Immigration is a vital area of concern where the attack at the shopping mall in Kenya is concerned.
America’s borders and immigration laws are America’s first line of defense against international terrorists and its last line of defense.
News reports about the ongoing shopping mall attack in Kenya include unconfirmed assertions that at least three of the attackers were from the United States while other attackers include citizens of Canada, Great Britain and Finland. These three countries are also countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program under which citizens of 37 countries do not need to first apply for and obtain visas to enter the United States. The Visa Waiver Program removes an important layer of security to protect America and Americans. An effectively administered visa program essentially moves America’s borders to U.S. embassies and consulates where visas are issued.
Congressman Peter King has talked about his concerns about how al- Shabab might seek to recruit terrorists within the Somalian community in the United States.
The brief news report by ABC News on September 22, 2013, concerning Rep. King’s concerns get to the heart of his concerns:
“I would assume that local law enforcement are looking into Somalia-American communities today,” King said, noting that there have been some Somalia-Americans trained by al Shabab, and law enforcement will need to ensure a similar attack won’t happen on American soil.”
What Congressman King has not discussed is the immigration factor- the possibility that terrorists who gamed the visa process or political asylum programs may have been admitted into the United States. I am very supportive of but I have great concerns that the lack of scrutiny to the applications create opportunities for terrorists to use claims of “credible fear” as a means of entering and embedding themselves in the United States.
I discussed my concerns when I was interviewed by Megyn Kelly of Fox News on May 2, 2013, about the Boston Marathon bombing by the Tsarnaev brothers on April 15, 2013. Here is a link to the interview:
The The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel provided information about how fraud in the immigration benefits program including the political asylum program have been exploited by terroirsts. Here is a paragraph under the title “Immigration Benefits” found on page 98:
“Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.”
Page 47 of the above-noted report contained the following paragraph:
Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida. Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.
Thus far no information has been made public about the actual identities of those who participated in the attacks including the citizenship of the terrorists. It is important, however to note that the immigration system and visa issuing processes were identified by the 9/11 Commission as potentially important components in efforts to combat acts of terrorism being committed in the United States.
When the NTSB and FAA conduct an investigation into a plane crash, the findings of the investigation often translate into the issuance of directives concerning how pilots, airline companies, airplane maintenance workers, air traffic controllers and other do their jobs to make future such crashes much less likely. These directives are adhered to with total compliance.
The 9/11 Commission was convened to determine how terrorists were able to enter the United States and embed themselves in the United States or, as I like to say, “Hide in plain sight.”
Immigration fraud was identified visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud as being a huge vulnerabilities, yet there is nothing being done to address fraud which permeates the immigration system by which aliens are granted lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship.
This is not a new discovery and even predates the 9/11 Commission. On May 20, 1997 I participated in my first Congressional hearing. That hearing was conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims and was entitled:
“VISA FRAUD AND IMMIGRATION BENEFITS APPLICATION FRAUD”
The terrorist attacks of 1993 at the CIA and the World Trade Center predication for that hearing.
While the President and members of congress have demanded to know how the private agency (USIS) conducted background investigations for Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis (the Washington Navy Yard shooter) no one is asking how USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) a division of the DHS conducts background checks of aliens applying for various immigration benefits.
It is important to not jump to conclusions but it is important to note that the issue of fraud has not been effectively addressed where the administration of the benefits program by USCIS is concerned- including the way that applications for political asylum, lawful immigrant status and United States citizenship are adjudicated. It may turn out that even if Americans were involved in the attack that they may have been born in the United States- however, if they had immigrated to the United States, then the way that they were able to enter the United States and acquire lawful status must be explored.
The Summer 2013 edition of “The Social Contract” contains an article I wrote about the issue of political asylum:
The 9/11 Commission provided some truly insightful observations, findings and recommendations in its report that have been not only not been addressed but in many instances, the situation has only gotten worse in the 12 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), with its 9,000 Border
Patrol agents, 4,500 inspectors, and 2,000 immigration special agents, had per-
haps the greatest potential to develop an expanded role in counterterrorism.
