The fusing of immigration policy to the U.S. war on terrorism–and the resultant tightening of access to the country by foreign students, professionals, and immigrants from areas regarded as most likely to contain potential terrorists–generated a major debate over the goals of immigrant policy, and led to substantial changes in the day-to-day operation of U.S. policies toward the nationals of other countries.
The immigration policy of the United States was already in the process of being revised in 2001, when Middle Eastern operatives of the Muslim extremist organization al-Qaeda hijacked four American jet airliners for use as flying bombs against targets in New York City and Washington, D.C., on September 11 of that year. Prior to that moment, however, the main issue driving the national immigration debate had been primarily economic–the charge that the influx of
Dust clouds enveloping Lower Manhattan after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.
The significance of that change in policy direction was quickly dramatized when the
The most widely criticized of the government’s post-9/11 actions were proposals–later abandoned–to criminalize entering the United States illegally. Nearly as controversial, however, were administrative reforms mandating special registration of certain categories of immigrants. For example,
A collateral consequence of the 9/11 attacks was that they focused new attention on the large numbers of
To prevent future terrorist attacks on the United States, new and often highly controversial policies were implemented to identify and respond to the growing number of illegal immigrants already inside the country. The
Meanwhile, raids were launched on the sites of companies suspected of employing
To heighten national security, Congress passed the
Alden, Edward H. The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11. New York: Harper, 2008. Thoughtful assessment of post-9/11 immigration policy based on interviews with Bush administration officials and persons adversely affected by those policies. Farnam, Julie. U.S. Immigration Laws Under the Threat of Terrorism. New York: Algora, 2005. Thorough treatment of the subject that examines the post-9/11 restrictions on immigration in the context of the restrictive immigration and asylum laws that resulted from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Kettl, Donald F. System Under Stress: Homeland Security and American Politics. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2004. Excellent introductory reading for those seeking to place post-9/11 changes in immigration policy into the broader context of U.S. counterterrorism policy. McEntire, David A. Introduction to Homeland Security: Understanding Terrorism with an Emergency Management Perspective. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. Covers the same ground as Kettl’s work but in a more extensive manner. U.S. Senate. War on Terrorism: Immigration Enforcement Since September 11, 2001: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2003. For researchers with access to public documents, an outstanding source for testimonial arguments for and against the tightening of U.S. borders after 9/11.
Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001
History of immigration after 1891
Homeland Security, Department of
Patriot Act of 2001
Supreme Court, U.S.