I have attached a news article that appears in today’s edition of the Washington Times and details the issue of the use of our nation’s national parks by members of the pernicious Mexican drug cartels to grow tens of millions of dollars worth of marijuana to be sold on the streets of cities and towns across our nation.
Our national parks are a national treasure that is being defiled by thugs who are illegally present in our country.
As was noted by Jefferey D. Sweetin, the DEA Special Agent-in-Charge of that agency’s office in Denver, Colorado, the presence of these gang members in these parks not only represent a serious violation of law and represent a threat to the environment, but also represent a serious threat to the safety of visitors to the park.
Generally individuals who are involved in the drug trade are heavily armed and are more than willing to resort to extreme violence to protect their drugs and money. This is clearly apparent in considering that at present, the Drug cartels operating in Mexico at the present kill an average of more than 500 people each and every month in a thus far successful effort to control their turf and their means of amassing billions of dollars in profits from the drug trade.
The article focused on the efforts by the U.S. Park Police and the DEA but virtually nothing was said about the role of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) personnel in combatting this invasion of our nation in general by criminal aliens and national parks specifically, where the cultivation of marijuana plants are concerned.
As you probably know, I spent some thirty years as an employee of the INS, most of those years as an INS special agent. Additionally, I spent nearly half of my career with that agency assigned to working in conjunction with the DEA, FBI, ATF and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in conducting investigations of narcotics trafficking organizations where aliens comprised a significant component of those organizations. In New York some 60% of the individuals arrested by the DEA for drug trafficking and related crimes were identified as being “foreign born.”
As a result of my involvement in these investigations, along with a very small number of other INS special agents, it became readily apparent that the enforcement of the immigration laws could be instrumental in successfully combating criminal organizations involving foreign nationals (aliens).
Several weeks ago I wrote a commentary in which I listed the seven most compelling reasons why it is essential that the enforcement of the immigration laws and involvement of ICE special agents be brought to bear against criminal and terrorist organizations operating in the United States.
I have attached that list below:
Here are 7 important reasons why our government must hire many more special agents for ICE and incorporate an adequate number of those ICE special agents in the investigations of international criminal and terrorist organizations if those investigations are to be successful:
Access to immigration files to provide investigative leads when a criminal alien is being sought as a fugitive or suspect of a crime.
Access to immigration file can also provide vital information to a judge when a criminal alien is arrested and the judge is attempting to set bail. The immigration file can provide evidence of risk of flight based on numerous identities, occasions when the defendant jumped bail in an immigration matter and failed to appear for a hearing. The file can also provide evidence of prior deportations. This could help to prevent those tragedies in which a criminal is arrested and then released on bail, only to commit another heinous crime.
If a plea bargain is being arranged, local and state prosecutors should work in close cooperation with federal immigration counsels to make certain that in the process of working out a plea-bargain arrangement that they don’t inadvertently eliminate a conviction that have would rendered the alien deportable.
Working cooperatively with ICE, it would be far easier to cultivate informants. Informants are often essential to the successful investigation and prosecution of criminals and criminal organizations as well as terrorists and their associates. The immigration laws provide a huge “carrot and stick” to this end.
There are a number of laws that can be used to hammer criminal aliens under the federal code. For example, the penalty for an illegal alien in possession of a firearm carries a 10 year penalty. There are other such laws in the federal code that deal with the possession and use of false identity documents and for the crime of reentry after deportation. A criminal alien who is deported from the United States and then unlawfully reenters the United States is facing a maximum of 20 years in jail. Without the involvement of ICE none of these prosecutions can be pursued.
When an alien is convicted of a crime, when state and local law enforcement authorities work in close coordination with federal immigration authorities, a detainer can be lodged to make certain that upon release from jail when his (her) sentence is completed, the criminal alien will be deported from the United States.
There are instances when it is advantageous to the investigation to arrest a key individual(s) without alerting other members of the criminal or terrorist organization he is part of, that they are being investigated as an organization. In such instances, it is often easy to find a violation of the immigration laws to enable those individuals to be arrested for administrative or criminal violations of the immigration law, thus not alerting their cohorts to the larger, on-going investigation.
