by Michael Cutler
On Sunday, February 22, 2015, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson appeared on Fox News and was questioned about a conjunction among the impending defunding of Homeland Security, the president’s continuing push to implement a massive amnesty program for an estimated 5 million illegal aliens and the ruling of a federal judge in Texas to block the implementation of that program.
The Washington Examiner published a report about Johnson’s interview shortly after it aired. The title of the article focused on a claim made by Jeh Johnson during that interview: “Judge’s ruling leaves illegal immigrants ‘in the shadows,’ Homeland Security chief says.”
Here is how the report began:
A ruling by a Texas judge temporarily halting President Obama’s executive action sparing up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation effectively leaves those people “in the shadows,” argued the nation’s Homeland Security chief on Sunday.
“It is better to find ways to encourage [illegal immigrants] to come forward,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“They have to stay in the shadows,” he added. “That’s not a good thing.”
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen forced the administration to put the brakes on Obama’s executive action on immigration. The Justice Department is expected Monday to seek an emergency stay of the decision but faces an uphill battle to get the immigration program moving forward again.
The absurdity of Mr. Johnson’s assertions was ignored during his interview and he was never asked a simple, but obvious, question: How will the administration’s amnesty program now being put on hold enable DHS or other law enforcement agencies locate and arrest aliens who refuse to emerge from those “shadows” if, for example, they know that they are wanted for criminal activities or for being linked to a terrorist organization and their fingerprints will likely alert our government to their situation?
The harsh reality is that there is absolutely no provision for DHS to be given the resources to accomplish this vital and fundamental mission. I spent roughly 30 years with the former INS and my colleagues and I spent considerable time and effort tracking down such fugitives who had absolutely no desire to step out of the shadows in which they were hiding.
On the other hand, many times international fugitives, including murders wanted in countries around the world, managed to hide in plain sight by acquiring official identity documents in false names. In point of fact, for a criminal, spy or terrorist a false identity is the equivalent of camouflage.
When we are told that the aliens who would participate in the administration’s illegal amnesty program will be fingerprinted, you need to realize that unless these aliens have been fingerprinted in the United States or a handful of America’s allies, the likelihood is great that the prints will come back as a “no hit,” meaning that there are no relating records. If these aliens use a false name, the name will also come back as a “no record.” These heretofore illegal aliens would then be given an identity document by DHS that would immediately enable them to apply for Social Security cards, driver’s licenses and other such documents in a false alias that would give them the ability to move freely around the United States, gain access to government and corporate office buildings, and get jobs that may have critical infrastructure implications. Perhaps their jobs would give them access to a potential future target for a terrorist attack to provide them with familiarity with that target, whether it is a mall, a hotel or sports arena.
Mr. Johnson is not, however, the first high-ranking official to tout the supposed benefits of enacting a massive amnesty program for aliens who evaded the essential inspections process conducted at ports of entry by CBP (Customs and Border Protection), an agency under the aegis of DHS.
For many years advocates for Comprehensive Immigration Reform have claimed that it would be in everyone’s best interests to provide lawful status to millions of illegal aliens who are hiding in the “shadows” in towns and cities in every one of America’s 50 states.
This is one of many utterly false claims made by those eager to exploit the immigration issue for a variety of reasons and is an important one to consider, especially given the threats that America and Americans face in this dangerous era.
Our leaders have been blatantly lying about the true significance of immigration, hoping that they will succeed in deceiving most Americans. On April 15, 2014 Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) posted my article, “Immigration and the ‘Mushroom Treatment’” in which I wrote about this deceitful and dishonorable tactic.
Furthermore, it is more than a bit ironic that so-called “Sanctuary Cities” and “Sanctuary States” have created the deepest and darkest shadows in which illegal aliens hide, yet the federal government in general and this administration, in particular have encouraged these insane practices. This was the topic of my recent article for CAPS, ‘To Serve and Protect:’ Who Is Served, Protected in Sanctuary Cities and States?
There is absolutely nothing in any legislation pertaining to Comprehensive Immigration Reform that provides resources or calls for ramping up the enforcement of our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States to locate and apprehend those potentially deadly “shadow dwellers.”
Undoubtedly among those dwelling in the shadows are terror “sleepers.” On January 23, 2015 FrontPage Magazine published my article, “Sleeper Cells: The Immigration Component of the Threat.”
There is also nothing in Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation that would address the issue of fraud that currently permeates the adjudications program at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) that is already overwhelmed by a massive onslaught of more than six million applications filed each and every year for a wide variety of immigration benefits.
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 54 of this report contained this excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot”:
During the 1990s, al Qaeda was either directly or indirectly involved in a number of terrorist plots in the United States that partially or totally failed. A study of these plots and how those involved in them moved about clearly indicates that foreign terrorist operatives were being planted in the United States and that foreign terrorist operations were being planned against Americans here at home.
The attempted operations were valuable to those carrying them out despite their lack of success: they gave Islamic terrorists critical operational experience in entering and “embedding” in the United States. Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.4
In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.
Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.
