This has been an extremely interesting week!
During the past week I have been interviewed on camera a half dozen times. Each time the topic involved immigration.
Before I get into the particulars of the news report that I have attached below and that also aired on WSB-TV this evening, I would like to take the time to provide you with some background information and perspectives.
Last week I was sent an e-mail about a news report prepared by a local television station, WSB-TV that is broadcast from Atlanta, Georgia. The news report focused on one of the issues that has kept me awake for years- in fact, even before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The issue was that, as I have noted innumerable times that when an illegal alien runs our nation’s borders and evades the inspections process, there is absolutely no record of that alien. There is absolutely no way of knowing if that alien is simply violating our nation’s borders and laws out of a desire to seek unlawful employment or if that alien is fleeing law enforcement authorities in another country because he (she) committed serious crimes, is a part of a transnational gang or criminal organization or is a member of a terrorist organization and is entering our country to “set up shop” to hide in plain sight in a community in the United States and act in furtherance of a criminal or even terrorist organization.
Remarkably we have heard high ranking members of the administration, who should obviously know better, engage in an academic debate about whether or not simply running our nation’s borders is a criminal or civil offense.
In point of fact, an alien who evades the inspections process the first time and who has no record of a previous deportation is committing a violation of law that carries a maximum of a six month jail sentence and a fine of no less than $50 and not more than $250. However, a subsequent such effort to evade the inspections process calls for a maximum of two years in jail- making this a felony.
Please do not take my word for this- please check out the link to Title 8, United States Code, Section 1325:
Furthermore, an alien who was deported because of a criminal conviction and unlawfully re-enters the United States may, upon conviction, be sentenced to a jail sentence of up to 20 years. (I am quite proud of the fact that I had approached then New York Senator Al D’Amato and, with the corroboration of a number of my former colleagues at the INS, convinced Senator D’Amato to create law that distinguishes between an illegal alien who is arrested and deported for purely administrative law violations and an alien whose deportation involved conviction(s) for felonies. It should be noted that at the time I was approaching Senator D’Amato, in the early, 1980’s Walter Connery had, at the same time, without any knowledge of what I was doing, drafted a legislative initiative for the same purpose. (Great minds think alike!) Walter was a former deputy inspector with the NYPD of the Internal Affairs Bureau joined the INS upon his retirement from the NYPD and ultimately became the Assistant District Director for Investigations of the New York District Office- in short, he became my boss.
Ultimately, Senator D’Amato was successful in getting that law passed and under the auspices of that law, criminal aliens who had been deported because of criminal convictions became known as “Aggravated Felons.” I was delighted to make the first arrest in the New York District Office of an alien who had been convicted and imprisoned for narcotics violations. I joked that when this guy found out that rather than simply going back to his home country when he completed his prison sentence he was to do another 5 years in a federal detention facility for the crime of reentry after deportation- he certainly was one aggravated felon!
The relevant section of law where the above-noted issue of criminal aliens who are deported and illegally reenter the United States is Title 18, United States Code, Section 1326. Here is a link to that section of law:
As any law enforcement officer will tell you- when you encounter an individual in the street, you have no idea who the individual is or what he may be involved with or even if there is an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
The challenge that the Border Patrol and ICE personnel face, is to determine if the illegal alien had been previously arrested and removed from the United States.
This goes back to the issue that an illegal alien who evades the Border Patrol and the inspections process may well pose a serious threat to the safety of the agents who encounter him and to the safety of our citizens and the security of our nation.
Any prosecutor who knows what he (she) is talking about certainly should understand these basic facts. Any attorney who is familiar with criminal law, in general and immigration law in particular, should be well aware of these points.
This is precisely why I am absolutely baffled that high ranking members of the administration who have legal training and especially when they have been prosecutors would fail to make the points that I have made. Is this attributable to a lack of understanding or is it that these issues are “inconvenient” in terms of the goals of the administration?
In any event, the news report I was sent from WSB-TV dealt with illegal aliens who had been apprehended attempting to enter the United States without inspection but were not citizens of Mexico but were, in fact, what are known as “OTM’s.” The term OTM an acronym that was created by the Border Patrol that stands for “Other Than Mexican.”
What was of particular concern was that of these OTM’s were citizens of so-called “Special Interest” countries- that is to say, countries associated with terrorism.