Ignoring the effective enforcement of the immigration laws, especially when dealing with international criminal or terrorist organizations is tantamount to bringing a knife to a gun fight!
Each and every day our citizens’ lives and safety are put at risk by criminals whose mere presence in our country is a violation of law. Each and every day our nation’s security is compromised by aliens who have no lawful right to be in our country.
Yet there are only about 5,500 ICE special agents working for our federal government across this nation and only a portion of those agents are assigned to enforcing the immigration laws while other ICE special agents are enforcing customs laws which have nothing to do with the immigration statutes.
To put this in perspective, the New York City Police Department has some 37,000 police officers who have the resources they need to not only arrest criminals but to act proactively to prevent crime. New York is ranked as the safest big city in the United States and, perhaps, throughout the world. Imagine what would happen if the NYPD had as few police officers as ICE has special agents! I can assure you that New York City’s streets would be far from safe!
It is the lack of agents and resources that have made the United States a magnate for millions of illegal aliens and hundreds of thousands of criminal aliens.
Yet the best most of our politicians can offer is the promise to provide health care and even lawful status to millions of illegal aliens whose true identities, backgrounds, affiliations and intentions are unknown and unknowable!
I can only think of one word that accurate describes this lunacy- proposing free health care and lawful status to millions of illegal aliens by our politicians. That word is BETRAYAL!
I have often been asked about compassion and my position on illegal immigration.
Here is my response:
First of all, the United States is a nation of extremely limited resources. The current economic crisis should make this all too clear! Consider what illegal immigration has done to the state of California.
Next consider that at present, according to the United Nations, over one billion people living on our planet do not have access to safe drinking water or an adequate supply of food. That is poverty on a terrible scale. Clearly, considering the limitations of our nation, it is impossible to think that we could simply throw open our nation’s doors to a billion poverty stricken people.
In one of his “Dirty Harry” films, Clint Eastwood famously remarked, “A man has got to know his limitations!” The same could certainly be said of a country.
The point is that I am not without compassion. First and foremost, I have compassion for my fellow Americans who are losing their jobs and their homes. I have compassion for my fellow Americans whose tenuous grip on their share of the American dream is evaporating.
Certainly I feel bad about the plight of those who live in poverty in their home countries. I understand that many of those who take the risks to enter our country are often desperate. The problem is that because of their desperation they are easy to exploit. As an INS special agent I often saw, up close and in person, how eager unscrupulous employers were to exploit and take advantage of these people. These employers would fire American citizens and lawful immigrants and replace them with illegal aliens who were often paid only a fraction of wages that the lawful workers had been paid. They worked under substandard conditions under abusive circumstances.
The large numbers of illegal aliens provided the criminal aliens with communities in which the bad guys could easily hide in plain sight or, in the parlance of the 9/11 Commission, “embed” themselves in communities around our country.
It is worth noting that the news article I attached below stated that none of those involved with the marijuana crops implicated in the fires have, as yet, been arrested. The criminal aliens have a means of escape that American criminals don’t enjoy. Alien criminals can easily leave the United States when they know that they are being sought and head for the safety of their home countries where they are all but guaranteed that they will be safe from criminal prosecution. That is why I believe it is important to think of this alien criminals as being “transnationals.”
They are able to vanish across our nation’s borders as easily as they ran our nation’s borders in the first place, giving them an additional sense of impunity.
Our nation has been waging a “War on Drugs” for decades and we are clearly losing that war.
Janet Napolitano has noted that some 230 cities are now infested by members of the Mexican drug cartels. Those cities stretch clear across our nation- yet she has done nothing to increase the number of ICE special agents for our nation. I would remind you that she is the Secretary of Homeland Security. This is why I have taken to saying that we should change the title of DHS from the “Department of Homeland Security” to the “Department of Homeland Surrender!”
The Obama administration is employing the “Surge” strategy in Afghanistan that the Bush administration used in Iraq to overpower the insurgents. The idea is that the solution to winning requires and adequate, indeed, overwhelming number of “boots on the ground” to win.
