By: Tessa Winkler
In the ten years since September 11, 2001, our national and personal stories have been irrevocably changed. The terrible toll of that day continues to impact our politics, families and identities as Americans. As we mark a decade since the devastating events of 9/11, CLINIC reflects upon the ways in which the experience shaped the U.S. immigration landscape and recognizes the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and the foundation of our nation’s history that timelessly encourage us to endure.
As a reaction to 9/11, antiterrorism efforts have drastically altered the structure of the executive branch and the policies it implements. Most notably, the Patriot Act, signed into law in 2001, expanded law enforcement’s capacity to investigate, detain and deport the foreign born for the purpose of terrorism prevention. Action to regulate immigration flows continued with the 2002 Department of Justice (DOJ) program NSEERS. This program, recently announced by DHS to be ending, requires that male immigrants from specific countries submit fingerprints and other biometric data prior to entering or leaving the U.S. and that they reregister for admittance annually. In further efforts to counter terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in 2003 as a cabinet-level agency to achieve its mission of “keeping America safe” through border security and the enforcement of immigration laws.
Amidst many reforms to immigration policy over the past ten years, the tenets of the Church that guided us through the sorrow of 9/11 give us the perspective to find solidarity with all who are broken and oppressed in spirit. As we come together as a nation in observance of this anniversary, we are reminded that “In Christ, the human race is one before God, equal in dignity and rights (Gal 3:28).” As Americans and children of God, this somber occasion reminds us to cherish each person’s contribution to our national identity.
As we reflect upon the ten years following September 11, 2001, CLINIC remains committed to just immigration policies and procedures that transcend division and support the common good.
*Tessa is the Communications Officer/Web Content Coordinator for CLINIC