I wrote a commentary about the WSB-TV example of solid journalism and decided that I would attempt to contact the reporters or producers at WSB-TV in the next couple of days to discuss their report. (I have attached a copy of my commentary and relating documents at the bottom of news report that appeared today on the television station’s website that served as the predication for this commentary, so that you can have all of the relevant information available at one time.)
The next day I went to MSNBC to debate an aspect of the immigration crisis that is confronting our nation and our citizens and was, frankly, amazed that when I returned home and checked my e-mail that the producer of the news report at WSB-TV, Brad Stone had seen my commentary and wanted to speak with me about my perspectives.
Long story-short- after a lengthy discussion I agreed to be interviewed on camera for a followup news report. My appearance on camera is quite short and my quote in the written article is a mere sentence. That having been said- I am extremely pleased to have been contacted by Brad and given the opportunity to provide him with my perspectives.
One of the issues I raised with him and I will share with you is my concern about what these aliens- especially those from “Special Interest” countries may be up to. The critical issue to remember is that these individuals may well be connected- directly or indirectly with terrorism. I have been to the Arizona border and to other parts of the border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico. Clearly any separation is illusory. I can also tell you that while I found mountains of all sorts of trash- some of the vilest stuff you could ever imagine (or maybe not even imagine!) I never saw a single tent set up near the border. Those who make it across don’t hang around the border for long- they head for the rest of our nation- from coast to coast and border to border.
Those who are heading to this country and are involved with narcotics trafficking, transnational criminal organizations or international terrorist organizations are coming to ply their trades and, potentially, to kill our citizens as they did on September 11, 2001.
If the administration gets its way and implements a massive amnesty program under the auspices of Comprehensive Immigration Reform- our inept bureaucracy at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) would wind up providing unknown millions- perhaps tens of millions of illegal aliens with official identity documents that they could immediately use to obtain Social Security Cards, driver’s licenses, credit cards, library cards and other such authentic identity documents in false names. This is how sleeper agents seek to embed themselves in a country they plan to attack. This is what hiding in plain sight is all about.
This is why any member of Congress, no matter how many times he (she) may say that we need to secure the border needs a change of diapers if he says that we need Comprehensive Immigration Reform! This would be the ultimate betrayal of our nation and our citizens! This is why I have often said that any politician who votes for Comprehensive Immigration Reform or acts to implement this program should be given the MVP award b al-Qaeda!
At the beginning of this commentary I noted that I had done a bunch of on camera interviews during the past week. The only reason I am making this point is to let you know that the immigration issue is not just hot, it is sizzling hot! This is the reason that WSB-TV has had millions of “hits” on their website where the immigration reports are concerned.
There is a cautionary lesson our elected “representatives” need to come away with from all of this.
For many years the average American has ignored the politics in Washington. Perhaps many of our fellow Americans have been lazy. Perhaps, as I like to put it, far too many of our fellow countrymen and women have are grammatically challenged- certainly far too many of our politicians have been suffering from this malady. They can only conjugate verbs in the first person singular! There is a bit of “humor” that asks if you know the difference between a recession and a depression? The answer is that it is a recession if your neighbor is out of work and a depression if you are out of work!
That situation has become all too relevant for far too many Americans these days. The folks who are checking out the links to the news articles are finally taking the time to understand what is really going on!
Additionally, while we have been hearing that we have been “fighting the terrorists over there so that we won’t have to fight them over here” are realizing that time and again the terrorists have been operating over here! Faisal Shahzad’s effort a couple of weeks ago to detonate a bomb-laden SUV in the middle of Times Square was just the most recent of a string of such attempts. Meanwhile New York’s Mayor Bloomberg was quick to quip that the bomb was probably planted by a disgruntled Tea Party member- until the facts were made public.
Politicians and far too many “journalists” identified Shahzad as being “homegrown,” a “lone wolf” or an “American citizen of Pakistani descent.”
Each and every one of those descriptions were utterly wrong! In making those absurd assertions those who used those ridiculous terms lost all credibility among anyone who was functioning on more than a handful of neurons! To make this as clear as I can- the term “homegrown” relates to a citizen of the United States who was born in the United States and lived here most of his (her) life. Shahzad was naturalized just months ago. As for his being a “lone wolf” we have seen individuals being arrested in the United States and Pakistan who are believed or at least, alleged, to have been connected to him and his attempted act of terrorism.