However, the INS was focused on the formidable challenges posed by illegal
entry over the southwest border, criminal aliens, and a growing backlog in the
applications for naturalizing immigrants.The White House, the Justice Department,
and above all the Congress reinforced these concerns. In addition, when
Doris Meissner became INS Commissioner in 1993, she found an agency seri-
ously hampered by outdated technology and insufficient human resources. Bor-
der Patrol agents were still using manual typewriters; inspectors at ports of entry
were using a paper watchlist; the asylum and other benefits systems did not
effectively deter fraudulent applicants.
Page 68 of the report noted:
As early as December 1993, a team of al Qaeda operatives had begun casing
targets in Nairobi for future attacks. It was led by Ali Mohamed, a former
Egyptian army officer who had moved to the United States in the mid-1980s,
enlisted in the U.S.Army, and became an instructor at Fort Bragg. He had pro-
vided guidance and training to extremists at the Farouq mosque in Brooklyn,
including some who were subsequently convicted in the February 1993 attack
on the World Trade Center. The casing team also included a computer expert
whose write-ups were reviewed by al Qaeda leaders.
Think of how the administration and members of Congress reacted to the Fort Hood terror attack on November 5, 2009 by Major Nidal Hasan. Five years before that attack, the 9/11 Commission Report
noted how a former Egyptian army officer Ali Mohamed had been able to join the U.S. Army and became an instructor at Fort Br
agg. He had previously helped al-Qaeda to prepare for the bombing of the U.S. Embassy at Nairobi, Kenya as a part of the pre-attack surveillance team. He was also reported by the report as having provided guidance and training to some of those terrorists who participated in the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 which killed 6 innocent victims, injured more than a thousand people and nearly toppled one of the towers. The damages were estimated to total approximately one half billion dollars.
Now I want you to consider the statements made by the President and members of Congress in discussing the way that the background investigations were conducted prior to granting security clearances to Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard shooter.
On September 20, 2013 CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization) posted my commentary:
On Thursday, September 19, 2013 the Huffington Post ran a Reuters news report:
Here is an excerpt from that report:
Earlier this year, USIS became the focus of congressional scrutiny when it was disclosed that the company handled the background investigation of Snowden, accused of disclosing top secret materials taken from the National Security Agency facility where he worked.
“From Edward Snowden to Aaron Alexis, what’s emerging is a pattern of failure on the part of this company, and a failure of this entire system, that risks nothing less than our national security and the lives of Americans,” Senator Claire McCaskill said in a statement Thursday.
“What’s most frightening is that USIS performs a majority of background checks for our government. We clearly need a top-to-bottom overhaul of how we vet those who have access to our country’s secrets and to our secure facilities,” she said.
While the concerns about how background investigations are conducted in determining whether to grant security clearances to federal employees, members of the military or government contractors, what has been ignored in all of these discussion is the fact that hundreds of thousands of aliens who have participated in the DACA (Deferred Action-Childhood Arrival) program- aka “DREAMERS” these aliens have not even been interviewed by officials of USCIS. Unlike those employees who are granted clearances and undergo an interview and investigators are supposed to conduct field investigations- interviewing neighbors, colleagues, family members and others no field investigations have been conducted in conjunction with the background checks being done for illegal aliens to verify their names, their dates of birth, their true countries of citizenship or when, where, or how the entered the United States. The age cutoff for the DREAMERS is approximately 31. Most terrorists are younger than age 30.
If Comprehensive Immigration Reform was enacted, the millions – likely tens of millions of applicants, would have their applications treated the same way as DREAMERS.
For the proponents who are eager to provide lawful status for millions of illegal aliens, America’s borders and immigration laws are pesky speed bumps that must be removed. However, here is how the 9/11 Commission made note of just how important a role immigration law enforcement and the way that the inspections process conducted by inspectors at ports of entry could and, indeed, must be enhanced to prevent the entry of terrorists into the United States. While many enhancements have been made, there is no effort to complete the program known as US-VISIT that is supposed to track the entry and departure of nonimmigrant visitors to the United States. The tracking of foreign students in the United States is still plagued by ineptitude and incompetence even though the 9/11 Commission identified both programs as essential to national security and efforts to prevent future terrorist attacks on America.
