There are at least 7,518 reasons to get the U.S.-Mexican border under control. That equals the number of aliens apprehended in fiscal year 2011 from the four nations that federal officials label "state sponsors of terrorism" plus 10 "countries of interest." Since January 2010, those flying into the United States via these 14 nations face enhanced screening. As the Transportation Security Administration announced at the time: "Effective aviation security must begin beyond our borders." U.S. national security merits at least that much vigilance on our borders.
The roaring immigration-reform debate largely addresses Hispanic aliens who illegally cross the border. Far more worrisome, however, are the thousands who break into the United States from countries "where we have concerns, particularly about al-Qaida affiliates," a top State Department official told CNN.
These include Cubans, Iranians, Sudanese and Syrians, whose governments are federally designated "state sponsors of terrorism." As Customs and Border Protection's "2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics" reports, 198 Sudanese were nabbed while penetrating the USA. Between fiscal years 2002 and 2011, such arrests totaled 1,207. (These figures cover all U.S. borders, although 96.3 percent of detainees crossed from Mexico.) Like other immigrants, most Sudanese seek better lives here. But some may be vectors for the same militant Islam that tore Sudan in two - literally.
In FY 2011, 108 Syrians were stopped; over the previous 10 years, 1,353 were. Syria supports Hezbollah, and Bashar al-Assad's unstable regime reportedly has attacked its domestic opponents with chemical weapons.
Among Iranians, 276 were caught in FY 2011, while 2,310 were captured over the previous 10 years. Iran also backs Hezbollah, hates "The Great Satan" - its name for the United States - and craves atomic weapons.
The other 10 "countries of interest" are Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and:
. Afghanistan, the Taliban's stronghold and current theater of America's longest war. (Afghans halted in FY 2011: 106; prior 10 years: 681.)
. Nigeria. The land of underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab suffers under Sharia law in its northern provinces. (Respective data: 591 and 4,525.)
. Pakistan, hideaway of the Pakistani Taliban and the late Osama bin Laden (525 and 10,682).
. Saudi Arabia, generous benefactor of radical imams and militant mosques worldwide; birthplace of 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers (123 and 986).
. Somalia. Home of Indian Ocean pirates and al-Qaida's al-Shabaab franchise. In October 1993, Islamic terrorists there shot down two Black Hawk helicopters, killed 18 U.S. soldiers and dragged several of their bodies through Mogadishu's streets (323 and 1,524).
The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight last November published "A Line in the Sand: Countering Crime, Violence, and Terror at the Southwest Border." This study offers chilling portraits of some who consider the southern border America's welcome mat.
. On Jan. 11, 2011, U.S. agents discovered Said Jaziri in a car trunk trying to enter near San Diego. Jaziri traveled from his native Tunisia to Tijuana, he said, and paid smugglers $5,000 to sneak him across the border. France previously convicted and deported him for assaulting a Muslim whom he considered insufficiently devout. In 2006, Jaziri advocated killing Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard for creating what Jaziri called sacrilegious drawings of the Prophet Mohammed.
. Somalia's Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane told authorities in 2011 that he earned up to $75,000 per day smuggling East Africans into America. His clients included three al-Shabaab terrorists. As the House paper states: "Dhakane cautioned that each of these individuals is ready to die for their cause. ..."
. On June 4, 2010, Anthony Joseph Tracy was convicted of conspiring to slip aliens into America. Tracy told federal investigators that Cuban diplomats used his travel agency in Kenya to transfer 272 Somalis to Havana. They proceeded to Belize, through Mexico, and then trespassed into the USA. Tracy claims he refused to assist al-Shabaab. But officials discovered an email in which he casually wrote: "...i helped a lot of Somalis and most are good but there are some who are bad and i leave them to ALLAH..."
Remember: These anecdotes and statistics involve individuals whom authorities intercepted. No details exist about aliens who successfully infiltrated America.
Deroy Murdock is a Scripps Howard News Service columnist, a Fox News contributor and a media fellow with Stanford University's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. Email Deroy.Murdock@gmail.com.