The effective enforcement of the immigration laws similarly requires an adequate number of boots on the ground.
Even if every ICE special agent was ordered to enforce the immigration laws, our nation would be fielding some 5,500 agents to deal with all of the enforcement missions that fall under the purview of the beleaguered bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Consider the most important of the areas of responsibility and then ask yourself if you have any doubts as to why our borders and the immigration system lack even a shred of integrity.
In order to do this, I would like to describe the concept of the immigration enforcement tripod. I have raised this issue on previous occasions, but I believe it is vital to discuss this again.
Simply stated, the immigration enforcement tripod meant that the immigration inspectors (now known as CBP inspectors) enforce the immigration laws at ports of entry, the Border Patrol agents enforce the immigration laws between ports of entry while the special agents who are assigned to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States comprise the third leg of the enforcement tripod.
It is the third leg of the tripod that has been all but ignored and continues to be ignored to this very day.
These agents of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) should be conducting a number of critical missions to make certain that our nation’s borders are secured and that there is real integrity to the immigration system that the terrorists and members of transnational gangs have been so easily able to circumvent.
Conducting investigations of factories, restaurants, hotels, farms and other places where people are employed to make certain that illegal aliens are not being gainfully employed. When an illegal alien is employed, both the employer and the illegal alien employee are violating the laws. Both need to be punished. Illegal aliens who are employed should be taken into custody and made to appear before an immigration judge for a removal (deportation) hearing. The unscrupulous employer who can be proven to have knowingly hired illegal aliens should be fined and face other legal sanctions should the practice of hiring illegal aliens be found to be continuing.
By making it clear that illegal aliens would not have an easy time of securing illegal employment in the United States, more Americans would be able to find jobs, wages earned by American citizens and lawful immigrants would be far more likely to be spent and invested in the United States (this is especially significant at a time when our government is claiming to be seeking to stimulate the American economy) and would reduce the number of illegal aliens streaming across our nation’s borders making it easier to gain control over our nation’s borders, especially the perilous southern border.
Special agents need to conduct investigations of fraud that fall under two basic categories, fraud schemes and fraud documents.
Fraud schemes can also be divided into two broad categories, visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud.
Fraud can be thought of as a lie committed in writing in an application to provide a person with a benefit that the person in question would not be entitled to if all of the relevant information was known to the person (adjudications officer or other official) at the time that the application for that benefit was being processed.
For the purposes of immigration, such applications might involve an application for a visa that would permit an alien to seek entry into the United States either temporarily on a nonimmigrant visa, such as a tourist visa, student visa or business visa, to name just a few of the visas that are available, or on an immigrant visa that provides the alien with a green card and thus accords that alien lawful immigrant status.
An example of a fraud scheme is the United States citizen or lawful permanent resident alien who marries an alien to provide that alien with resident alien (immigrant status) for money or other benefit. In such marriages, the couple does not really live together as a true couple but get married as part of a n arranged ´business deal.¡ When an investigation discloses that this is the case in a particular ´marriage,¡ the citizen or immigrant spouse should be prosecuted for entering into a criminal conspiracy to violate our nation’s immigration laws as should the alien spouse who sought to use this fraud scheme to acquire a green card. The alien who was seeking to acquire resident alien status through fraud should then be taken before an immigration judge to seek his (her) removal (deportation) from the United States.
There are other such fraud schemes that involve the concealment of material facts that enable aliens to enter our country and/or embed themselves in our country. Often terrorists are charged with visa fraud because it is often far easier to show that an alien succeeded in entering our country by committing fraud than it is to prove that an alien is a terrorist.
In the case of fraud documents, we can include identity theft, the alteration of legitimate identity documents and the creation of counterfeit identity or supporting documents such as Social Security cards, birth certificates and other such documents.
Today, there have been many reports about how easily aliens can and have gamed the immigration benefits program. Among them have been criminals and terrorists. The solution is not to ignore the problem but to develop the resources to conduct the necessary investigations and law enforcement activities that would bring real integrity to the program that provides millions of aliens with the keys to the kingdom in a truly perilous era.
