One Chance Is All a Terrorist Needs

How DHS is failing to heed its own warnings.

On June 22, 2015 the ICE Newsroom posted a startling “Top Story” news release under the category, “Document and Benefit Fraud.” The title of the news release was obviously crafted to create the illusion that a major vulnerability to U.S. national security, the threat of a terror attack, was being addressed: “ICE-DMV partnership combating identity, document fraud.”

The news release was accompanied by a poster. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how many words the above poster is worth.

Here is how the news release begins:

If you walk into your local Department of Motor Vehicles office (DMV) on any given day, you’ll most likely find a crowd of people waiting to get a new license or updating their vehicle registration.

What many aren’t aware of is that while they’re waiting in anticipation of their number to be called there may be document and identity fraud taking place just a few feet away.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified a potential vulnerability in which DMV employees exploit their positions by selling DMV-issued identification documents for financial gain. The access DMV employees have to the tools and technology needed to produce identity documents has been exploited by criminals who seek these documents to mask their identities and commit crimes ranging from narcotics trafficking, firearms distribution, and murder to even terrorist acts.

With these factors in mind, in December 2009, HQ HSI Identity and Benefit Fraud Unit (IBFU) launched a national outreach campaign to raise awareness about potential employee misconduct at DMV facilities. HSI Special Agent Keith Fowler, a National Program Manager within the IBFU, was charged with implementing and overseeing the outreach campaign.

Since day one, Mr. Obama and his administration have created a larcenous narrative that was carefully crafted to skirt the nexus between immigration and the threat of terrorism. The news release is consistent with that narrative and ignores the nexus between immigration and terrorism.

The 9/11 Commission certainly made note of failures of state agencies, especially Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) that enabled a number of the terrorists who wrought such destruction to assume multiple false identities by acquiring multiple driver's licenses. However, the 9/11 Commission made it clear that failures of components of the immigration system enabled the terrorists to enter the United States and embed themselves in the United States.

At the risk of stating the obvious, for the terrorists to game the process by which driver's licenses are issued, they first need to enter the United States. If the terrorists could not have acquired visas and could not have entered the United States. They could not have attacked us.

Even if the terrorists had managed to enter the United States by stowing away on a ship or running our borders, but were unable to successfully defraud the immigration benefits program they could not have attacked us.

While the poster seeks to create the illusion that DHS is working aggressively to protect America and Americans, In reality, some of the greatest threats to national security are the direct result of the many failures of the DHS that fundamentally undermine national security and public safety.

To this point, the staff of attorneys and federal agents who were assigned to the 9/11 Commission issued a report known as the “9/11 and Terrorist Travel - Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.”

This report focused specifically on the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world, enter the United States and ultimately embed themselves in the United States as they went about their deadly preparations. Page 54 contained this excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot.”

Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.

In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.

Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.

The poster and press release above focus on how the administration is trying to convince state motor vehicle agencies to go after their corrupt officials who provide criminals with licenses they should not have. Does DHS have to convince state governments to seek to identify corrupt officials?

The irony is that DHS is providing lawful status to immigration law violators without any legal underpinning. USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), the division of DHS that adjudicates all applications for various immigration benefits has provided hundreds of thousands of “DREAMERs” with official identity documents to signify that they have been granted temporary lawful status and employment authorization- without a face-to-face interview and without field investigations. This is a virtual open invitation to fraud.

These DHS-issued identity documents are accepted by DMV's to issue driver's licenses to aliens. If an alien terrorist games this process, USCIS then becomes an unwitting accomplice in providing that terrorist with a driver's license- something the DHS poster warned about. The poster also warned about the nexus between identity theft and terrorism.

However, the administration has unilaterally decided that aliens who have been convicted of identity theft- the very same crime frequently committed by terrorists as highlighted in the administration news release and poster, will not be arrested by ICE or deported. In fact, on June 23, 2015, just one day after the ICE news release that is the predication for my commentary was published, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued his own press release, “Goodlatte: Implementation of Priority Enforcement Program Endangers Our Communities.”

Here is an important excerpt from the Chairman Goodlatte's press release:

Here are the Facts about the Administration’s “Priority Enforcement Program”:

PEP Permits Significant Numbers of Criminal Aliens to Remain in the United States: Obama Administration officials claim that PEP will continue to rely on biometric data to identify criminal aliens, but ICE will only be permitted to transfer aliens from the custody of state and local law enforcement through the new program when an alien has been convicted of certain, but not all, of the offenses in the Administration’s new, so-called immigration enforcement “priorities.” These “priorities” ignore entire categories of removable criminal aliens defined by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act. After the implementation of PEP, DHS will not pursue the vast majority of criminal aliens who commit the following offenses: fraud or material misrepresentation in the immigration process; drug possession offenses; most theft offenses, including identity theft; nearly all crimes involving moral turpitude; and, aliens who have misdemeanors that the Administration does not deem to be “significant.”

