National security must be much more than a sound bite.
Immigration has finally emerged for the elections and the debates - particularly among the Republican candidates for the presidency. Donald Trump opened the floodgates about this issue when he talked about building a wall on the U.S./Mexican government and deporting the criminals entering the United States from other countries. During several debates Senators Cruz and Rubio have come to verbal blows over immigration accusing each other of being weak on immigration.
But immigration must be more that a slogan for a campaign and real solutions must be devised and then implemented. National security must be much more than a “sound bite”.
However, it is my view that most journalists and most supposedly “scientific” polls continue to suppress any meaningful discussion about immigration and its true significance. Pollsters and journalists claim the fear of terrorism is usually placed at the top of the list of concerns for Americans, followed by the economy. Immigration is often characterized as being considerably further down the list of issues Americans want addressed.
Immigration is a critical element in our war against terrorism.
Hiring many more ICE agents and focusing, at least initially on locating and arresting illegal aliens who are citizens of countries that are engaged in terrorism would achieve two important goals- shrink the “haystack” in which the deadly needles are hiding and cultivate informants within that tight-knit community by using our immigration laws as an effect “carrot and stick.”
Although much is being made about supposedly “home grown” terrorists, nearly every terror attack thus far has been carried out by aliens who entered the United States, Most entered via the lawful admissions process conducted by CBP (Customs and Border Protection) at one of America's 328 ports of entry around the United States- especially through international airports.
A number of terrorists not only entered the United States through ports of entry by committing visa fraud and/or lying to the CBP Inspector, but a significant number of them were granted political asylum. Some were even granted lawful immigrant status and issued Alien Registration Receipt Cards (Green Cards) and a few had become naturalized United States citizens- generally only months before carrying out terror attacks.
All of these facts notwithstanding, most of the Republican candidates for the presidency have stated that since we cannot deport 11 or 12 million illegal aliens (the actual number is likely twice or three times as great) we must somehow “deal with them” by giving them lawful status while putting them on the back of some mythical “line.”
The truth is that the “line” that these candidates are talking about is a line to citizenship. Most illegal aliens do not want to be American citizens- they simply want to work and send as much money back to their families back home- wherever “home” is.
The number of illegal aliens who would be process would preclude any in-person interviews or fied investigations. Aliens could easily lie about their identities and backgrounds. This is a threat to national security. They could lie about when they actually entered the United States greatly swelling the number of aliens who would be granted lawful status.
While the politicians downplay the actual number of likely illegal aliens they also never mention that if legalized, millions of illegal aliens would have the right to immediately bring in their spouses and minor children. Think of how many millions of additional aliens would suddenly be admitted into the United States with lawful status- flooding our educational and healthcare systems.
We should be concerned about the growing national debt. However, when was the last time you heard anyone on any of the news programs talk about the fact that each year more than $200 billion is wired out of the U.S. by foreign workers- both legally and illegally working in the United States?
It is also important to note that generally more aliens who are authorized to work enter the United States than the number of new jobs that are created.
Providing illegal aliens with employment authorization means that they don't have to wait on the back or the front of any line- once granted employment authorization they won't be on any line at all, they will be working, likely displacing desperate American workers and sending their money back home.
Any politician who says we cannot deport all illegal aliens so we must find a way to provide them with lawful status is waving the flag of surrender to international terrorists, transnational criminals and boosting the profits of aliens smugglers by encouraging aspiring illegal aliens from around the world to head for the United States.
While the Republicans claim to be tough on immigration and demonstrate their supposed “toughness” by hiring many more Border Patrol agents they ignore that we can never solve the immigration crisis by simply beefing up the Border Patrol. Nearly half of all illegal aliens are believed to have entered the United States through the lawful inspections process. If we had enough Border Patrol agents to hold hands across our northern and southern borders these illegal aliens would not have been stopped from entering the United States.
Let's face reality- aliens will manage to enter the United States intent on violating our laws.
While it is undeniably important to have an adequate number of Border Patrol agents to secure our land borders, the key to effective immigration law enforcement is to have an adequate number of special agents employed by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.
Today the actual number of these agents is no longer provided by the administration- claiming that this number is a matter of national security. However, the various official government websites do post the number of CBP inspectors, the number of Border Patrol agents and the number of TSA personnel.
Perhaps my cynicism is showing but I believe that the reason that the number of ICE agents is no longer being released is to keep Americans in the dark.
However, as of 2013 the administration reported that there were approximately 7,000 ICE agents- of whom more than half are assigned to enforcing customs not immigration laws.
To put this number in proper perspective, the TSA has more than 45,000 employees, the Border Patrol has over 20,000 agents and there are roughly as many as many CBP inspectors as Border Patrol agents.
The NYPD has more than 35,000 police officers.
The ICE agents have many missions to perform. While it is obvious that they should be arresting illegal aliens they also need to focus their attention on many other violations of immigration law and the vulnerabilities these create for the United States.
Immigration fraud was identified by the 9/11 Commission as being of particular concern and represents a critical vulnerability. Immigration fraud exists in two broad categories- document fraud and immigration fraud schemes. Document fraud refers to those who produce counterfeit and/or altered identity documents such as passports, drivers' licenses and Social Security cards. This also refers to supporting documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, diplomas, utility bills, etc.
Fraud schemes include those who engage in marriage fraud or other fraud schemes that enable students to enter the United States or aliens to acquire work-related visas for non-existent jobs.
Fraud schemes often involve United States citizens as well as their alien coconspirators and all involved in such criminal conspiracies should be arrested and prosecuted and those prosecutions should be well-publicized to deter others.
ICE agents need to enforce the employer sanctions laws to identify and punish employers who intentionally hire illegal aliens and to apprehend aliens found working illegally.
ICE agents also must conduct smuggling investigations throughout the United States because often smugglers will bring aliens into the United States through seaports and airports as well as across our northern and southern borders and then transport them around the United States to so-called “safe houses.” In the late 1970's I was a member of the New York District's first Anti-Smuggling Unit and we did not lack for work!
ICE also furnishes agents to a variety of multi-agency task forces such as the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). In point of fact, what is generally not recognized is that the number of ICE agents assigned to the JTTF is second only to the FBI.
Many more immigration judges need to be hired and in general, it is vital that a clear message be sent that violations of our borders and our immigration laws will not be rewarded- will not be ignored but will be pursued and pursued vigorously.
We only get one opportunity to make a first impression. Our immigration laws are generally the first laws citizens of other countries encounter when they seek to enter the United States. Today the outrageous executive orders of the Obama administration- coupled with statements by politicians from both parties have made it clear that in America today violations of laws are not only ignored and tolerated but rewarded. This must stop immediately!
Deterrence through effective enforcement is the solution - the only solution.