Policies put in place by the Trump administration have dramatically curtailed the practice of allowing large numbers of asylum seekers to enter the country pending a hearing on their claims. These policies have outraged advocates for migrants who see any restrictions on admission of people claiming persecution as just another form of persecution. And, depending on the outcome of the election, they may have someone who shares their views sitting in the White House come January 20.
The let-‘em-all-in position has been bolstered in recent years by a lack of truly horrific acts carried out by terrorists claiming to be asylum-seekers. While there has been a steady spate of criminal activity in the United States and other nations perpetrated by illegal border-crossers, there has not been the kind of headline-grabbing event that captures public attention. Until the last two weeks, that is.
Twice in the last two weeks migrants claiming to be fleeing persecution in their homelands have perpetrated gruesome attacks in France that serve as a reminder that aside from encouraging large-scale asylum fraud, allowing anyone to enter pending a hearing poses mortal dangers. The first attack was the October 16 decapitation of Samuel Paty, a high school teacher in a Paris suburb. As the trial of those accused of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre got underway in France, Paty led a debate about the limits of free speech that included showing his class the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that outraged those who murdered the editorial staff of the satirical magazine and shoppers at a kosher supermarket.
That classroom exercise outraged Abdoullakh Abouyezidvitch Anzorov, an 18-year-old migrant from Chechnya, a Russian province known to be a hotbed of Islamist activity. As a way to express his displeasure with Paty, Anzorov decapitated him outside the school. The incident served as a reminder to the French public (that has seen more than its share of Islamist terror attacks) that just because someone claims he is fleeing persecution in his country does not mean you want him in yours.
That horrific attack was followed closely by an even more deadly one on October 29 in the southern city of Nice. This attack on worshippers in the Notre Dame de l‘Assomption basilica left three people dead. The motives for this murder spree carried out by Brahim Aouissaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant, are not clear. What is clear is how he happened to be in Nice last Thursday.
Aouissaoui, like many other North African migrants (nearly all of whom are economic migrants), arrived in Europe by boat (with no identification documents) at the Italian island of Lampedusa on September 20. After a two-week COVID quarantine Aouissaoui was given an “exit slip” ordering him to leave Italy within seven days. It took him nearly a month to leave, but finally on October 27, Aouissaoui caught a train from Rome to Nice, where two days later he murdered three French citizens as they prayed in their church.
French authorities have arrested at least six other people in connection with the Nice massacre, indicating that Aouissaoui may have been a terrorist carrying out a planned attack on a soft target. Notwithstanding protestations from migrant advocates that terrorist organizations are not exploiting Europe’s lax border policies, a July 2020 UN Security Council report warned that groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS are taking advantage of those policies to infiltrate Western nations.
It is not unreasonable to imagine that if the United States were to relax many of the border security measures and policies in place to deter asylum fraud that Americans could soon face similar dangers. Vice President Biden has vowed that he would terminate construction of the border security fence, roll back agreements with Mexico and Central American countries that prevent large numbers of migrants posing as asylum seekers from pouring across the border, rescind travel restrictions on people from countries known to support terrorism, and end detention for nearly all asylum seekers while they pursue their claims.
If he wins and carries through on those promises we can be certain that in addition to countless economic migrants, terrorists and criminal cartels all around the world will be paying attention.