Even Aliens Who Have Been Charged or Arrested for Serious Criminal Offenses Will Not be Pursued under PEP: If an unlawful immigrant commits a crime, but is able to be released from state or local custody before the conclusion of the criminal proceedings, DHS will turn a blind eye to allow the unlawful immigrant to remain on the streets until that alien has an actual conviction. Note, this is even a departure from the previous priorities issued by former Director Morton. For DHS, permitting the criminal alien to remain on the streets overrides protecting the community.

What does an illegal alien have to do to get deported?

Immigration fraud has a clear nexus to national security and comes in two broad categories, document/identity fraud and immigration benefit fraud.

There is certainly no ambiguity to the message about the first half of the fraud equation (document and identity fraud) and its nexus to national that this poster delivers. It begins with the admonition, “Do the Right Thing” and then commands: “Stop Document and Identity Fraud.”

What the ICE poster blithely ignored, however, is that immigration benefit fraud, an issue I raised earlier, is commonplace and has been utilized by many terrorists who have carried out or attempted to carry out terror attacks in the United States. Immigration fraud enables aliens to acquire lawful immigration status in the United States to which they are not entitled, by gaming the adjudications process.

On March 9, 2015 The Daily Caller published my article, “Congress Has Fully Funded The DHS — America’s Biggest Document Mill.”

The poster draws a clear connection between the fact that the 19 terrorists, in the aggregate, used 364 aliases and obtained “26 State-Issued Identification Documents.” The connection that was carefully ignored, however, is that each and every one of those terrorists was an alien who, in one way or another gamed the process that is supposed to prevent the entry of among the categories of excludible aliens, criminals, terrorists and spies.

The bottom line for the ICE poster is, in fact, the bottom line - “1 Chance Is All a Terrorist Needs.” This succinct assessment of the threats we face in this particularly perilous era made this statement an irresistible choice for the title of my commentary today.

Appearing in the largest print and in center fo the poster is “9/11” an obvious reference to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

What is more than ironic is that in addition to providing photos of the 19 terrorist/hijackers who, on September 11, 2001, wrought such horrific devastation to America and innocent victims and their families, the poster also provided partial photos of driver's licenses from a number of states. Look closely and you will see that among the states are New York, California, Illinois and Kansas. All of those states have at least one “sanctuary city” within their jurisdictions and as a consequence, those cities make it easy for illegal aliens who, for reasons known only to them, evaded the inspections process conducted at ports of entry that is supposed to prevent the entry of international terrorists and transnational criminals from entering the United States. California is a “Sanctuary State.”

New York City, the city that suffered the greatest devastation on September 11, 2001, has provided official municipal identity documents to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who are “Undocumented” meaning that they either don't have, or refuse to provide authentic and reliable identity documents to attest to their true identities. The International Business Times reported on this latest example of lunacy in the January 15, 2015 article, “Immigrant Identification Card: New York's ID Program Watched By Immigration Reform Advocates Across Nation.”

A person who is unable to produce authentic identity documents is at a disadvantage to conduct business. Providing documentation lends a level of credibility to aliens who not only have no right to be in the United States, but whose very presence represents a violation of some our most fundamental laws. Illegal aliens and criminals- irrespective of their immigration status, seek to acquire official identity documents in false names to embed themselves in communities where they live and operate. For such individuals, a change in identity is the equivalent of the change in coloration that chameleons undergo in order to conceal themselves- often among their intended victims.

Yet the federal government, for all of the posters and press releases, does absolutely nothing to deter states and cities from creating these opportunities for criminals and terrorists to hide in plain sight. Consider that under 8 USC § 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens, a section of law that is comprehended within the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), it is a felony to harbor, shield from detection, transport, aid, abet, encourage or induce aliens to enter our country illegally or remain in our country illegally thereafter.

How on earth could providing illegal aliens with official identity documents, whether they are driver's licenses- as some states are now doing, or “municipal identity documents” such as New York City and other municipalities doing, not in violation of the statute I noted above?

On September 23, 2014 FrontPage Magazine published my article, 'Sanctuary Cities' or 'Safe Havens' for Terrorists?

