America's policy on immigration and customs also took a hard turn to enforcement following the 9/11 attacks, says Utah State University history professor Kimberly Hernandez.
The federal Immigration and Naturalization Service was placed under the Department of Homeland Security umbrella and transformed into Immigration Customs Enforcement.
Despite the enforcement emphasis and renewed attention paid to international visitors who overstay work, travel and education visas, immigration reform remains a back burner concern, she said. The last serious attempt was a bipartisan effort on the part of political oddfellows Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass in 2006, said Hernandez.
"Right now, we cannot even have this conversation because things have changed so much in the political landscape, with the recession and (Mexican) drug wars," Hernandez said.
While controlling the borders is arguably one aspect of homeland security, many people targeted in enforcement activities "are a completely different group of people than those we became concerned with after 9/11," Hernandez said.
McCormack said border control measures may deter some from entering the United States but "you can evade detection if you're serious, committed and have the resources."
The federal government also deals with the issue of undocumented immigrants by conducting workplace raids or auditing employee records to determine whether workers are authorized to work in the United States.
"We have labor laws. Undocumented workers are not supposed be hired in the first place," Hernandez said.
However, because of workforce demands, the nation's unofficial policy with respect to hiring and retaining undocumented workers has largely been a wink-and-nod arrangement to ensure the hospitality and service industries, among others, have a labor force.
"What would it take, to actually take away the wink-and-nod, would be enforcing the law.
"It would take more government, which is unlikely, especially in this climate when people are calling for less government," she said.
McCormack said it is important to understand that acts of mass terror have occurred throughout man's history. In the book of Deuteronomy, Hebrew tribes are commanded by God that once they reach Canaan, they are to annihilate the peoples they find in cities reserved for them, he said. Later came human slaughter by Mogol hordes and Roman Catholic attacks on Muslims during the Crusades.
"Widespread attacks on civilians have always been around," McCormack said. "The question is, how do you respond to it?"
McCormack said the United States, post 9/11, squandered an opportunity to address terrorism through international cooperation.
"We blew it. The bottom line is, on Sept. 12, 2001, we had an opportunity to rebuild the way the world thinks about violence, threats and security. We went in the polar opposite direction most people wanted it to go. We tried to meet violence with violence and go it on our own and it's a shame."
• Wayne McCormack, professor of law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, will discuss U.S. foreign policy in a lecture titled, “9/11: a Decade Ago and a Decade to Be,” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at the Salt Lake Public Library, fourth floor conference room. The address, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Forum for Questioning Minds.
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