Senator Jeff Sessions, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee honored me last week when he quoted me during an oversight hearing that the Judiciary Committee conducted into operations at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
As you probably know, USCIS is the bureau with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is responsible for adjudicating applications filed by aliens for immigration benefits such as permitting aliens present in our country as nonimmigrants to extend their authorized period of admission in the United States and change their status to a different nonimmigrant category- such as aliens who enter the United States as students and then seek to acquire H-1B category as did Faisal Shahzad, the “Times Square Bomber.” USCIS also adjudicates applications filed by aliens seeking to become lawful permanent resident aliens and aliens who seek to become United States citizens via the naturalization process. This was, in fact, the way that Shahzad became a United States citizen.
I was delighted when Senator Sessions’ counsel contacted me at the senator’s behest and offered to provide me with the opportunity to provide a statement for inclusion with the official record of that oversight hearing concerning my perspectives on the way that USCIS carries out it vital missions. It is important to remember that USCIS is a component agency of DHS because the missions of this beleaguered agency have serious national security implications. It is also important to remember that the issue of visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud were identified by the 9/11 Commission as being an area of vulnerability.
As you might imagine I immediately accepted Senator Sessions’ offer. (Talk about the proverbial offer you cannot refuse!)
You may recall that Senator Sessions also saw fit to quote me, from the floor of the United States Senate during the floor debate, on three separate occasions approximately three years ago when the United States Senate attempted to ram “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” through the legislative process and down the throats of our citizens. Back then I had written an Op-Ed column for the Washington Times that was entitled, Immigration Bill a “No Go.”
In that commentary I compared the hearings conducted by various Congressional committees and subcommittees on Comprehensive Immigration Reform with the countdown for the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The purpose of the countdown at Cape Canaveral is for the engineers, technicians, scientists and doctors to chime in with whether or not they believe it was safe to launch the spacecraft. The purpose for the Congressional hearings- including those I participated in, was to provide expert witnesses with the opportunity to provide our recommendations as to whether or not the legislative effort to enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform should go forward.
Of course we know that on that cold winter morning in January 1986 Challenger was launched against the objections of a number of NASA’s engineers and just about 73 seconds after liftoff the space shuttle was obliterated in a huge explosion that not only reduced an important national engineering marvel to shards of rubble, but also caused the horrible deaths of the 7 extraordinary astronauts onboard the vehicle.
I opined, in my Op-Ed that while the lives of 7 astronauts hung in the balance during the countdown and then the launch, where Comprehensive Immigration Reform was concerned, the lives of all Americans hung in the balance.
I also provided what I believed then, and still believe to this very day, is a more accurate, honest and descriptive name for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I came to refer to that bit of legislative detritus as the “Terrorist Assistance and Facilitation Act!”
I am attaching a number of items to this commentary, beginning with my statement to be included in the official record of the hearing, followed by the notice of the hearing that the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted on May 11, 2010.
I am also attaching my Op-Ed Piece I noted above along with material concerning Senator Sessions’ statements in which he quoted from my article.
Before we get to the items I just noted above, I feel it is important to make note of the fact that I am often approached by folks who attend events where I speak publicly about immigration and its impact on so many aspects of our nation today- especially national security. I am also, on occasion, stopped on the street by people who recognize me because of my many appearances on national television programs. Often they ask me if my appearances on Capitol Hill really makes a difference. In a word, I honestly believe that the answer is “Yes!”
Certainly their are members of both houses of Congress who do not want to hear the message I bring with me. I sometimes joke that for these political “representatives” there ought to be way of conducting “Listenings” rather than “Hearings!” Such politicians are the reason why Congress gets such low approval ratings. Closed minded politicians who have no interest in hearing both sides of an argument do a huge disservice to our democratic processes.
True leaders such as Senator Sessions, on the other hand, welcome perspectives that are fact based and experience based. This is what the hearing process should be about.
I was very happy and indeed greatly honored that he provided me with this unique opportunity to make my concerns known.
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, and with my statement to be included in the record of the Senate oversight hearing into operations at USCIS, 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!
