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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

OPINION:

Reckless disregard for homeland security is not just an issue at the border, where Biden administration policies have triggered a resurgence of illegal entries, compounded by the wholesale release of unvetted migrants into the United States. The ongoing border crisis makes for compelling video footage. Still, it is only one facet of the administration’s deliberate sabotage of systems designed to keep Americans safe from attacks in their own country.

This month’s attack on Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, reminded the American public that the threat of global terrorism remains a clear and present danger. Moreover, the fact that the hostage crisis ended with only one fatality — the terrorist, Malik Faisal Akram — had more to do with the security training and quick thinking of Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker than the actions of the law enforcement agencies called to the scene.


Many questions remain to be answered about how Akram managed to legally enter the United States, but all of them seem to point to intelligence and immigration enforcement failures on the part of multiple federal agencies. More disturbingly, the circumstances that led to Akram being in Colleyville on Jan. 15 appear to be the inevitable result of Biden administration policies that prioritize the admission of people with dubious claims to enter the United States over all other considerations.

Reports indicate that Akram, traveling on a British passport, entered the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, which allows quick and easy entry unless there are things in an individual’s record that disqualify them from participation. In Akram’s case, there were plenty of red flags that should easily have been detected before he boarded the plane to New York.

Akram had a lengthy criminal record in England, dating back to 1996. He was a frequent traveler to Pakistan, a hotbed of Islamist terrorism, and was a reputed member of Tablighi Jamaat, a radical group that has been banned in numerous countries. As recently as 2020, Mr. Akram had been listed as a “subject of interest” by Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5. Any of these black marks on his record should have been sufficient for him to be denied a tourist visa by a consular officer or turned away by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official when he arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in late December.

None of those things happened — and it is probably not because a State Department official in the U.K. or a CBP officer in New York failed to notice these numerous red flags. A more likely scenario is that these government employees were (perhaps reluctantly) following departmental policies that directed them to overlook warning signs and grant admission. During the Obama administration, when current Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ran U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, he imposed a “get to yes” policy, demanding that agency personnel ignore evidence of fraud and approve visa applications.

Notwithstanding compelling evidence that Akram was exactly the sort of foreign national who should have been barred from entering the United States, White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted that “He was checked by U.S. databases multiple times prior before entering the country,” adding that the “U.S. government didn’t have any derogatory information about the individual at the time of entry.”

In the coming weeks and months, we will likely learn more about how Akram managed to breach numerous security protocols and gain entry to the United States. But beyond the details of this individual case, we cannot ignore the open-borders culture that permeates every department in the federal government tasked with ensuring that inadmissible, even dangerous, foreign nationals are kept out.

From the border, where criminal cartels bring in hundreds of thousands of people each month, about whom we know little or nothing; to U.S. embassies and consulates around the world where visas are issued; to the wholesale resettlement of people who managed to force their way onto flights out of Kabul, the calculated policies of the Biden administration endanger the security of the country and the lives of American citizens engaged in activities as mundane as attending Sabbath services.

By the grace of God, no innocent people paid the ultimate price for the Biden administration’s unilateral surrender of our homeland security defenses. The president and his administration need to take Colleyville as a warning because next time, we might not be so lucky.

• Ira Mehlman is media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform in Washington.


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