When Congress and the Bush administration created the Department of Homeland Security, millions of Americans were relieved to finally see American leaders get serious about outside threats to our nation. No doubt the White House and congressional leaders, we believed, were shaken by the rapid severity and destruction of the 9-11 attacks. We accepted their premise of renewed interest in our territorial integrity, and believed the new agency – massive as it is – was necessary to fulfill the mission suggested by its very name.

But as I document in my new book, “Illegals: The Imminent Threat Posed by Our Unsecured U.S.-Mexico Border,” this “renewed interest” was as superficial as it was short-lived.

That’s the only reason why the head of this massive new agency, whose job is, in part, to protect the sanctity of our borders, would disregard his role as keeper of the gate in return for a small bit of political favoritism and expediency. It’s why Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge said in Miami in mid-December there should be some sort of “legalization” of the nearly 12 million illegal aliens currently residing in the U.S.

It is also why President Bush has since proposed a “guest-worker” program – whereby “willing” illegal-immigrant workers would be mated with “willing” U.S. employers. And it is also why opposition Democrats have proposed a similar program that actually grants amnesty to these millions of illegals, some of whom could very well be enemies of these United States.

Ridge said America needed to “come to grips” with our startling number of illegal aliens, and lawmakers must “determine how you can legalize their presence.” Ridge’s admonition seemed to suggest the problem of illegal entry into our country – even at a time of war – is one so insurmountable there is nothing else to do but surrender the sovereignty and integrity of our nation and offer all who can get here taxpayer-subsidized benefits, as well as jobs needed by our own citizens.

There are innumerable problems with this line of thinking, not the least of which is homeland security.

At present the government has no real idea how many people are here illegally. When they spout figures, they are simply estimates – but the experts and the government know it is a lot.

What is worse, however, is the fact the government hasn’t a clue of the true identities of these people. How many are terrorists? How many have ties to terrorist groups? How many are scouting for new terrorist attacks? The fact is these aliens did not enter the country in a legal, traceable manner. For Ridge and supporting lawmakers to claim, as they have, they are all “harmless” field hands who are no threat to our country, is as absurd as it is irresponsible. You can’t claim a group of people is no threat if you know nothing about them.

Fortunately, these obvious homeland-security lapses aren’t being ignored by the American people. While lawmakers see no further than their next election, the rest of America understands the long-term negative implications of such irrational immigration policy.

Maybe that’s why survey after survey has found – again – most Americans oppose this nonsense. Says David Ray of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, there is a “gaping canyon that exists between the desires of the American public and the actions of their elected officials on the immigration issue.

“While most Americans want drastically less immigration, their elected officials are in a foot race to see who can give away the whole candy store first,” says Ray.

Thank goodness we have a gargantuan new 170,000-employee mega-agency to provide us “homeland security.” And here we were thinking it was just another boondoggle.

How silly of us.

Jon E. Dougherty, a former reporter and columnist for WorldNetDaily.com, is the author of “Illegals: The Imminent Threat Posed by Our Unsecured U.S.-Mexico Border.”

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