This is my statement for inclusion in the record of the hearing:
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL W. CUTLER, SENIOR SPECIAL AGENT, INS (RET.) FOR INCLUSION INTO THE RECORD OF HEARING “OVERSIGHT OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES” CONDUCTED BY THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ON MAY 11, 2010
I want to start out by expressing my profound appreciation to Senator Jeff Sessions for his having provided me with this opportunity to present my perspectives and concerns about the way that our nation provides various immigration benefits to aliens who enter our country.
Our nation is currently facing an unparalleled immigration crisis. This crisis profoundly impacts nearly every significant challenge that is confronting our nation. Everything from national security and criminal justice to the economy, the environment, healthcare and education is getting hammered by our nation’s failures to secure its borders and create an immigration system that has real integrity.
Much has been made about the porous borders through which millions of illegal aliens have succeeded in entering our country and certainly remains a major threat to the safety of our citizens and the security of our nation. Aliens who circumvent the inspections process are not simply people who lack documents, as the term “Undocumented” would make it appear. Aliens who circumvent the inspections process are not the equivalent of a motorist who fails to pay a toll before driving over a toll bridge. The inspections process is the means by which employees of CBP (Customs and Border Protection) seek to prevent the entry of aliens into our country whose presence in our country would be harmful to our nation and/or our citizens.
Among the categories of aliens whose entry into our country is proscribed are aliens who suffer from dangerous communicable diseases, aliens who have been convicted of felonies, aliens engaged in smuggling and aliens who are involved in terrorism.
The problem is that when an alien circumvents the inspections process there is no way of knowing if that alien is simply seeking to violate the administrative provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by seeking illegal employment, or if the alien in question is wanted for committing serious crimes in another country and is evading law enforcement authorities in that other country. There is no way of knowing if the alien is involved in criminal or terrorism-related activities and is seeking to enter the United States to commit serious crimes such as those involving violence, narcotics or other felonies. There is no way of knowing if the alien is seeking to enter our country to commit crimes in the United States to secure money to be used in furtherance of terrorist goals in the United States or elsewhere, or embed himself in our nation as a “sleeper agent” and will seek to embed himself in our country while he (she) awaits a phone call or other communication advising him as to what needs to be done to assist in the commission of a terrorist attack
The inspections process, as I am certain you must recognize, is not a mere formality but represents what should be a serious line of defense to protect our nation and our citizens. This is why I have come to say that the difference between a lawfully admitted immigrant and an illegal alien is comparable to the difference between a houseguest and a burglar.
My perspectives are not based on conjecture but are, rather, based on my experiences as an employee of the former INS.
As you may know, I was employed by the former INS for approximately 30 years, having begun my career as an Immigration Inspector assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in October of 1971. I remained in that position until I became a Criminal Investigator (Special Agent) in 1975 where I rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch at the New York District Office. I was additionally assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Office from 1988 until 1991 when I as promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and assigned to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a position in which I remained for the balance of my career with the INS.
As an Immigration Inspector I was responsible for applying the immigration laws of our nation in deciding on whether or not to admit aliens into the United States. This position also required me to process applications for various immigration benefits including applications filed by aliens who had been admitted into the United States as nonimmigrant visitors for pleasure and sought to gain additional time in our country or to change their nonimmigrant status to that of student or some other category of nonimmigrant. I also adjudicated applications for the replacement of lost alien Registration Receipt Cards and for the issuance of Reentry Permits.
By adjudicating these applications I was provided with a unique opportunity to see the way the INS, back then, dealt with the routine adjudications process.
In 1973 I accepted a temporary assignment to the I-130 Unit for a period of one year, to participate in a pilot program to seek to uncover fraud in the applications for residency filed by United States citizen and resident alien spouses of aliens to whom they were married. The purpose of this program was to identify those aliens whose marriages were nothing more than business arrangements in which the U.S. citizen or resident alien spouses were paid to engage in a marriage of convenience and file an I-130 petition on behalf of the aliens seeking a green card and potentially, a pathway to United States citizenship.
The goal of the pilot program was to attempt to create an environment that would discourage the filing of applications for residency that involved fraud. Many fraud marriages were thus uncovered, along with a number of rings that made a mockery of the process.
