Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis

Alex Nowrasteh
Date of Publication: 
September, 2016
Source Organization: 
Cato Institute

Terrorism is a hazard to human life and material prosperity that should be addressed in a sensible manner whereby the benefits of actions to contain it outweigh the costs. Foreign-born terrorists who entered the country, either as immigrants or tourists, were responsible for 88 percent (or 3,024) of the 3,432 murders caused by terrorists on U.S. soil from 1975 through the end of 2015. "Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis" presents the first terrorism risk analysis of the visa categories those foreign-born terrorists used to enter the United States.

The federal government has an important role to play in screening foreigners who enter the United States, and to exclude those who pose a threat to the national security, safety, or health of Americans. This terrorism risk analysis of individual visa categories can aid in the efficient allocation of scarce government security resources to those categories that are most exploitable by terrorists. The hazards posed by foreign-born terrorists are not large enough to warrant extreme actions like a moratorium on all immigration or tourism.

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Nowrasteh, A. (2016). Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis. Policy Analysis, 798. Washington, DC: Cato Institute. Available at https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa798_2.pdf