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Malkin: The post-9/11 cycle of cynicism

Conservative Review

Remember. Forget. Repeat.

For 17 years, America has engaged in a collective ritual every Sept. 11: Hang flags, light candles, bow heads and make vows to "Never forget."

Then, every Sept. 12, it's back to business as usual: See something, do nothing.

Did you remember that five of the 9/11 hijackers — Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Hani Hanjour, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Satam al-Suqami — carried out their killer plot after overstaying their visas, evading detection and avoiding deportation?

Did you remember the other radical Muslim members of the Terrorist Visa Overstayers Club? They include 1997 New York subway bomber Lafi Khalil; 1993 World Trade Center bombers Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammed Salameh and Eyad Ismoil; 1993 New York landmark bombing plot conspirator Fadil Abdelgani; convicted Times Square bomb plotter Faisal Shahzad; and U.S. Capitol bomb plotter Amine El Khalifi, whose visa expired in 1999 and who escaped Homeland Security's notice for 12 years before he was arrested in 2012 — just blocks from the Capitol building donning what he thought was a suicide bomb vest.

Did you remember that a year after the jihadist attacks that stole nearly 3,000 innocent lives, the 9/11 Commission urged our government to build a biometric entry-exit program to track and remove visa overstayers — who comprise an estimated 40 percent of the total illegal immigrant population?

Did you remember that Congress had already mandated exactly such a system for all ports of entry — land, sea and air — in 1996 as part of the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act?

Janice Kephart, former border counsel on the 9/11 Commission, testified five years ago that "tracking the arrival and departure of foreign visitors to the United States is an essential part of immigration control, with collateral effects on law enforcement and national security." Without both arrival controls and departure records, she warned, "there is no way to know whether travelers have left when they were supposed to."

At least eight separate federal statutes, passed with bipartisan support, have established the parameters and appropriated funds for a foreign visa holder entry-exit system over the past two decades. But as I reported in my book "Invasion" 16 years ago, lobbyists for the travel and tourism industries, airlines, universities, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and illegal immigrant amnesty banded together to undermine the implementation of this most basic national security program, which every sovereign country needs to defend its borders.

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