As an INS Special Agent I investigated and arrested aliens whose violations of law simply involved their having entered our country without inspection or overstayed their authorized period of admission to seek illegal employment to aliens who had committed a wide variety of felonies ranging from murder, rape, robbery, weapons possession, narcotics trafficking and alien smuggling to crimes committed in conjunction with the objectives of terrorist organizations.
Because of my background I have truly seen the immigration crisis that confronts our nation today from a front row seat.
Clearly our nation’s borders must be secured. But this is only one of many steps that must be taken if our nation is to live up to its mandate of protecting the survival of our nation and providing for the safety and security of our citizens.
If you consider the way that a responsible homeowner secures his home and his possessions and the safety of his family members from intruders, you can see that our nation needs to develop a comparable game plan. This is not an unreasonable analogy when you consider that time and again a green card and especially United States citizenship have been referred to as the “Keys to the kingdom.”
Our nation makes virtually no distinction between the United States citizen who acquired his citizenship by being born in the United States as compared with the alien who acquired his (her) citizenship via the naturalization process. In point of fact, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of the most populace state of our nation is a naturalized citizen. Indeed, the only official positions a naturalized citizen may not hold are the positions of President and Vice President of the United States.
The illegal aliens who manage to run our nation’s borders are comparable to an individual who manages to break into a home by crawling through a window left open at the rear of the house.
The alien who manages to commit immigration fraud and game the bureaucracy at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, is the equivalent of the burglar who manages to secure a copy of the key to the front door of the home he has targeted for illegal entry.
When you park your car in a garage where attendants park the car for you, there are almost invariably signs posted warning patrons to not leave any keys other than the ignition key. The obvious first concern is that you don’t want to have a larcenous employee of that garage rummaging through your glove compartment or trunk and possibly steal any of your valuables. Additionally, the potential exists that a dishonest garage employee might make a copy of your house key and be able to determine your address by running your license plate. Such criminals would not have to force their way into their victim’s home but would be able to simply walk through the front door with a key they were able to produce.
Many such burglary rings have, in fact, operated out of parking garages over the years.
Recently police in an affluent community north of New York City discovered that electronic garage door openers had been stolen from expensive cars. The thieves only stole the garage door openers. This was an obvious variation of the tactic employed by the dishonest parking garage employees- the goal being to find a way of gaining access into a victim’s home without having to use force.
Several weeks ago my car was broken into and my son’s backpack was stolen. It contained the keys to our home and his backpack had documents that included our home address. Out of an abundance of caution and commonsense, we immediately had the locks on our house changed.
Time and again news reports have detailed how aliens from countries all over the world have been able to game the immigration bureaucracy in order to gain visas and/or acquire lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship by committing fraud. Time and again the GAO and the OIG have provided reports issued pursuant to investigations that disclosed the ways in which criminals and terrorists, including individuals engaged in espionage have easily gamed the immigration bureaucracy of USCIS to acquire resident alien status and then even United States citizenship as an integral component of their strategy to acquire a job that involved a security clearance or provided access to a secure location. We have seen where an alien who committed marriage fraud was able to ultimately secure a job as an FBI Special Agent and then went on to secure a position at the CIA.
In November of 2006 the GAO issued a report that included the incredible lapse of judgement, or worse, where purportedly some 111,000 immigration alien files were reportedly lost and yet each and every application for an immigration benefit that related to those missing files were adjudicated without those critically important files, including 30,000 aliens who were naturalized even though the adjudications officers were not provided with those files when they adjudicated those applications.
In January 1993 a citizen of Pakistan by the name of Mir Amal Kansi stood outside the main gate of the Central Intelligence Agency and opened fire with an AK-47 on the vehicles being driven into parking lot by CIA officials arriving for work that winter morning. When the shooting stopped, two CIA officers were dead and three others were seriously wounded. Kansi had managed to game the bureaucracy at the old INS and was granted political asylum even though he had committed fraud.
The very next month, the World Trade Center was attacked by aliens who had also gamed the immigration bureaucracy at the old INS.
