Houston Chronicle: “18 arrested in raid at Houston flea market Suspects nabbed by ICE-led task force accused of document fraud”

Hi Gang:

The news report I have linked here appeared in the Saturday, July 24, 2010 edition of the Houston Chronicle and is important for a couple of reasons.

Let me start out by telling you that the issue of immigration fraud is almost never reported on in the news media and is utterly ignored in any discussion about “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”

Immigration fraud comes in two general categories- documents and schemes.

The news report details how special agents of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) executed warrants relating to individuals who were involved in an apparent criminal enterprise to create and then, presumably, sell counterfeit or altered identity documents. Such documents, depending on their quality, can be highly valued by illegal aliens and criminals who are seeking to conceal their true identities and create the illusion of credibility they lack without those documents.

These documents may actually use the true names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers of actual people who may or may not be deceased. This is one of the incentives for what has become the fastest growing white collar crime in the United States today- identity theft. (Anyone who has been the victim of identity theft will readily confirm that this crime is absolutely not a “victimless” crime!)

Illegal aliens who seek unlawful employment often use false identity documents in order to enable them to seek employment even when a dutiful employer attempts to comply with the immigration laws and properly complete Form I-9. Some aliens, however, and even United States citizens have something far more sinister in mind when they purchase fraudulent identity documents- they use a change in identity the way that a chameleon uses changes in coloration as a form of camouflage to enable them to “hide in plain sight.”

It is especially because of this concern that the news report ended with the sentence that contained the quote:
Feinberg said document fraud is an agency priority because it could potentially involve a “national security vulnerability” if someone who is a “high threat” assumes a false identity.

The 9/11 Commission and the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel made numerous references to how false identity documents aided the terrorists who so savagely attacked our nation on September 11, 2001.

Here is the link to the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel:

http://www.9-11commission.gov/staff_statements/911_TerrTrav_Monograph.pdf

Document fraud can also be used to facilitate fraud schemes by making it appear an alien has an advanced education or other skills and licenses to enable him (her) to apply for various forms of visas.

As for the issue of schemes, an easy to grasp example would be the alien who engages in a marriage of convenience or marriage fraud. In this situation the alien generally marries the United States citizen or resident alien who files and application for him (her) to acquire lawful immigrant (resident alien) status that puts the alien on the pathway to United States citizenship.

In 1973 (more years ago than I would like to contemplate) when I was an Immigration Inspector I was offered the opportunity to accept a temporary assignment as an Examiner, a position that is now referred to as an “Adjudications Officer” to adjudicate applications for residency based on marriage. The New York District Office of the INS was creating a pilot program to try to uncover marriage fraud rings and also to deter aliens from attempting to game the immigration bureaucracy.

I agreed to this assignment that lasted for about one year. My colleagues and I encountered many instances of marriage fraud.

Our methodology was quite simple- we interviewed the husband and wife separately and looked for inconsistencies that would tip us off that the loving couple was not really a loving couple but had entered into a criminal conspiracy.

In some instances the “couple” would admit to having attempted to cheat the system when they were confronted with the huge disparities in the answers they each gave to the questions we asked. In some cases they hung tough and a field investigation was conducted by INS investigators who were assigned to the Frauds Unit.

I uncovered a fraud ring that was run by an attorney who specialized in hooking up Chinese ship-jumpers with hookers! They did not speak a common language but unlike the saying, “Love conquers all” in this case you could say that “The price was right!” (Until the lawyer was arrested along with his clients.) This case resulted in my first appearance in federal court as a witness.

A couple of years later when I became a Criminal Investigator (Special Agent) I was assigned to the Frauds Unit and caught many of the cases my former colleagues in the adjudications program referred to the Investigations Branch. This provided me with the relatively rare perspective of having worked on both sides of the fraud equation.

On May 20, 1997 I was called to testify before what would be my first of many Congressional hearings. This hearing was entitled:

“VISA FRAUD AND IMMIGRATION BENEFITS APPLICATION FRAUD”

House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, Committee on the Judiciary,
Washington, DC

The predication for this hearing were the terrorist attacks of 1993 that were committed at the CIA in January of 1993 by a citizen of Pakistan who had acquired political asylum through fraud (lying on his application) and the first bombing of the World Trade Center in February of 1993.

Here is a link to the transcript of that hearing:

http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/judiciary/hju44195.000/hju44195_0f.htm

Roughly six years ago I was contacted by the then Ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Immigration Border Security and Claims, Sheila Jackson Lee and asked to testify at a hearing entitled:

“PUSHING THE BORDER OUT ON ALIEN SMUGGLING: NEW TOOLS AND INTELLIGENCE INITIATIVES”

HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION, BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY- HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Here is the link to the transcript of that hearing:

http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/judiciary/hju93716.000/hju93716_0f.htm

In my discussions with Ms Jackson Lee and her counsel, I made what I believed was a strong case for not only looking at traditional alien smuggling but to also consider document fraud and fraud schemes as a component of alien smuggling.

