by Michael Cutler
How our leaders create fantasy 'solutions' for our immigration-related vulnerabilities.
Politicians understand that in order to get elected they need to create the illusion that they are addressing their constituents' concerns. This is not unlike the parents who are awakened in the night by their young child who, startled by a nightmare in the middle of the night, starts crying and screaming.
The drowsy parents want desperately to be able to go back to sleep, but know that must calm their upset child. The dutiful parents stumble into their child's room, administer a back-rub to the crying child, speaking soothingly, telling the child whatever they think they need to say to calm him/her and perhaps even serving up a glass of warm milk, hoping that the now-placated child will go back to sleep.
Years ago during a conversation with a journalist about immigration and crime, I told him that the Bush administration's strategy was to create the illusion of aggressively seeking to arrest criminal aliens to placate concerned Americans. I told him that the President would periodically conduct news conferences at which he would highlight some law enforcement operation conducted by the Border Patrol or by ICE agents that had been given tough-sounding names such as “Operation Gatekeeper” and “Operation Return to Sender.”
In reality, I told him, all such operations should all be given the same name, “Operation Back-Rub,” because they were devised simply to placate concerned Americans. These and similar operations only involved the apprehension of a relative handful of criminal aliens, while our nation had been inundated with hundreds of thousands of criminal aliens plying their “trades” across the United States.
Of course, the failures of the Bush administration to effectively secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States pale in comparison to the Obama administration's policies.
Tons of money has been squandered on technology on the border that never worked but had impressive sounding names such as SBINet (Secure Border Initiative Network) also known as the “Virtual Fence.”
The goal was to create the illusion that the administration was meeting the needs of many angry Americans.
Our nation's leaders are conflicted about the immigration crisis. Unless they are totally delusional, they know full well that foreign terrorists need to enter the United States in order to carry out attacks inside the United States.
The rational solution would be to secure our nation's borders and tighten up the visa adjudication process. The inspections/admission process at ports of entry also needs to be improved considering that an estimated 40% of all illegal aliens were actually admitted via the inspections process conducted at ports of entry and subsequently violated their terms of admission.
Finally, effective enforcement of our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States could identify and arrest aliens, who, in violation of the law, have embedded themselves in the United States.
These issues were, in fact, the focus of much of the attention of the 9/11 Commission Report and the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel.
Therefore the Visa Waiver Program should have been terminated after the terror attacks of 9/11 yet it has continually been expanded.
It is clear that the overarching goal of a succession of administrations and many members of Congress, irrespective of political party affiliation, is to keep our borders open and take no meaningful action to stop that flow of aliens into the United States.
On November 30, 2015, in response to the ever-increasing threats to the United States posed by terrorists, the White House posted a document on its official website, “FACT SHEET: Visa Waiver Program Enhancements.”
Members of the United States Senate such as Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have proposed changes to the Visa Waiver Program that are essentially worthless and constitute yet another example of “Operation Back-Rub.”
The key proposal is to require aliens who are citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, but who have traveled to either Syria or Iraq in the past five years, to get visas before they apply to enter the United States. However, there will be no reliable way to know if such aliens traveled to those countries.
On December 1, 2015, Mr. Obama, at his news conference in Paris where he and other world leaders met to discuss climate change, insisted that Turkey secure its border with Syria to stop the flow of weapons and fighters. (Would that Obama take his own advice about the need to secure borders.)
It is obvious that it would be a simple matter for terrorists to cross that border without having their passports stamped.
Furthermore, has not ISIS exhorted their adherents to “kill where they are” if they cannot make the trip to Syria?
The answer can be found in the incestuous relationship between the Chamber of Commerce and its subsidiary, the Corporation for Travel Promotion, now doing business as Brand USA.
The Chamber of Commerce has arguably been the strongest supporter of the Visa Waiver Program, which currently enables aliens from 38 countries to enter the United States without first obtaining a visa.
The U.S. State Department provides a thorough explanation of the Visa Waiver Program on its website.
Incredibly, the official State Department website also provides a link,“Discover America,” on that website which relates to the website of The Corporation for Travel Promotion, which is affiliated with the travel industries that are a part of the “Discover America Partnership.”
This organization refers to itself as a “public-private marketing entity” and provides this description:
The Corporation for Travel Promotion, now doing business as Brand USA, was created in 2010 to encourage travelers from all over the world to visit the United States of America. The public-private marketing entity works in close partnership with the travel industry to maximise the economic and social benefits of travel in communities around the country. Through its website, Discover America, Brand USA will inspire travelers to explore America's boundless possibilities.
Might there be a conflict of interest in having the official State Department website post a link to this organization?
There are six ways in which an effectively administered visa process can help combat terrorists and defeat their plots. However, under the Visa Waiver Program, these benefits are lost:
1. The visa adjudications process screens airline passengers flying to the United States, enhancing aviation safety.
2. The inspections process conducted at ports of entry by CBP is supposed to be conducted in one minute or less. The visa requirement requires aliens to be vetted overseas helping to provide more integrity to this process.
3. The application for a nonimmigrant visa contains roughly 40 questions and biometric identifiers that could provide invaluable information to law enforcement officials should that alien become the target of a criminal or terrorist investigation. The information could provide intelligence as well as investigative leads.
4. False statements on the application for a visa constitute "visa fraud." The maximum penalty for visa fraud starts out at 10 years in jail and go to a maximum of 25 years in prison when the visa fraud is done to support terrorism. It is important to note that while it may be difficult to prove that an individual is a terrorist, it is usually relatively simple to prove that the alien has committed visa fraud. Indeed, terror suspects are often charged with visa fraud.
5. The charge of visa fraud can enable law enforcement authorities to take a “bad guy” off the street without alerting his criminal or terrorist cohorts that they are under investigation.
6. When an application for a visa is denied, the application and the biometric identifiers remain available for law enforcement and intelligence personnel to review to seek to glean intelligence from that application.
Often that cost is the loss of innocent lives.
I sometimes wonder if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce might be seeking to drum up business for funeral homes.
Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He served as an Immigration Inspector, Immigration Adjudications Officer and spent 26 years as an agent who rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. For half of his career he was assigned to the Drug Task Force. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings, provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission as well as state legislative hearings around the United States and at trials where immigration is at issue. He hosts his radio show, “The Michael Cutler Hour,” on Friday evenings on BlogTalk Radio. His personal website is http://michaelcutler.net/.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.