Argument: The US-Mexico border has not been an entry point for terrorists

Issue Report: US-Mexico Border Wall


  • Cato Institute 10/30/06 – “Any connection between the September 11 attacks and illegal immigration from Mexico is non-existent. None of the 19 hijackers entered the country illegally or as immigrants. They all arrived in the United States with valid temporary nonimmigrant tourist or student visas. None of them arrived via Mexico. None of them were Mexican. Sealing the Mexican border with a three-tiered, 2,000-mile replica of the Berlin Wall patrolled by a division of U.S. troops would not have kept a single one of those terrorists out of the United States…The Southwest border is not a frontline on the war on terrorism. First, Mexicans themselves are not a national security threat. No Mexican national to my knowledge has been connected with Al Qaeda or any other international terrorist network. Mexicans almost universally come here to work. Second, international terrorists have not viewed the Southwestern border as a preferred means of entry. The Canadian border is more attractive. It’s twice as long, with far fewer border patrol personnel per mile. Middle Eastern nationals tend to stand out more in Mexican society than in Canadian society or at a typical international airport. Recall that it was at a port of entry at the Washington state/British Columbia border in 1999 that U.S agents apprehended Ahmed Ressam, one of the so-called millennium bombers. Why would potential terrorists incur the risks of sneaking across our Southwest border when other doors are more attractive? A special investigation by the Associated Press last November found that not a single terrorist suspect had been arrested trying to enter the United States across the Mexican border since the September 11 terrorist attacks. As border patrol agent Matt Roggow told the AP, ‘The people who are coming across [the Mexican] border are people who can only pay $1,500 to a smuggler. A terrorist can pay $30,000 or $40,000 and go to the northern border where we don’t have the resources to stop them.’ While we were guarding the back door in 2001 to make sure no Mexican immigrants entered our country illegally, we were neglecting the far larger barn door of temporary non-immigrant visas through which all the September 11 hijackers entered.”