Mike Garcia | The Forgotten Message of 9/11: Secure the Border

Mike Garcia
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

In a perfect world there would be no war, no terrorism, and no need for national borders. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world – this week is a solemn reminder of that fact. This is also a time for introspection, and I can’t deny my conviction that Americans are more vulnerable now than in the years leading up to Sept. 11, 2001.

This year, for the sake of our national security, I pray that today can serve as a catalyst for the White House to act on the 9/11 Commission’s forgotten message: Secure America’s southern border.

My dad legally immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 9 years old. And as a first-generation American citizen, I’m a proud supporter of legal immigration. It increases the productive capacity of the economy, raises gross domestic product, and diversifies the workforce, all of which we need in the wake of the current administration’s spending spree.

This administration is not advocating for reform that takes advantage of legal immigration’s many benefits, though. It isn’t even advocating for an open-border policy. The White House has implemented what is effectively a no-border policy, encouraging illegal immigration (if you don’t believe me, take the president’s word for it). The national security implications of this reckless decision demand more attention, particularly surrounding the anniversary of this tragedy.

The 9/11 Commission’s mandate was clear: Investigate “facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including those relating to … immigration issues and border control.”

The 9/11 Commission Report’s findings were also clear, as well as deeply concerning. “We learned that the institutions charged with protecting our borders …did not understand how grave this threat could be, and did not adjust their policies, plans, or practices to deter or defeat it.” 

It stated that “for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons,” and found that “as many as 15 of the 19 hijackers were potentially vulnerable to interception by border authorities.” The report attributes this failure to “an immigration system not able to deliver on its basic commitments, much less support counterterrorism.”

Fast forward more than two decades, and our immigration system is still unable to deliver on those basic commitments. In fact, only the problem itself has changed – for the worse.

At the time of the 9/11 Commission Report’s release, roughly 500,000 people were illegally crossing the border every year. During President Joe Biden’s first year in office, that number was a record-high 1.7 million. There were also 98 terrorist suspects – that we know of – who illegally crossed the border in the last 12 months.

In 2001, the lack of security at our southern border played a role in allowing one of the greatest tragedies that’s ever occurred on American soil. The notably nonpartisan 9/11 Commission Report then proposed “staffing land border crossings 24/7 and equipping them with video cameras, physical barriers, and means to detect weapons of mass destruction,” as one potential solution.

But today, Democrats refuse to even consider any measure of enhanced border security. This year, House Republicans passed the Secure the Border Act. I proudly voted in favor of this comprehensive, seemingly noncontroversial plan to create a multi-layered physical barrier, increase the number of Border Patrol agents, provide effective border enforcement technology, and end the administration’s catch-and-release policy.

Unfortunately, this common-sense bill never even made it to the Democrat-controlled Senate floor. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to act.

Across our country this week, Americans came together in service and remembrance. We remember the nearly 3,000 beautiful lives taken from us on that September day. We remember the courage of those who put themselves in harm’s way to save complete strangers. And we remember the service of those Navy Seals who finally delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.

But we must also remember what led to the tragic events of that day, as well as what we learned in its wake. It’s clear that we can and must do more to enhance our homeland security. Now we just need some in Washington to remember it isn’t political to better ensure that security – it’s a means of better preserving our American way of life: Strong and free and proud.

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, represents the 27th Congressional District, which includes the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS