Effort to thwart terrorism must start at the U.S. border

border fence mexico immigrationNearly 15 years after the 9/11 attacks, we are still debating what to do to fight terrorism.

Following the attacks in Brussels, President Obama called for bringing the killers to justice, Donald Trump called for waterboarding captured terrorists, and Hillary Clinton called for increased surveillance and interception of communications.

Ted Cruz wants proactive policing in Muslim communities to uncover radicalism, Bernie Sanders wants the international community to come together, and John Kasich wants heads of state to assemble teams to examine vulnerabilities and close security gaps.

Cruz would try “carpet bombing” ISIS territory and Trump would use overwhelming military power against the Islamic State.

Trump also would control the borders more tightly, an idea derided by Clinton, who said America doesn’t “hide behind walls.”

We’ll see.

There are problems with every approach. Overwhelming military force leaves unanswered the question, “And then what?” Will we permanently station U.S. troops to hold the territory and protect the innocent population from the seething rage of rival factions? It’s an option some have supported in the past. Others have waited in line for six hours to rally for candidates who are against it.

The plan to bring terrorists to justice suffers from two major problems. Arresting a terrorist seems only to create a job opening in the organization. And U.S. courts are not friendly to secret intelligence sources or coerced confessions. It’s easy to sneer at “reading terrorists their Miranda rights,” but our justice system protects the rights of the accused, and if we weaken those protections, we all will be at greater risk of wrongful convictions.

Military tribunals are an option for captured foreign terrorists, but Obama wants to close the prison at Guantanamo, which may complicate the process.

Increased surveillance of communications and “pro-active policing” risk further violating the rights of innocent Americans. The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures and requires the government to get a search warrant. The Fourth Amendment survived the Civil War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War. Are we going to lose it in a war against terrorists?

It’s a great idea to have international cooperation and to close security gaps. We’ve been trying to do that for a lot longer than 15 years.

That leaves border control. There is room for improvement on that.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, recently held a hearing on the use of asylum claims to avoid deportation. It has long been U.S. policy to allow immigrants, particularly women and children from Central America, to stay in the United States if they assert that they have a credible fear of persecution at home.

In the past, many asylum seekers who entered the U.S. illegally were held in custody until their cases were heard in court, but in 2009 Obama changed that policy. Now anyone who says the magic words “credible fear of persecution” is released and given permission to work in the U.S.

Last year, hundreds of immigrants from Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, Iran and Syria who were caught entering the U.S. were able to stay in the country by saying those magic words.

“Dangerous criminals and potential terrorists are gaming the system without consequence,” DeSantis said. “These numbers illustrate vulnerabilities throughout our immigration system.”

We could probably tighten that up pretty quickly. But first we need a president who thinks it’s a problem.

Hispanics Should Favor Border Security to Protect the American Dream

Immigration ObamaLately, there has been a lot of hype about Donald Trump’s comments on illegal immigration. I’ve seen post after post on Facebook from Hispanics saying they’ll do everything in their power to make sure Trump isn’t elected president because of his tough stance on immigration. People who were otherwise uninterested in politics are suddenly becoming engaged.

While I don’t agree with everything Trump says and does, I have to agree with him on this one issue: America’s border with Mexico needs to be secured. Hispanics across the nation should agree with that concept, even if they don’t agree with his reasoning.

Whenever people – Hispanics in particular – talk about illegal immigration, most cite the American Dream as the reason illegal aliens cross the border.

“They want a better life for themselves.”

“They want their kids to have better opportunities.”

“They contribute to our nation.”

“They do the jobs no one else wants to do.”

Those are all common phrases that have been regurgitated beyond recognition. It’s the mantra we’ve been exposed to for generations. It’s as if we’re supposed to agree with this notion because it’s been repeated so many times. Maybe if we keep repeating it, we’ll eventually believe it, we tell ourselves.

Hispanics, however, should want the border to be secure. They should strive to protect America. You can’t achieve the American Dream without accepting all of America, including our laws.

What makes our nation so great is the number of opportunities we’re presented with. The reason we’re presented with these opportunities is because of America’s unique position in the world. We allow people to make their own decisions, about what’s best for them, often without judgment. As long as we’re not causing harm to someone else, we’re often left to our own devices. If we were a lawless nation, we wouldn’t be as prosperous as we are. Instead of working hard to get a leg up, citizens would steal and loot from businesses. There would be no incentive to have a job. If we were a lawless nation, we would be as corrupt as other countries. Americans would be afraid to walk down the street. They would fear for their safety.

Cubans who fled from the Castro regime are often thankful to call America home. Our nation shielded them from persecution by a horrific dictator.  We opened our arms – and our hearts – to those in need. We were a safe haven for those who were being harmed. We were able to provide that life to these refugees because our laws dictated our lifestyle and the society we’ve built.

Securing our borders ensures that we protect the society we’ve built. Having the right of passage into the United States – done through the legal channels – is the very first test of the American Dream. If you don’t come to America by applying for a visa or citizenship and you decide to cross the border illegally, you’ve automatically denied yourself the American Dream, the same American Dream you set after. By breaking America’s laws, you’re bringing the lawlessness of your homeland with you.

Beth Baumann is a public relations professional in Southern California and a contributor for PolitiChicks.