I raised this very issue in my prepared testimony when I testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing on March 29, 2013 on the topic, “Building an Immigration System Worthy of American Values.” A video and copies of the prepared testimony of the witnesses at that hearing are available for review.

When terrorists and alien criminals and fugitives learn that they can obtain driver's licenses in a particular state, for example, they will flock to that state and acquire that document which provides them with camouflage. They can then use that document in each and every town, city and state from coast to coast and border to border. This is not merely a supposition but is grounded in facts and my experiences.

Cities and states that engage in practices that create opportunities for terrorists and criminals to embed themselves in their jurisdictions also imperil public safety and U.S. national security. To this point, on July 3, 2015 the LA Times published an article, “San Francisco homicide suspect was deported five times” about Francisco Sanchez, an illegal alien from Mexico with seven prior felony convictions and had been deported five times, managed to get an illegal gun. On July 1, 2015 he allegedly fired that gun, apparently randomly, and fatally wounded a 32 year old woman, Kathryn Steinle, as she strolled with her father along a San Francisco pier. ICE had turned him over to San Francisco police for criminal prosecution and lodged a detainer so that he would not be permitted to be set free but brought back into ICE custody after his criminal case was resolved. San Francisco refused to honor the detainer claiming it violated that city's ordinances because it is a “Sanctuary City.”

Tragically, this murder is not an isolated case.

Undoubtedly, the officials in San Francisco will face no consequences from the Obama administration for their outrageous decision.

Physical fitness aficionados often say, “No pain- no gain.” I have a different saying, “No pain – no deterrence!”

In a reasonable world, individuals- including local and state officials, who create such opportunities for illegal aliens and potentially terrorists, would “feel the pain” by being criminally prosecuted for aiding and abetting our enemy- if indeed we are waging a “War against terrorists.”

At the very least, sanctuary cities and states that issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens should have their federal subsidies for law enforcement and other vital programs cut drastically, if not eliminated altogether. Of course this administration won't take that action because it is operating in concert with those sanctuary cities and has turned America into a “Sanctuary Country.”

On June 26, 2015 Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) posted my commentary, “Prosecutorial Deception: The $21 Billion DHS Betrayal.” My focus was on the alarming findings of the DHS Inspector General and the utter lack of accountability at ICE and USCIS.

To clarify the title for my commentary for CAPS- I have written a half-dozen Op-Eds for Fox News Latino. One of them, published just two days after Obama stood in the White House Rose Garden on June 15, 2012 to announce his plans to implement the DACA Program for “DREAMERS,” was described by the Fox News Latino editor this way, “Op-Ed: Obama Orders Prosecutorial Deception” Obama's unprecedented expansion of prosecutorial discretion skirts Congress and undermines the Constitution, argues former INS agent Michael Cutler.

Indeed, the administration's claimed use of “Prosecutorial Discretion” which I have come to refer to as “Prosecutorial Deception,” has provided hundreds of thousands of illegal alien “DREAMERS,” up to age 31, with lawful status and identity documents without so much as an in-person interview, let alone a field investigation. Most terrorists are under the age of 30.

On November 25, 2014 FrontPage Magazine published my commentary, Obama 'Solves' Immigration Crisis by Ordering 'Shields Down' and my April 7, 2015 article, “Connecting the Dots: Iran, Immigration & National Security” connected still more of those “dots.”

My June 25, 2015 commentary for FrontPage Magazine was predicated on an interview that the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee gave on the CBS News program, “Face the Nation.” The title of my piece, in fact, “borrowed” the title of the report that CBS news posted about the interview, “Rep. Nunes: America Faces Highest Terror Threat Level Ever »Ignoring the grim lessons of 9/11.”

On June 30, 2015 I was interviewed on Newsmax-TV's program, “Prime” hosted by former U.S. Congressman J.D. Hayworth and Miranda Kahn on the concerns about the current elevated threat level. Newsmax posted a video under the title, “Newsmax Prime | Michael Cutler discusses the heightened terror threat over the 4th of July holiday.”

The refusal of the administration to enforce immigration laws flies in the face of commonsense and the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission as I noted in my March 11, 2015 FrontPage Magazine article, “Ignoring the 9/11 Commission’s Warnings »Even as terrorists expand operations in Europe.”

Every candidate for the presidency and, indeed, every candidate for every public office must be pinned down to the specifics as to where they stand on the effective enforcement of our immigration laws. This is about far more than securing the U.S. / Mexican border - so much hangs in the balance.

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