ICE Engages in The Same Old Game But Not Tough Enough to Secure The Borders


This past Thursday, February 17th, the Washington Times reported that Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of DHS, an agency I have come to refer to as the Department of Homeland Surrender announced that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) would target all sorts of businesses that engage in the intentional hiring of illegal aliens.

Certainly any efforts made to identify and punish those who violate our nation’s immigration laws is welcome but there are a number of “howevers” that the article did not address so I will.

First of all, the news report noted that ICE will expand the audits of the paperwork maintained by every employer in the United States. The term expand must mean that more audits will be conducted. This is encouraging, however, the statements of Ms. Napolitano reminds me of a statement I will never forget hearing as I sat at the witness table at a Congressional hearing entitled “Funding for Immigration in the President’s 2005 Budget.” That hearing was conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on March 11, 2004 when Lamar Smith, who was at that time a member of that subcommittee addressed the resources allocated for worksite enforcement, made the following statement:

And while it’s a step in the right direction that we’re increasing the amount of money-as I recall, it was something like from $20 million to $40 million, roughly-for worksite inspections, that’s a little bit like having two candles instead of one candle in a blackout. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not doing near what we should.

I would remind you that Lamar Smith made that statement when George W. Bush was the President of the United States. They are both members of the Republican Party.

Representative Smith is now the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. While I certainly cannot speak for Mr. Smith it would certainly appear that the issue of the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws is for him, as it is for me, not a matter of political party but a matter of what is right for the United States. It is not a matter of left or right but a matter of right or wrong!

You can read the entire transcript of that hearing at:

Today the current administration engages in the same old game of attempting to create the illusion of addressing the issues while making certain that the flood of illegal aliens continues unabated. The statements made by Secretary Napolitano sound as though she and ICE are getting tough but lets take a closer look at what she actually said.

She said that businesses would be targeted but failed to note how many agents were actually going to conduct the inspections. She did not talk about the need to make E-Verfiy mandatory- in fact, she did not even mention E-Verify at all!

Jerry Seper, the Washington Times reporter who wrote the article had to go back to a previous statement that Napolitano made in which she addressed the issue of how ICE would deal with illegal aliens who were encountered during the course of conducting worksite investigations. Apparently she neglected to even raise this issue in her most recent statements!

But even in looking back at her statements that addressed the issue of illegal aliens it is clear that if your dissect her remarks, illegal aliens have little to fear from ICE. Here is that quote:

At the time, Ms. Napolitano said ICE would continue to arrest and process for removal any illegal workers who were found in the course of the work-site enforcement actions in a manner consistent with immigration law and Homeland Security priorities.

The critical portion of that quote was the fact that illegal aliens would be arrested only if their arrest was “consistent with immigration law and Homeland Security priorities.”

Time and again the administration has made it clear that illegal aliens who had no convictions for serious crimes are not a priority and, in fact, were often seeking to have the efforts to remove such illegal aliens from our country terminated!

Let me make an important point here- I agree that the United States cannot deport the many millions of illegal aliens who are present in our country today. While statistics vary widely as to the actual number of illegal aliens who are present in the United States and the government claims that there are approximately 11 million illegal aliens- I believe that there may be as many as 30 million or more illegal aliens present in our country.

Law enforcement needs to marshal its resources wisely and perform a sort of triage to address the most serious issues most aggressively.

Back in the early 1980’s when I approached then New York State Senator Al D’Amato I suggested that in addition to increasing the penalties for aliens who have criminal convictions who unlawfully re-enter the United States and holding deportation (removal) hearings inside prisons, that the former INS prioritize aliens who are convicted of crimes in terms of efforts to locate, apprehend and remove illegal aliens.

However, while I agree that criminal aliens should be prioritized, I do not believe that aliens who have no criminal convictions should be utterly ignored.

Several months ago I wrote a commentary about a program known as “Operation VIPER” in which DHS would shut down highways and conduct random searches of trucks and other conveyances in order to add the element of “randomness” into homeland security strategies. The idea is that a criminal or terrorist organization that might be transporting contraband would not be assured that their “cargo” would get from point A to point B without interference.

Randomness is also used as sobriety checkpoints- it is an effective tool.

Similarly, no illegal alien should ever be able to go to sleep at night without feeling at least a bit of trepidation that he (she) might encounter a law enforcement officer who would take them into custody for violating our nation’s borders and our nation’s laws. This is why I am a strong believer in collateral arrests.

