These statistics are extremely important because they have not only
been used by the administration to reflect on how secure our border is,
but also used to support the contention that because arrests along the
border are down, that the number of undocumented immigrants present in
the United States is also down. 

This claim has a number of potential benefits for the administration,
especially as the upcoming election looms closer on the horizon.

It used to be said that Social Security
was the “Third Rail” of politics. Today you could say that immigration
and border security constitutes the so-called “Third Rail,” and this
third rail has lots of political juice running through it.  

Some Liberals have tried to demonize anyone who seeks to enforce the
immigration laws and secure our borders while Republicans like to
portray themselves as being tough on law violators and want to be
perceived as being in favor of the “Rule of law.”

In order to win the upcoming election, current administration would
like to be able to say that the immigration problem is correcting
itself, thereby placating voters on both sides of the issue. By touting
reduced arrest statistics, the administration could lay claim to
securing our nation’s borders and convincing everyone that immigration
is no longer a problem. This would enable the president to be in two
places at one time.

Clearly if the arrest statistics being reported are false, then all
suppositions based on those doctored statistics would be false.  As the
folks in the computer field would say, “Garbage in – Garbage out!”

However, as a former INS Special Agent, I have been more than a bit
skeptical about the validity of using Border Patrol arrest statistics to
determine how many undocumented immigrants are actually present in the
United States. There is lots more to the immigration system than the
Mexican border.

On December 21st I was a guest on Neil Cavuto’s program on the Fox Business Network.
Neil noted that it is believed that because of the economic situation
in the United States that fewer undocumented immigrants were seeking to
come to the United States to seek employment. I commented that
“Attempting to determine how many illegal aliens are present in the
United States by simply looking at arrest statistics were a bit like
taking attendance and asking those not present to raise their hands.”

There is no definitive means of determining what percentage of
undocumented immigrants are actually arrested and what percentage evade
the Border Patrol. Additionally, undocumented immigrants do not only
enter the United States by running our nation’s border, that is supposed
to separate the United States from Mexico

Our nation also has a border that separates the United States from Canada that is nearly twice as long as the U.S.-Mexican border.

Additionally, our nation has some 95,000 miles of coastline and seaports and marinas to be found all along that huge coastline.

While the extreme porosity of the U.S. borders creates a huge problem
for the United States in terms of national security, crime and other
factors to be associated with the lack of border security, it is
estimated that some 40 percent of all undocumented immigrants in the
United States did not run our nation’s borders at all, but entered the
United States through the inspections process and then, in one way or
another, violated the terms of their admission into the United States.  

Still more aliens have been granted immigrant visas and work visas
who committed fraud in order to game the system. This not only impacts
national security but costs American workers jobs, especially in the
high-tech fields.

On March 6, 2012 the Washington Post published an article
entitled: “Illegal immigrants with long-expired visas remain tough to
track 10 years after 9/11 attacks.” That report addressed how a would-be
terrorist, Amine El Khalifi had been living illegally in the United
States for more than a decade, an issue that became the basis for a
hearing conducted by the House Homeland Security Committee.

“The criminal case against Amine El Khalifi, 29, of Alexandria, Va.,
has renewed the debate about how the U.S. government — a decade after
the terror attacks of 2001 — routinely fails to track millions of
foreign visitors who remain in the country longer than they are
allowed,” the article reads.

“A House Homeland Security subcommittee is conducting an oversight
hearing Tuesday. The panel’s chairwoman, Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich.,
said El Khalifi ‘follows a long line of terrorists, including several of
the 9/11 hijackers, who overstayed their visa and went on to conduct
terror attacks.’ His tourist visa expired the same year he arrived from
his native Morocco as a teenager in 1999,” the piece continues.

This is not a newly discovered problem.  Nearly six years ago, on May
11, 2006, I testified before a Congressional hearing entitled “Visa
Overstays: Can We Bar the Terrorist Door?” that was conducted by the
House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on
International Relations.

Finally, while so many politicians talk about the need to create
jobs, just about no one talks about the need to liberate jobs by
effectively enforcing our nation’s immigration laws from within the
United States.

The point is that by attempting to keep everyone’s attention focused
on the Mexican border, many of the other components of the immigration
system are being ignored.

It is important and commendable that Rep. Issa continues to demand
accountability where the DHS is concerned, but neither he nor anyone
else should lose sight of the fact that where immigration is concerned,
we are dealing with a system with many moving parts, and all are
critically important.

Simply stated, our immigration laws are intended to save American
lives and American jobs and no politician from either side of the aisle
should lose sight of those two incredibly vital goals.

Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. 

Follow us on

Like us at