On September 1, 2006 I was called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”
Here is an excerpt from my prepared testimony that illustrates the seriousness of immigration benefit fraud that was not addressed by the INS:
“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.”
Time and again we have seen how ineptitude at the INS and now at USCIS creates major vulnerabilities for our nation and our citizens.
I previously noted how an individual by the name of Kansi had managed to game the system to gain political asylum before he attacked CIA officials. You would think that the lessons should have, by now, been learned. Immigration fraud is not a victimless crime. Yet consider that recently ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issued a press release into the arrest and prosecution of a 23 year old man from Eritrea.
Please consider this excerpt from that press release:
“According to plea documents, from at least June 2007 until approximately January 2008, Fessahazion was the Guatemalan link of an alien smuggling network that spans East Africa, Central and South America. Specifically, Fessahazion illegally entered the United States at McAllen, Texas, on March 20, 2008. He applied for asylum on Sept. 30, 2008, claiming in his application that he was traveling across Africa in 2007 and 2008, fleeing persecution in Eritrea. However, Fessahazion was actually in Guatemala during that period facilitating the smuggling of East African aliens to the United States.
Fessahazion was granted asylum by the United States on Nov. 13, 2008.”
Clearly our officials know that immigration benefit fraud has figured prominently in a number of terrorist attacks or thwarted terrorist attacks. Aliens have managed to game the system by claiming “credible fear” and thus being granted political asylum. In some instances this has enabled terrorists to embed themselves in our country. Yet Mr. Fessahazion was easily able to violate our nation’s porous borders numerous times and then game the immigration bureaucracy in 2008 to acquire political asylum. It should be presumed that he was easily able to cross the border between the United States and Mexico with his immigration document provided by USCIS less than 2 years ago. His application for asylum was processed in under six weeks. This certainly raises many questions starting with the most fundamental- how thoroughly was his claim of “credible fear” investigated? The false claim he made about credible fear concerned a country on the other side of the planet and in under six weeks his false claim was rewarded when he was granted political asylum.
I would remind you that Kansi’s attack on the CIA occurred more than 14 years before Fessahazion filed his fraudulent application for political asylum. This apparently illustrates that the lessons that should have been learned by a government agency that has clear national security implications were not.
This case is only one of a long list of cases in which immigration benefit fraud provided opportunities for criminals, terrorists and spies to embed themselves in our country and conduct operations that were detrimental to the security of our nation and the safety of our citizens.
In listening to the testimony and the responses of USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas to questions posed by Senator Orin Hatch, it became clear to me that many of the issues concerning the adjudications process and the integrity of the system still lacks the resources and the abilities to create a system that has real integrity when it has been made abundantly clear that immigration fraud has facilitated terrorist attacks that were committed on American soil and other attacks that were thwarted by effective work by our law enforcement officials while still other attacks failed because of the ineptitude of the terrorists. As I noted in a recent commentary I wrote, “If hope is not a strategy then dumb luck is not a success.”
We should never take comfort when our enemies fail because of their ineptitude. The most recent attack at Times Square is a good example of such a failure of the terrorist who, but for the failure of his explosives, might have killed many and wounded still more.
Having touched on the national security implications of the immigration benefits program I think it is worth considering another issue; the H-1B temporary visa program that has also failed in its mission to protect the jobs of American workers. Faisal Shahzad, the “Times Square Bomber” had on multiple occasions apparently gamed the immigration benefits program including the fact that he had secured an H-1B visa as an accounting clerk. This also points out another fundamental failure of this program.
Prior to the Second World War, the enforcement and administration of the immigration laws was the responsibility of the United States Labor Department. The concern was that the influx of massive numbers of foreign workers might have an adverse impact on the jobs, salaries and working conditions of American workers who were supporting themselves and their families. The underlying concept of what came to be called the “American Dream” was that each generation of Americans, in providing greater educational opportunities for their children would enable each succeeding generation to live more successful lives than did their parents.
