighted America's desperate need for more skilled science, technology…
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America Desperately Needs More Skilled STEM Workers, and We Should Steal Them from Russia

We at CFIF have repeatedly highlighted America's desperate need for more skilled science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers.  In an increasingly information-based global economy, legal immigration by people with advanced degrees and valuable expertise to the United States must be encouraged, as even President Donald Trump advocated.

In that vein, we've also highlighted how desirable a destination the U.S. is to STEM talent, and how many openly seek to come to our shores, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which was named the top defense and national security think tank in the world.  "Only about 10 percent of international scientists and engineers seemed open to moving to China," CSIS found, "compared to nearly 60 percent for the…[more]

May 25, 2022 • 07:38 PM

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Boston Terrorism: An Immigration Wake-Up Call Print
By Troy Senik
Monday, April 22 2013
Protecting national security means that immigration reform will have to be a matter of intelligence, not just enforcement.

Of all the people to feel sorry for in the wake of last week’s terrorist attack in Boston, members of the United States Senate surely don’t even merit inclusion towards the bottom of the list.

The carnage that played out in one of America’s great cities was the sort of achingly poignant tragedy that makes talk of pedestrian politics seem simultaneously small and crass. No one was shedding any tears for camera-hungry Congressmen who lost airtime to the most dramatic act of terrorism within the nation’s borders since 9/11.

Now that the week of trauma is behind us, however – with one perpetrator dead and the other in custody – it’s becoming clear that the Bay State bombing has added some weight to the boulder of immigration reform that certain members of Congress are attempting to push uphill.

Last week the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” in the Senate – the public faces of a comprehensive reform proposal – had to delay the release of their bill in the wake of the Boston attack. This week, they may have to begin rethinking the enforcement aspect of it entirely.

The cause for this reconsideration is the identity of the two Boston attackers, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev. After the murderous duo’s identities became public late in the week, it didn’t take long for the media to discover that they were the children of Chechen refugees granted asylum by the United States. In a grim irony, the younger brother, Dzhokar, had been naturalized as a U.S. citizen on September 11, 2012 – the day of the terrorist assault on Benghazi and the eleventh anniversary of the devastating Al Qaeda attacks against New York and Washington.

This is where things get sticky for the would-be reformers. The “Gang of Eight” has made much louder noises than their forebears about knowing exactly who’s in the country. They pledge to build stronger border fencing where necessary, get 90 percent control of the southern border with Mexico and implement a “check in, check out” system to monitor foreigners who’ve overstayed legally issued visas.

Not that these pledges are exactly ironclad. As Ben Domenech noted in his daily news digest, The Transom, “When it comes to securing the border: The bill attempts to define “High Risk Sectors,” those portions of the border where apprehensions of illegals are above 30k annually. (This is rife for abuse – a local jurisdiction could qualify as high risk simply by stepping up enforcement and local infrastructure.) It sets a mark of 90% effectiveness for those sectors before further reforms happen, based on the number of illegals apprehended vs. the number crossing, gliding right past the fact that this number is impossible to know and therefore will be thoroughly manipulated by the bureaucrats tasked with finding it.”

The “check in, check out” system is equally problematic. As the Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian noted in a recent piece for U.S. News, “Congress required the development of such an entry-exit system 17 years ago. In fact, the demand to complete the system has been reiterated by Congress a total of six times since the original requirement in 1996. Is the seventh time supposed to be the charm?” Not exactly a small concern when you realize that approximately 40 percent of the nation’s illegal immigrants are here not via unlawful border crossings but through expired visas.

Now, implausibility is the not the same thing as impossibility. If the federal government really could get a handle on traffic in and out of the country – if the Southwest border really could get 90% under control and the visa system could reliably be monitored – the country would no doubt be the better for it. More power to the reformers on that front.

Still, these trends underscore how precious little we know about who is in the United States and for what reasons. The case of the Tsarnaev brothers – both of whom were in the county legally – only furthers the case. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers, had been interview by the FBI in 2011 on the basis of his possible ties to terrorism. The Department of Homeland Security subsequently turned down his citizenship application as a result. Yet despite that fact, he was allowed to stay in the country – and even to reenter after recently disappearing to Russia for six months.

Protecting national security means that immigration reform will have to be a matter of intelligence, not just enforcement. It’s inadequate to deal in terms of broad categories instead of individual biographies (how many terrorists – who are disproportionately disposed toward the engineering profession – would be nominally eligible for high-skilled visas, for example?). In an age where some of our most lethal enemies don’t wear uniforms, it’s essential to know the identity of each and every individual seeking entry to the United States.

Compassion in our immigration system is a noble ideal – but unless it’s tempered with caution and circumspection, it will continue to leave the nation vulnerable to harm. Apart from any other concerns about economics, culture, or human rights, immigration reform has to concern itself first and foremost with our national security interests. Any plan that falls short on that front will deserve defeat.

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