Russell Pearce blames 9/11 attacks on the federal government's failure to enforce immigration law

The chief sponsor of Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, claims the 9/11 attacks "would've been averted" if federal immigration law had been enforced.

A day after the Supreme Court struck down three of the four challenged provisions of the law, Pearce told CNN he believes a lack of enforcement allowed the hijackers to carry out their plan. 

"Four out of the five main hijackers were stopped by law enforcement and let go and were in the country illegally," he said. "But apparently that's OK to the Left."

Pearce said one of the hijackers even had a citation in his car when authorities searched it after the attacks.

Pearce's claims however, don't appear to be supported by the report of the bi-partisan 9/11 commission. 

The group of former lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, conducted an exhaustive investigation of the terrorist attacks and concluded a myriad of reasons, including a failure to share intelligence, lax airport security, and a failure to anticipate and track Al Qaeda's plot as reasons the attacks were carried out.

The report does examine how the hijackers were able to enter the country. All 19, the report says, came to the U.S. after applying for either tourist or student visas. Some of the hijackers altered passports, used fake names and lied on their visa application. The report says six of the hijackers violated immigration law by overstaying their visas, or failing to enroll in school. 

The report notes none of the hijackers names would have appeared on any no-fly or terrorist watch list, as one did not exist prior to the 9/11 attacks. If the hijackers did overstay their visas, the report says, the Immigration and Naturalization service lacked any system to track their whereabouts. The report concludes it would have difficult, if not impossible for INS agents to know if the hijackers were even in the U.S., much less where they were and that they  represented a terrorist threat.

After 9/11, a series of changes were made to intelligence services and immigration policy. Some of those changes include a much more stringent scrutiny of visa applicants.

Print this article Back to Top