The vital importance of America's immigration and inspection laws.
Recently Bill O'Reilly interviewed Senator Chuck Grassley about Kate's Law, legislation currently being drafted in the United States Senate to address the issue of sanctuary cities and the unlawful reentry of aggravated felon aliens who had been convicted of committing felonies prior to being deported from the United States. That law was prompted by the murder of Kathryn Steinle, a 32-year-old woman alleged killed by an illegal alien from Mexico, Francisco Sanchez, who had been previously convicted of seven felonies and had been deported five times.
During the interview O'Reilly said that he thought it was a “no brainer” for criminal aliens to be prosecuted if they unlawfully reenter the United States after deportation.
However, O'Reilly, dismissively stated that he had no problem with “law abiding illegal aliens” who are "simply" working in the United States. Pairing the phrase “law abiding” with the term “illegal aliens” is an oxymoron. How can a person who violated our nation's most fundamental laws that were enacted to protect national security, public safety and the jobs of Americans be considered “law abiding”?
The immigration system must have integrity. Local authorities must never have the discretion to unilaterally decide which immigration detainers should be honored and what should be done with aliens who are encountered, but must leave those decisions to federal authorities.
Our immigration laws were enacted to achieve the primary goals of protecting national security and the lives of innocent people while also protecting the jobs of American workers. This is as reasonable and commonsense as a homeowner looking through the peephole of the front door to make certain that strangers with malevolent intentions not be given access to their homes.
While it is routinely claimed that there are about 12 million illegal aliens present in the United States today, the actual number is likely a multiple of that number. Foreign workers, both legal and illegal, have a common goal: They seek to send money home. Each year our economy loses a minimum of $125 billion in remittances. That number may actually be as high as $200 billion. When the multiplier effect is taken into account, the remittances alone account for more than the annual increase in the U.S. national debt. This is without considering wage suppression of American workers and the flat-out displacement of American workers, who, through no fault of their own, go from being tax-paying middle class working consumers to members of the increasing number of Americans who live below the poverty line, suffering the personal consequences this brings and causing them to rely on costly economic safety net programs, further hammering the U.S. economy.
As an INS agent I was far happier arresting aliens engage in violent crime and, indeed, I spent half of my 30 year assigned to narcotics investigations at the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA and subsequent promotion to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force where I worked closely with the DEA, FBI, ATF and other federal and state law enforcement agencies. However, while we all feel empathy for illegal aliens fleeing poverty in their home countries, the current situation is unsustainable for the United States in many ways. Today the “American lifeboat” is overcrowded and close to capsizing.
The United States spends billions of dollars each year to conduct the inspection of people seeking to enter the United States and cargo being shipped to the United States.
By making his statement mentioned above, Mr. O'Reilly created a very dangerous impression that will likely influence the millions of viewers who watch his program -- that our immigration laws are relatively minor and violations of those laws are insignificant in the scheme of things.
Nothing could be further from the truth. His cavalier pronouncements are dangerous.
Consider the first paragraph found in the preface of the The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel:
It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.
I would love to ask Mr. O'Reilly and those who share his mistaken belief that violations of our immigration laws are so insignificant that illegal aliens can still be “law abiding” the following questions:
Would you be okay with ending the inspections of passengers and cargo arriving on international airline flights from around the world?
Would you feel comfortable having flights from Paris, France; Bogota, Colombia; Karachi, Pakistan; Lagos, Nigeria and Kingston, Jamaica pull into gates at the airport next to the domestic arrivals and permit the passengers on those international flights to disembark, grab their bags and head for a taxi without speaking to a single CBP (Customs and Border Protection) official?
Would it be okay if they did not carry any reliable identity documents such as passports?
If, as I expect, Mr. O'Reilly would find this proposal disturbing then he needs to get real about the true importance of our immigration laws and those who would circumvent the inspections process conducted at ports of entry or otherwise violate those laws.
