The invasion of Israel by the Islamic extremist terrorist group Hamas was well-orchestrated at a border called the Gaza Strip. Here in the U.S., at least 4 million people have crossed illegally, a large number young men, convicted criminals, and even terrorists. When a fraction of them started ending up in New York, it finally captured concern among many who had promoted it as a sanctuary state. And now, the city hardest-hit by the last large-scale terrorist attack on America finds growing calls to deal with the threat within. Lisa Fletcher reports from New York.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Rep. Nick LaLota, R-New York: With there being new international terrorism, specifically in Israel, my constituents and I are tremendously anxious that those military-age males especially, who are coming across our borders illegally, might cause the same terrorism in our own nation that is being caused in the Middle East right now.
Congressman Nick Lalota is worried that an attack like that in Israel could happen here because the threat is already within the gates.
LaLota: I’m extremely concerned right now that America has lost its focus, specifically as it relates to the southern border, and allowing folks into our country who might seek to accomplish an event like 9/11.
At least 160 people on the terror watchlist were stopped by Border Patrol for trying to cross from Mexico to the U.S. illegally this year. That's a sharp increase over 98 people during the previous year.
For those who do cross over illegally, many find safe haven in sanctuary cities that have promised not to cooperate with federal officials to deport them.
Lisa: Do sanctuary cities play a role in this flood of migrants that we're seeing?
LaLota: This is a magnet that's bringing people across our southern border that is only exacerbating the crisis.
More than 170 counties across 11 states, as well as the nation's capital, have policies that shield illegal immigrants from federal immigration enforcement. And those policies come at a cost. Taxpayers spend billions to cover essential services for illegal immigrants like housing, food, and transportation.
LaLota is the co-sponsor of a bill to stop the bailout for sanctuary cities.
Scott LoBaido: I am not here to make friends. I am here to make things right.
He isn't alone in the call to cut New York City off from funding. Some parts of the city want to cut themselves out of the Big Apple itself. Scott LoBaido wants the flood of illegal border crossers arriving in New York City from the southern border to stop.
LoBaido: That's how it changes. That's how we do it in Staten Island.
LoBaido is from Staten Island, one of the five boroughs that make up New York City.
LoBaido: Ground zero is Texas with this whole illegal immigration thing, but Staten Island is ground zero for the fix.
Since 2022, more than 110,000 undocumented foreigners have poured into New York City, forecasted to cost $12 billion to house and care for them over the next three years.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently returned from a trip to Mexico and South America, where he delivered a message.
Eric Adams (Oct. 6, 2023): There is no more room in New York.
It's estimated that 300 to 500 asylum-seekers are arriving in New York each day. The city is putting them in housing as varied as luxury hotels and tent cities.
When those spaces filled, some landlords capitalized on the crisis. 94-year-old Korean War veteran Frank Tammaro was one of more than a hundred seniors kicked out of their senior center in March. He now lives with his daughter. The building owner reportedly found it more profitable to take a city contract to house illegal immigrants.
Lisa: A lot of people — they're looking at this from the outside, and they're saying, "Here's a man in his nineties. And now he's displaced from his home.”
Frank Tammaro: They let me down. The politicians and all. I don't think it was right.
Some Staten Islanders are making a startling pitch to secede from New York City and set up their own city government, from Congressional Representative Nicole Malliotakis...
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-New York (Aug. 26, 2023): Let Staten Island secede.
...to Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella.
Vito Fossella (WCBS, Sept. 10, 2023): As somebody who’s supported secession in the past, it's got to be a serious and deliberate conversation.
Staten Island isn't the only borough feeling the sting. Queens, nicknamed "The World's Borough" because it's the most diverse county in the U.S., is bearing the brunt of the illegal immigration crisis in New York, with at least 39,000 settling there since last year.
Tucked behind this brick wall is a tent city built on the grounds of a state psychiatric center. It houses about 1,000 illegal immigrants per night.
Joe Concannon: There was no plan for this. We're expected to deal with it and accept it and roll over and play dead.
Joe Concannon is a retired New York City policeman and lives in the neighborhood.
Like Scott Lobaido, Concannon is also rallying his community to push back against unenforced immigration laws.
Concannon: It's bad enough we have the president who's not supporting border security and starting this from its beginning, right? And then it works its way up to New York now because the mayor and the governor of New York state have proclaimed that we're a sanctuary state, we're a sanctuary city. You know, this isn't law.
Back on Staten Island, Scott LoBaido encourages the asylum seekers to go home and fight for the freedoms that Americans enjoy.
LoBaido: What happens tomorrow if 1 billion asylum-seekers want to come here? Just let them in? Where's the limitation? Most of them are young military-age men who should be fighting their own regime in their own country, being men.
And in the city where the memorial for the 9/11 terrorist attack shines every anniversary as a pledge to never forget, it is also a reminder to remain on guard.
LaLota: I think a couple of decades ago, many Americans were fearful that folks illegally crossing our borders would merely steal their jobs. But now the stakes are much, much higher.
For Full Measure, I'm Lisa Fletcher in New York City.
Watch story here.