Fighting the War on Terror with Immigration Sanity

Time for a serious reality check on what really needs to be done to win this battle.

Long_border_fenceEver since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 many of our leaders justified sending troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan by saying that we must fight them (the terrorists) “over there” or we would have to fight them “over here.”

Now that the president is asking Congress for resources to combat ISIS overseas to defend the United States against the rapidly escalating threat posed by that extremely violent terrorist organization it is vital that a serious effort be mounted to devise an all-encompassing strategy to achieve total victory.

Of course the United States must act and act effectively and decisively in bringing the battle to our enemies on their turf.  Going on the offensive overseas is essential.  That is the mission of our military.

But it is time for a serious reality check on what really needs to be done to win this battle and protect America and Americans from the defensive perspective as well.

On that horrific day in September more than 13 years ago, America's enemies turned lower Manhattan, a field in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon into a deadly battlefield.  On that day, all of the casualties were inflicted “over here” by aliens who had gamed the visa process and/or immigration benefits program.  If the immigration system had worked effectively, most of those aliens who participated in those attacks should not have been able to enter the United States, let alone receive immigration benefits, including being granted political asylum or acquiring lawful status under the 1986 Amnesty program.

For all of the rhetoric about fighting al-Qaeda overseas, the Patriot Act and stringent security measures implemented at airports and other critical facilities made it clear that the battle was and is being fought within the borders of the United States.  The component of the “War on Terror” involving our borders brings us to the realm of effective immigration law enforcement.

While most politicians and others simply want to address the issue of border security along the U.S. Mexican border, the reality is that the legislative approach attempted by the House of Representatives would not succeed.  My disgust with that legislative disaster was the focus of my February 5, 2015 FrontPage Magazine article, "The ‘Secure Our Border First Act’ Deception" (tag line: Why it’s no solution to the immigration crisis).

The goal where immigration is concerned is multifaceted to actually succeed in protecting America and Americans.

We need to secure our borders against those aliens who would evade the inspections process by running our northern as well as our southern borders.  We need to tighten up surveillance of all ships entering our harbors to prevent stowaways from surreptitiously gaining entry into the United States and need to make certain that the Coastguard has the resources it needs to identify all ships approaching our coastline and interdict them.

We need to end the Visa Waiver Program and provide more resources to the inspections process conducted by CBP (Customs and Border Protection) at ports of entry.

However, it is inevitable that no matter how much we will try, aliens will evade the Border Patrol and the Coastguard.  Aliens who have been lawfully admitted into the United States will violate the terms of their admission.  The solution to these issues is to greatly increase the number of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents to locate and arrest those aliens who slip through the defenses I noted above.

By effectively enforcing our immigration laws, opportunities will be created to cultivate informants and cooperating witnesses to enable law enforcement and intelligence agencies to more readily identify emerging threats before attacks are carried out.  This aspect of the significance of effective immigration law enforcement was the subject of  my November 10, 2014 commentary for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), "Lack of Intelligence in Failures to Enforce Immigration Laws."

Finally, the process by which aliens are granted immigration benefits ranging from being granted political asylum to providing lawful immigrant status and the conferring of United States citizenship upon aliens via the naturalization process must have meaningful integrity.  This is essential to deprive terrorist “sleepers” the ability to embed themselves in communities around the United States as they await instructions to carry out an attack within our borders.

Again, this requires that many more ICE agents be hired and assigned to combatting immigration fraud -- a serious vulnerability identified by the 9/11 Commission.

Terrorism has been defined as “asymmetrical warfare.”  America's enemies, the radical Islamist terrorist groups, ISIS, al-Qaeda and others know that they can not win a conventional military battle with the U.S. armed forces.  Their goal is to get behind their enemy's lines and inflict casualties among the civilian population to instill fear and terror.  For these terrorists, the “enemy lines” are the borders of the United States.

During the Second World War, when soldiers sought to go behind enemy lines they often boarded military aircraft that, under the cover of darkness, flew over the country they wanted to attack and parachuted behind the enemy lines to carry out reconnaissance missions and sabotage their enemy's critical facilities.

