Several days after our nation was attacked by the terrorists on September 11, 2001 I was contacted by members of then Congressman Tom Tancredos staff. They had found out that in May 1997 I had testified at a Congressional hearing conducted by the House Immigration Subcommittee on the issue of Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefit Fraud.
That hearing was conducted to assess potential vulnerabilities in the immigration system that contributed the attacks at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center in the beginning of 1993. Both attacks had been conducted by foreign nationals who had succeeded in gaming the immigration bureaucracy to enter our country and then embed themselves in our nation by acquiring lawful status by defrauding the immigration benefits program.
Because it was clear that immigration played a significant role in the attacks of 1993 and it was obvious that aliens had carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001, they asked that I meet with them and Congressman Tancredo to provide my perspectives and expertise on the obvious nexus between immigration and national security. It is important to note that Tom Tancredo also chaired the House Immigration Reform Caucus.
Within days I drove down to Washington to meet with Tom Tancredo and members of his staff. In my discussion with them, I raised my concept of what I had come to refer to as the “Immigration Enforcement Tripod.” In this concept I made the point that most people who voiced concern about immigration often spoke about securing our nation’s borders but almost entirely ignored the issue of the enforcement of the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.
Tom Tancredo invited me to provide testimony to the Immigration Reform Caucus in November 2001 about the aspects of immigration that contributed to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Although the management at INS headquarters refused to sanction my appearance before that hearing, I decided that I would testify, knowing full well that I was, in effect, calling in an air-strike on myself. I joined Doug Kruhm, the former chief of the United States Border Patrol at that hearing and raised the issue of the tripod approach to immigration law enforcement at that hearing.
You can read a copy of my prepared statement for that hearing here.
The reason that I am now raising the issue of the necessity of the effective enforcement of the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States so many years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 is twofold. First of all, I have not been the only one to advocate that the interior program be made effective, many experts have and, in fact, this is a recommendation that was noted by the 9/11 Commission.
Second, we have heard so much about the meltdown of Mexico at the hands of the drug cartels that have engaged in what can only be described as acts of terrorism to intimidate the citizens and the leaders of Mexico. The slaughter of thousands of Mexican and the torture and beheading of police officers, military and government officials are threatening the survival of that nation’s government and the violence has been spilling over the border that is supposed to separate Mexico from the United States. Phoenix, Arizona now suffers an average of one kidnapping or home invasion each day!
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The administration’s response to this madness has been to further curtail an already anemic interior enforcement program where immigration law enforcement is concerned and talk about sending hundreds of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents to the southern border to augment the Border Patrol.
This is such a flawed strategy that I don’t even think that the term “strategy” should even be used in conjunction with the outrageous plan.
There have been a number of news reports in which administration officials have stated that some 230 cities inside the United States of America have become infested by members of the Mexican cartels!
They are here now! They are not simply to be found along our nation’s border but they are in cities from coast to coast and border to border!
It is not just members of the drug cartels that we need to be concerned about but also members of violent gangs such as MS-13 and gangs of virtually every ethnic group from the Russian mob to members of Asian gangs. They are here!
There are, undoubtedly members of terrorist organizations living, working and concealing themselves in cities across our nation today!
It has been estimated that there are probably about 4,000 ICE agents assigned to working on various immigration enforcement activities across our entire nation. To put this in proper perspective, the City of New York has been described as being the ´safest big city in America.
New York has over 8 million residents and its police department has roughly 37,000 police officers to protect those who reside, work and visit New York.
The United States of America has about ten percent the number of ICE agents for the entire country as there are cops patrolling the streets of New York City!
And now, it is believed that some of those precious few agents of ICE will be shifted to the southern border!
This makes about as much sense as trying to win a baseball game and telling the outfielder to sit in the dugout rather than take to the field when their team is on the defensive! Anyone on the opposite team who could hit the ball over the infielders’ heads gets and easy ´in the park home run!¡
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Alternatively, you could also say that this move on the part of the administration makes about as much sense as finding that burglars are ransacking your home and you call for the locksmith and tell him to secure the doors and windows of your home while the burglars are still inside!
