In the years since the Twin Towers were destroyed, Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, has come under fire from several writers who claim that immigration laws he wrote made it easier for foreign subversives to enter America, set up terror cells, and raise funds for extremists. One writer, Chuck Morse, who ran against Frank as an Independent in 2000, asserts Frank bears responsibility for loosening restrictions on student and temporary visas, which eased the way for the 9/11 hijackers to enter the U.S. to plan and carry out their attacks.
Frank denies that any of his legislative activity contributed to these things. He implies that “the Republicans” approved of his immigration legislation. He says that his immigration laws were good ones. He says poor enforcement of them was the problem. He says that the 9/11 Commission cleared him of any culpability in the weakening of America’s ability to keep out extremists and foreign terrorists. He calls those who say his immigration policies contributed to 9/11 “right-wing extremists.”
There is evidence – presented later in this article – that approximately 19 months before 9/11, Barney Frank had been given specific information indicating that at least some of his immigration legislation was causing a massive infiltration of America by radical Muslims and radical Muslim clerics. He did nothing in response to that information but continued writing and pushing legislation that further relaxed immigration requirements and granted additional rights to non-U.S. citizens, even to those who had been deported from the U.S. for committing felonies.
All legislation must be discussed within the historical context in which it was written. Frank began writing immigration legislation while the domestic surveillance abilities of the FBI and the foreign surveillance abilities of the CIA were being devastated by attacks by the Democratic Party, the radical Left, and “civil liberties” groups including the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union. The Alien Border Control Committee (ABCC), formed by President Reagan in 1986 to coordinate the FBI and CIA in rooting out and deporting Islamists and alien immigrant supporters of Muslim terror, was effectively forced to dismantle by the coordinated efforts of the aforementioned parties. And Congressman Frank contributed to the ABCC’s demise by writing legislation that stripped its authority to deport alien extremists based on their political beliefs.
From 1981 onward, while terror attacks around the world by Muslim radicals were rising dramatically and America’s intelligence agencies were being neutered by the Left, Congressman Barney Frank legislated to loosen America’s immigration controls. At the same time, he consistently voted to slash funding for the CIA, the FBI, and the U.S. military.
Frank’s most far-reaching work on immigration law occurred in the context of a major overhaul of the McCarran-Walter act of 1952. That act contains the body of U.S. immigration law. Its overhaul during the 1980s culminated in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1990. To expedite the work, the project was divided into two parts: an overhaul of legal immigration laws and a separate overhaul of illegal immigration laws. Congressman Frank wanted to reform the exclusion provisions of legal immigration laws, laws that codified the things a prospective legal immigrant to the U.S. could be denied entry for.
“The exclusions were part of the legal immigration provisions, and as a member of the Democratic majority on the immigration subcommittee, I asked for and was accorded by my colleagues the right to take the lead in rewriting the exclusion provisions,” says Frank. 
Frank concentrated on removing the ideological exclusions. Those exclusions were used to prevent people with totalitarian views from immigrating to the U.S. and causing unrest. They were also used to deport legal aliens who had caused unrest or engaged in subversive activities in America. Frank categorized the exclusions as “relics of the McCarthy era.” His associating the ideological exclusions with “McCarthyism” is disingenuous for many reasons, not least because Senator Joseph McCarthy concentrated his anti-Communist efforts on U.S. citizens, not aliens or visitors.
In fact, ideological exclusions were not “relics of the McCarthy era.” They originated from the Alien Registration Act of 1940, signed into law by President Roosevelt as a national security measure on the eve of World War II. The bill made it a federal crime for anyone to “knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association.”
Frank was passionate about removing ideological exclusions. “I was in an ideal situation because while I was in favor of the overall bill, I cared most of all about the exclusions, and I was prepared to try to defeat the bill if I was not successful in reforming what I considered to be the most outrageous aspect of American immigration law, the antigay, anti-free-speech McCarthyite hangover,” said Frank.
To Frank, the ideological exclusions were inconsistent with the notion of free speech. But the question was: Should the full First Amendment right to free speech be extended to non-U.S. citizens while they were in America? Frank said yes. He then flipped the issue on its head by arguing that denying entry to foreigners with subversive or “dangerous” views and radical ideologies was a de facto violation of American citizens' First Amendment rights to hear those views.
“Beginning around the turn of the century,” said Frank, “American law contained a large number of exclusions to protect what legislators apparently thought was a fragile citizenry from all manner of dangerous foreign influences. Anarchists, people who believed in polygamy, Communists, people who knew people who were related to Communists, people who thought and said unpleasant things about America – the list of those kept out of America was egregious and in total violation of the spirit of free expression.”