Sometimes, under the cover of darkness, enemy combatants boarded submarines and other ships and stealthily approach the enemy's coastline to send commandos ashore to carry out their deadly missions.

Such an effort was, in fact, carried out by the Nazis during the Second World War when they sent their commandos to the United States aboard German U-boats.  An account of this dramatic effort and how the Coastguard and the FBI thwarted that plot, is posted on the FBI website under the title, "George John Dasch and the Nazi Saboteurs."

Here are the first several paragraphs of this fascinating account of this case, that could have served as the script for a James Bond film:

Shortly after midnight on the morning of June 13, 1942, four men landed on a beach near Amagansett, Long Island, New York from a German submarine, clad in German uniforms and bringing ashore enough explosives, primers, and incendiaries to support an expected two-year career in the sabotage of American defense-related production. On June 17, 1942, a similar group landed on Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville, Florida, equipped for a similar career in industrial disruption.

The purpose of the invasions was to strike a major blow for Germany by bringing the violence of war to our home ground through destruction of America’s ability to manufacture vital equipment and supplies and transport them to the battlegrounds of Europe; to strike fear into the American civilian population; and to diminish the resolve of the United States to overcome our enemies.

By June 27, 1942, all eight saboteurs had been arrested without having accomplished one act of destruction. Tried before a military commission, they were found guilty. One was sentenced to life imprisonment, another to 30 years, and six received the death penalty, which was carried out within a few days.

The magnitude of the euphoric expectation of the Nazi war machine may be judged by the fact that, in addition to the large amount of material brought ashore by the saboteurs, they were given $175,200 in United States currency to finance their activities. On apprehension, a total of $174,588 was recovered by the FBI—the only positive accomplishment of eight trained saboteurs in those two weeks was the expenditure of $612 for clothing, meals, lodging, and travel, as well as a bribe of $260.

So shaken was the German intelligence service that no similar sabotage attempt was ever again made. The German naval high command did not again allow a valuable submarine to be risked for a sabotage mission.

Today terrorists (synonymous with saboteurs of WWII) don't have to board submarines or parachute under the cover of darkness into the United States.  They have many options.  They can run our northern or southern borders.  They can stow away on a ship or they can simply present themselves for inspection at a port of entry and be cheerfully admitted into the United States by inspectors of CBP, especially under the ever-expanding and wrong-headed Visa Waiver Program.

While politicians from both sides of the aisle are quick to call for enacting “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” for unknown millions of aliens who evaded the inspections process that, in part, is supposed to prevent the entry of international terrorists and transnational criminals, they ignore the findings and recommendations of no less authoritative reports than the 9/11 Commission Report and the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel.

The 9/11 Commission Report addressed the importance of the immigration inspections process conducted at ports of entry noting:

Inspectors at the ports of entry were not asked to focus on terrorists. Inspectors told us they were not even aware that when they checked the names of incoming passengers against the automated watchlist, they were checking in part for terrorists. In general, border inspectors also did not have the information they needed to make fact-based determinations of admissibility.The INS initiated but failed to bring to completion two efforts that would have provided inspectors with information relevant to counterterrorism—a proposed system to track foreign student visa compliance and a program to establish a way of tracking travelers’ entry to and exit from the United States.45

Because of the huge number of aliens who would be involved in implementing Comprehensive Immigration Reform, there would be no way to conduct in-person interviews with millions of aliens who have violated our immigration laws which constitute America's first line of defense and last line of defense against aliens whose presence would pose a threat to national security and public safety.

The United States was attacked twice in 1993 by international terrorists from the Middle East who had easily gamed the visa process and immigration benefits program. This was more than 20 years ago. The continuing failures to address these vulnerabilities left America wide open to the terrorist attacks that would follow on September 11, 2001.

It was known that visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud were among the vulnerabilities that made the 9/11 attacks possible. In fact, on May 20, 1997, more than four years before the attacks of 9/11, the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims conducted a hearing that was predicated on the two attacks of 1993 on the topic: "Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefits Application Fraud." “Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefits Application Fraud.”

