According to BBC News, more than 350,000 immigrants entered Western Europe between January and August. That rate doubles the amount from the prior year. Pressured by terrorism and civil war, and enticed by the relative safety and government entitlements, most are coming from the Middle East and Africa.
But they are not all headed to Western Europe. State Department records reveal approximately 280,000 immigrants came into the United States from the Middle East and Africa in 2013 alone, most of them single males. Are all of them innocent, victimized people looking for a better life, or could some be affiliated with terrorist organizations looking to generate chaos on American soil?
Hopefully, it is mostly the former. But the rational mind must acknowledge the possibility that some of our new neighbors could be here for nefarious purposes. And in the wake of the tragic terror attacks in Paris, there is no logical reason to assume Idaho is immune from a terrorist attack.
The federal government has basically abandoned this issue by refusing to enforce current law and is thus unwilling and unable to protect American citizens. The solutions are plentiful, but the obstacles are political. In general, liberals favor open immigration because it builds their political base. Conservatives oppose open immigration but lack the courage and organization to do anything about it.
Local leaders need to step up. It is our responsibility to take prudent, precautionary steps to protect our own. There is no single answer, but here are some ideas to consider locally:
▪ Enforcement. Arizona had it right. Arizonans took it upon themselves to enforce laws the federal government refused to, and they got somewhat legally rebuffed for doing so. But that doesn’t mean they were wrong. Idaho should consider doing the same. If the feds don’t like it they can try to intervene, but that will be harder now given the proliferation of terrorism around the world. And the federal government will have to explain why it refuses to follow its own laws.
▪ Local validation of background checks. We have the right to know who our neighbors are and who we are paying for. Checking someone’s background is by no means foolproof, but should it be determined that a person is affiliated with known terrorist groups, they are not welcome.
▪ Encourage law-abiding citizens to be armed. Thanks to some of the most strict gun control laws in the world, the attackers in Paris were confident their victims would not be armed. They were right, and as of this writing the death count is 129, others wounded, 352. If only one of the victims would have been armed, there could have been a much different outcome.
▪ Entitlement reform. Immigrants are encouraged to come because, in part, they get free stuff. Americans and Idahoans are a compassionate people, but let’s not forget that true compassion results when those in need are able to help themselves. Every entitlement policy needs to meet the test of whether it is empowering the recipient(s). Policies should focus on incentivizing productivity from people who come into our country.
▪ English language. One difference between historical immigrants versus those today is that, in general, people used to come to America to become Americans. They strove to plug into American culture, which included learning the language. Today there are some who come to America wishing to replace local culture with their own. We can encourage the preservation of “Americanism” by encouraging residents to speak the language. As a result, taxpayer-funded documents should be in only in the English language.
▪ Education. This is similar to the previous argument for the English language. There are areas where special curriculum has been offered in public schools to promote cultures other than our own. Recognition of historical and current civilizations is one thing, but the focus of local public education should not change simply to reflect foreign preference.
▪ Foreign aid. Let’s tell our national congressional delegation that if they support sending American taxpayer dollars to countries that embrace public policy with the stated purpose of destroying America, then they will not be elected.
Put another way: Good people are welcome. Terrorists are not.
Russ Fulcher, of Meridian, is a former Idaho state senator.