Finally, it is completely disingenuous to refer to him as being a citizen of the United States who was of “Pakistani descent.” This term implies that he was born in the United States to parents who came from Pakistan.
Clearly the goal of those who make these unsupportable statements is to avoid the central issue- our nation admitted Shahzad into the United States and then, even though he had been on terror watch lists, removed him from those lists and provided him with the keys to America’s front door that United States citizenship represents!
For many years our politicians- including George W. Bush who always touted his “War on Terror” refused to secure our nation’s borders but sent Border Patrol agents to Iraq to secure the Iraqi border against the entry of insurgents and terrorists while having United States Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean arrested and prosecuted when they attempted to apprehend a drug smuggler.
In the last couple of days the administration has engaged in more “Theater of the Absurd” vilifying Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and members of her state’s legislature for attempting to deal with the immigration crisis that has hammered her state and has made Phoenix the “Kidnap and Home Invasion Capital” of the Western Hemisphere!
In watching the video that can be accessed by going to the link I have provided below, you will see a parade of local law enforcement administrators heading for a meeting in Washington to wail about how the enforcement of the immigration laws will “alienate” the folks in their respective communities. (Talk about a potential for some amazing puns!)
Here is the real story- not based on conjecture but on my 30 years with the former INS. Aliens from countries such as Mexico don’t trust cops because of their life experiences in their home countries- the cops in many of these countries are corrupt! That is not to say that all police officers in Mexico or other such countries are not to be trusted- the problem is that if you trust a police officer and he is not really trustworthy- you can pay a very heavy price for that misplaced trust! You can, possibly, pay with your life or the lives of your loved ones!
As an INS special agent I was often called upon, in fact, to use my authorities to help local police, state police and federal agents from the ATF, DEA, FBI, Marshal Service and others to convince aliens to become cooperators. There are all sorts of immigration benefits that are available to aliens who cooperate. Such aliens and even their families can be provided with S-Visas that would enable them to live in the United States even if they had been here illegally.
In fact, on March 18, 2004 I was called to testify before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic:
“Pushing The Border Out on Alien Smuggling: New Tools and Intelligence Initiatives”
I was invited to testify before this hearing by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who was, at that time, the Ranking Member of the subcommittee.
When law enforcement professionals bemoan the idea that they should have to enforce immigration laws I am left with the inevitable question- Why are they saying these thing? They absolutely know better!
Some time ago I prepared a list of 7 ways that having ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) work cooperatively with local law enforcement would have a synergistic impact on law enforcement. Here is that list- once more:
The participation of special agents of ICE in multi-agency law enforcement operations and the implementation of the 287(g) program under which state and local law enforcement officers are trained to identify criminal aliens could be a force multiplier for ICE and the involved police departments. Here are 7 reasons why all law enforcement agencies should welcome the involvement of special agents of ICE and how the 287(g) program can have a synergistic impact on many criminal investigations:
Access to immigration files can provide investigative leads when a criminal alien is being sought as a fugitive or a suspect of a crime.
Access to immigration files can also provide vital information to a judge when a criminal alien is arrested and the judge is attempting to set the appropriate bail. The immigration file can provide documented evidence of risk of flight based on numerous identities the defendant may have previously used, occasions when the defendant jumped bail in an immigration matter and filed to appear for an immigration hearing. The file can also provide evidence of prior deportations. This could help to prevent those tragedies in which a criminal alien is arrested and then released on bail, only to commit another heinous crime while out on bail.
If a plea bargain is being arranged, local and state prosecutors should work in close cooperation with federal immigration counsels to make certain that in the process of working out a plea-bargain agreement that they don’t inadvertently eliminate a conviction for a crime that would render the alien deportable.
Working cooperatively with ICE, it would be easier to cultivate informants. Informants are often essential to the successful investigation and prosecution of criminals and criminal organizations as well as terrorists and their associates. The immigration laws provide a huge “carrot” as well as a huge “stick” to this end.
