In the wake of last week’s shooting at two separate military facilities in Chattanooga that claimed the lives of four Marines and one Navy sailor, GOP presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have called for greater scrutiny on people entering America from Muslim countries.
During an interview with Breitbart News last week following a campaign rally in Houston, Paul stated, “I’m for increasing scrutiny on people who come on student visas from the 25 countries that have significant jihadism. Also, any kind of permanent visas or green cards, we need to be very careful. I don’t think we’re being careful enough with who we let in.”
Paul went on to say that he would see if Congress would reinstate NSEERS (National Security Entry Exit Registration System), which was in place during the Bush administration. It required males over the age of 16 from designated Muslim countries either entering or residing in the United States to be subject to being photographed, fingerprinted, and interrogated by the INS.
For his part, Cruz said, “Congress can pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act that would allow our government to stop Americans who travel overseas to train with terrorist groups from coming back to attack us at home. We can thoroughly overhaul our broken immigration system that is allowing this type of individual to gain citizenship.”
Although Paul may be right to say that NSEERS or some version of it needs to be reinstated, and although Cruz was correct to say that the Chattanooga attack was not an isolated incident, their proposals would not have prevented what happened in Chattanooga nor will it stop future terrorist attacks in this country.
To start with, Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez would not have been subject to the NSEERS program as he came to the United States when he was six years old. While it is unclear if Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait or Jordan, nationals from those two countries were required to register with NSEERS by April 2003. Abdulazeez would not have been required to register as he was 12-years old at the time and had become a citizen once his parents had been naturalized that same year.
When Cruz argues that Chattanooga is not an isolated incident, he is absolutely right. But Cruz cites both the Fort Hood and Little Rock attacks. The perpetrators of both attacks were born in this country. While Abdulazeez wasn’t born in America, he spent the vast majority of his life here. So even if Cruz and Paul get their way, it won’t stop natural-born Americans from committing such heinous acts much less those who came to this country from Muslim countries legally and have been here for the long term. It will take a lot more than restricting immigration from Muslim countries to stop Islamic jihadism and the violence that eminates from it. This is because it is an ideology that knows no borders.