It is typical for left-wing politicians to waltz past the bones of Communism’s 150 million victims on their way to trivializing the dangers that radical ideologues present. Frank is no exception, since he considers foreigners who hold totalitarian views to be of no concern to national security, a view he has held since at least 1981, the year he officially began working to eliminate ideological exclusions. The Soviet Union, America’s long-time communist enemy, did not collapse until 1990. Though Frank’s final exclusion amendment included language making deportable “any alien who participated in Nazi persecution,” there was no clause barring any alien who participated in Communist persecution.
When Frank’s exclusion amendment became law, it said aliens could not be excluded or deported “because of any past, current, or expected beliefs, statements, or associations which, if engaged in by a United States citizen in the United States, would be protected under the Constitution of the United States.”
Frank used the elimination of ideological exclusions to facilitate the removal of another long-standing exclusion statute, one truly unjust. It is important to mention this since it raises questions concerning his motives for legislating against ideological exclusion in the first place.
Frank tailored his attack on ideological exclusions to expedite the removal of the sexual preference exclusion, an exclusion that denied homosexual immigrants entry to the U.S. Given the cultural climate of the 1980s, a stand-alone effort to have the sexual preference exclusion removed would not have been supported by many Congressmen, regardless of their private views on homosexuality. So in a brilliant legislative sleight-of-hand, Frank crafted the comprehensive immigration exclusion amendment to define the only reasons that entry to America could be denied – and he left the sexual preference exclusion out.
That strategy of omission put anyone wanting to continue the ban on admitting homosexual immigrants in the unsavory position of having to sponsor a separate amendment seeking to continue that ban. In his essay “A Case Study in the Effective Use of the Political Process,” Frank explains his strategy:
My intention was to take the legitimate bases for excluding people from this country – namely, that they would in some real way be dangerous to our well-being – and embody them in a new section that would replace the existing obnoxious [ideological exclusion] sections. I would deal with the anti-gay exclusion simply by leaving it out of the re-draft. Thus, no separate vote would be taken on whether or not to repeal this provision, because its abolition would be accomplished by omission. And since I was part of the majority that would be presenting the new bill, the burden in Congress would thus be shifted to those who sought to preserve this homophobic aspect.
In other words, Frank took an issue concerning national security and parlayed it into a significant victory for gay rights.
In spite of security concerns, the ideological exclusion is removed
In 1987, over the objections of the State Department because of security concerns, Frank’s exclusion amendment was made temporary law. Though President Reagan also objected to Frank’s ideological exclusions amendment, he accepted it in compromise to get broader aspects of the McCarran-Walters revamp passed into law. For the first time in American history, the full First Amendment right to free speech and free association, once exclusively enjoyed by full U.S. citizens, had been granted to non-citizens and visitors to the United States. The moment Barney Frank’s exclusions amendment was made law, it became unlawful, on the basis of their beliefs alone, to deny entry to immigrants or other foreign nationals with radical ideologies. It also made it nearly impossible to deport them once they were here.
Three years later, the overhaul of McCarran-Walter was finished, and it became law as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990. Frank’s ideological exclusions amendment remained intact, except for a single word. The final amendment said that an alien could not be excluded from entry into the U.S. nor deported once there ''because of any past, current or expected beliefs, statements or associations which, if engaged in by a United States citizen in the United States, would be protected under the Constitution.” Frank had also wanted to prevent the U.S. from denying entry to immigrants based on past “activities,” but under pressure from the Bush State Department, Frank was forced to drop “activities” from the amendment’s final wording.
The New York Times, which vigorously supported Frank and his fellow Democrats’ drive to remove ideological exclusions, reported its permanent removal on Oct. 26, 1990: “Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who was the chief House negotiator in the conference committee, said the new provisions worked out Wednesday night and today 'made rational the reasons a person can be excluded,' and added, ‘We are saying you can't exclude someone because of their speech, their beliefs, or their associations.’” [Emphasis added]
Some changes were made to the 1990 exclusion amendment in 1996, but Frank’s ideological exclusions amendment remained untouched and in force until after the 9/11 attacks. The 1996 exclusion list allowed immigration officials to bar aliens from entry or deport them for the following terrorism-related reasons:
(1) has engaged in a terrorist activity,
(2) a consular officer or the Attorney General knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, is engaged in or is likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity .
(3) has, under circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily harm, incited terrorist activity,
(4) is a representative of a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary under section 219, or
(5) is a member of a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary under section 219, which the alien knows or should have known is a terrorist organization is inadmissible.
