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NPR Special Report: Strangers at the Gates
Attitudes About Immigration Change in Wake of Sept. 11 Attacks

Border crossing at Tijuana, Mexico

The border crossing from California to Tijuana, Mexico -- one of the busiest ports of entry at any U.S. border.
Photo: U.S. Dept. of Justice

In this six-part series, NPR examines changes in immigration policy since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 30 and ending Sunday, Feb. 3, NPR looks at the many facets of the immigration debate. Topics include security along the nation's borders; who enforces immigration laws; and how detainees and others suspected of violating immigration laws are treated.

The series also explores the degree to which the terrorist attacks have changed the way Americans -- and allies abroad -- feel about foreigners. With the new perception of vulnerability since Sept. 11, the U.S. government has increased security along the northern and southern borders, determined to make the borders less porous. It has led some to fear the country is turning into Fortress America.

Stories in this series:

U.S.-Mexico border map

Border near Douglas, Ariz.
Map: Erik Dunham, NPR

Listen Jan. 30, 2002: NPR's John Burnett visits the U.S.-Mexican border to explore changes in immigration policy since the Sept. 11 attacks. With the new perception of vulnerability, security has been stepped up and apprehensions are way down -- not because people are getting through the border undetected, but because they're just not crossing as they used to.
Heard on All Things Considered.

Listen Jan. 31, 2002: In the past few years the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has undergone a dramatic transformation: It has become one of the country's biggest jailers. Last year the INS detained more than 180,000 people, triple the number it jailed in the early '90s. NPR's Phillip Davis reports on the growing number of people detained by the INS -- people that some human rights activists say are denied rights that criminals take for granted.
Heard on Morning Edition.

Map of U.S.-Canadian border

Western end of U.S.-Canada border.
Map: Erik Dunham, NPR

Listen Jan. 31, 2002: In the wake of Sept. 11, the U.S.-Canadian border, in particular, has raised concern. Nearly 4,000 miles long, it is protected by only 350 Border Patrol agents. That's compared to the 2,000-mile southwestern border, with its 9,000 agents. NPR's John Burnett reports that the northern boundary is about to receive long-overdue attention.
Heard on All Things Considered.

Listen Feb. 1, 2002: At least a few of the 19 hijackers believed to be responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center towers were illegal aliens who took advantage of immigration loopholes to plot their terror attacks. In calling for tighter controls, the Bush administration says the federal government needs the support and cooperation of local police. NPR's as Eric Westervelt reports, when it comes to immigration, many local law enforcers have mixed views on whether they should play a bigger role.
Heard on Morning Edition.

Listen Feb. 2, 2002: In the aftermath of Sept. 11, European Union countries have tightened security measures. But the terrorist attacks have highlighted the absence of a EU-wide immigration policy. The U.S. attacks has also brought into the open the increasingly uneasy relationship between European societies and their Muslim immigrants -- an estimated 15 million Muslims now live in Western Europe. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports that in Holland, for centuries a beacon of tolerance, the Dutch are beginning to question their immigration policies and attitudes.
Heard on Weekend All Things Considered.

Listen Feb. 3, 2002 There was a fear that after Sept. 11, Americans would alter their attitudes towards immigrants, and that backlash would result in a new look at how we define ourselves. Surprisingly, that didn't happen. In the final segment of the series, NPR's Mara Liasson reports that many Americans simply want a safer society -- one that can isolate foreign terrorists without isolating itself.
Heard on Weekend All Things Considered.