Home of the free, land of the terrorist

“America is still the land of opportunity,” Sen. John McCain recently said. “And we’re not going to erect barriers and fences.”

Unlucky us.

Along with Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy, the Arizona Republican co-sponsored immigration legislation currently stalled in the Senate. McCain should recognize that without a barrier or fence, the U.S./Mexican frontier will keep welcoming Islamic extremists pledged to America’s doom.

This is not hypothetical.

“Members of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization, have already entered the United States across our southwest border,” declares “A Line in the Sand,” a January report of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Investigations, then-chaired by Texas Republican Michael McCaul.

The study cites FBI Director Robert Mueller’s March 2005 congressional testimony confirming that “there are individuals from countries with known al Qaeda connections who are changing their Islamic surnames to Hispanic-sounding names and obtaining false Hispanic identities, learning to speak Spanish, and pretending to be Hispanic immigrants.”

Zapata County, Texas, Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez told House members last July: “If smugglers can bring in tons of marijuana and cocaine at one time and can smuggle 20 to 30 persons at one time, one can just imagine how easy it would be to bring in two or three terrorists or their weapons of mass destruction across the river and not be detected.”

In fiscal year 2005 alone, 3,308 aliens got caught sneaking into America from nations the State Department considers state-sponsors of terrorism: 3,262 Cubans, 25 Iranians, four North Koreans, four Sudanese and 13 Syrians. Assuming the Cubans all were pro-American anti-communists, 46 people remain from terror-supporting nations. A group that size could staff another Sept. 11 twice over, or populate seven more Lackawanna Six Islamic-fanatic conspiracies.

Others who were collared that year departed nations in which terrorists thrive, though without government assistance: three Saudis, seven Lebanese, seven Yemenis, 11 Algerians, 15 Afghans, 17 Egyptians, 22 Somalis, 25 Indonesians, 27 Jordanians and 101 Pakistanis. Let’s hope these 235 individuals tried to break into America to harvest broccoli.

Of course, these are folks the Border Patrol arrested.

“Federal law-enforcement entities estimate they apprehended approximately 10 to 30 percent of illegal aliens crossing the border,” that House report states. If true, aliens from terrorist-laden nations successfully penetrated America’s perimeter in numbers three to 10 times those above.

May those we have missed be unlike those we have caught:

— Mahmoud Youssef Kourani pleaded guilty in March 2005 to providing terrorists material support. After bribing a Mexican diplomat in Beirut for a visa, Kourani and another Middle Easterner’s Mexican guides shepherded them into America. Kourani settled in Dearborn, Michigan’s Lebanese-immigrant enclave, where he raised cash for Hezbollah.

— Federal agents arrested Neeran Zaia and Basima Sesi in September 2004 for smuggling more than 200 Middle Easterners — mainly Iraqis, Jordanians and Syrians — through Latin America into the United States. Zaia previously was convicted of alien-smuggling.

— Tijuana cafe owner Salim Boughader Mucharrafille was arrested in December 2002 for smuggling into America more than 200 Lebanese, including suspected Hezbollah associates.

— Beyond Islamic prayer mats among the cacti, Jim Hogg County, Texas, Border Patrol agents found a jacket with Arabic-language patches. One reads “martyr” and “way to immortality.” The other depicts a jet flying into a skyscraper.

Despite Congress’ September 2006 vote to fence off 700 miles of the southern border, the Senate now backs only a 370-mile partition. This is especially discouraging, since that frontier’s condition is, officially, dismal:

“DHS does not as yet have a wholly satisfactory methodology of determining whether a portion of the border is considered under control from a system-wide, defense-in-depth, and continuously enforceable perspective,” laments a May 1 Homeland Security congressional update. “In the end, gaining control of the border requires gaining control of the entire border, so that as illegal immigration is stopped at one location along the border, it can find no alternate crossing point.”

In the end, Congress quickly must stitch the gaping wound across America’s underbelly. While the U.S./Canadian boundary is worrisome, 1/24 as many illegals traverse it, versus its southern counterpart. While most illegals come here to work, which presents its own challenges, others endure extreme heat and dodge Gila monsters to come here and kill us.

It remains Washington’s solemn duty to stop them.

(New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.murdock(at)gmail.com.)

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