But U.S. immigration officials could not deny entry to or deport aliens solely on the basis of their political or ideological beliefs or the associations they engaged in while in America. And the remaining exclusions, as they related to terrorism, were filled with ambiguities that monkey-wrenched the process of deporting suspect aliens expeditiously. The Center for Constitutional Rights, National Lawyers Guild, and other left-wing groups lined up to exploit those ambiguities. They filed endless litigation in defense of aliens arrested for suspicion of involvement in crime, terrorism or terrorist-related activity.
James R. Edwards of the Hudson Institute sums up the overall effect of Barney Frank’s elimination of ideological exclusion:
History teaches that foreign ideologues have long sought to promote their beliefs and advance their causes on American soil. Alien subversives have spied, spread propaganda and stolen state and industrial secrets. Foreign anarchists, communists and other radicals have sought to make converts, raise funds, organize followers and otherwise exploit American freedoms...In short, the 1990 Immigration Act’s revision of exclusion grounds preserved the spirit of the McGovern and Moynihan [Frank] Amendments. Indeed, this law made it much easier for aliens who hold radical, dangerous, anti-American or subversive political beliefs to enter and remain in the United States. This perversion of the First Amendment means the guy who preaches hatred, pollutes hearts and minds, steeps persuadable people in reasons to harm Americans and wage war from within against America…gets a free pass.
A Graphic Warning Ignored
On January 26, 2000, at 11 a.m., in Room 2237 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Avalon Project at Yale Law School for the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims held a hearing. During that presentation, testimony was given by experts on terrorism and immigration regarding the vast influx of Islamist ideologues and other extremists into the U.S. and Canada. One of those experts, Steven Emerson, described, in great and shocking detail the large number of foreign Islamic radicals and radical clerics entering the U.S. each year. Emerson said, “U.S. officials say they are virtually powerless to stop the influx of known militants into the United States for reasons ranging from lack of adequate intelligence to easy circumvention of the watch list to legal restrictions in stopping self-described religious clerics from entering the United States.” (Emphasis added.)
Those “legal restrictions” were a clear reference to Barney Frank’s ideological exclusions amendment, which forbade denying entry to or deporting aliens based solely on their beliefs, ideologies, or associations. Rep. Frank was a member of that House Subcommittee on Immigration Claims that the Avalon Project had addressed. And Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-TX, who works closely with Frank on immigration matters, had physically attended the Avalon hearing.
Five hundred and ninety-four days after that hearing, 19 months later, Muslim radicals, acting out their radical beliefs, murdered 3,000 Americans under a clear, blue sky.
How many of the hundreds, if not thousands, of Muslim radicals and their Islamic clerics, who legally entered America under Barney Frank’s amendment, aided the 9/11 murderers? How many of them had attended to some operational detail of the 9/11 plot? How many cheered and supported it, or excused it in front of their mosques? How many alien Muslim radicals remain in the U.S., awaiting a signal to murder? How many of them have become full U.S. citizens?
Most importantly, how many American hearts and minds did these ideologues poison with their hatred? What will the result of that be?
After 9/11, the Patriot Act became law and Congressman Frank’s ideological exclusion amendment was effectively suspended. Visa laws were significantly tightened up and the enforcement of immigration laws increased. Frank does not like what he sees.
“When 3,000 Americans were murdered by illegal immigrant terrorists on September 11,” says Frank, “that was the end of rational immigration policy in the United States.”
Or rather, it was the beginning.
Rocco DiPippo is a freelance political writer and publisher of The Autonomist blog
 Barney Frank, A Case Study in the Effective Use of the Political Process, an essay published in Creating Change: Sexuality, Public Policy and Civil Rights by John D'Emilio, William B. Turner and Urvashi Vaid (Stonewall Inn Editions 2002)
Note: While Rep. Frank’s categorizing of the 9/11 killers as “illegal immigrant terrorists” is, in the strictest sense, technically true, it is a misleading categorization. When applying for their visas, none of the hijackers-to-be admitted to being members in the terrorist al-Qaeda organization, an admission that would have made them ineligible for a visa. Hence, technically speaking, since they did not disclose this (assuming they were even asked about it), the visas that all of them held were obtained illegally making them technically, but not practically, null and void. In addition, some of the killers had removed pages containing visas from countries on a U.S. terror watch list, where they had obtained training. Again, this made their visas technically illegal. The most important fact is that all of the 9/11 hijackers entered the U.S. with non-counterfeit, functionally legal temporary visas. And the ones who traveled to and from America while planning the attacks, did so with ease. Collectively, the hijackers entered the U.S. 33 times in 21 months. Between them, they had a total of 68 contacts with immigration and consular officials. Who can forget this?
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