(CNSNews.com) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week that "nobody" had illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in a "long time."
He also advised that it would be easier for those wishing to illegally immigrate to the United States to simply buy a ticket to fly here and then overstay their visa.
Bloomberg was speaking in Boston at an Aug. 14 forum on immigration sponsored by the New England Council. He shared the stage for the forum with News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch.
Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal, who moderated the event, asked Bloomberg, “... My sister lives in Amarillo, Texas, and they’re very worried about waves coming up north over the border there. What are you going to tell them?”
“Number one nobody has come across the border in a long time,” responded the mayor. “I mean we spend a fortune on technology, and if you want to come to America illegally, don’t waste your time going across the border and through the desert. It’s dangerous. Just get on an airplane, fly here, and overstay your visa. We have absolutely no ability to track who you are and get you back.
“The total number of undocumented in this country has been going down for a long time. How do we solve the problem? We solved the problem by having our economy crater,” he continued. “People don’t come here to put their feet up and collect welfare. They come here to work, and if there’s no jobs, they don’t come here, and if they’re here and they can’t find a job, they go back home, because America is not a very good place to sit around and think the state is going to support you.”
However, a report by the Center for Immigration Studies released earlier this month, citing U.S. Census data, showed that 43 percent of immigrants, both legal and illegal, who have been residing in the U.S. for at least 20 years were on welfare.
During the discussion, Bloomberg did point out that the U.S. must be “vigilante” against foreign terrorists overstaying their visas. Some of the 911 hijackers were visa overstays.
The moderator asked the mayor, “What about people’s fears that immigrants might be terrorists?”
“We have to be vigilant. We have to be in charge of our own borders,” responded Bloomberg. “We have to make sure that we have intelligent policies. For example if you get a visa [and] you come here, we don’t track when you leave, so we have no idea how many people are here. We’re not doing the things that we should do.
“That’s why I think the 911 Memorial is so important to teach people a lesson, but that’s not a reason to not have people come here, because the terrorists want to take away our economy, take away our rights, and if you don’t let immigrants in, they’re going to win,” he continued.
In answering the question, the New York City mayor, who presides over Ground Zero of the 911 attacks perpetrated by foreign terrorists, indicated that it was illegitimate for people to worry about immigrants being terrorists.
“Most of the terrorists here last time I looked tend to be born here, educated here. They all have mental problems and that sort of thing. It is true there are terrorists overseas, but what are you going to do close the borders and not let anybody in?” Bloomberg asked. “And a tourist is just as likely to be a terrorist as somebody who comes here to work…I just don’t think that’s a legitimate thing to worry about.”
During a July 25 House Homeland Security Committee, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that terrorists cross the southwest border “from time to time” with the intent to harm Americans.
In FY 2011 alone, the Border Patrol, a component of Department of Homeland Security (DHS), apprehended 327,577 illegals entering the U.S. from Mexico, including 255 illegal immigrants from nations known to export terrorism referred to as special interest countries. Widely used estimates show that there are at least three successful entries for each Border Patrol apprehension.
As of the end of FY 2010, DHS said it had attained effective control of 873 of the 1,954-mile-long southwest border. DHS defines “effective” control as “the ability to detect, respond, and interdict illegal activity at the border or after entry into the United States.” The department no longer uses this metric to measure the security of the U.S-Mexico border and has yet to develop one to replace it.