"Immigration officials struggle with identity management â?? and mismanagement"

Hi Gang:

It could be argued that the most valuable possession that we have is our (hopefully) good name.
One of the very first questions we expect to be asked and are likely to ask of someone we meet for the first time is, “Who are you?”
Open borders advocates, the folks I have come to refer to as the “Immigration Anarchists” attempt to minimize the significance of aliens who evade the inspections process and enter the United States surreptitiously by referring to such aliens as being “undocumented.”  Obviously they want people to forget that these illegal aliens snuck into the United States.  Such behavior would and should give sensible people, the proverbial “Cause of Pause!”
(When I was an INS special agent we referred to such aliens as being EWI- “Entered Without Inspection.”) 
However, the term “Undocumented” is not without its own inherent problem- especially in this day and age where official identity documents are required for all sorts of routine and mundane purposes such as entering government or corporate office buildings, making a purchase, boarding an airliner seeking employment or otherwise going about our daily lives.  Perhaps this is why a number of immigration anarchists are now using a new term to describe illegal aliens- “Unauthorized!”
By the way, while many news organizations and advocates for open borders have done everything they can to eradicate the term “Alien” where it applies to immigration the acronym, DREAM Act stands for: Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors.  (Note that the next to last word in DREAM is “Alien!”  While the advocates for illegal aliens are adamant about striking the term Alien from the vernacular, the desire to connect their fatally flawed legislation to the “American Dream” was apparently so strong that they decided to use that dreaded “A word” but just in conjunction with the DREAM Act!
The term alien, by the way, is a legal term that according to the Immigration and Nationality Act is defined simply as being, “Any person not a citizen or national of the United States.”  There is absolutely no insult in that definition but truth and clarity something that is insurmountable where pushing a legislative disaster is concerned!  In fact, the “M” in the DREAM Act is “Minor.”  Proponents of the DREAM Act are attempting to create the illusion that this is about helping “Alien Minors.”  In point of fact, the age cut off is 32!  In what society is a 31 year old considered a minor?
One of the ways that those illegal aliens who have nefarious goals and need to take on the illusion of credibility and trustworthiness is to steal someone’s identity or purchase such a stolen identity from a criminal who specializes in identity theft.
Today the focus of my commentary is the issue of the failures of the federal government to effectively combat this threat to national security even though the 9/11 Commission made it clear that the terrorists who so savagely attacked our nation more than eleven years ago, made ample use of multiple false identities through a variety of ploys.  In the aggregate, the 19 terrorists, who participated in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were found to have used more than 300 false identities or variations of identities.
The predication for this commentary is an article that appeared in the online version of Nextgov Magazine and is dated December 14, 2012.  A copy of that article appears below.
I have often noted that the only thing worse than no security is false security.  Today the proponents for various massive amnesty programs such as “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” the “DREAM Act” and the “ACHIEVE Act” attempt to assuage the understandable concerns of American citizens by promising that every alien who applies for any such benefit would be required to undergo a “security check.”  
If you are not familiar with the concept of an security check- you should know that all that is done is to run the applicants fingerprints though process that compares those prints with prints known to relate to criminals and/or terrorists.  If a terrorist or transnational gang member was never fingerprinted in the United States, there is a good chance that even if he (she) has been arrested and fingerprinted in another country that their arrest record will not show up during this process.  Next the applicant’s name is compared against names contained in various databases to attempt to see if the name matches a known criminal or terrorist.  This process is not without serious problems.  Many international terrorists and transnational criminals speak, read and write languages that use a completely different alphabet so that translating a name from one alphabet to another is seriously problematic.  Consider names that are written in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Urdu for starters!  (There are many more such foreign languages to be certain!)
Further complicating the process is the idea of processing applications for immigration benefits that are filed by “Undocumented Aliens.”  This means that they do not have reliable official identity documents to attest to their true identities!  This is more than just a bit problematic!
Whenever you hear some advocate for immigration anarchy talk about undocumented aliens think about a foreign national who cannot or, most probably don’t want to reveal their true identities because they have something to hide!  (Criminals and terrorists use changes in identity the way that a chameleon uses changes in coloration- to hide in plain sight, often among his (her) intended victims!
I have, in fact, discussed this issue when I have appeared before Congressional hearings but it would certainly appear that some of our political leaders should attend “listenings!”  I have often had the urge as some of those hearings to inquire, “Can you hear me now?!”
On May 20, 1997 I appeared before my first Congressional hearing- one that was conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims on the topic of Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefit Application Fraud.  That hearing was conducted because of the two terrorist attacks that were carried out inside the United States by aliens who had gamed the visa issuing process and the immigration benefits program.
At this hearing I was only present to answer questions that might be posed by members of the subcommittee.  At all subsequent hearings at which I have participated I have been asked to provide prepared testimony.
Here is a link to the transcript of that hearing:
During the course of that hearing I was asked by the then chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, about the issue of fraud.  Here is an excerpt from the transcript of that hearing:

    Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Yates.

    Mr. Cutler, assuming that the problem is as bad as Mr. Yates just
testified, and you have one service center out of four with 17,000
fraudulent applications because of marriage fraud, do you think the
problem is that great?

    And a second question at the same time, since not all agents are
going to have photographic memories, what is the solution to try to stop
the degree of marriage fraud that we are seeing today in the future?

    Mr. CUTLER. Well, good morning, Mr. Chairman. I welcome
this opportunity. I was an I–130 examiner many years ago back in the
1970’s. I am now with the Drug Task Force.

    I can tell you many times when I review immigration files of targets
of investigation, people we believe are involved in narcotics and other
criminal activities, we find that these people have their residency in
the United States and yet their spouses are nowhere to be found. It may
well be that they had a marriage that was legitimate and it dissolved,
as happens to many people; or it may well have been they entered into a
marriage fraud in the first place.

    It is very difficult when you get a file of somebody who became a
resident alien based on a marriage to make a definitive decision as to
whether or not there was a marriage fraud. There are so many different
ways that it is done. You have people that get divorced on paper; they
really aren’t divorced, they still have their spouses back home waiting
in the wings, waiting to come over as soon as the person finalizes their
residency.

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    Even in the area of imposters—we keep talking about name checks, we
are going to check the name against the master list. I think what is
even more important and perhaps more worthwhile would be for us to be
more reliant upon biometrics.

    The problem that we have is that people can be anybody they want to
be. I had an instance recently where we had a Russian national, whom we
arrested, and the guy was apparently deported from the United States,
and came back to the United States with a brandnew identity. He paid a
total of $140 for a new passport from Russia, and this passport was a
legitimate document, improperly issued. This passport contained a
nonimmigrant visa. The State Department couldn’t be expected to figure
it out.

    Mr. SMITH. Let me squeeze in one more question. I want to go back to your point about biometrics.

    As I understand it,

that would include a photograph or
fingerprinting. I would like to ask, and I see—when you mentioned that,
I saw several heads nod. I would like to ask all of our witnesses what
they think about that and whether that would help reduce the widespread
use of fraudulent documents.

That hearing was conducted more than four years after two terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil that resulted in the loss of life, the injuring of an estimated one thousand people and the near destruction of the World Trade Center Complex which suffered an estimated one half billion dollars in damages.
That hearing was conducted roughly four years before the devastating terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Had the lessons of the attacks of September 1993 been taken into account by the federal government and our political leaders, the attacks of 9/11 would likely not have taken place!  This is the source of so much of my anger and frustration out our “leaders!”
Today the federal government is still refusing to learn those costly lessons and are being aided and abetted in nonfeasance, misfeasance and malfeasance by local and state governments that openly declare themselves to be “Sanctuaries” for illegal aliens who true identities, backgrounds, affiliations and intentions are unknown and unknowable!
On September 1, 2006 the House Judiciary Committee, then chaired by Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, held a field hearing at Dubuque, Iowa on the topic:
I was one of the four witnesses who testified at that hearing.  I made mention of the way that immigration benefit fraud enabled the terrorists to embed themselves in the United States by citing the specific example of one of the terrorists who participated in the 1993 World Trade Center attack.  Here is an excerpt from my testimony:

