“Connecting The Dots- The Nexus Between Immigration And Current Terrorist Threats”
Michael W. Cutler, Senior Special Agent, INS (Ret.)
I will begin today’s commentary with a quote and a question: “Who said it?”
Here is the quote:
It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.
The purpose of my commentary today, is to provide you with what is clearly unsettling information- the fact that the administration has taken the unprecedented measures of closing nearly two dozen embassies and consulates in the Middle East and North Africa because of what has been declared reliable information about credible threats of al-Qaeda terror attacks that may target those embassies or consulates or may, in fact, ultimately target U.S. interests anywhere in the world.
Additionally the State Department issued a world-wide alert for Americans traveling anywhere in the world. Americans are advised to be aware of their surroundings and to somehow be careful. How helpful is that really?
In point of fact, the potential exists that terror attacks may be carried out inside the United States. While the coverage of the threat has occupied quite a bit of airtime on many of the news programs, not one single program has talked about the nexus between this latest threat of terrorism focusing on the United States and immigration and the role that DHS should and, in fact, must play in protecting the United States even though the 9/11 Commission identified failures of the immigration system as not only having enabled and facilitated the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 but also in enabling other terrorists to enter the United States and embed themselves.
Perhaps, once again, the narrative of the need to provide lawful status to unknown millions of illegal aliens trumps the reality of the situation. This commentary will go where the news media won’t.
It is interesting that DHS is an acronym for the Department of Homeland Security, yet it is not even being mentioned by the media or the administration.
The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists not only made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud to enter the United States but to also embed themselves in the United States. Page 47 of this report noted
Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.
This paragraph is found on page 98 under the title “Immigration Benefits:”
“Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.”
US-VISIT is the program that is supposed to track the entry and departure of foreign nationals (alien) who enter the United States as non-immigrants. The Immigration Reform Act of 1996 established the creation of US-VISIT as a priority. The 9/11 Commission mandated that US-VISIT be implemented because it recognized this essential capability as being inextricably linked to national security.
(Of course what has never been discussed or required is that ICE have the resources and mandate to actually seek to locate, arrest and seek the removal of aliens who violated the terms of their admission in the United States.)
The continuing instances of ineptitude, incompetence and corruption of the DHS has caused me to come to refer to that screwed up agency as the Department of Homeland Surrender! Let me make it clear that the vast majority of employees of the various component agencies of the DHS understand the true importance of their missions and desperately want to do an effective job. In fact, the union leaders who represent these employees have gone public and have been crystal clear in their frustration with the administration’s failures to not only provide resources and leadership to help these dedicated officials do an effective job, but are enraged that through executive orders and policy statements that our immigration laws are not only not being enforced but hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens have been granted employment authorization and official identity documents without even subjecting these illegal and undocumented aliens to an in-person interview.