On a personal note, my own mother legally immigrated to the United States as a teenager several years before the onslaught of the Holocaust that caused the slaughter of so many people including members of my own family- my mother’s mother among them and for whom I was named. My mother lived in a rooming house and worked in an umbrella factory when she first arrived in the United States and was paid just three dollars per week. She never had the opportunity to gain an education. She never completed public school. My dad was born in Brooklyn to an immigrant family that came from Russia at the beginning of the last century but because of his family’t situation, he never went beyond the 8th grade. My parents, however, made certain that I went to college. This was the way, they told me, that I would secure my thin slice of the “American Dream.”
Therefore I was greatly disturbed to watch and listen to Alan Greenspan’s testimony when he testified before a hearing conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration on April 30, 2009 about Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Mr. Greenspan made a statement that included the following excerpt:
“The second bonus would address the increasing concentration of income in this country. Greatly expanding our quotas for the highly skilled would lower wage premiums of skilled over lesser skilled. Skill shortages in America exist because we are shielding our skilled labor force from world competition. Quotas have been substituted for the wage pricing mechanism. In the process, we have created a privileged elite whose incomes are being supported at noncompetitively high levels by immigration quotas on skilled professionals. Eliminating such restrictions would reduce at least some of our income inequality.”
In reviewing Mr. Greenspan’s testimony I was compelled to review the portion of the INA that deals with the issuance of temporary work visas:
Under the INA, the law…”
“…excludes aliens seeking to immigrate “for the purpose of performing skilled or unskilled labor,” except that such aliens may be eligible for a visa if:
the Secretary of Labor has determined that (A) there are not sufficient United States workers who are able, willing, qualified and available at the time of application for a visa and admission into the United States and at the place where the alien is to perform the work, and (B) the employment of the alien will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of the United States workers similarly employed.”
Clearly what Mr. Greenspan had called for- the significant increase in quotas or perhaps even the elimination of quotas for temporary work visas to address the “income inequality” between America’s skilled and unskilled workers and thereby stop making a “privileged elite” to use his terminology, out of American workers who have skills or education. Mr. Greenspan’s stated goals would appear to run contrary to the letter and spirit of the immigration laws concerning foreign workers. His goals would reduce the salaries of American middle class workers.
If our government was to take Mr. Greenspan’s advice, there would be no reason for an American student to attend a trade school or even college
USCIS is charged with adjudicating applications filed by aliens seeking to change their status to that of an H-1B visa holder and other categories of temporary nonimmigrant workers. The fact that Senator Charles Schumer who chairs the Immigration Subcommittee in the Senate would hold that hearing and have Mr. Greenspan provide testimony that included such troubling language that reflected a mindset that appears to seek to end the concept of the “American Dream” has left me greatly concerned.
In view of this, I believe it would be of great importance to understand what measures are being taken at USCIS to combat fraud in the H-1B Program not only in terms of the potential impact that this may have on national security but on the way it may well impact the ability of the average American to support himself and his family, especially in this era of double digit unemployment where a record number of Americans are losing their tenuous grip on their position in the “middle class.”
It is now estimated that one in six Americans lives below the poverty level and foreclosures are at extremely high levels. Meanwhile in the name of an economic stimulus program our nation has run up a national debt that to my knowledge far and away exceeds any previous national debt level. Foreign workers have one fundamental goal in seeking employment in the United States- to send money back to their families in their home countries. This results in the wiring of tens of billions of dollars out of the United States each and every year. This is money that is not earned by Americans or resident aliens. This is money that is not spent in the United States. This is money that is not invested in the United States. This is money that is utterly removed from our nation’s beleaguered economy.
It reminds me, in fact, of an analogous situation where someone turns on the faucets on his bathtub but by leaving the drain open, he never has enough water in his tub to take a bath.
How much effort, therefore is given to making certain that artful attorneys don’t aid client companies and foreign workers in locking Americans and lawful immigrant aliens out of jobs they desperately need to stay afloat financially so that the attorneys can get their fees and companies can reduce labor costs to the detriment of the citizens of our country?
The mission of USCIS is comparable to the job of the locksmith who provides the keys to our country to aliens from around the world. The fact is that our nation is a “nation of immigrants” but it is absolutely essential that the process by which aliens seeking a variety of immigration benefits be treated fairly and with dignity. Yet combatting fraud must be a major part of the effort of this agency that has serious national security implications.