    A notable example of such a terrorist can be found in a review of the facts concerning Mahmud Abouhalima, a citizen of Egypt who entered the United States on a tourist visa, overstayed his authorized period of admission and then applied for amnesty under the agricultural worker provisions of IRCA. He succeeded in obtaining resident alien status through this process. During the 5 year period he drove a cab and had his license suspended numerous times for various violations of law and he ultimately demonstrated his appreciation for our Nation’s generosity by participating in the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 that left six people dead, hundreds of people injured and an estimated one-half billion dollars in damages inflicted on that iconic, ill-fated complex. America had opened his doors to him so that he might participate in the American dream and he turned that dream into our worst nightmare. The other terrorists who attacked our Nation on subsequent attacks, including the attacks of September 11, 2001, similarly exploited our generosity, seeing in our Nation’s kindness, weakness, gaming the immigration system to enter our country and then hide in plain sight among us.
It is infuriating that eleven years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and nearly 20 years after the terrorist attacks of 1993 that the leaders of our government refuse to accept that immigration law enforcement and border security are two vital components of national security!
The first step in problem solving is to identify and acknowledge that a problem exists.  Clearly this administration refuses to address vulnerabilities that, God forbid. may provide the opportunities to a future team of terrorists to launch yet another terrorist attack on American soil and kill more innocent victims!  Similarly politicians from both political parties, who can only think about how they can garner campaign contributions and the vague promises of votes are willing to compromise America’s national security and undermine hardworking American workers and their families where their aspirations for success are being taken from their grasp by facing unfair competition from foreign workers
 
Immigration is not a single issue but a singular issue that impacts nearly every challenge and threat confronting the United States today!  Simply stated, the immigration laws were enacted to save lives and protect the jobs of American workers.

If our government’s failures to protect innocent lives and American jobs by securing our nation’s borders and effectively enforcing our immigration laws 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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http://cdn.nextgov.com/nextgov/interstitial.html?rf=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nextgov.com%2Fbig-data%2F2012%2F12%2Fimmigration-officials-struggle-identity-management-and-mismanagement%2F60174%2F%3Foref%3Dnextgov_today_nl

Immigration officials struggle with identity
management – and mismanagement


William Duke

By Aliya
Sternstein
December 14, 2012

Since the days of Ellis Island, the identity of foreigners has
been documented and sometimes changed upon arrival in America.
Turn-of-the-century immigration officers checked ship manifests or
simply translated the names provided by non-English speaking
newcomers. 

Post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security Department officials are more
cautious. Authorities check myriad documents, biometrics and various
interagency databases to protect lawful immigrants, and to deny entry
to illegal aliens, criminals and terrorists. 

Still, some manage to fake out today’s more sophisticated
immigration system.

As the cache of personal data grows, so does the risk that con
artists will exploit it for financial gain and federal authorities
will misuse it, critics say. Already, legal immigrants have been
detained because of identity mismatches, work visa candidates have
been targeted by identity thieves, and insiders have stolen
immigration records to sell fake passports. 

Federal officials maintain they are trying to verify the
identities of foreigners without compromising personal information.
Fingerprints and iris scans are among the more reliable ID
verification technologies. Portable DNA screening devices may be on
the horizon. Officials say they take care to safeguard the databases
that house the sensitive data collected.

Nonetheless, the potential for mission creep with multiple ID
systems in play has immigrant rights groups and privacy activists
skittish. Conversely, critics of enforcement operations say the
government doesn’t collect enough data to confirm legal status. In
August, for example, more than 1 million young undocumented
foreigners became eligible to apply for a two-year reprieve from
deportation solely by submitting required paperwork and paying the
processing fees. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro
Mayorkas says he has prioritized fraud detection and counterterrorism
efforts since taking office in 2009. “I determined we must enhance
the emphasis on quality in our adjudicative approach,” he told the
House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement in
February. “We strengthened the international exchange of threat
information, including biometrics . . . new vetting protocols subject
refugee applicants to more rigorous screening against a number of
security databases to ensure they are eligible for refugee status and
do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.” 

The biometrics and number of security databases, however, create a
gold mine for identity thieves. The Labor Department, for instance,
makes public certain forms employers submit for foreigners they want
to sponsor for H-1B work visas. Immigration attorneys say scammers
could be using this and other online personal data for spear phishing
campaigns designed to sell sham documents to foreigners or con them
into paying bogus USCIS fines. Immigrants are especially vulnerable
to identity and financial theft because their livelihood is tied to
paying fees and submitting personal information to stay in the United
States. 