Aliens who evade the inspections process do so, presumably, because they know that they are, under the current immigration laws, statutorily ineligible to enter the United States via the lawful process requiring that anyone seeking to enter the United States must present himself/herself for inspection by a CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspector. It is believed that more than half of all aliens illegally present in the United States evaded this process.
Other aliens who are subject to removal (deportation) either entered the United States with visas or under the visa waiver program and, in one way or another, violated the terms of their admission into the United States by, for example, remaining after their authorized period time expired, accepted employment to which they were not entitled, failed to attend schools for which they were admitted to attend or committed serious crimes in the United States.
Advocates for Comprehensive Immigration Reform have, since the administration of President Jimmy Carter, attempted to minimize the true essential nature of that inspections process, a process I am intimately familiar with having spent the first four years of what would be my 30 year career with the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) as an immigration inspector assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. This is why they have come to refer to aliens who enter the United States surreptitiously as having entered the United States “Undocumented” when, in point of fact, they entered the United States without inspection. Indeed, as I have often pointed out in my articles and presentations, INS personnel always referred to such aliens who trespassed on America as being EWI (Entry Without Inspection).
To help illuminate the true nature of that inspections process I am providing you with the description of the immigration inspections program as it appears on the CBP website:
Individuals seeking entry into the United States are inspected at Ports of Entry (POEs) by CBP officers who determine their admissibility. The inspection process includes all work performed in connection with the entry of aliens and United States citizens into the United States, including preinspection performed by the Immigration Inspectors outside the United States.
“An officer is responsible for determining the nationality and identity of each applicant for admission and for preventing the entry of ineligible aliens, including criminals, terrorists, and drug traffickers, among others. U.S. citizens are automatically admitted upon verification of citizenship; aliens are questioned and their documents are examined to determine admissibility based on the requirements of the U.S. immigration law.”
Under the authority granted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, a CBP officer may question, under oath, any person coming into the United States to determine his or her admissibility. In addition, an inspector has authority to search without warrant the person and effects of any person seeking admission, when there is reason to believe that grounds of exclusion exist which would be disclosed by such search.
The INA is based on the law of presumption: an applicant for admission is presumed to be an alien until he or she shows evidence of citizenship; an alien is presumed to be an immigrant until he or she proves that he or she fits into one of the nonimmigrant classifications.
The mission of the inspections program is to control and guard the boundaries and borders of the United States against the illegal entry of aliens. In a way that:
• Functions as the initial component of a comprehensive, immigration enforcement system;
• Prevents the entry of terrorists, drug traffickers, criminals, and other persons who may subvert the national interest;
• Deters illegal immigration through the detection of fraudulent documents and entry schemes;
• Initiates prosecutions against individuals who attempt or aid and abet illegal entry;
• Cooperates with international, Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to achieve mutual objectives;
• Contributes to the development and implementation of foreign policy related to the entry of persons;
• Facilitates the entry of persons engaged in commerce, tourism, and/or other lawful pursuits;
• Respects the rights and dignity of individuals;
• Examines individuals and their related documents in a professional manner;
• Assists the transportation industry to meet its requirements;
• Responds to private sector interests, in conformance with immigration law;
• Continues to employ innovative methods to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the inspections process.
In reviewing the description of the inspections process the obvious question is whether the goals of that process are important or trivial.
In point of fact, when you consider the first few items on the list of goals would you rather that they be eliminated or, perhaps, be given greater resources and emphasis?
Why then are our elected officials ranging from the President of the United States, key officials at DHS, an agency that claims to be the Department of Homeland Security, so willing to trivialize the process by which our government attempts to prevent the entry of terrorists and criminals?
Perhaps, in the interest of honesty, it is time to rename the DHS to provide it with a name that is more accurate and descriptive. It should be renamed the Department of Homeland Surrender.
Let us, once again, consider those goals in particular as articulated in the official CBP website in reviewing these excerpts:
“An officer is responsible for determining the nationality and identity of each applicant for admission and for preventing the entry of ineligible aliens, including criminals, terrorists, and drug traffickers, among others. U.S. citizens are automatically admitted upon verification of citizenship; aliens are questioned and their documents are examined to determine admissibility based on the requirements of the U.S. immigration law.”
The mission of the inspections program is to control and guard the boundaries and borders of the United States against the illegal entry of aliens.
DHS and the administration and our Congress cannot have it both ways. The DHS website made the true importance of the inspections process in efforts to prevent the entry of terrorists and criminals abundantly clear, yet the Secretary of Homeland Security is among the strongest of advocates for providing aliens who evade that vital screening process with lawful status and identity documents.
On January 10, 2013 CAPS posted my article, “The Masquerade Ball” in which I focused on the way that identify documents can be used as a mask to conceal the true identities and movements of criminals and terrorists. If there is no way of verifying the true identities of millions of aliens who entered the United States surreptitiously for reasons known only to them, there is a very real possibility, indeed, probability that some of these individuals will seek to conceal their true identities by participating in a massive amnesty program in order to obtain such documentation that would immediately enable them to secure driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and other such ID in false names.