The adjudicators at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) are rewarded for moving the applications that are stacked on their desks as they try to keep up with the ever increasing number of applications filed by ever more aliens who have become emboldened to file applications for a variety of immigration benefits including applications for residency and United States citizenship based on fraud. These bureaucrats must feel like Lucy and Ethel in that hilarious episode of “I Love Lucy” when Lucy and her friend got jobs at the candy factory and they attempt to wrap morsels of bonbons hurtling at them at ever increasing speed on a conveyor belt moving at warp speed.
The solution, in my judgment, is not to rush the process and compromise integrity, but to go after those who would commit fraud and convince those who would apply for applications that there is a serious price to be paid for attempting to defraud our government! This would, undoubtedly cause a sharp reduction in the number of new applications filed. This would cut waiting times for those who file legitimate applications and simultaneously making it easier for the adjudicators to screen out the fraud and create a bureaucracy that would have far greater integrity.
In this way everyone but the bad guys would win.
This is called deterrence and must be applied to the immigration benefits program that has such serious national security implications!
This can only be achieved by hiring a large number of special agents for ICE and providing them with the training and the resources to create an immigration bureaucracy that has real integrity.
Alien Smuggling / Human Trafficking Investigations:
When aliens are smuggled into the United States, the goal is generally not to simply set foot in the United States near the border but rather to enable the illegal alien to make his (her) way to the city they desire to go to after running our nation’s borders or otherwise entering the United States by circumventing the inspections process. In addition to the obvious ploy of running our nation’s borders, some smuggled aliens stow away on ships or aircraft. Therefore it is important to seek to identify so-called ´safe houses¡ where smuggled illegal aliens may be held until family members or other can provide the funds to the smugglers. It is also important to seek to identify the transporters who, working in cahoots with a smuggler, may use various vehicles to enable illegal aliens to travel across our country.
It is important to note that smugglers who assist illegal aliens in surreptitiously entering the United States, they also often engage in smuggling narcotics across our nation’s borders and often use illegal aliens as ´beasts of burden¡ to carry a load of narcotics on their person. That is why such illegal aliens are referred to as “mules.”
Sometimes the aliens are made to carry narcotics in their person by swallowing narcotics stuffed into condoms that are then retrieved at a “safe house” within the United States. A number of years ago I assisted the DEA in New York in executing a search warrant in Staten Island where such an operation was being run out of an apartment in an apartment building in which people, mostly citizens of Nigeria, entered the United States at John F. Kennedy International Airport with such condoms in their stomachs. They were met at the airport by a member of the drug organization who drove them to an the apartment where they were given massive doses of a laxative and then one of the workers would use a strainer to retrieve the drug-laden condoms from the toilet. It was only after that all of the condoms had passed through their bodies that these aliens were allowed to leave the apartment to hide in plain sight among the many other illegal aliens who have taken up illegal residency in our country.
In some instances, the condoms would burst before they got off the airplane, often causing the “swallower” to perish because of a massive overdose.
Criminal Alien / Fugitive Investigations:
The agents who are assigned to this unit are responsible for locating aliens who have been convicted of crimes in the United States and have been sentenced to prison sentences. Some of these aliens may have been lawfully admitted to the United States as lawful immigrants (resident aliens) or they may have entered our country illegally. Regardless of how these aliens entered our country, by virtue of their criminal convictions, these aliens are now subject to removal from the United States.
Additionally, the agents in this squad also seek to arrest illegal aliens who had been deported (removed) from the United States and then, in one way or another, managed to reenter the United States without authorization. A criminal alien (aggravated felon in the parlance of the Immigration and Nationality Act) is subject to a maximum of 20 years of incarceration for the crime of reentry after deportation.
I am particularly proud of the fact that in the early 1980’s I had approached then United States Senator Al D’Amato of New York and convinced him to work with the administration, back then, to have deportation hearings conducted in correctional facilities (rather than wait many years, in some instances, for a criminal alien to be released). I also convinced him to sponsor legislation to promulgate legislation that would differentiate between administrative law violators who were deported from the United States and criminal aliens who were deported from the United States after serving their criminal sentences.