Let me start out by explaining why the interior enforcement program is absolutely essential to the safety of our citizens and the very survival of our nation especially as the United States confronts the growing threat posed by not only the Mexican drug cartels but other criminal and terrorist organizations comprised primarily by aliens.
In order to do this, I would like to describe the concept of the immigration enforcement tripod.
Simply stated, the immigration enforcement tripod meant that the immigration inspectors (now known as CBP inspectors) enforce the immigration laws at ports of entry, the Border Patrol agents enforce the immigration laws between ports of entry while the special agents who are assigned to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States comprise the third leg of the enforcement tripod.
It is the third leg of the tripod that has been all but ignored and continues to be ignored to this very day.
These agents of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) should be conducting a number of critical missions to make certain that our nation’s borders are secured and that there is real integrity to the immigration system that the terrorists were so easily able to circumvent.
Among the missions that need to be carried out by ICE agents are:
Conducting investigations of factories, restaurants, hotels, farms and other places where people are employed to make certain that illegal aliens are not being gainfully employed. When an illegal alien is employed, both the employer and the illegal alien employee are violating the laws. Both need to be punished. Illegal aliens who are employed should be taken into custody and made to appear before an immigration judge for a removal (deportation) hearing. The unscrupulous employer who can be proven to have knowingly hired illegal aliens should be fined and face other legal sanctions should the practice of hiring illegal aliens be found to be continuing.
By making it clear that illegal aliens would not have an easy time of securing illegal employment in the United States, more Americans would be able to find jobs, wages earned by American citizens and lawful immigrants would be far more likely to be spent and invested in the United States (this is especially significant at a time when our government is claiming to be seeking to stimulate the American economy) and would reduce the number of illegal aliens streaming across our nation’s borders making it easier to gain control over our nation’s borders, especially the perilous southern border.
Special agents need to conduct investigations of fraud that fall under two basic categories, fraud schemes and fraud documents.
Fraud schemes can also be divided into two broad categories, visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud.
Fraud can be thought of as a lie committed in writing in an application to provide a person with a benefit that the person in question would not be entitled to if all of the relevant information was known to the person (adjudications officer or other official) at the time that the application for that benefit was being processed.
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For the purposes of immigration, such applications might involve an application for a visa that would permit an alien to seek entry into the United States either temporarily on a nonimmigrant visa, such as a tourist visa, student visa or business visa, to name just a few of the visas that are available, or on an immigrant visa that provides the alien with a green card and thus accords that alien lawful immigrant status.
An example of a fraud scheme is the United States citizen or lawful permanent resident alien who marries an alien to provide that alien with resident alien (immigrant status) for money or other benefit. In such marriages, the couple does not really live together as a true couple but get married as part of a n arranged ´business deal.¡ When an investigation discloses that this is the case in a particular ´marriage,¡ the citizen or immigrant spouse should be prosecuted for entering into a criminal conspiracy to violate our nation’s immigration laws as should the alien spouse who sought to use this fraud scheme to acquire a green card. The alien who was seeking to acquire resident alien status through fraud should then be taken before an immigration judge to seek his (her) removal (deportation) from the United States.
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There are other such fraud schemes that involve the concealment of material facts that enable aliens to enter our country and/or embed themselves in our country. Often terrorists are charged with visa fraud because it is often far easier to show that an alien succeeded in entering our country by committing fraud than it is to prove that an alien is a terrorist.
In the case of fraud documents, we can include identity theft, the alteration of legitimate identity documents and the creation of counterfeit identity or supporting documents such as Social Security cards, birth certificates and other such documents.
Today, there have been many reports about how easily aliens can and have gamed the immigration benefits program. Among them have been criminals and terrorists. The solution is not to ignore the problem but to develop the resources to conduct the necessary investigations and law enforcement activities that would bring real integrity to the program that provides millions of aliens with the keys to the kingdom in a truly perilous era.
The adjudicators at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) are rewarded for moving the applications that are stacked on their desks as they try to keep up with the ever increasing number of applications filed by ever more aliens who have become emboldened to file applications for a variety of immigration benefits including applications for residency and United States citizenship based on fraud. These bureaucrats must feel like Lucy and Ethel in that hilarious episode of ´I Love Lucy¡ when Lucy and her friend got jobs at the candy factory and they attempt to wrap morsels of bonbons hurtling at them at ever increasing speed on a conveyor belt moving at warp speed.