Employment Scams

In July, Labor attracted criticism again when it sought comment on
plans to collect even more details on job candidates, including name,
birthdate, where the immigrant would be working, and information
about wages. “The more personally identifiable information that you
put in the public realm the greater risk of identity fraud,” says
Blake Chisam, former senior counsel on the immigration subcommittee.
Foreigners are reluctant to report ID theft to authorities because
many distrust law enforcement. 

The Labor Department is still reviewing input on proposed
modifications to work visa forms and expects to issue a draft form
for further public comment. A Labor official says the potential
changes “are intended to enhance the department’s integrity
review and to ensure accuracy and completeness.  The department
will comply with all laws and regulations concerning the disclosure
of confidential information.” 

Chisam, now a partner at immigration law firm Fragomen, Del Rey,
Bernsen and Loewy, says rights advocates have filed reports with
USCIS about foreign nationals who have received calls from swindlers.
He described situations in which a purported government official
claimed, for example, “Your I-94 immigration form number is [XYZ].
We at the agency believe there is a problem and you need to file an
additional fee to [some country] by Western Union.” 

USCIS officials say they are aware of websites pulling similar
stunts that offer bogus job opportunities to foreign workers. The
supposed employers hosting these sites inform applicants of certain
immigration fees they have to pay. After the money is transferred,
the applicant never hears from the “employer” again and the
website goes dark. USCIS is advising foreigners on how to avoid such
scams through a Web page called the Wrong Help Can Hurt. But some say
the remedy is not to collect less information because that also could
harm public safety. Critics of USCIS’ Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals program complain that young illegal immigrants aren’t
required to undergo biometric ID checks. The initiative relies on
what opponents say is a bunch of forgeable papers—birth
certificates, school records, immigration forms, insurance policies
and other affidavits. 

“To a certain extent, when you are dealing with these deferred
populations, you are dealing with a population that you cannot
verify. You are accepting fraud into the system automatically,”
says Janice L. Kephart, director of national security policy for the
Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that favors limiting
immigration. 

Document Peddlers

Citizens concerned about illegal immigrants say the Obama
administration’s deferral program essentially sidesteps the law.
Lawmakers rejected legislation known as the DREAM Act, which would
have offered a provisional path to legalization for undocumented
students and military members. 

Officials say USCIS is attentive to the risk of adolescent
immigrants cheating the system. “The Fraud Detection and National
Security Directorate has significant tools and expertise to protect
the integrity of the immigration system, including the deferred
action program,” spokesman Christopher Bentley says. USCIS is
working with school districts and educational institutions to figure
out mechanisms for spotting and discouraging fake records, he adds.
USCIS also conducts outreach to “protect the public from falling
victim to scams involving false documentation,” Bentley says. 

Despite such efforts, document peddlers, including federal
employees, have suckered immigrants

and U.S. citizens. “At any
point in time that you have material gain and gatekeepers, you’re
going to have some degree of corruption,” says Travis Hall, a
doctoral candidate at New York University who studies the social and
cultural history of identification technologies. 

He is examining the use of iris scans, DNA tests and other
physical traits to improve national security, border control and
social welfare. “There’s a whole slew of problems that can happen
on biometric systems if someone gets enrolled as someone else,” he
says. Due to cultural and language barriers, foreigners may not have
enough information about the workings of the immigration system to
resolve data errors. “Unless you’ve got resources, it’s really
hard to fight back,” Hall says. 

Some immigrant rights groups contend foreigners are wrongly
deported under a controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement
fingerprinting program called Secure Communities. The initiative
compares the records on offenders in an FBI multibiometric database
with fingerprints in a DHS identification system to determine whether
suspects are in the country illegally.

One immigrant allegedly was wrongfully imprisoned for months as a
result of the Secure Communities program. James Aziz Makowski, who
gained citizenship at age 1 after being adopted, now is suing the
government for detaining him due to the misuse of outdated
citizenship records. He initially came in contact with authorities
after being arrested on drug charges in July 2010. ICE had not
revised its records in more than 20 years and Makowski’s
nationality was registered as “India,” according to a court
complaint. Meanwhile, the FBI had him listed as a citizen since high
school, when he underwent a background check to join the U.S.
Marines. Only after Makowski’s father retained a lawyer did ICE
drop the extradition case. 

ICE officials say they are working to prevent such mishaps. The
agency “has already taken numerous steps to ensure that the
detention of U.S. citizens does not occur, including a new detainer
form and a toll-free hot line—(855) 448-6903—that detained
individuals can call if they believe they may be U.S. citizens,”
ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen says.

