E.g., 09/19/2014
E.g., 09/19/2014

Background Paper on Immigration and National Security

Policy Briefs
September 2001

Background Paper on Immigration and National Security

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, the U.S. government committed to increasing national security through every possible avenue. Although the most effective measures to combat terrorism will inevitably rely on intelligence, certain immigration programs and procedures can contribute to better intelligence and enhanced security. This background paper evaluates a number of effective procedures related to the arrival of foreign nationals to the United States, explores existing frameworks in the European Union, and offers a set of recommendations on how best to proceed in this area.

The background paper provides an overview of the visa regime and the numerous visa categories under which a foreign national can seek entry into the United States. Although those seeking authorization to enter are required to supply a long list of supporting documentation and attend a personal interview, this paper finds that the timely sharing of reliable intelligence between the Bureau of Intelligence and the Consular Affairs Bureau is of upmost importance. The paper also underscores the importance of effective intelligence cooperation to securing borders in the North American region. In terms of the European Union, the paper finds that the 15 current Member States have made advancements in developing common rules and regulations; creating shared databases; monitoring cross-border criminal activity; and managing extradition. These advancements, it is argued, can be contributed in large part to the collective interests shared in the region where internal borders have been effectively dismantled. The paper outlines as series of policy recommendations and argues that policy measures should be taken to increase national security, but that in considering various policy options, policymakers be mindful of America’s commitment to freedom and individual rights.

Table of Contents 

Immigration and National Security

The Visa Regime

Controlling U.S. Borders

The Asylum System

Learning from Others: The European Experience

Civil Liberties/Data Protection

Other Arrangements

Lessons from Europe

Recommendations