The solution, in my judgment, is not to rush the process and compromise integrity, but to go after those who would commit fraud and convince those who would apply for applications that there is a serious price to be paid for attempting to defraud our government! This would, undoubtedly cause a sharp reduction in the number of new applications filed. This would cut waiting times for those who file legitimate applications and simultaneously making it easier for the adjudicators to screen out the fraud and create a bureaucracy that would have far greater integrity.
In this way everyone but the bad guys would win.
This is called deterrence and must be applied to the immigration benefits program that has such serious national security implications!
This can only be achieved by hiring a large number of special agents for ICE and providing them with the training and the resources to create an immigration bureaucracy that has real integrity.
Alien Smuggling / Human Trafficking Investigations:
When aliens are smuggled into the United States, the goal is generally not to simply set foot in the United States near the border but rather to enable the illegal alien to make his (her) way to the city they desire to go to after running our nation’s borders or otherwise entering the United States by circumventing the inspections process. In addition to the obvious ploy of running our nation’s borders, some smuggled aliens stow away on ships or aircraft. Therefore it is important to seek to identify so-called ´safe houses¡ where smuggled illegal aliens may be held until family members or other can provide the funds to the smugglers. It is also important to seek to identify the transporters who, working in cahoots with a smuggler, may use various vehicles to enable illegal aliens to travel across our country.
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It is important to note that smugglers who assist illegal aliens in surreptitiously entering the United States, they also often engage in smuggling narcotics across our nation’s borders and often use illegal aliens as ´beasts of burden¡ to carry a load of narcotics on their person. That is why such illegal aliens are referred to as ´mules.¡
Sometimes the aliens are made to carry narcotics in their person by swallowing narcotics stuffed into condoms that are then retrieved at a “safe house” within the United States. A number of years ago I assisted the DEA in New York in executing a search warrant in Staten Island where such an operation was being run out of an apartment in an apartment building in which people, mostly citizens of Nigeria, entered the United States at John F. Kennedy International Airport with such condoms in their stomachs.
They were met at the airport by a member of the drug organization who drove them to an the apartment where they were given massive doses of a laxative and then one of the workers would use a strainer to retrieve the drug-laden condoms from the toilet. It was only after that all of the condoms had passed through their bodies that these aliens were allowed to leave the apartment to hide in plain sight among the many other illegal aliens who have taken up illegal residency in our country.
In some instances, the condoms would burst before they got off the airplane, often causing the ´swallower¡ to perish because of a massive overdose.
Criminal Alien / Fugitive Investigations:
The agents who are assigned to this unit are responsible for locating aliens who have been convicted of crimes in the United States and have been sentenced to prison sentences. Some of these aliens may have been lawfully admitted to the United States as lawful immigrants (resident aliens) or they may have entered our country illegally. Regardless of how these aliens entered our country, by virtue of their criminal convictions, these aliens are now subject to removal from the United States.
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Additionally, the agents in this squad also seek to arrest illegal aliens who had been deported (removed) from the United States and then, in one way or another, managed to reenter the United States without authorization. A criminal alien (aggravated felon in the parlance of the Immigration and Nationality Act) is subject to a maximum of 20 years of incarceration for the crime of reentry after deportation.
I am particularly proud of the fact that in the early 1980’s I had approached then United States Senator Al D’Amato of New York and convinced him to work with the administration, back then, to have deportation hearings conducted in correctional facilities (rather than wait many years, in some instances, for a criminal alien to be released). I also convinced him to sponsor legislation to promulgate legislation that would differentiate between administrative law violators who were deported from the United States and criminal aliens who were deported from the United States after serving their criminal sentences.
Before that law was enacted, their was no distinction between criminal aliens and aliens who had no felony convictions. Any alien who had been deported and then illegally reentered the United States was facing a maximum of two years in jail. Under the new law, the penalty for criminal aliens (aggravated felons) was created.
Task Force Investigations:
There are a number of task forces that combine local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. The idea behind these task forces can be summed up by one word: synergy. This means that the total is greater than the sum of the parts.
