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Recognizing Our Vulnerability As America
by Jose Latour

One of the truly tragic things about being an immigration attorney in 2002 is coming to terms with the fact that most of the people who are being most warily eyed by Americans at airports are non-Americans, and the people with whom I work on a daily basis are those same foreigners. The so-called twentieth hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui recently raved about the fact that he prays daily for "the destruction of the United States," and those few Americans who heard that probably did not exactly shake in their boots. The truth is that, in the past year, most Americans have come to understand the fact that, to many abroad, we are utterly despised. For those of us tasked with not only defending the rights of but also advancing the interest of foreigners in the United States, acknowledging the reality of the terrorist threat as being part of a foreigner-driven concept makes the challenge particularly difficult to bear. I've told you a long time ago about the quality time that I spent in years past with former Florida Governor Bob Graham, who is now U.S. Senator Bob Graham, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Recently, Senator Graham said this:

"I think there continues to be a significant threat to the homeland."

You better believe it. And you better believe that when things happen such as the shoot-out at LAX, it will more than likely be at the hands of a foreign national. Moreover, the next time a psycho who is not foreign cuts loose with a weapon and takes down innocent civilians, in the minds of most Americans, that form of terrorism will be immediately severed and distinguished from the terrorism of September 11th, placed into an all-together separate category, a different place and time.

Americans do not fear other Americans because of acts of terror committed by Americans. But Americans fear foreigners because of acts of terror committed by other foreigners.

It is this oxymoronic reality which we, as immigration attorneys, face on a daily basis. Those of us who speak to large numbers of people - in person, through our writing, or however - must seek to educate Americans of every color and ethnicity that it's not about background, but about who the "good guys" are and who the "bad guys" are. It really is as simple as that: the concept of heroes and villains that we learned as children is really what is happening today, and you can call me simplistic, stupid, naive...but I generally believe it.

I acknowledge to you that the hero/villain dichotomy in the eyes of a Palestinian child will differ radically from those in the eyes of an Israeli child, but I can also guarantee that both of those children recognize good and evil quite plainly when they see it staring at them in the face. It's the politics that tarnish and confuse the issue.

It is in these extraordinary times that we tend to have the knee-jerk reactions that I have been warning you about so frequently in my Port of Entry column, and precisely why I fear a backlash of anti-immigrant legislation, prompted by ridiculous "facts" such as those advanced by organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies (in the article yesterday). There is an all too disturbing reality where people like Moussaoui, Osama bin Laden, and a pack of other U.S.-haters repeatedly announce their planned attacks on U.S. financial centers, shopping centers, airports, Mount Rushmore, The Alamo, Graceland, you name it...scaring the you-know-what out of us over and over again, leaving us scrambling for a million resources and a zillion dollars to protect ourselves from every imaginable threat.

The reality: we can't protect ourselves from everything. Senator Graham is right...there will be other attacks, you can bank on it. And as the May 3rd, 2002, issue of THE WEEK indicated in its "Talking Points" editorial section:

"Now that al-Qaida's on the run, we must track them down and finish the job. And we shouldn't ask any nation's permission to destroy those committed to killing us."

About The Author

Jose Latour is the founding partner of Latour & Lleras, P.A., a Gainesville, Florida based business immigration practice working primarily with the IT industry and foreign investors. The above represents Mr. Latour's Editorial opinion. JELPA is an A/V rated firm whose web site,, is one of the Internet’s most visited immigration sites. The firm was named “ONE OF AMERICA’S TOP TEN INTERNET/VIRTUAL COMPANIES” in the 1999 Inc. Magazine and Cisco Systems “Growing with Technology Awards.” Mr. Latour served as a U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officer in Mexico and Africa before entering private practice and today divides his time between his law practice, writing, flying, and his music.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.