I received the article that is attached below by a former high-ranking member of INS management who is also a good friend. He undoubtedly sent it to me because of an issue of have raised at a number of Congressional hearings- that fact that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) no loner provides foreign language training its personnel.
In addition to providing the article below, that appears this month in Police Magazine, I have also provided you with some of my testimony before a couple of Congressional hearings that not only addressed the need for Spanish language training for DHS personnel but addressed other areas of vulnerability that have only gotten worse under this administration.
The first excerpt I have attached below is quite short and only deals with a question I was asked by Rep, John Hostettler who was, at the time, the chairman of the Subcommittee. That question was focused on whether or not, in my judgement, if our nation was able to deter alien terrorists from entering our country.
The second excerpt was of my oral remarks at the beginning of that hearing and the questions I was asked as I read my prepared testimony. I also provided a copy of my prepared testimony below that.
I ask that you take the time to read the segments of the testimony I have provided and that you consider reading the entire transcripts if you want to understand just how vulnerable we are. Foreign language training should be a “no-brainer” but then that would make sense and provide an important tool to help our agents enforce our laws. It is impossible to find evidence of any desire to enforce our nation’s immigration laws or secure our borders. However, my goal is to provide as much insight and information as I can to educate our fellow citizens about the many aspects of the immigration crisis that need to be addressed but are not. Problems cannot be solved until and unless you first identify the problems.
When you read the segments of the testimony that I have provided I want you to understand that these issues have not been addressed and, in many ways things are far worse today than they were more than five years ago!
I would remind you that it took the United States all of 44 months to win the Second World War!
On March 10 2005 I testified before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims of the House Judiciary Committee on the issue of Interior Enforcement Resources.
Here is a link to the transcript of that hearing in its entirety:
Here is the link to the transcript of the hearing before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on International Relations:
The title of that hearing that was conducted on May 11, 2006 (more than five years ago) was:
CAN WE BAR THE TERRORIST DOOR?”
The news article that serves as the predication for my commentary today reports on the success of ICE Special Agent Patrick Simpson in locating and arresting a murder suspect because of his Spanish language proficiency.
The opening paragraph of the report provides a concise account of what happened:
Special Agent Patrick Simpson of the Department of Homeland Security was instrumental in helping members of a DHS task force apprehend a fugitive wanted for double homicide. The fact that he spoke Spanish allowed him to locate the suspect, apprehend him, and then elicit a confession. For his efforts, Simpson has been named November 2011 Officer of the Month by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.
As you may know, I was sworn in as an INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) Immigration Inspector in October 1971. In February 1972 I was sent to the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Los Fresnos, Texas. Back then, all INS officers including obviously, Border Patrol Agents, Criminal Investigators (Special Agents), Immigration Inspectors and Deportation Officers were all required to attend basic training at the Border Patrol Academy. An integral part of the training for all enforcement personnel, irrespective of where they would be assigned and irrespective of their job descriptions were required to successfully complete a Spanish language training program. While we were not as fluent as native speakers, the course did equip us to conduct interviews in the field. Many of us were able to build on the training that we were given and acquire excellent language skills.
Any trainee who was unable to pass the Spanish language training was terminated. We were told that this training was so essential because the majority of the illegal aliens in the United States spoke Spanish. A working knowledge of the Spanish language also enhanced officer safety- if a number of illegal aliens were encountered and they decided to engage the agents in a fight, we were trained to be able to understand what was being said as a matter of self-defense.
I recall that when I attended Border Patrol Academy a couple of trainees were terminated- they had “washed out” because they just could not get past that Spanish language training.
That language training served us well throughout our careers and often other law enforcement agencies would specifically ask that we accompany them during field work and arrest operation because of our foreign language skills.
I was astounded that when DHS was created and the INS was disbanded and separated into ICE, CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) that the Spanish language requirement was dropped for CBP Inspectors, ICE Special Agents and other enforcement personnel.
This made no sense.
The report about the success achieved by ICE Special Agent Simpson, a success for which he has been justifiably recognized, reenforces the point I have made at a number of Congressional hearings about the wrong-headed approach taken by DHS to discontinue providing Spanish language training to these enforcement officers who, by the fact that most of the folks they are likely to encounter are aliens who may not speak English.
If Special Agent Simpson had not been available to joint the other agents in that field operation, it is likely that a dangerous murderer would still be at large. Think of how many times bad guys got away and perhaps committed still more crimes as a result.
The lack of foreign language training for immigration enforcement personnel is yet another example of how our government is not working to facilitate the vital work of these agents who are putting their lives on the line on our behalf but don’t get the backing of the government that puts them in harm’s way on a daily basis!
I have been doing whatever I can to change this madness but, at least thus far, I have not seen any improvements.
In fact, I recall noting at a hearing that not only must the Spanish language training requirement be reinstated but that other languages should be taught to our agents including Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and other such strategic languages.
It was shocking to me when not long after I made mention of the need to reinstate the Spanish language training and provide incentives for ICE and CBP enforcement personnel to acquire strategic language training that President George W. Bush held a news conference at the State Department and said that the government would provide essential tools to the employees of our government upon whom we depended for our safety and security. As I recall, Bush talked about how strategic foreign language training would be provided including Arabic, Farsi and Urdu to the employees of the State Department, the intelligence services and the military but he left out ICE and CBP!
Often folks who can speak English feign a lack of English fluency to get law enforcement officers to leave. I have often joked that for them, the magic words to get a law enforcement officer to disappear was not “Abracadabra” but “No hablo inglés.”