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Leaving the back door open

"Leaving the back door open" Continued...

Issue: "Passing the Olympic torch," Sept. 4, 2004

Indeed, with 36,500 officers, NYPD comprises the 10th-largest armed force on the planet. But their task is made more difficult by a porous U.S. border that may be letting some terrorists gain entry to the country. The estimated number of illegal aliens, hailing from known terrorist states such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, who have slipped across America's northern and southern borders during the past two years is actually comparable to the number of New York cops.

From October 2002 to June 2003, and again from October 2003 to June 2004, border-enforcement agents tracked the number of illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico apprehended along U.S. borders. The total: 74,761. Of those, about 9,755 were from countries suspected of incubating terrorism. According to a longstanding rule of thumb among immigration officials, for every alien caught trying to sneak into the United States, two or three others succeed. That means nearly 30,000 illegal aliens from countries suspected of harboring terrorists may have breached U.S. borders since 2002.

"I hope the irony isn't lost on the powers that be when they get a look at the security protecting New York City versus the lack of security protecting our borders," said Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.

At least some of those making it through are terror suspects, even high-profile ones. On July 19, U.S. officers arrested Farida Goolam Mohamed Ahmed, a woman with close ties to al-Qaeda, at McAllen International Airport in Texas. She confessed to having flown from London to Mexico and having entered the United States by crossing the Rio Grande. Officials caught Ms. Ahmed because she was on a watch list and had entered the United States as many as 250 times before.

While the nation watches President Bush and the GOP make their case from New York, law-enforcement and intelligence agencies will be working overtime to prevent Ms. Ahmed's friends from doing violence in the city. But no amount of internal domestic security, Mr. Tancredo warned, "is going to keep us safe if America continues to leave its borders unattended, and its doors wide open."

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