by Arnold Ahlert
Demonstrating, once again, that the Left has no regard for the safety and security of the American people, House Democrats led by Rep. Al Green (D-TX) have reintroduced a bill that will effectively give carte blanche to Pakistanis illegally residing in the country. The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) bill is targeted toward Pakistanis allegedly affected by the floods which ravaged that country in July of 2010. However, it allows people who do not legally qualify as refugees to remain in the United States for a period of twelve months providing they are Pakistani nationals “who ha(ve) been continuously physically present in the United States since July 22, 2010″ — regardless of their immigration status. Pakistan’s notoriety as an exporter of terrorism makes the TPS bill an exceedingly reckless measure. With it, illegal aliens from a terrorist haven will be given protected status to roam free within our borders and will have the ability to travel to and from their home country.
There is no question that Pakistan was devastated by flooding last July. According to the United Nations, “20,000,000 people, one-eighth of the population, and nearly 62,000 square miles, one-fifth of the country, have been significantly affected by destruction of property, livelihood, and infrastructure.” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, perceived by many Pakistanis as more powerful than President Asif Ali Zardari, characterized the flooding as the “the worst natural calamity of (Pakistan’s) history.” ”As human misery continues to mount, we are seriously concerned with spread of epidemic diseases,” he said at the time.
For many Pakistanis, however, the response by the government to the crisis was unconscionably slow. President Zardari, whose support among his countrymen had already been flagging prior to the crisis (only one in five Pakstanis had a favorable view of him according to the Pew Research Center), refused to cancel a trip to France and Britain during the flooding, and returned to a country in which other entities had filled the leadership vacuum.
One of the entities filling the leadership vacuum was Pakistan’s military. Prior to the emergence of a democratic government in 2008, Pakistan had been under military control for nine years. Since gaining its independence from India in 1947, the country has been ruled by military governments for more than half of its 63 years. When 60,000 troops took part in responding to the floods, the perception that the military was the “real power” in the country once again gained traction. Such perceptions are detrimental to the efforts of the Obama administration, which has long been seeking to promote the idea of civilian government in a country long dominated by military rule.
Even more detrimental to both the Pakistani government as a well as our own, was the response to the disaster by militant Islamic factions. Groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) were extremely active in providing relief, setting up supply camps, taking donations to help the affected, and maintaining a presence in many areas beyond the reach of the government. Their ability to do what the government could not did not garnered sympathy from the public, much of which is convinced that Pakistan’s ruling class consists of politicians who only care about themselves.
Unfortunately, Rep. Green’s TPS bill is a problematic solution at best. Despite its claim that “(G)ranting temporary protected status to nationals of Pakistan is consistent with the interests of the United States and promotes the values and morals that have made the United States strong,” it is inarguable that Pakistan has been a training center for Islamic terrorists determined to wreak havoc in the West. Ramzi Yousef, who orchestrated the first attack at the World Trade Center in 1993 which killed six people and injured more than a 1,000, trained in Pakistan. So did would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid, along with several of the terrorists who killed 52 people in the London subway attack of 2005. Most recently, Faisal Shahzad who was convicted and given a life sentence for attempting to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on May 1, 2010, admitted he had received his training in that country as well.
Yet the most searing reminder of Pakistan-originated terror was the devastation wreaked by the 2008 attack in Mumbai by terrorists who killed 166 and wounded over 300 people. Two U.S. lawsuits filed in November 2010 contend that not only were the ten terrorists who precipitated the carnage trained in Pakistan, but that the government’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its director general, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, had participated in the training. Pakistan denies the charges and has indicated that it will not allow Pasha to testify in court.
This is not the first time (nor likely the last) that the ISI has been accused of abetting the very same terrorists that the Pakistani government is officially committed to eradicating. Once again, the seemingly ubiquitous WikiLeaks documents suggested that the Pakistani government is allowing their spy agency, as reported by the NY Times, “to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.” Though such meetings have not been confirmed, American officials contend that such reports are “broadly consistent with other classified intelligence.” In other words, despite all the diplo-speak emanating from the Obama administration, epitomized by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s reference to the Pakistani-U.S. relationship as one of “partners joined in common cause”–along with the billions of dollars in aid we have provided to the civilian government–the idea that Pakistan is a staunch ally of the United States is an extremely dubious one at best.
Which brings us to the most questionable aspect of the TPS legislation, Section 4, paragraph (c):
“Consent To Travel Abroad–The Secretary of Homeland Security shall give the prior consent to travel abroad…to an alien who is granted temporary protected status pursuant to the designation made under this section, if the alien establishes to the satisfaction of the Secretary of Homeland Security that emergency and extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the alien require the alien to depart for a brief, temporary trip abroad. An alien returning to the United States in accordance with such an authorization shall be treated the same as any other returning alien provided temporary protected status under section 244 of such Act.”
Translation: Pakistanis, including those here illegally due to their “protected status,” can travel back and forth to Pakistan, as long as they “satisfy” the Department of Homeland Security’s definition of “extenuating circumstances” or an “emergency.” That would be the same DHS which has routinely tortured definitions, such as the war on terror (an “overseas contingency operation), suicide bombers (“man-caused disasters”), and Islamic radicals (unnamed “insurgents”). The same DHS whose leader, the clueless Janet Napolitano, claimed “the system worked” when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a Christmas Eve jetliner in 2009 was foiled by a fellow passenger. The same DHS which would have been forced to reconcile more carnage in Times Square–caused by a terrorist who went to Pakistan for training–once again foiled by an ordinary citizen without an iota of government help. The same DHS that is fully aware that training camps run by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT, Army of the Pure) the Pakistan-based jihadist group responsible for Mumbai, are still in business training future terrorists–in a country with a shaky civilian government possessing nuclear weapons.
Yet more importantly, Rep. Green’s bill is the fourth attempt to grant Pakistanis Temporary Protected Status. According to govtrack.us, two previous attempts were undertaken in 2005 and 2009. In December of 2010, a bill identical to Mr. Green’s, prepared by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Green, and eight other members of Congress, died in the lame-duck session. Assuming govtrack.com is accurate, the first two attempts to grant Pakistanis protected status occurred long before there were any floods in Pakistan, which undercuts the rationale Mr. Green, et al., are using to get this current incarnation enacted into law.
Thankfully, the three previous bills died when the 109th and 111th Congresses adjourned, and latest one has been tabled by the 112th. But one can only marvel at the mindset of politicians who, while rightly sympathetic to a humanitarian crisis, appear to be in utter denial of Pakistan’s major role in facilitating international terror. And their apparent faith in a Homeland Security Department to maintain faultless security with respect to Pakistani nationals traveling to Pakistan–and then back to the U.S.–borders on absurd. Self-preservation is presumably an instinct. Have we reached a point where political ideology trumps such an instinct in the minds of some of our elected officials?
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