Concerns about the use of ID in false names by terrorists was, in fact, the impetus for the REAL ID Act.
If “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” preventing the entry of terrorists and criminals is is the best prevention imaginable. Nevertheless, the president, key cabinet members, including the nominee for the position of Attorney General, along with managers at the DHS, insist on pushing a massive amnesty program for unknown millions of illegal aliens who evaded the inspections process to enter the United States in “stealth mode.”
This is also the message being delivered by supposed “leaders” in both the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate from both the Republican and Democratic parties.
Here is something for you to consider: When Americans had their fill of drunk drivers involved in deadly crashes they demanded action from their government representatives. The response from cities and governors across the United States was to deter drunk driving by taking such actions as setting the minimum age for those purchasing alcoholic beverages to 21, lowering the acceptable blood/alcohol level and imposing enhanced penalties to those caught driving drunk to include revocation of driver’s licenses, imposing massive fines, seizing vehicles and the mandated incarceration of those found guilty of drunk driving.
These efforts have been highly successful at deterring drunk driving, having been further bolstered by massive advertising campaigns and the establishment of sobriety checkpoints by local and state police departments across the United States.
Today, texting while driving has been identified as posing a new serious threat to safety. The approach taken by political leaders and law enforcement executives has paralleled the way that drunk driving was dealt with. The goal was to convince those who would text while driving that they were likely to get caught and, if caught, the punishment would be onerous.
As many illegal aliens as we likely have in the United States, it is safe to say that there are many more motorists who have cell phones than there are illegal aliens . Yet we have never heard any politician or law enforcement executive claim that there are too many such motorists to aggressively and effectively enforce drunk driving and texting while driving laws.
If drunk driving was dealt with the way that our “leaders” propose to deal with illegal immigration, they would have greatly increased the acceptable blood/alcohol levels in motorists. Then when an impaired driver was involved in a deadly crash, they could claim that the driver was not legally drunk so obviously drunk driving was not the issue to blame in the fatality.
Of course no one would ever think about proposing such an insane “strategy” to “solve” the problems created by drunk driving. Yet, this is essentially how our political leaders are proposing to “fix” our “broken” immigration system — providing massive numbers of illegal aliens with lawful status, official identity documents and even “pathways to United States citizenship” literally “sight unseen” without so much as an in-person interview.
Because of the huge numbers of aliens involved in implementing Comprehensive Immigration Reform, millions of illegal aliens would not and could not be interviewed in person and no field investigations could be conducted. Given the reality of the situation here is what our officials will not be able to confirm:
1. The true names of these aliens
2. The true nationalities of these aliens
3. The possible affiliation that these aliens may have with criminal or terrorist organizations
4. When, where or how they actually entered the United States
So many “talking heads” and pundits on various television programs and on every major network are quick to jump on the “compassion bandwagon” saying that if an alien has lived in the United States for more than a certain number of years, it is only fair and reasonable to let them remain. No one ever asks how the adjudications officers could begin to determine when these aliens entered the United States. Many of these foreign nationals have used multiple false identities, no record of entry was created when they slipped into our country without inspection and there would be no way to conduct any field investigations. In my experience as an INS agent, these applicants will simply find out what the cutoff date by which they need to have claimed to have entered the United States is, and simply claim that they got here before that “magic” date.
The obvious question: What could possibly go wrong?
The many failures of our immigration system are evident to everyone. The fact that there are unknown millions of illegal aliens present in the United States, the fact that aliens who were granted political asylum, lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship should raise serious concerns about the vetting process that such aliens undergo. The fact that immigration fraud currently permeates the immigration benefits program provides clear and unequivocal evidence that the division of DHS, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is incapable of properly screening applications that they adjudicate, thereby enabling terrorists and criminals to enter the United States and embed themselves in communities across our nation.
Immigration fraud, as I noted previously, was identified by the 9/11 Commission as being a key method of entry and embedding employed by the majority of terrorists identified and investigated by that commission, including other terrorists who did not participate in the terror attacks of 9/11.
Undoubtedly, border security is a vital component of national security that involves far more than simply securing the U.S./Mexican border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico.
However, none of the 19 terrorists who participated in the attacks of September 11, 2001 ran the U.S./Mexican Border. Our nation has 50 border states and the entire immigration system is dysfunctional, thereby undermining national security, public safety and a host of other issues. Yet most politicians from both parties insist that once the U.S./Mexican border is made secure, it is in our best interests to provide unknown millions of illegal aliens with lawful status and identity documents.
The true and commonsense “fix” for our “broken” immigration enforcement is no different from other law enforcement issues: Create meaningful deterrence to discourage those who would violate the laws by enhanced enforcement especially from within the interior of the United States, coupled with true resolve demonstrated by the words and deeds of our leaders.
My parents used to tell me, “Actions speak louder than words.”
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Filed Under: Daily Mailer, FrontPage Tagged With: Court, Department of Homeland Security, Illegal, Immigration, jeh johnson, shadows, suspended
About Michael Cutler
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