There are a number of laws that can be used to hammer criminal aliens under the federal code. For example, the penalty for an illegal alien found to be in possession of a firearm carries a ten year penalty. There are other such laws to be found in the federal code that deals with the possession and use of false identity documents and for the crime of unlawful reentry after deportation. A criminal alien who is deported from the United States and then reenters the United States with the authority of the government faces a maximum of 20 years in jail. (I am proud to have played a role in convincing the then Senior Senator from the State of New York, Alphonse D’Amato to create the legislation that distinguished criminal aliens who are deported and reenter the United States illegally for illegal aliens who had no previous criminal convictions.)
When an alien is convicted of a felony and when state and local law enforcement authorities work in close coordination with federal immigration authorities, a detainer can be lodged to make certain that upon release from custody when the criminal alien’s sentence is completed, the criminal alien will face deportation (removal) from the United States.
There are instances when it is advantageous to the investigation to arrest a key individual(s) without alerting other members of the criminal or terrorist organization he is a part of, that the entire organization is being investigated. In such instances, it is often easy to find of violation of the immigration laws to enable law enforcement to arrest these individuals for administrative or criminal violation of the immigration laws, thus not alerting their cohorts to the larger, on-going investigation.
It is incredible that the administration believes that the citizens of our country would be lulled into a false sense of security by having 1,200 national guard troops sent to the border. This represents only about a 5% increase in the staffing levels for the entire border patrol and, as I am certain you know, these soldiers will not have the authority to make arrests. This will also do absolutely nothing to address the illegal aliens who get past the Border Patrol or enter via the inspections process at ports of entry and then violate the terms of their admission into the United States.
Failures to provide adequate staffing for the Border Patrol and for the interior enforcement program go back to the George W. Bush administration and virtually every previous administration! In fact I testified before a couple of Congressional hearings about the failures of George W. to address the issues by hiring the number of new employees for the Border Patrol and ICE that the Congress had provided funding for.
On March 10, 2005 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic:
“INTERIOR IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES”
Here is a link to this hearing:
By continuing to ignore the various components of the interior enforcement mission of ICE, any alien who can get past the Border Patrol or the inspector at a port of entry is all but home free. ICE recently acknowledged that they have fewer than 300 special agents seeking aliens who overstayed their authorized period of admission into the United States while it is believed that some 40% of the illegal aliens were admitted through the inspections process and then, in one way or another, violated the terms of their admission.
Clearly the millions of people who have checked out the news reports that addressed the outrageous situation on the Mexican border understand that the government that is supposed to protect our citizens is betraying our citizens. There is absolutely no other way to express my rage at the failings of our government to do what should be expected of our “leaders” and that our leaders are additionally not telling the truth to the citizens of our nation.
There is a word for this: UNACCEPTABLE!
Actually other words came to mind but I am trying to remain civil.
Brad Stone and his colleagues at WSB-TV have demonstrated true journalistic integrity at a time when such integrity seems increasingly difficult to find!
As for our elected representatives…
If you after reading my commentary and watching the video prepared by WSB-TV you cannot sleep now- perhaps you could do something worthwhile- perhaps you might spend a couple of your sleepless hours writing letters to your elected representatives this evening and remind them that Election Day is just months away!
We the People can add to the consternation of these politicians who are failing to live up to their oaths of office by contacting them and making it abundantly clear that election day is coming and they should think of election day as their personal “Day of Reckoning!”
Our government must live up to its obligation of protecting its own citizens and, indeed, all who are present in our country from the criminals and terrorists who would threaten our lives and the survival of our nation and our way of life. In the end, the government is actually those who are elected to act as our “leaders.” Those who fail to truly lead and look out for those they are supposed to represent, need to be sent packing this coming Election Day!
If our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!
We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.
My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.
The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.
Any politician who refuses to work to secure our borders and create an immigration system that has integrity is either corrupt or too dumb to keep his (her) job. Any politician, irrespective of party affiliation who favors Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the outrageous betrayal that this would represent given the national security implications that this program would have, should be shown the door at the next election!
If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.
Later this year, each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. Later this year more than one third of the members of the United States Senate will have to face their constituents. They need to be reminded that they work for us, We the People!
However, the practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.
The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!
The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.I implore you to get involved!
If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation!
All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!
We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.
This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!
You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!
Democracy is not a spectator sport!
Lead, follow or get out of the way!