18 December 2005

Tancredo Wrong On Immigrant Terrorism

One of the major arguments conservatives have advanced for tougher immigration enforcement is that it will stop terrorism. Tom Tancredo released data he claimed supported that argument in a recent press release. But, he misstated the facts.

Federal terrorism investigators arrested 51 suspects who had entered the country illegally over a one-year period, a document released Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo shows.

Saying the data show the porousness of the nation's borders, Tancredo, R-Littleton, issued a press release titled: "51 Terrorism Suspects Crossed Border Illegally / Joint Terrorism Taskforces Report 51 Persons Arrested on Terrorism-Related Charges in Last Year."

In fact, none of the 51 people arrested from September 2004 through September 2005 were charged with terrorism offenses, according to officials from two divisions of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as the document released by Tancredo. Many were arrested on immigration violations.

The suspects were investigated by federal terrorism officials because they came from "countries of interest," such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, the FBI said.

"I'm unaware of any instances at this time of individuals that have been charged with terrorism-related offenses (among) individuals who have been smuggled across the border," said FBI spokesman Bill Carter.

The conservative argument about terrorists crossing into the U.S. over the Mexican border is a myth and nothing more.

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