Ordinary Guys: Why Integrating Immigrants Probably Won't Prevent Terrorism



Betsy Cooper, CISAC

Date and Time

April 2, 2015 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Encina Hall (2nd floor)

Abstract: Imagine two guys. Second-generation Muslim-American Ahmad feels threatened by the ‘corrupting influences’ within his suburban factory town, detests his mother’s ‘western’ ways, and seeks out a radical imam for guidance. In contrast, Palestinian-born Mike worked as an Intel engineer, married an American Christian, and played company softball in his spare time. If only one is a terrorist, it is easy to pick out which one. Right? Wrong. Maher “Mike” Hawash served a six-year sentence for conspiring to aid the Taliban. Ahmad Mulloy is the fictional protagonist of John Updike’s novel, Terrorist.

It is easy to assume that terrorists are poorly integrated or disconnected from society. But this talk argues that such assumptions about the ‘typical terrorist’ are not only wrong, but dangerous. I argue that better immigrant integration will not stop terrorism – because most terrorists are just as well, if not better, integrated into western societies than other immigrants. Further, policies that exacerbate differences between immigrants and the native-born actually may facilitate radicalization of new terrorists; they provide new fuel for the argument that immigrants, and especially Muslims, are being disproportionately targeted.

About the Speaker: Betsy Cooper is a Law and International Security Postdoctoral Fellow with CISAC, working on projects related to state immigration policy. Dr. Cooper recently finished serving as a Yale Public Interest Fellow, working with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Policy on Comprehensive Immigration Reform and related issues. She is a 2012 graduate of Yale Law School, after which she clerked for Judge William Fletcher on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Dr. Cooper is the author of over twenty manuscripts and articles on US and European immigration and refugee policy, and has consulted for Atlantic Philanthropies (Dublin, Ireland), the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit in London, the World Bank, and a number of immigration think tanks. In addition to her law degree, Betsy holds a DPhil in Politics from Oxford University, an M.Sc. in Forced Migration from Oxford University, and a B.A. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.

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