The pace at which events occur often makes it all but impossible to keep pace. This is particularly true where the multi-faceted immigration crisis is concerned.
While much attention is paid to the abject lack of security of the U.S./Mexican border, there are many other failings of the immigration system that often go unreported and ignored by the mainstream media and our politicians. I have repeatedly noted that while I am a firm supporter of the need to construct an effective wall/barrier along the southern border, there are many other elements of the immigration system that are no less important. I have therefore come to compare the wall along the border with a wing on an airplane. Without its wing an airplane won’t fly, however, a wing by itself goes nowhere.
On Wednesday August 21, I was invited by the producers at Fox News’ Fox & Friends First to participate in an interview to discuss a just-posted Fox News report, Watchdog Alerts President Trump That Border Agency Violated DNA Collection Law For Years, Letting Violent Criminals Walk Free.
That troubling report included the following excerpt:
In a scathing letter to Trump, exclusively obtained by Fox News, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said CBP’s “noncompliance with the law has allowed subjects subsequently accused of violent crimes, including homicide and sexual assault, to elude detection even when detained multiple times by CBP or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).”
The OSC told the White House that it was taking the “strongest possible step” to “rebuke the agency’s failure to comply with the law,” as well as its “unreasonable” attempts to defend its own conduct.
Under the law, CBP was required to collect DNA from individuals in its custody, to be run against FBI violent-crimes databases. The procedure is separate from DNA collection designed to establish familial relationships among migrants at the border.
Aliens who were released by this demonstration of nonfeasance and, indeed, malfeasance, have committed more violent crimes, thereby claiming more innocent victims.
I accepted the invitation and Fox News has posted my interview under the title, Government watchdog says CBP violated its DNA collection law for years.
As I noted during my interview, bad guys use changes in identity the way a chameleon uses changes in coloration, to hide in plain sight among its intended victims.
Everyone associates the arrest of suspects with the fingerprinting and photographing of those who are arrested as a means of determining their true identities and to make certain that their fingerprints are retained for future reference. Currently DNA is also used as a means of identifying those who are taken into custody for the same reason.
Fingerprints, photographs and DNA all constitute biometrics.
The law that mandated that ICE and CBP use DNA to properly identify aliens who are taken into custody, was enacted back in 2005. During the Obama administration, Secretary Janet Napolitano asked the Attorney General to waive this important requirement claiming a lack of resources. Not surprisingly, the Attorney General complied.
Incredibly, nothing has apparently changed under the Trump administration and, as a consequence, hundreds of thousands of aliens who should have undergone DNA screening did not during the Obama administration and during the current administration.
The issue of the consequence of the failure of immigration law enforcement to effectively use biometrics is not new. In fact, we can look back to the particularly egregious case of Ángel Maturino Reséndiz-Ramirez aka the “Railway Killer” as noted in this excerpt in a Wikipedia article about him:
Murders and methodology
By illegally jumping on and off trains within and across Mexico, Canada and the United States, generally crossing borders illegally, Reséndiz was able to evade authorities for a considerable time. United States government records show that he had been deported to Mexico at least four times since first entering the U.S. in 1973.
Reséndiz killed at least 15 people with rocks, a pickaxe, and other blunt objects, mainly in their homes. After each murder, he would linger in the homes for a while, mainly to eat; he took sentimental items and laid out the victims’ driver’s licenses to learn about their lives. He stole jewelry and other items and gave them to his wife and mother, who lived in Rodeo, Durango, Mexico. Much of the jewelry was sold or melted down. Some of the items that were removed from the homes were returned by his wife and mother after his surrender. Money, however, was sometimes left at the scene. He raped some of his female victims; however, rape served as a secondary intent. Most of his victims were found covered with a blanket or otherwise obscured from immediate view.
Reséndiz-Ramirez had been in Border Patrol custody at least four times, was deported back to Mexico, illegally reentered and killed more innocent people.
He was eventually identified as the cold-blooded murderer of at least 15 people, put on trial and found guilty. He was subsequently executed but his execution did not bring any of his victims back to life. The families of those victims will never be the same.
Back then immigration law enforcement personnel did not transmit fingerprints electronically but usually by mail! All too often we would arrest an illegal alien, mail out the fingerprints and then, weeks later, receive a response that the alien was wanted for serious crimes. Of course, by then he/she had been deported or released.
During my first Congressional hearing, on May 20, 1997 before the House Immigration Subcommittee on the topic of Visa Fraud And Immigration Benefits Application Fraud when I was asked about a common problem I encountered in my positions as Immigration Inspector, Immigration Adjudications Officer and Special Agent, I replied that one of the biggest challenges was to uncover the true identities of those whom we interacted with and that imposters were a huge issue. Within a year the former INS began implementing electronic fingerprinting, but on a limited scale.
Here we are approaching the 18th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The 9/11 Commission was clear in its finding that the key method of entry and embedding for terrorists was immigration fraud and identity fraud.
Yet we are now finding out that DNA technology which is a tremendously valuable tool that could enhance national security and public safety has been all but ignored by elements of the Department of Homeland Security or, as I came to refer to it when it was first created, the Department of Homeland Surrender.
It is completely unacceptable that CBP and ICE failed in its most fundamental mission: to protect America and Americans from aliens who pose a threat to national security and/or public safety.
Immigration enforcement personnel should learn from the mistakes of the past. However, as the famed playwright George Bernard Shaw lamented, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”
The Trump administration must act swiftly and decisively to plug this gaping hole in the immigration system.
Failure is not an option!