Combatting fraud requires that USCIS and ICE have an adequate number of special agents who can actually locate, investigate and arrest aliens and those who conspire with them to commit immigration fraud. Simply taking down an occasional large scale fraud ring may generate a headline but in order to really have the desired effect, USCIS and ICE must create a program such as the one I participated in more than 35 years ago.
Today it would appear that there is little chance that an alien who engages in a marriage fraud or labor certification fraud will be detected. There is even a slimmer possibility that such criminal activities will result in the prosecution of those involved. This emboldens more aliens and more citizens to enter into criminal conspiracies to game the system. Immigration fraud is certainly not a victimless crime but it is a virtually prosecutionless (sic) crime that encourages ever more aliens to game the system and encourages ever more citizens to participate in these schemes to make a quick profit.
It has been said that you only get one opportunity to make a first impression. For hundreds of thousands of aliens who enter our country each year, the first impression they get of the United States of America comes from their contact with the enforcement and administration of the Immigration and Nationality Act. When it becomes virtual common knowledge that our government has no real interest or capability to secure our nation’s borders or enforce or administer the immigration laws effectively, the lesson is that in the United States you can expect to not only get away with violating our laws but you can be expected to be rewarded for violating our laws.
In my humble opinion this is a very dangerous first impression especially in this perilous era where the immigration benefits program administered by USCIS has been gamed repeatedly by criminals and terrorists as an embedding tactic.
It is this concern that compels me to touch on another issue. Today so many of our nation’s leaders are openly advocating for a program under the banner of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” that would provide aliens whose presence in our country represents a violation of law with a pathway to United States citizenship.
There is no way to know the true names or nationalities of these millions of aliens. Consequently there would be no way of determining when, where or how they entered the United States. There would be no way of determining whether these aliens had involvement with criminal or terrorist organizations.
The fact that each application would undergo a “security check” would only catch those aliens whose fingerprints were on file for having committed a criminal offense or had been previously encountered by the immigration system.
An alien who had never been fingerprinted and who provided a false name would easily acquire lawful status and official identity documents under that false name that would immediately enable him (her) to obtain a Social Security Card, a driver’s license and all other sorts of identity documents. The identity document that would be provided to an alien under the auspices of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” would be the ideal “breeder document” and would create a national security nightmare of unprecedented proportions.
The 1986 Amnesty that was supposed to encourage one million to one and a half million aliens to step out of the proverbial “shadows” resulted in approximately four million aliens coming forward to seek legalization including several terrorists among them.
There are a couple of reasons that we wound up with about 3 times as many aliens seeking legalization than were originally estimated. First of all there was apparently some undercounting- either intentional or unintentional. Second- and most importantly- there was absolutely no way of knowing how long an alien has been present in our country if they entered the United States without being inspected. There was no record of that person’s entry into the United States.
Today the estimated number of illegal aliens in our country range from a low of 12 million to a high of more than 30 million. If the lowest estimate is correct and if, as happened in 1986 we wind up with 3 times as many aliens stepping forward, then it must be presumed that more than 36 million aliens plus their families will line up for lawful status in our country- making an absolute mockery of the visa program by which aliens have traditionally sought to immigrate to the United States to begin their lives anew in our country. If the actual number of illegal aliens is closer to 30 million, then we are looking at a veritable human tsunami. There is absolutely no way I could imagine that the system could even begin to cope with the onslaught of so many aliens- all of whom are “undocumented” meaning that they do not possess even a shred of reliable official identity documents to attest to their true identities.
As for the current situation at USCIS- if fraud could be deterred in a meaningful way then perhaps the agency that has, for decades been fixated on chasing the ever increasing backlog to the detriment of the integrity of the process might find the backlog actually shrink as fewer fraudulent applications were filed. This would be, to my thinking, a far more effective way of reducing the backlog of applications while actually increasing the integrity of the process and actually reducing the waiting time for those who file legitimate applications for various benefits including those who seek to share the American Dream and become a part of the tapestry of this magnificent nation.
I would be happy to provide responses to any questions my statement may give rise to.