Aliens who run our borders are trespassing. As I have previously noted in earlier commentaries, on October 14, 2014 CBS News reported, “Mayor De Blasio Heads to D.C. For Meetings On NYC Security And Counter-Terrorism.” According to the report, Senator Schumer, the leader of the “Gang of Eight” who has been the strongest advocate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, has proposed federal legislation that would impose a maximum jail sentence of five years for anyone trespassing on a nationally recognized landmark or critical infrastructure. Here is an excerpt from that article:
While individuals like this (trespassers) may have meant no harm, their acts put commuters and first responders at risk,” Schumer said. “They also inspire copycats who may have much more evil plans in mind.”
Critical infrastructure is defined by the Patriot Act as systems and assets so vital to the U.S., that the incapacity or destruction to them would have a debilitating effect.
“When stunts like this occur, the New York City trespassing law has a maximum of one year and it’s often three months,” Schumer said. “That’s not enough punishment to deter this behavior. It’s time to change that.”
My July 10, 2015 opinion piece for The Daily Caller, “Sanctuary Cities: No Peace And No Justice.” addressed the true importance of routine immigration law enforcement as being essential for national security and as a means of combating the threat of terrorism. To bolster my argument I provided an excerpt from the 9/11 Commission Report. In that article I introduced the 9/11 excerpt this way:
Aliens who run our borders are trespassing and we have no way of knowing why they actually evaded the inspections process conducted at ports of entry by CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspectors. We may find it all but impossible to know their true identities and therefore knowing if they are fugitives from justice in another country, perhaps wanted for crimes of extreme violence. We don’t know if they are involved with criminal or terrorists organizations.
Consider this excerpt from Chapter 12 of the 9/11 Commission Report:Looking back, we can also see that the routine operations of our immigration laws-that is, aspects of those laws not specifically aimed at protecting against terrorism-inevitably shaped al Qaeda’s planning and opportunities. Because they were deemed not to be bona fide tourists or students as they claimed, five conspirators that we know of tried to get visas and failed, and one was denied entry by an inspector. We also found that had the immigration system set a higher bar for determining whether individuals are who or what they claim to be-and ensuring routine consequences for violations-it could potentially have excluded, removed, or come into further contact with several hijackers who did not appear to meet the terms for admitting short-term visitors.
Our investigation showed that two systemic weaknesses came together in our border system’s inability to contribute to an effective defense against the 9/11 attacks: a lack of well-developed counterterrorism measures as a part of border security and an immigration system not able to deliver on its basic commitments, much less support counterterrorism. These weaknesses have been reduced but are far from being overcome.
An important observation is in order. The last sentence of the above excerpt states that “[t]hese weaknesses have been reduced but are far from being overcome.” The report was published more than a decade ago. Today, executive orders issued by the administration, coupled with the sanctuary policies of towns, cities and states across the United States, have not simply rolled back the gains that had been made, but have created many more vulnerabilities in the immigration system than were present on September 11, 2001.
On September 23, 2014 FrontPage Magazine published my article, “'Sanctuary Cities' or 'Safe Havens' for Terrorists?" In this article I focused on numerous terrorists who gamed the immigration benefits program to acquire lawful status ranging from political asylum to lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship.
O'Reilly is not the only television personality to make presumptions that may be well-intentioned but nevertheless mislead our fellow citizens and, consequently, our political leaders.
Think of how many times the celebrity “journalists” are quick to offer their opinions about how it is “reasonable” to provide lawful status to a heretofore illegal alien who has been living illegally in the United States for a specific period of time, such as 5 years, 10 years, etc.
This perspective may resonate with the television audience as the panelist on the program smiles into the camera with that knowing look of confidence. Generally most of the others on the panel will readily agree, calling such an approach “reasonable and commonsense.”
Reality is often far different from hypotheticals. Because the number of applications would number in the millions -- more likely tens of millions -- there would be no face-to-face interviews and no field investigations. No record of entry is created when aliens run our borders. This is an invitation to massive fraud. Adjudication Officers will face extreme pressure to approve nearly all of the applications to keep up with the onslaught of applications. It only takes minutes to approve an application but may well take hours if not days to deny a single application.
The bottom line: If you believe that an illegal alien who claims to have entered the United States 5 years ago should be given lawful status -- given the reality of such a situation -- you had better be willing to provide illegal aliens who ran our borders 5 days ago lawful status because it will be all but impossible to verify when these individuals actually entered the United States.
