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The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11
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The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  40 ratings  ·  12 reviews
On September 10, 2001, the United States was the most open country in the world. But in the aftermath of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil, the U.S. government began to close its borders in an effort to fight terrorism. The Bush administration's goal was to build new lines of defense without stifling the flow of people and ideas from abroad that has helped build ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 2008)
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A very well distilled origin story of the Department of Homeland Security - born of 9/11, or rather, created frankenstein-like from the bits and bones of a panoply of executive branch agencies. Alden does a number of things with this book that I think are great. At a high level, he provides a helpful narrative of two competing approaches to counterterrorism strategy post-9/11: the "cops" approach (the answer to every problem: tough enforcement of immigration laws) versus the "technocrat" approac ...more
As someone who tends to view the entire treatment in the US of immigrants, tourists, and visa applicants as being at times disastrous, this book was really good in that it let me know where I was right, and also where I was wrong. I learned about the US' response to terrorism after 2001, and how counter-terrorism quickly became conflated with immigration control - to very bad effects. The author does a really good job of explaining the successes the US had - and detailing the at times very compl ...more
I'm going to try to finish this one. But in case I don't, here's my review:

I like the goal of the book (from what I can tell, three chapters in) -- to show the side effects of our closed borders. Such an important book should not be written so dryly. Immigration is one of a handful of political topics I have scary-strong opinions about, and even I was falling asleep. Sex it up! Dumb it down! This reads like a history book. I appreciate the efforts at detailed accuracy, but some things were bette
Great reporting, not much analysis but his main conclusion, that counterterrorism is best achieved through painstaking intelligence work and not the battering ram of large scale immigration controls and visa restrictions, is supported by his research. Alden is a reporter and the book shows the strengths and weaknesses of this approach; lots of well drawn profiles of individual actors with less probing of background.
Amy Coleman
Really interesting book on border security and immigration policy following 9/11. As an immigration paralegal, definitely opens my eyes to why certain problems happen within USCIS and DHS. Wasn't too moved by the sob stories in the opening paragraphs of people who've had their visas delayed. Chertoff's point about 'the Gresham law of politics' is relevant here - sob stories shouldn't define public policy. Overall this book really put immigration policy in perspective for me, and provided an inte ...more
I thought that this was a really good, solid book. I learned a great deal about American immigration policy, Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security. I think that we have forgotten how much life has changed since 9/11 in America, and that we have not fully realized the effects of those changes in our country today. It can be argued that we are safer as a nation, but what will the unintended consequences of our protection?

This book was well written and was easy to stay interested in
Judy King
Fascinating -- It's amazing the bits and pieces of news and not news that I missed, or at least didn't put into prospective at the time. This view of how the US responded to 9/11 in terms of immigration == even to foreign students and visitors and business travelers is very interesting. It's hard to comprehend that some of these tools and measures are being effected by the US government -- they sound like techniques of Eastern European or Middle Eastern or terse Asian countries.

Very interesting
Now that I work at DHS, it was interesting to read the history of the department. Alden makes a pretty strong argument that the American reaction to curtailing immigration post 9/11 is the wrong decision. A bit repetitive and long-winded in places but still a good read.
Mary Jo
The history of immigration in the US and the changes in how immigrants and visitors are viewed and processed since 9/11. Huge impacts on education and employment due to visa issues. Another thing that Obama needs to fix.
Rebecca Wright
Very interesting review of results of 9/11 on government changes to immigration departments and laws and how it affected illegal immigrants and suspected terrorists.
Great book on how and why we've tried to close our borders. See full comments here:
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