Last updated on: 6/2/2016 | Author:

Does Illegal Immigration Pose a Terrorist Threat to the United States?

PRO (yes)


James A. Lyons, Retired Admiral, Former Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, and Senior US Military Representative to the United Nations, in an Aug. 14, 2013 article, “LYONS: The National Security Component of Immigration Reform,” available at the Washington Times website, stated:

“It is an acknowledged fact that since we have refused to secure our borders, we have facilitated the transit and infiltration of al Qaeda affiliated terrorists and narco-terrorists who are now living illegally in the United States. This is a serious national security issue, as manifested by the Boston Marathon bombing…

Fixing our porous borders is one of combating the threat of terrorism that America faces. Any immigration bill must have enforceable border-security measures as a key national security element in protecting our country.”

Aug. 14, 2013


The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), in its website section (accessed Sep. 12, 2007) entitled “Terrorism & National Security,” offered the following:

“Knowledgeable Americans have come to understand that our welcoming immigration policies are easily exploited by terrorists and that porous borders and lax immigration enforcement are no longer an option. With at least 8 million illegal aliens living in the United States and nearly one million new aliens arriving each year, the potential for terrorists entering the United States undetected is high.”

Sep. 12, 2007


C. Stewart Verdery, Jr., JD, Former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, in a June 19, 2006 testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, titled “Immigration Enforcement at the Workplace: Learning from the Mistakes of 1986,” stated:

“Most such migrants [illegal aliens] are gainfully employed here, pay taxes, and many have started families and developed roots in our society… But others seeking to cross our borders illegally do present a threat – including potential terrorists and criminals. The current flow of illegal immigrants and people overstaying their visas has made it extremely difficult for our border and interior enforcement agencies to be able to focus on the terrorists, organized criminals, and violent felons who use the cloak of anonymity that the current chaotic situation offers.”

June 19, 2006


Phyllis Schlafly, JD, conservative political activist and author, in an Oct. 2001 The Phyllis Schlafly Report article entitled “The Threat of Terrorism Is from Illegal Aliens,” wrote:

“The terrorists are foreigners, most or all of whom should not have been allowed to live in our country… It should be repeated over and over again: The terrorism threat is from illegal aliens who are allowed to live in our midst — and this is a failure of our immigration laws and our immigration officials… The policy of opening our borders to anyone who wants to sneak into our country illegally — or to remain illegally after entering legally — must be exposed and terminated. This is the most important security precaution our government must take.”

Oct. 2001


The Constitution Party National Veterans Coalition , in a Jan. 24, 2007 article entitled “Constitution Party National Veterans Coalition – ‘Six Key National Issues,'” presented the following:

“On September 11, 2001 approximately 3,000 of our fellow citizens were killed, in part, because our borders had not been secured and our immigration laws were not enforced. We remain as susceptible today to terrorist attack as we were on that day… How many more… acts of terrorism resulting in mass destruction as experienced on 9/11 need to occur before our government takes the appropriate action to secure our borders?…

We must defend our shores and our people against an enemy, whose pursuit of their goals is achieved by use of suicide bombers, including women, boys and girls… How many of these illegal aliens are terrorists? Are we willing to wait until terrorists cause more death and destruction before we take the necessary action to protect our nation and secure our borders?”

Jan. 24, 2007


Dan Stein, JD, President of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), in a May, 18, 2007 FAIR article entitled “Case Closed: Illegal Immigration Is a Threat to Homeland Security,” argued:

“Today we found out once again that our failure to control illegal immigration and our inability to manage the current caseload of people applying for immigration benefits poses a lethal risk to the nation… terrorists can and will take advantage of the same unenforced immigration policies that have flooded this country with illegal immigrants – we now have irrefutable proof that the terrorists understand where we are vulnerable. We can be certain that there are many more terrorists who entered the country illegally or overstayed visas.”