Undoubtedly aggravated felon aliens must face significant enhanced penalties for unlawful reentry after deportation, as compared with aliens who have no criminal convictions. As I have noted in many of my articles, more than 30 years ago I worked with then Senator Al D'Amato to create the law that is currently on the books that calls for a maximum of 20 years in prison for such aliens who are deported and then unlawfully return. Non-criminal aliens who are deported and return unlawfully face a maximum of two years in prison.
On June 26, 2015 Californians for Population Stabilization posted my commentary, “Prosecutorial Deception: The $21 Billion DHS Betrayal.”
I began my article with the following:
On June 17, 2015, the House Subcommittee on National Security and the Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules, conducted a joint oversight hearing concerning “A Review of the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration.”
DHS Inspector General (IG) John Roth testified at this hearing along with the directors of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Those agencies, as well as CBP (Customs and Border Protection), all operate under the aegis of DHS (The Department of Homeland Security).
Roth’s prepared testimony disclosed his concerns about how the administration has “addressed” the immigration crisis in the United States – by implementing executive orders to inhibit immigration enforcement personnel from doing their jobs. He noted that for each of the past two fiscal years, ICE, CBP and USCIS, collectively, received approximately $21 billion. The obvious question is: “What we are getting for that huge expenditure of money?”
In his candid testimony, John Roth made it clear that the failures of the administration to enforce the immigration laws and the implementation of executive orders, public safety and national security were compromised. Here is a key passage:
DHS also does not collect other prosecutorial discretion-related data that might help immigration efforts. For example, DHS would benefit from capturing information regarding aliens who are granted prosecutorial discretion and later commit a crime or pose a threat to national security and public safety.
National security and public safety are similarly seriously compromised when when law enforcement officials on the city or state level refuse to honor detainers and refuse to notify the federal immigration authorities about aliens who have been arrested.
On March 21, 2012, the Huffington Post published an extremely disturbing article that was entitled: "Peter King: Iran May Have 'Hundreds' Of Hezbollah Agents In U.S."
The basis for the Huffington Post article was a hearing that was conducted that day by the House Committee on Homeland Security that is chaired by Congressman Peter King of New York, the topic of the hearing was, “Iran, Hezbollah, and the Threat to the Homeland.”
Here is how the Huffington Post article began:
Iranian-backed Hezbollah agents, not al Qaeda operatives, may pose the greatest threat on U.S. soil as tensions over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program ratchet up, according to the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
"As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons and there is increasing concern over war between Iran and Israel, we must also focus on Iran's secret operatives and their number one terrorist proxy force, Hezbollah, which we know is in America," said New York Rep. Peter King at a Wednesday hearing of his committee.
The hearing, which featured former government officials and the director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department, follows a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C., and testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in late January that Iran's leaders are "more willing to conduct an attack inside the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime."
Opening the hearing, King said, "We have a duty to prepare for the worst," warning there may be hundreds of Hezbollah operatives in the United States, including 84 Iranian diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington who, "it must be presumed, are intelligence officers."
On January 9, 2002 CNN posted a report, “Another hijacker was stopped for traffic violation” that noted that a number of the 9/11 terrorists had been stopped by police officers when they committed motor vehicle law violations days before the attacks of 9/11.
Local law enforcement agencies must work in close cooperation and coordination with ICE and other federal law enforcement agencies. In the wake of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 much was made of the failures of the various intelligence and law enforcement agencies that failed to communicate, share information and work cooperatively. Police departments are important in combating not only crime but terrorism.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas “Tip” O'Neill famously remarked that all politics is local. In point of fact, all law enforcement is also, as is our war on terror.
On September 11, 2001 international terrorists launched an attack against the United States of America and its allies around the world. Yet, their attacks impacted local buildings in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Many local and state police departments are quick to snap up the money that the federal government provides to combat terrorism. There is no such thing as a “free lunch.” These local and state law enforcement agencies are indeed elements in our ongoing “war on terror” and need to conduct themselves appropriately and perhaps spend some time reviewing “The 9/11 Commission Report” and the companion document, “The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel.”
Where the loss of human life is concerned, there are no “do-overs.”