Agency officials insist the FBI’s information sharing program is
useful. “One of the benefits of Secure Communities is that
individuals’ identities are verified or determined through
biometric data—fingerprints, specifically—to determine whether or
not they’ve been encountered before by federal law enforcement or
DHS,” Christensen says. The program “has been helpful in
uncovering individuals’ true identities when they’ve given state
or local law enforcement aliases, or have otherwise been engaged in
some kind of identity or benefit fraud.”

Testing Biometrics

Several DHS agencies are experimenting with other biometric
indicators to dig up criminal histories. Homeland Security officials
have begun testing iris-matching technology on suspected illegal
immigrants at Border Patrol stations. “The department is exploring
additional biometric modalities such as face and iris to determine
what may be possible to implement in our operational environments,
whether it be for enforcement or Trusted Traveler programs,”
Kimberly Weissman, spokeswoman for the US VISIT program,
told Nextgov in July. US VISIT maintains Homeland
Security’s ID database. Trusted Traveler allows select low-risk
American and foreign international passengers who have consented to
background checks and fingerprinting to zip past U.S. airport
security. 

Homeland Security also has developed rapid DNA equipment to
confirm kinship during immigration processing. “When there is no
evidence that establishes a familial relationship, we can suggest to
people that they might want to provide DNA testing results, but we
can do no more than suggest it,” USCIS’ Bentley says. “Our DNA
policy is that if people want to provide DNA voluntarily on their
own, and it helps their case, they can.” 

DHS is designing a rapid DNA system for a variety of other
potential uses too, including “countering human trafficking, family
reunification, identification of victims following mass casualties
and checks against DNA samples of known criminals,” a September DHS
privacy assessment stated. 

Homeland Security needs rapid DNA technology—portable analysis
tools intended to identify individuals within an hour—to single out
border violators and ICE detainees, according to a 2010 DHS
presentation. An earlier internal USCIS policy options memo had
proposed forcing immigrants to submit a DNA swab. Officials were
dealing with people from countries like Somalia who were falsely
claiming a right to U.S. residency based on phony identities.
“Screening from this region is important, as evidenced by the 1998
U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the fact that Somalia
has long been a haven for al Qaeda. Adding urgency to the issue is
the recent revelation that a naturalized U.S. citizen blew himself up
in a suicide bombing in Somalia,” the memo stated. 

Hall says DNA samples may be impractical for searching records to
validate identities but useful for proving parental lineage or
matching up multiple files on the same person. DNA “is good at
telling you that two people aren’t the same, but not so much in
differentiating between two people who are really similar,” he
says. It would be difficult to prove siblings are related with DNA or
to confirm a grandfather-grandson relationship. “The only way that
DNA would be able to tell if someone was [Osama] bin Laden’s
brother would be if they already had DNA from bin Laden’s brother
or his mother and father,” Hall says. For these reasons, he adds,
DNA matching among relatives needs further investigation. 

There also are civil liberties tensions surrounding the holding
period for DNA swabs and other permissible applications of the
genetic material. “When samples collected for civil purposes, or
even criminal if the person is acquitted, are then kept indefinitely
and used to be searched for all kinds of different purposes—it can
get people caught up in all kinds of problems,” Hall says. “Usually
you can have your DNA or fingerprints expunged, but you have to
specifically ask and go through the bureaucratic machine to do so—the
onus is on the individual, not the state.” 

Plus, DNA samples are now known to reveal more sensitive
information than previously believed. Several years ago, Homeland
Security officials said the FBI’s method of creating DNA profiles,
using 13 markers, positively identified an individual without
disclosing his or her traits or disorders. But in September,
scientists discovered that those 13 markers and every DNA marker once
thought of as “junk DNA,” or unassociated with personal
characteristics, actually do reveal telling information. 

The September DHS privacy review stresses that each new purpose
for using rapid DNA will require significant new regulations or
regulatory revisions, as well as privacy and civil rights
assessments. And Bentley repeats, “We have no statutory, regulatory
authority to require DNA testing.” 

Immigration processing has become a lot more sophisticated since
the days of Ellis Island, but even with high-tech ID systems, Lady
Liberty’s watchful eye is increasingly put to the test.

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