ISIS and an Open Border: A Perfect Storm

As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) marches through Iraq, leaving slaughter and mass graves in its wake, the obvious concern is the eventual creation of a terrorist state in the Middle East. Far across the world on the U.S. southern border, children from Central America are streaming north, at the tacit invitation of our president. Are these unrelated examples of a feckless foreign policy emanating from the White House? Or are these two disparate events are actually related and dangerous to America’s security?

Reported in the British media, it’s not only children crossing our border, but also gang members, including members of MS-13, one of the world’s most violent and dangerous gangs. Why aren’t we hearing more about this? Seems the White House doesn’t want this in the news. “Border Patrol agents are being told not to talk to reporters,” according to the Daily Mail, with the threat of criminal charges against talkative agents. Vice-President Joe Biden however is happy to talk and is pleased with our porous border, calling, “For a constant, unrelenting stream of new immigrants.”

So how does ISIS play into this? When the current leader of ISIS was released from a U.S. detention camp in Iraq in 2009, his parting words to his captors were, “See you in New York.” Were his words a joke, as the Daily Beast reports? Or a reference to a 9-11 sequel? A clue might lie in Iran’s celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution where “Death to America” was one of the more popular rally slogans.

Now back to our porous southern border. If gang members can easily cross into the U.S., would it be any more difficult for members of the Death-to-America crowd to also traipse across? The LA Times reports more than 35,000 illegal immigrants arriving in the U.S. each month. If only one out of a hundred of these new arrivals are members if ISIS, Al Qaeda, or another similarly predisposed group, that’s 350 very bad guys each month ready to set up shop here and bring Death-to-America to city near you.

Not to mention recruiting disaffected U.S. residents to join their cause. A former Gitmo detainee was recently arrested in Spain, caught recruiting for ISIS. How hard would it be to hold a similar membership drive in Mexico or Central America, with the new jihadists joining the flood of 35,000immigrants per month across our border?

This is hardly a new idea. In 2006, a congressional report described 1.2 million illegal aliens apprehended in 2005, 165,000 from countries other than Mexico, and 650 from “special interest countries.” By 2010, the problem was no better. Senator John Cornyn noted 663 individuals arrested crossing the southern border that year from countries known to have ties with terrorism. These include Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, and Syria.

How many were not arrested? That’s unanswerable. But with 35,000 crossing each month, you can bet it’s a significant number. Once safely in the U.S., how hard is it then to bring jihad to America? A shooter in a crowded mall. A homemade bomb at a subway station. Sabotage of power station or reservoir.

Which is why our wide-open borders are an invitation for big trouble. Illegal immigrants receiving free health care and education is the least of it. The bigger question is who is crossing into the U.S. and what are their intentions? As the administration allows the radical Islamic caliphate to grow in the Middle East, and opens our borders wide for any and all to travel into the U.S., this double whammy may give us some unpleasant surprises in the next few years.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver-based physician, is an advocate of smaller, more efficient government. Twitter @retinaldoctor.

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