On August 2, 2012, CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization) posted my commentary that borrowed the title of the GAO report that predicated my commentary:
On September 10, 2012 CAPS posted my commentary:
Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, who heads up the DHS and agency that is so utterly screwed up I have come to refer to it as the Department of Homeland Surrender, has frequently claimed that aliens who run the border or, in the parlance of immigration officers, enter the United States without inspection (EWI) are not committing a crime.
Two points need to be made about her assertions and those in the administration and Congress who echo this false statement.
1- Aliens who evade the inspections process do so because the know that they belong to one or more categories of aliens who, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, are excludible from the United States. This includes aliens who are criminals, terrorists, spies, human rights violators, war criminals and/or would work illegally thereby displacing American workers and driving down the wages of American workers.
2- Aliens who have not been previously arrested and formally deported from the United States are not committing a felony in evading the essential inspections process even though they may well pose a threat to national security and public safety. HOWEVER, Aliens who have been previously deported and then unlawfully reenter the United States are committing a felony and, depending on the circumstances, the penalty for that felony is a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. The relevant section of law is Title 8 USC § 1326 – Reentry of removed aliens.
Section (b) of that statute addresses “Criminal penalties for reentry of certain removed aliens.”
On a personal note, I am proud that I worked with then New York Senator Al D’Amato to create that important law in the 1980’s.
Anyone desperate and determined enough to run the risk of a 20 year jail sentence should give everyone, including Napolitano, the President and members of Congress serious “Cause for pause!” Here is an excerpt from the 9/11 Commission Report on how the inspections process needed to be enhanced to better protect America and Americans from terrorists:
Commissioner Meissner responded in 1993 to the World Trade Center
bombing by providing seed money to the State Department’s Consular Affairs
Bureau to automate its terrorist watchlist, used by consular officers and border
inspectors. The INS assigned an individual in a new “lookout” unit to work
with the State Department in watchlisting suspected terrorists and with the
intelligence community and the FBI in determining how to deal with them
when they appeared at ports of entry. By 1998, 97 suspected terrorists had been
denied admission at U.S. ports of entry because of the watchlist.
Inspectors at the ports of entry were not asked to focus on terrorists. Inspec-
tors told us they were not even aware that when they checked the names of
incoming passengers against the automated watchlist, they were checking in
part for terrorists. In general, border inspectors also did not have the informa-
tion they needed to make fact-based determinations of admissibility.The INS
initiated but failed to bring to completion two efforts that would have pro-
vided inspectors with information relevant to counterterrorism—a proposed
system to track foreign student visa compliance and a program to establish a way
of tracking travelers’ entry to and exit from the United States.
In 1996, a new law enabled the INS to enter into agreements with state and
local law enforcement agencies through which the INS provided training and
the local agencies exercised immigration enforcement authority. Terrorist
watchlists were not available to them. Mayors in cities with large immigrant
populations sometimes imposed limits on city employee cooperation with fed-
eral immigration agents.A large population lives outside the legal framework.
Fraudulent documents could be easily obtained. Congress kept the number of
INS agents static in the face of the overwhelming problem.
It is also important to consider two other issues about having members of terrorist organizations living in the United States. Obviously their presence in the United States constitutes a clear and present danger that they could be easily called upon by al-Qaeda to carry out attacks in the United States. The second and, perhaps not as immediately apparent concern is that members of terrorist organizations not only carry out attacks but may be assigned other tasks such as fund raising which, often involved the commission of a wide variety of crimes. Such members of terrorist organizations may also conduct surveillance of potential targets, provide lodging for other members of terrorist organization or conduct other such support missions. (This is not unlike the U.S. Air Force- only a very small percentage of those who proudly wear the Air Force uniform are pilots while others carry out vital support missions.)
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.
It is not “Anti-Immigrant” to be Pro-American!
Our armed forces are charged with securing America’s borders externally while the DHS is supposed to secure those same borders from within. The failures of the DHS to live up to its half of the equation are undermining the efforts, valor and incredible sacrifices of Americas men and women who serve in our military!
If our government’s failures to protect 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!
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