May 18, 2007

CON (no)


Open Borders, in the article, “Terrorism and Illegal Immigration in the United States” (accessed Mar. 14, 2016), available on the Open Borders website, stated:

“Some restrictionists have made arguments that relate the problems of terrorism (such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001) with illegal immigration in the United States. There are some legitimate concerns about terrorism and immigration (as well as tourist visas) on the whole. But illegal immigration along the southern US border is not a contributor to terrorism…

  • Empirically, the case is simply false. Foreigners who’ve carried out terrorist attacks have entered the United States legally on immigrant, non-immigrant work/study, or tourist visas. While some of them may have been ‘illegal’ in the sense of overstaying their visas, this is a qualitatively different problem than border crossing.
  • Getting a tourist visa remains considerably easier than getting an immigrant or work/study visa…
  • In recent history, most terrorism in the United States has been motivated by certain Islamist ideologies. Most illegal immigrants who cross the border to the United States come from Mexico and Latin America, where Catholicism is the main religion. Radical Islam has, if anything, less of a stronghold in these countries than in the United States.”
Mar. 14, 2016


The American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF), in an immigration law-reform brochure (accessed Sep. 12, 2007) entitled “Immigrants Aren’t Undermining Our Nation’s Security. Flawed Immigration Laws Are,” expressed the following:

“Illegal immigrants are not terrorists. They want to come legally to do the jobs Americans don’t want, but our broken immigration system doesn’t allow that to happen. If there were legal channels for these migrants to use, the government could concentrate on identifying the real terrorists. Instead, the government is wasting money and manpower trying to keep out the immigrant workers the U.S. economy needs. That makes the job of finding a terrorist like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Sep. 12, 2007


Paul F. deLespinasse, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Adrian College in Michigan, in a May 15, 2003 article titled “Illegal Aliens and the War On Terrorism,” available at the Common Dreams website, wrote:

“Since September 11, 2001, the usual (and fallacious) arguments against free immigration—that it causes unemployment, burdens taxpayers, and undermines American culture—have been augmented by fears that terrorists will come into the U.S. illegally. But the scoundrels who took out the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and four planeloads of travelers came into the U.S. legally.

And having a good mix of people born in all parts of the world, of all religious faiths and cultures, living in the United States can be an excellent defense against terrorist attacks. In a diverse, multicultural U.S., such attacks are bound to kill many people with whom the terrorists feel an affinity.”

May 15, 2003


Katharine Daniels, MA, Founder and Executive Editor of The Women’s International Perspective, in a May 31, 2006 Daily Kos website article titled “On Being Biased and Opinionated, the Immigration Debate, and George Lakoff’s Frames,” argued:

“Undocumented immigrants are not terrorists and shouldn’t be equated with them. They clean our houses, weed our gardens, grow and harvest our fruits and vegetables, and cook the food we eat in restaurants. They are essential members of our economy and the elemental role they play is completely unrecognized in the national debate on immigration.”

May 31, 2006


The Punisher, Blogger for The Obfuscation Report internet blog, in an Aug. 23, 2007 post titled “I’m Sick of Hearing About Immigration and Security,” retrieved from “The Obfuscation Report,” wrote:

“In fact ‘illegal aliens’ are not terrorists. None of them. The 9/11 Hijackers all had entered the United States LEGALLY. All of them. At the time of the attacks only three of the 19 had actually even fallen out of legal status. Most of them entered as tourists 4 or 5 months before the attack. The truth is that ‘terrorism’ is just as likely to be committed by a former member of the U.S. Military than it is by a ‘foreigner’ (see Oklahoma City, D.C. Sniper, Atlanta Olympics etc. etc.) If a person is determined to come to the U.S. and blow [expletive] up, they will find a way to do it. The current system is just racial profiling.”

Aug. 23, 2007


Helena S. Marques, Executive Director of the Immigrants Assistance Center in New Bedford Massachusetts, in a Apr. 11, 2006 Standard-Times article entitled “Hundreds March on City – New Bedford Joins Nation,” stated:

“Eleven million people are not just going home. Undocumented immigrants are not terrorists. We should focus our attention on terrorists, not immigrants… We need to keep pushing to make sure that something gets done.”

Apr. 11, 2006