Synopses & Reviews
A provocative, behind-the-scenes investigation into the consequences of America's efforts to secure its borders since 9/11
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 against terrorists without stifling the flow of people and ideas from abroad that has helped build the world's most dynamic economy. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.
The Closing of the American Border is based on extensive interviews with the Bush administration officials charged with securing the border after 9/11, including former secretary of homeland security Tom Ridge and former secretary of state Colin Powell, and with many of the innocent people whose lives have been upended by the new border security and visa rules. A pediatric heart surgeon from Pakistan is stuck in Karachi for nearly a year, awaiting the security review that would allow him to return to the United States to take up a prestigious post at UCLA Medical Center. A brilliant Sudanese scientist, working tirelessly to cure one of the worst diseases of the developing world, loses years of valuable research when he is detained in Brazil after attending an academic conference on behalf of an American university.
Edward Alden goes behind the scenes to show how an administration that appeared united in the aftermath of the attacks was racked by internal disagreements over how to balance security and openness. The result is a striking and compelling assessment of the dangers faced by a nation that cuts itself off from the rest of the world, making it increasingly difficult for others to travel, live, and work here, and depriving itself of its most persuasive argument against its international critics—the example of what it has achieved at home.
"Former Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times, Alden provides a thoughtful and balanced assessment of border security and immigration policies before and after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, demonstrating how more stringent security can damage the U.S. economy by discouraging trade, tourism and an influx of bright minds and diligent workers. The author's vignettes make what could be a dry read engaging and urgent. Alden's policy prescriptions are book-ended with the story of Dr. Faiz Bhora, a leading heart surgeon from Pakistan who had trouble returning to the States to resume his work because of visa problems and was eventually caught in the post-9/11 Justice Department crackdown on visa applications by citizens of Muslim countries. Alden points out that the Department of Homeland Security concedes that most of its counterterrorism funds are being poured into securing and controlling the border with Mexico and makes a persuasive case that 'immigration enforcement and counterterrorism are two different things, and for either to be effective they need to be separated.' (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“A thought-provoking study that will leave you looking at our borders in a new light.” The San Antonio Express-News
“Compellingly argued and meticulously researched.” Clive Crook, The Financial Times
“In this revealing and richly researched account, Alden describes how the Bush administration came to rely on the blunt instrument of immigration enforcement to carry out its counterterrorism strategy after 9/11.” Julia Preston, Foreign Affairs
“Aldens book reads like a case study in good intentions and bad effects.” The Wall Street Journal
Alden presents a provocative, behind-the-scenes investigation into the consequences of America's effort to secure its borders since 9/11. The result is a striking and persuasive assessment of the dangers faced by a United States that cuts itself off from the rest of the world.
The Closing of the American Border is a provocative, behind-the-scenes investigation into the consequences of Americas efforts to secure its borders since 9/11. Basing his conclusions on extensive interviews with former secretary of homeland security Tom Ridge, former secretary of state Colin Powell, other Bush administration officials, and many of the innocent people whose lives have been upended by the new border security and visa rules, Edward Alden offers a striking and compelling assessment of the dangers faced by a nation that cuts itself off from the rest of the world.
About the Author
Edward Alden is the Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the former Washington bureau chief for the Financial Times. He has been a guest on numerous television and radio shows, including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and The McLaughlin Group, as well as on NPR, the BBC, CNN, and MSNBC.