by Michael Cutler
How the “Improved Visa Waiver Program” creates the perilous illusion of security.
Once again terrorists have attacked and wounded and killed innocent civilians in London, England.
On June 3rd a terrorist attack at London Bridge and Borough Market was carried out by three apparent Jihadists who used a rented van to mow down pedestrians, whereupon the three emerged from that van and attacked still more victims with their knives.
The terrorists have applied to their attacks the principle behind Occam's razor, that postulates that in attempting to understand how something is accomplished, the simplest solution is most likely the correct solution.
In the case of terrorists, using a simple strategy and crude weapons such as motor vehicles and knives that are readily available, decreases the likelihood that such plots can be discovered and prevented before they are carried out.
While the TSA, was created in the wake of the terror attacks of 9/11 and its FY 2017 Budget of $7.6 billion and more than 42,000 employees exist to safeguard transportation, with particular emphasis on airliners, most terror attacks do not involve airliners.
Continuing with the concept of Occam’s razor, the United States needs to do whatever is possible and reasonable to prevent international terrorists from entering the United States in the first place.
All vulnerabilities must, therefore be effectively addressed.
If an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure, preventing the entry of such terrorists represents a ton of cure.
As I have noted in a recent article, Border Security Is National Security.
There is no shortage of ways for terrorists to enter the United States. Recently attention has turned to the way that aliens who enter the United States through the legal inspections process at ports of entry are able to easily disappear within the United States and embed themselves in the towns and cities where they live and quietly go about their deadly preparations.
That issue and others were raised in the report issued on May 23, 2017 by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Visa Overstays: A Gap in the Nation’s Border. That report served as the predication for my recent article.
Indeed, the 9/11 Commission noted that most terrorists enter the United States through international airports.
Given these facts it is becoming clear that President Trump’s goal of subjecting aliens seeking entry into the United States to “extreme vetting” is a matter of national security.
In fact, the 9/11 Commission found flaws in the way that visas were issued and noted that the visa adjudications process needed to be tightened up.
The Visa Waiver Program runs contrary to that important mission yet, the number of the countries whose citizens may enter the United States without first applying for visas and receiving visas continues to increase under pressure from such special interest/lobbying groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in spite of the fact that the nexus between visa overstays and terrorism has been well known for many years. In fact, on May 11, 2006 I testified before a hearing conducted by the House Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the topic, Visa Overstays: Can We Bar The Terrorist Door?
Shortly after the attacks of 9/11 the virtual mantra of our leaders was, “To be successful, the terrorists need only get it ‘right’ while our security depends on our government getting it ‘right’ 100% of the time.”
As concerns about terrorists who are citizens of countries who participate in the Visa Waiver Program increased as more terror attacks were carried out in Europe and elsewhere, the Obama administration and the Congress cooperated to modify the Visa Waiver Program through the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015.
The “improvements” to the Visa Waiver Program are illusory and designed to quell the fears and concerns of Americans while making certain that this dangerous program continues to satisfy the demands of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other such lobbying organizations who, as I have previously noted, are far more concerned with head counts on airliners than body counts in the morgue.
By creating this dangerous illusion, the stage has been set for what may be further attempts to expand this wrong-headed program rather than do what is necessary and terminate it altogether.
Here is how the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) has been modified, as noted in the official CBP website:
Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the VWP:
• Nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, or countries listed under specified designation lists (currently including Iran and Sudan) at any time on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited government/military exceptions).
• Nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, at any time on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited government/military exceptions).
These restrictions do not apply to VWP travelers whose presence in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen was to perform military service in the armed forces of a program country, or in order to carry out official duties as a full-time employee of the government of a program country. We recommend those who have traveled to the seven countries listed above for military/official purposes bring with them appropriate documentation when traveling through a U.S. port of entry.
The vast majority of VWP-eligible travelers will not be affected by the new Act. New countries may be added to this list at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
However, what is the likelihood that our consular officials or our CBP inspectors at ports of entry will know if such aliens had traveled to Syria, Iraq or other such countries?
Is there truly an expectation that such aliens will show up at U.S. embassies and consulates seeking visas after freely admitting that they have made such trips to those countries?
Are we to expect, perhaps, that such individuals might show up with their transcripts in hand, attesting to their acquired prowess in the construction bombs when they attended terror training camps in the Middle East?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its corporate friends in the hotel, travel, hospitality and manufacturing industries formed an unholy alliance, the Discover America Partnership that, nevertheless, continues to lobby for an expansion of the dangerous Visa Waiver Program, ignoring that ISIS, al-Qaeda and transnational criminals have already “discovered” America.
That partnership opposes any efforts to more effectively scrutinize foreign visitors, pushing for the admission of ever more foreign tourists, foreign students and, of course, huge increases in exploitable foreign workers to displace Americans.
My article, “Visa Waiver Program Endangers Our Safety And Security" included a list of six ways an effectively administered visa program helps combat terrorism and protect America and Americans and even enhances airliner safety.
All of those important benefits are utterly lost when aliens enter the U.S. under Visa Waiver Program. Under this program aliens do not apply for or receive visas.
To cite a few examples as to how the visa requirement enhance national security and public safety:
Visa applications contain information and biometrics that can be essential to conducting investigations into terrorists and criminals. Aliens who commit fraud in completing that application face up to 25 years in prison, if the purpose for applying for the visa was to further a terror goal.
Aliens who are required to have visas before traveling to the United States are not permitted to board airliners if they have no visas. Aliens who are denied visas are subsequently barred from boarding airliners. Richard Reid, the infamous “Shoe Bomber” was, as a British citizen, able to board the airliner destined to the United States without first receiving a visa.
Yet the Visa Waiver program persists as do the risks that this program creates for national security and public safety.
The final blow to our safety and security is provided by Lethal Sanctuary Cities that are eager to harbor and shield illegal aliens, no matter how they entered the United States, from detection by immigration law enforcement officers.
Simply stated, Sanctuary Cities Endanger - National Security and Public Safety.
National security and public safety must be the absolute priority for our government. Illusions of security are less then worthless- they are dangerous.
The Visa Waiver Program and Sanctuary Cities must, for once and for all, be terminated.
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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