I participated as a witness at that hearing. It was my first appearance before a congressional hearing but hardly my last. However, I would not be invited to testify before additional hearings until after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

It was clear that the immigration system had failed to prevent the entry of terrorists and that it had also failed to deprive them of the opportunity to embed themselves in the United States, enabling them to hide in plain sight.  This tactic of embedding is how “sleeper agents” and “sleeper cells” operate.  I was recently interviewed by Jamie Glazov on video for a segment on “The Glazov Gang” on the issue of sleepers.  The video has been posted on the FrontPage Magazine website under the title, "Sleeper Agents Hiding — on The Glazov Gang."

The predication for this interview was my January 23, 2015 FrontPage Magazine article, "Sleeper Cells: The Immigration Component of the Threat."

These issues were well documented in the “9/11 Commission Report” and the “9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel.”  In point of fact, I provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission

Indeed, The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists not only made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud to enter the United States but to also embed themselves in the United States. Page 47 of this report noted:

Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.

Page 54 contained this excerpt under the title  “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot.”

During the 1990s, al Qaeda was either directly or indirectly involved in a number of  terrorist plots in the United States that partially or totally failed. A study of these plots and how those involved in them moved about clearly indicates that foreign terrorist operatives were being planted in the United States and that foreign terrorist operations were being planned against Americans here at home. 

The attempted operations were valuable to those carrying them out despite their lack of success: they gave Islamic terrorists critical operational experience in entering and embedding” in the United States. Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.4

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. 

This paragraph is found on page 98 under the title “Immigration Benefits:”

Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.

The Republicans have been quick to attack the Obama administration claimed use of “prosecutorial discretion” (I referred to this as “prosecutorial deception" in my June 17, 2012 Fox News Latino Op-Ed in addressing the administration's unilateral executive orders to deal with the “DREAMers”).  The Republicans repeatedly accuse Mr. Obama of undermining the Constitution and the “Rule of Law” while they intentionally ignore how his program also seriously undermines national security in an obvious attempt to “thread the needle” by finding the way to attack the administration without raising the issue of the irreparable harm this would do to national security.

To be blunt about it, politicians from both sides of the aisle want those huge campaign contributions from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a laundry list of special interest groups that are eager to bring in foreign tourists, foreign workers including large numbers of high tech foreign workers, who will work for substandard wages and often under substandard conditions.  These politicians also want to satisfy the demands of various universities and trade schools that seek ever more foreign students.

Finally, let's not forget the ever-unpopular organization AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which sees, in those millions of aliens, clients.

Meanwhile, so-called “Sanctuary Cities” provide a “safe haven” for illegal aliens who may well include international terrorists, transnational criminals and foreign fugitives from justice and no actions are ever taken against them.  This was the topic of September 24, 2014 FrontPage Magazine article, "‘Sanctuary Cities’ or ‘Safe Havens’ for Terrorists?"

On June 22, 2007 the Washington Times published my Op-Ed, "Immigration bill a ‘No Go.'"  In it I suggested that Comprehensive Immigration Reform be given a new and more accurate and honest name. I suggested, “The Terrorist Assistance and Facilitation Act.”

Each and every member of Congress who supports Comprehensive Immigration Reform must be asked one direct question: “Why are you ignoring the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission as you continue to push for providing unknown millions of aliens who entered the United States illegally and indeed, surreptitiously, with lawful status and official identity documents, knowing full well that no in-person interviews and no field investigations will be routinely conducted?”

The clear national security implications of the entire immigration system have been all but ignored by the administration and politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties.  However, the increased concerns about the threats posed to America and Americans as laid out in the administration's request for resources to combat ISIS should provide ample incentives and motivations for our leaders to deal with what should be obvious: The findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission must be strictly adhered to, where each and every deficiency and vulnerability of our immigration system are concerned.

To borrow a famous expression, “Failure is not an option.”

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