The world’s busiest city, New York City saw two terror attacks in one month period and both the times questions arose about immigration policies that are currently in operation which helped such individuals to enter the United States. Both the times it was observed that the suspected terrorist attackers were influenced by the ISIS.
The question that comes to the fore is that is really the immigration policy to blame for all that is happening?
Though it is a very practical question, many Americans are wondering whether tightening immigration controls can prevent ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups from carrying out attacks inside the United States.
The Trump administration has recently renewed calls for “extreme vetting” and changes to other immigration programs. The question is will these procedures and programs work?
The very first glance at both the terror attacks demonstrate that immigrants who migrated to the United States were responsible for such acts. However, it is also important to understand and verify the background of such immigrants. Most importantly it is crucial to recognize what factors are responsible to influence such immigrants to take such steps and actions.
It should be noted that the tragic incident of terrorist attack on 9/11 had already raised this question. The 19 hijackers who were a part of the attack, were all foreign born, radicalized overseas, and crept into the United States using (mainly) legal holes in the immigration system. The immigration controls and procedures have been extremely tight after this incident.
Today, the threat is completely different. Since March 2014, more than 170 individuals have carried out attacks in different parts of the United States in the name of ISIS or were prosecuted in US courts for ISIS-related offenses. Nearly two-thirds — 64 % — were born in the United States. Like Saipov, the other one third include immigrants living in the United States for years, some for decades. It should be noted that none of them are Syrian refugees.
It clearly suggests that ISIS or other such groups are not targeting the immigration system or taking advantage of it. Rather, their focus seems to be on engaging individuals who are already present in the United States. It has also been observed that such groups are using social media and internet as a medium to infiltrate videos and other propaganda directly up to such individuals.
The government definitely needs to tighten the procedures and conduct extreme vetting to avoid new individuals from entering in the U.S who could potentially bear threat for the people of United States. But the system also needs to develop an appropriate plan of action to control domestic terrorist attacks.
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