The Tennessean reports that the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform ("FAIR") will host a regional summit at the Gaylord Opryland hotel this weekend. It appears from the summary of speakers on the event's web site that the theme will be immigration as a security threat. Security is one of many issues that FAIR raises to oppose what it calls "mass immigration."
Experts reject a broad anti-immigration approach toward national security. The 9/11 Commission made numerous recommendations regarding border screening but did not identify immigration in general as a threat or recommend a reduction of the number of people entering the country. Vincent Cannistraro, former director of Counterterrorism Operations and Analysis at the Central Intelligence Agency, said that the Department of Homeland Security's "Special Registration" requirements aimed at mostly Muslim men “alienated a lot of these communities, caused a great deal of fear and reinforced the tendency of immigrant communities to huddle together and not trust authorities, which works against intelligence gathering by law enforcement, particularly the FBI. ... There may very well be another clandestine al-Qaeda cell in North America, but none of these methodologies has contributed to identifying them." Special Registration has since been discontinued.
Border security solutions must focus on screening out terrorists specifically and must be implemented carefully to avoid wasting scarce resources. Experts report that hastily implemented radiation screeners at cargo ports and biohazard air monitors in major U.S. cities have cost the country billions but have been ineffective in measuring potential threats.
"'[Installation of air monitoring devices] was an expedient attempt to solve a problem,' said Philip J. Wyatt, a physicist and expert on biological weapons monitoring equipment. 'What they got is ineffective, wasteful and expensive to maintain.'"
"Counting machinery and personnel, aviation screening has cost more than $15 billion since 2001, a price that Representative John L. Mica, Republican of Florida, says has hardly been worthwhile."
"'Congress is the one that mandated this,' Mr. Mica said. 'But we should have done more research and development on the technology and put this in gradually.'"
Even beyond effective screening and technology, the best anti-terrorist measures are good strategy and diligent investigative work, according to James Jay Carafano, senior fellow for homeland security at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "'It's always easier for terrorists to change tactics than it is for us to throw up defenses to counter them. The best strategy to deal with terrorists is to find them and get them.'"
Marsha Blackburn, Republican congresswoman whose district stretches from Germantown in the Memphis area to Brentwood in the Nashville area, and talk show host Phil Valentine will be in attendance at the FAIR event, which is "scheduled 8 a.m.-5 p.m. tomorrow at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. The event is open to the public and costs $50. To RSVP, call Susan Tully at 608-606-0631."