Before that law was enacted, their was no distinction between criminal aliens and aliens who had no felony convictions. Any alien who had been deported and then illegally reentered the United States was facing a maximum of two years in jail. Under the new law, the penalty for criminal aliens (aggravated felons) was created.
Task Force Investigations:
There are a number of task forces that combine local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. The idea behind these task forces can be summed up by one word: synergy. This means that the total is greater than the sum of the parts.
I spent roughly ten years as a senior special agent of the INS assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force. For about 4 years I was the INS representative of the Unified Intelligence Division (UID) of the DEA in New York.
As the INS representative to the UID, some 20 years ago, I decided to compile arrest statistics to see how much of an involvement aliens had in narcotics-related crimes. Back then, some 60% of the defendants who had been arrested by DEA in New York City were identified as being “foreign born” while some 30% of those defendants, nationwide were identified as being “foreign born.”
The idea that foreign nationals are heavily involved in narcotics trafficking is not a new problem. It is just a huge component of the problem that our nation’s “leaders” have refused to address!
In both assignments, it became readily apparent that by working with other law enforcement agencies against drug trafficking organizations that all sorts of benefits to the effectiveness of these efforts could be greatly enhanced. Immigration was a major component of this operation, but we always suffered by an extreme lack of manpower and resources, especially where immigration was concerned.
There are other such task forces involving terrorism, gangs and other such serious threats to the safety of our people and the security of our nation.
As an INS (now ICE) special agent, information contained in immigration files offer tremendous insight into the risk of flight of criminals. This issue is of great importance when a criminal is arrested and is being arraigned. A federal magistrate or a judge is supposed to consider two primary issues in fixing bail: danger to the community and risk of flight.
The alien file often contains a veritable track record of past instances where a criminal alien may have used multiple identities, was deported and reentered the United States illegally on numerous occasions or failed to show up for immigration hearings.
The participation of an ICE agent in a criminal investigation may also enable other agencies and prosecutors to not unwittingly enter into a plea bargain deal in which an alien is able to plea bargain away a criminal charge that would result in his deportation from the United States.
I want you to stop and consider all of the essential missions that are virtually the sole responsibility of ICE, that I have enumerated above. I can tell you without an equivocation that ICE would be utterly unable to effectively carry out even one of those missions with its lack of resources. Yet it has a series of missions that impact significantly on everything from national security and criminal justice to the economy, the environment, health care and education. Yet our for decades, our “leaders” from both sides of the political aisle have steadfastly refused to address any one of these missions in a meaningful way!
The politicians tell us that we need “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” because immigration is broken. You can fertilize your garden with that lie! The truth is that the resources have not been provided to enforce the laws. That is what is responsible for the disastrous situation our nation finds itself in today! Period!
When I was a teenager my dad used to tell me that I would teach people how to treat me by staking our my terms in relationships. He told me that only I could do this for myself. Similarly we have taught our politicians what they can get away with in dealing with us, We the People.
To a large extent, the average American is getting the government he (she) deserves.
As I have often noted when I have appeared on radio, television and other venues, when we go to a restaurant we are generally quite specific about the food we want to eat and the way we want it prepared. We are usually not bashful about sending back a meal that does not meet our expectations or simply walking out of the restaurant if we are really disappointed. We need to be as specific with our elected representatives as we are with that waiter or waitress who serves us our food in the restaurant!
The time has come to stake out our terms in the relationship we have with our “representatives.” We must make it our obligation to contact those those job is to represent us and make it abundantly clear that they are, to coin a phrase, “Either with us or they are against us!”
Our nation must not only secure its borders against the illegal entry of illegal aliens, but must create an immigration system that has meaningful integrity if our nation is to effectively address the many challenges confronting our country and our citizens.
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! You need to politely but pointedly, demand to know what they are doing to protect our nation. You need to ask them how they are protecting you and your families. You can also forward this commentary to them.
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!