I spent roughly ten years as a senior special agent of the INS assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force. For about 4 years I was the INS representative of the Unified Intelligence Division (UID) of the DEA in New York.
As the INS representative to the UID, some 20 years ago, I decided to compile arrest statistics to see how much of an involvement aliens had in narcotics-related crimes. Back then, some 60% of the defendants who had been arrested by DEA in New York City were identified as being ´foreign born¡ while some 30% of those defendants, nationwide were identified as being ´foreign born.¡
The idea that foreign nationals are heavily involved in narcotics trafficking is not a new problem. It is just a huge component of the problem that our nation’s ´leaders¡ have refused to address!
In both assignments, it became readily apparent that by working with other law enforcement agencies against drug trafficking organizations that all sorts of benefits to the effectiveness of these efforts could be greatly enhanced. Immigration was a major component of this operation, but we always suffered by an extreme lack of manpower and resources, especially where immigration was concerned.
There are other such task forces involving terrorism, gangs and other such serious threats to the safety of our people and the security of our nation.
As an INS (now ICE) special agent, information contained in immigration files offer tremendous insight into the risk of flight of criminals. This issue is of great importance when a criminal is arrested and is being arraigned. A federal magistrate or a judge is supposed to consider two primary issues in fixing bail: danger to the community and risk of flight.
The alien file often contains a veritable track record of past instances where a criminal alien may have used multiple identities, was deported and reentered the United States illegally on numerous occasions or failed to show up for immigration hearings.
The participation of an ICE agent in a criminal investigation may also enable other agencies and prosecutors to not unwittingly enter into a plea bargain deal in which an alien is able to plea bargain away a criminal charge that would result in his deportation from the United States.
ICE agents can also help to bring additional charges against a criminal aliens such as visa fraud, benefit fraud or other such charge. Additionally, there is a charge that calls for a 5 year jail sentence for an illegal alien found to be in possession of a firearm. Only an ICE agent can provide the necessary evidence that the defendant found to be in possession of that weapon is, indeed, an illegal alien.
ICE agents can be instrumental in ´flipping¡ informants. There are provisions of law that can be used to provide an informant and his family, with lawful status in our country if they are instrumental in assisting law enforcement agents in major criminal investigations.
ICE agents can also arrest members of criminal organizations on immigration violations without ever tipping their hand that they are part of a task force that has targeted other members of a terrorist or criminal organization.
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Theses benefits also can help those cities whose leaders are not so screwed up that they declare their cities to be ´sanctuary cities.¡
When a community has a large illegal aliens population, all sorts of businesses spring up in support of that large illegal alien population. These businesses include mail drops services, money-wire services (remitters), telephone arcades and disposable cellphone businesses, document vendors and others that are helpful to illegal aliens and absolutely essential for criminals, drug traffickers and terrorists.
If our nation is to gain the upper hand in the many threats that confront our nation and our citizens, it is absolutely essential that there be an adequate number of ICE agents and supporting resources to make the interior enforcement of the immigration laws the priority is desperately needs to be.
It is the politicization of the immigration laws that has gotten our nation into the mess it is in and it must end. As I noted when I participated in a debate this past week at Fox News’ morning talk show, ´Fox and Friends¡ our nation has two addictions: Cheap labor provided by vulnerable and exploitable illegal aliens and narcotics. The desire for that compliant labor force that has eroded the wages of Americans and has caused them, ultimately to lose their jobs has also caused tens of billions of dollars in wages paid to illegal aliens and alien workers who have been admitted into the United States on “temporary” work visas to be wired or otherwise transmitted out of the United States and thus out of our nation’s economy. Meanwhile, the “Fools on the Hill” (Congress) refused to make the E-Verify program a component of the economic stimulus package!
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Clearly the only solution is to take on the cartels and win! There is no such thing as “second place” in the war on drugs or terror!
This means that a coordinated strategy that couples effective strategies on our nation’s borders must be augmented by the effective enforcement of the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.
Anything that ignores the vital interior enforcement mission is doomed to fail!
The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!
I implore you to get involved! The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.
We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance
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