by Michael Cutler
The day after the San Bernardino terror attack, why exactly did USCIS managers block a team of ICE agents from entering their facility?
I am certain that the headline for my article has you wondering if I may have lost my mind or am so determined to attract attention that I went “over the top.”
I can assure you that I am neither insane nor am I attempting to sensationalize my description of the events surrounding the alleged interaction between ICE agents and managers at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) in which the ICE agents were blocked from entering the USCIS facilities and denied access to the relevant immigration files.
USCIS is charged with providing a wide array of immigration benefits through the adjudications process, to aliens present in the United States. This includes providing aliens with political asylum, conferring lawful immigrant status upon aliens, and providing aliens with United States citizenship through the naturalization process.
In a manner of speaking, USCIS is the locksmith to America's front door. An alien who has been granted lawful immigrant status and issued an Alien Registration Receipt Card (Green Card) or has become a United States citizen, may travel in and out of the United States at will.
Before we go any further, I want you to make an indelible note in your mind: USCIS currently adjudicates more than 6 million applications each and every year and would be charged with providing unknown millions of illegal aliens with lawful status should any sort of “immigration reform” program be enacted.
The 9/11 Commission made it clear that immigration benefits were the key to the 9/11 terrorist attack and, indeed, as I have noted in previous articles, terrorists such as Faisal Shahzad, the “Times Square Bomber,” was naturalized roughly a year before he attempted to detonate a bomb concealed in an SUV parked at Times Square. The terrorist Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the murderous rampage at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, had been granted political asylum along with other family member and become lawful immigrants. In fact, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who, having been found guilty of committing numerous terror-related crimes and now sits on death row, became a naturalized America[n] shortly before he participated in that savage attack.
Both of those agencies operate under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an agency that for many reasons, I have, with great anger and frustration, come to refer to as the "Department of Homeland Surrender."
The incident that serves as the predication for my commentary is so outrageous that it is nearly impossible to imagine that it really occurred. If this scene were included in a fictitious film the movie critics would have said that the storyline was ridiculous. However, as the saying goes, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
Rather than write about it in my words, I will provide you with a statement issued on March 15, 2016 by none other than United States Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee that has oversight responsibility for the Department of Homeland Security. He made the statement during a hearing that day on the topic, “The Security of U.S. Visa Programs.”
The statement as posted on the Senate Homeland Security Committee's website was titled “Chairman Johnson Reveals Lack of Cooperation Between USCIS and ICE In Aftermath of San Bernardino Attacks.”
For the sake of clarity, HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) is a component of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Leon Rodriguez, who was quoted at the end of Chairman Ron Johnson's statement, is the Director of USCIS.
Here is the text of Chairman Johnson's statement:
WASHINGTON — Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) revealed the lack of coordination between United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during an incident at the San Bernardino USCIS office the day after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents were alerted by the FBI that Enrique Marquez, who supplied the weapons that Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik used to carry out the attacks in San Bernardino on Dec. 2, 2015, was scheduled for an immigration hearing at USCIS in San Bernardino on Dec. 3, 2015, together with his wife. According to an HSI memo from earlier this year, when HSI agents arrived at the USCIS office to detain Marquez, the USCIS denied the HSI agents entry into the building and later refused to provide relevant immigration documents to HSI.
VIDEO: Watch Sen. Johnson’s remarks here.
Johnson, reading from the memo, said during the hearing:
“At approximately 12 p.m. on Dec. 3, the FBI informed HSI and the [Joint Terrorism Task Force] that FBI field interview agents learned that Marquez and his wife, Mariya Chernykh, were scheduled for a meeting at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in San Bernardino for noon on Dec. 3. HSI contacted the HSI special agent requesting a team of armed agents to respond to the San Bernardino USCIS office in order to detain Marquez until an FBI interview team could be dispatched. The special agent informed the HSI team that the officer in charge of USCIS would not let HSI agents in the building. . . . The special agent learned that Marquez and Chernykh did not show up for their meeting. The special agent requested copies of the A-File in which USCIS refused. The special agent was allowed to take a photo of Chernykh’s photo contained within the A-file.”
Rodriguez replied, “Unfortunately it all happened so quickly that it was incorrectly perceived that our folks were trying to in some way obstruct what ICE was trying to do. Do we need to look at our protocols to make sure that those misunderstandings don’t occur? That is something that we may well need to do.”I really want to believe Mr. Rodriguez. However, I don't, and apparently neither does Chairman Johnson. This is not the first time DHS impeded an investigation -- even when there was a clear nexus to national security. Before I provide you with yet another example of this, let us consider another statement made by Chairman Johnson, this one was issued on March 16, 2016, the day after the hearing. The statement was posted under the title:
Johnson to DHS: Do Not Retaliate Against San Bernardino Whistleblowers
Here is a copy of the text of the beginning of this statement:
WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is asking the Department of Homeland Security’s management to refrain from retaliating against whistleblowers who have contacted the committee. Johnson sent letters to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and DHS Inspector General John Roth on Wednesday after learning that DHS management is actively trying to identify which individuals furnished information to the committee used during Tuesday’s hearing on a breakdown in cooperation involving Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS).
“I am concerned that ICE is attempting to identify and retaliate against whistleblowers who revealed a lack of cooperation between USCIS and ICE in the aftermath of the terror attacks in San Bernardino. ICE has a track record of retaliating against whistleblowers as in the case of [Homeland Security Investigations] Agent Taylor Johnson,” said Sen. Johnson. “Those who have the courage to come forward should not be retaliated against.”
Letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson can be found here.
Letter to DHS Inspector General John Roth can be found here.Chairman Johnson's reference to HSI Agent Taylor Johnson is one that needs clarification. Taylor was an ICE (HSI) Senior Special Agent. On June 11, 2015 Fox News reported on her situation in an article that was titled “Whistleblowers testify on gov’t backlash, DHS agent says bosses tried to strip her gun rights.”
Another website, “Liberty Unyielding,” also covered Taylor Johnson's plight in an article titled “Corrupt mistreatment of federal whistleblowers, including threat to gun rights” that reported on corruption in the EB-5 Visa Program that provides lawful immigrant status to aliens who invest a minimum of $500,000 to create companies in the United States. Allegedly the corruption involved high-level politicians,
On February 3, 2015 ABC News reported on the EB-5 Visa Program in a truly troubling report, “Feds Investigating Iran Ties to Firm Involved in US Visa Program.”
On August 12, 2015 ABC News followed up with a report, “Dozens of Fraud Investigations Target US Immigration Program for Rich Foreigners."
Here is an excerpt from this article:
The report discloses for the first time that between January 2013 and 2015, the SEC received more than 100 “tips, complaints and referrals of possible securities fraud” connected to the EB-5 program, and there are currently 59 open investigations by various agencies into alleged EB-5 scams. In one recently announced case in California, the SEC went so far as to describe an EB-5 visa center that tried to sell investors on an oil drilling business as “a Ponzi-like scheme.”
The little-known, but immensely popular immigration program was the focus of a two part ABC News investigation earlier this year that looked into claims the program had created an avenue for criminals and spies to enter the country, and had become a magnet for fraud.HSI Senior Special Agent Taylor Johnson was recently fired by the DHS. The truth has set her free -- free to seek a new job.
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/.
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