The President’s Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly, recently raised some eyebrows when he postulated that many illegal aliens who could have applied to participate in the Obama administration’s illegal DACA program may have simply been too lazy to apply for temporary lawful status when the program was in effect.
Although General Kelly had a highly successful and laudable record of service to our nation in the United States Marine Corps, he never enforced nor administered our nation’s immigration laws. His lack of experience and subsequent lack of understanding about the challenges that confront those who enforce and administer our immigration laws have apparently caused him to come to a very wrong and, indeed, dangerous conclusion, which may have influenced President Trump’s decision to provide lawful status and a pathway to United States citizenship to three times as many aliens as were covered by the Obama administration’s DACA program.
Gen. Kelly may not realize that many of those applicants may be successfully gaming the immigration system by committing immigration fraud. They didn’t enroll not because they were lazy but because they weren’t present in the United States during the enrollment period and would falsely claim they were if a new program were to take effect. Indeed, if this program is created, many applicants might enter the United States in the months ahead, but claim they have been here for years.
On February 7, 2018 Politifact posted an article, In Context: John Kelly’s remarks on ‘lazy’ immigrants and DACA, that included this paragraph that was critical of Kelly and the President:
Kelly’s remarks drew criticism from lawmakers and advocates for immigrant rights who countered that the DACA population is hard-working and that the Trump administration is attempting to demonize immigrants.
That brief paragraph contains a major falsehood that, for decades, has permeated discussions and news coverage about the immigration crisis. The article referred to “advocates for immigrant rights” who were angered by Kelly's statement, however, illegal aliens are not immigrants. That bit of semantic “sleight of language” of referring to all aliens as “immigrants” was devised during the Carter administration, as I noted in a previous article. The misuse of language is not about being “politically correct,” but about being Orwellian, employing Newspeak tactics to alter understandings and thoughts by altering language.
True immigrants already have “rights” in the United States. They are lawfully present and were placed on the pathway to United States citizenship the day that lawful immigrant status was conferred upon them. In order to qualify to become naturalized citizens, should they desire to do so, they would have to meet certain other requirements such as meeting time requirements in the United States and possessing “good moral conduct” as established in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The reporter who described the motivation behind Gen. Kelly’s statement as seeking to “demonize immigrants” was so eager to hurl criticisms at the Trump administration that she ignored that Gen. Kelly was likely simply being naive and, in that naivety, Kelly overlooked the real problem: the fact that many of these aliens may be committing fraud and were not actually present in the United States during the enrollment program during the Obama administration.
General Kelly lacks understanding about immigration, not because he isn’t intelligent, but because he lacks the experiences in immigration that my 30 years with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) have provided me. This includes a one-year assignment to a pilot program with the unit that adjudicated the petitions U.S. citizens and resident aliens file for their alien spouses to receive lawful immigrant status in the United States.
To provide a bit of background, management at the INS in 1973 found that the number of such petitions had sky-rocketed and there were serious concerns about high levels of fraud being behind the surge in applications. The idea behind the pilot program was to make certain the petitioners and their spouses were actually living in a marital relationship. Aliens who were found to have been engaged in marriage fraud were immediately taken into custody and detained for deportation hearings. Within a few months the numbers of applications plummeted as the aliens came to the understanding that there would be consequences for participating in a fraud conspiracy. You could call this deterrence through enforcement. Laws only matter when those who violate the law know that they will face severe consequences.
Today, however, the number of such aliens and hence the applications are so great, no in-person interviews would be possible. No field investigations would be possible. The Adjudications Officers would have to make their decisions solely by reviewing applications and supporting documents provided by “undocumented” aliens. The veracity of these documents may be impossible to determine and, since nearly all of these documents do not include any biometric identifiers, it wold be all but impossible to know if the documents even actually relate to the alien applying for lawful status.
These aliens may well be imposters.
On May 20, 1997 I participated in my first congressional hearing. The House Immigration Subcommittee conducted a hearing on the issue of Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefits Application Fraud. When the Chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Lamar Smith, asked me if I had encountered a common problem during my tenure as an Immigration Inspector, Immigration Examiner (the position now referred to as Adjudications Officers) and as an Immigration Special Agent, I replied by stating that imposters were a major concern.
Here we are more than twenty years after that hearing and we still have a huge and deadly problem created by our inability to always be certain as the true identities of applicants for visas and immigration benefits.
Incidentally, that hearing in 1997 was predicated on two deadly terror attacks carried out in the United States in 1993. In January 1993 a Pakistani national gained entry into the parking lot of CIA Headquarters in Virginia and opened fire with an AK-47, killing two CIA officers and wounding three others. The next month a bombing at the World Trade Center killed six innocent victims and injured more than one thousand people and inflicted an estimated half-billion dollars in damages and nearly toppled one of the 110-story buildings.
Both attacks were carried out by aliens from the Middle East who had gamed various elements of the immigration system. The apparent ringleader of the World Trade Center attack, Mahmud Abouhalima, as the Los Angeles Times reported on March 25, 1993, was the beneficiary of the 1986 Reagan amnesty. He gained lawful status under the Special Agricultural provisions of that massive amnesty program, which as principally authored and ram-rodded through Congress by then-Congressman Chuck Schumer.
These aliens may be in their mid-30’s, hence, there would be no way of knowing if they actually entered the United States before they were 16 years of age or entered the United States recently and are simply lying about their dates of entry. No record of entry is created when aliens evade the inspections process at ports of entry.
President Trump was absolutely spot-on in his insistence that the United States not admit aliens who cannot be vetted. This was the fundamental concern behind his Executive Order that came to be labeled a “Travel Ban,” which should have been referred to as an “Entry Restriction.” Furthermore, these aliens are citizens from countries around the world, as reported by the DHS.
Let us not forget that aliens who run our borders do not enter “undocumented,” a term that could have been devised by Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. These aliens enter the United States without inspection and without vetting. Their presence in the United States remains unknown to our government until perhaps they commit a crime or participate in some other nefarious act.
Finally, an application for an immigration benefit can be approved in just minutes while the denial of an application can take days or longer. Denied applications may be subject to an appeal and therefore denials require extensive paperwork, reviewed by government attorneys, in anticipation of such challenges. This creates a huge incentive to approve nearly all of these applications to keep up with the flood of applications.
All factors considered, as I noted my recent article, any DACA solution must heed the 9/11 Commission findings, which pointed out how our immigration system's vulnerabilities were exploited in the 2001 terrorist attacks. Fraud that will likely be committed by future DACA applicants, especially those who mysteriously failed to take advantage of the program while it was originally in effect, is a very serious concern that must be addressed with open eyes.