Clearly our government has been provided with ample opportunities to come to understand just how dangerous immigration fraud is to national security.

Certainly I commend the agents who participated in the investigation in the case noted in the newspaper article but here is the real problem- ICE has far too few special agents and USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) the division of DHS charged with adjudicating the applications for all sorts of immigration benefits is one screwed up agency! They process more than 6 million applications each year and, from what I have been told, they have fewer than 600 investigators working at that beleaguered agency to try to create a semblance of integrity to the process.

The GAO and the Officer of the Inspector General have issued numerous reports on deficiencies at USCIS making it clear that fraud is commonplace.

Now I want you to stop and consider the fact that the administration and members of both houses of Congress are, once again, pushing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

All that the politicians such as Chuck Schumer, the chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee has repeatedly claimed that the border is secure and hence it is time to now have “Comprehensive Immigration Reform! I have no idea what border he expects us to believe is secure! However, where Comprehensive Immigration Reform is concerned, the bigger problem than the lack of border security is the lack of integrity to the immigration benefits program.

I have a long list of reasons why I am adamantly opposed to providing unknown tens of millions of illegal aliens who, in the parlance of the open borders advocates are “undocumented.” This means that they have no reliable or verifiable way of proving who they are. They cannot readily prove their name, their nationality or their accurate date of birth. This means that there is no reliable way to determine if they have criminal histories in other countries. There is, in fact, no way of knowing if they are lying about their identity because their true names are on the “No Fly List” or perhaps a terrorist watch list! That is why I have come to refer to Comprehensive Immigration Reform as the “Terrorist Assistance and Facilitation Act!”

Remember the quote made by acting Special Agent-In-Charge of the Houston office of ICE

“….document fraud is an agency priority because it could potentially involve a “national security vulnerability” if someone who is a “high threat” assumes a false identity.

If there are concerns about the danger inherent in an individual who is a “high threat” creating a false identity through the purchase of altered or counterfeit identity documents- think of the threat that Comprehensive Immigration Reform creates to national security by providing terrorists with genuine identity documents in false names that conceal their true identities!

As I have noted on many, many occasions, including when I have testified before Congress- Al-Qaeda and other terrorist and criminal organizations should give any politician the “MVP Award” if they succeed in ramming Comprehensive Immigration Reform through the legislative process!

Three years ago the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation would have required the inept USCIS to process a minimum of 100,000 applications for Comprehensive Immigration Reform each and every day in addition to all of the other tasks they were already grappling with and failing to deal with in any meaningful way other than to run the bureaucratic conveyor assembly line ever faster throwing integrity and national security to the wind!

About 3.5 years ago the GAO conducted an investigation and determined that USCIS had claimed to have “lost” some 111,000 immigration files relating to applications filed for various immigration benefits including some 30,000 applications for United States citizenship via the naturalization process!

Here is a link to the Washington Post article about this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/28/AR2006112801402.html

Never forget that USCIS would be the agency at the Department of Homeland Surrender that would be put in charge of administering Comprehensive Immigration Reform!

If reading this makes it difficult for you to sleep now- perhaps you could do something worthwhile- perhaps you might spend a couple of your sleepless hours writing letters to your elected representatives this evening and remind them that Election Day is just months away!

We the People can add to the consternation of these politicians who are failing to live up to their oaths of office by contacting them and making it abundantly clear that election day is coming and they should think of election day, November 2nd, as their personal “Day of Reckoning!”

Our government must live up to its obligation of protecting its own citizens and, indeed, all who are present in our country from the criminals and terrorists who would threaten our lives and the survival of our nation and our way of life. In the end, the government is actually those who are elected to act as our “leaders.” Those who fail to truly lead and look out for those they are supposed to represent, need to be sent packing this coming Election Day!

If our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.

My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.

The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.

Any politician who refuses to work to secure our borders and create an immigration system that has integrity is either corrupt or too dumb to keep his (her) job. Any politician, irrespective of party affiliation who favors Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the outrageous betrayal that this would represent given the national security implications that this program would have, should be shown the door at the next election!

If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same. We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

Later this year, each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. Later this year more than one third of the members of the United States Senate will have to face their constituents. They need to be reminded that they work for us, We the People!

However, the practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.
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!

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.I implore you to get involved!
If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation!
All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!
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.
This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!
You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!
Democracy is not a spectator sport!
Lead, follow or get out of the way!

-michael cutler-

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