When I began my career as an INS special agent back in the mid 1970’s our instructions were that if we encountered an illegal alien while we were conducting a field investigation that we take that illegal alien into custody or, at the least, pass that person into our office for processing if we had reason to believe that that person would show up. Generally those who were “passed in” had some potential immigration benefit going for them and we would assist in making certain that where possible, we would help that alien secure that benefit. (The concept of “passing an alien in” meant that we took down as much information as we could determine in the field and then provide him with a slip that provided the address of our office along with contact information so that they could contact us telephonically in the event that they needed to change their appointment and, perhaps, secure the services of an immigration attorney.)

We were, however, absolutely required to identify anyone we encountered during our official duties as to name, date of birth and immigration status. By dealing with illegal aliens we encountered in the manner I noted, aliens understood that we took their illegal status in our country seriously. This is why it is important that when illegal aliens are encountered during worksite investigations today, that those illegal aliens should be arrested and where appropriate, removed from the United States. This would represent a balanced approach to the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.

Balance is critical if the goal of stanching the flood of illegal aliens into the United States is to be achieved. Simply attempting to intimidate employers into not hiring illegal aliens only addresses one half of the problem. Additionally, most employers know that the likelihood of being found to intentionally hire illegal aliens represents a small risk when you consider how many employers there are in the United States and how few ICE personnel are involved in conducting audits and worksite investigations.

In order to convince potential illegal aliens that they should not violate our nation’s borders and our nation’s immigration laws, illegal aliens must be made to understand that our nation not only considers illegal entry into our country to be a violation of law, but that our nation has the resources and the political will to actually enforce the laws that they violate. What Nancy Pelosi referred to as a “Climate of fear” when illegal aliens are arrested by ICE is actually a climate of deterrence. One of the goals of law enforcement, no matter what laws are being considered, is to create a deterrence against those who would contemplate violating the law. When the administration and members of Congress such as Chuck Schumer and the other usual suspects keep making statements about the need to provide a “Pathway to United States Citizenship” for illegal aliens, the message that they send to illegal aliens and those people around the world who may aspire to become illegal aliens is that their presence in our country is desired by our leaders at the highest echelons of our government.

This not only does not deter the torrents of illegal aliens who run our borders each and every day- it encourages still more illegal aliens to do so!

When the federal agency that is charged with enforcing our nation’s immigration laws willfully turns a blind eye to illegal aliens that are encountered by that agency, the message that is sent is unambiguous and absolutely dangerous to the well being of our nation and our citizens. The message is that our government does not give a damn about its borders or its laws!

As I have noted on ever so many occasions, you only get one opportunity to make a first impression. Often the first laws and the first law enforcement agency that they encounter are our immigration laws and the agencies that are charged with enforcing those laws. When that agency makes light of violations of laws that under their unique jurisdiction, the message could not be louder or clearer- violate our borders and violate our laws and our nation’s leaders will literally trip over themselves in providing you with whatever you want!

This past January 26th I was invited by Representative Lamar Smith, acting in has capacity as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to provide testimony at the very first hearing that the newly constituted House Immigration Subcommittee on Immigration Enforcement and Policy conducted. The topic of this hearing was:

“ICE Worksite Enforcement – Up to the Job?”

Here is a link to the prepared testimony of the witnesses who participated in the hearing as well as a video of the hearing:

That hearing that focused on ICE was cut short because of the other form of ICE- the sort of ICE that covered the streets of Washington DC! The weather most certainly did not cooperate with those of us who were in our nation’s Capitol that day. Airports were closing and many of the members of Congress were eager to escape the wrath of winter before their travel to their homes was blocked by the inclement weather.

What is important to note is that where the House Subcommittee Judiciary Committee and the House Immigration Subcommittee are concerned, a new day is dawning!

Where the previous leadership mistook “overlook” for oversight, these Congressional bodies will take oversight as seriously as the Constitution requires.

The old “song and dance” and language of obfuscation spewed by DHS will not fly with the current level of scrutiny being brought to bear by our leaders in the House of Representatives. What is also of huge importance is that We the People must also pay attention to what is and is not being done by the administration to secure our nation’s borders and create an immigration system that has meaningful integrity.

The immigration laws of the United States treat all people equally. There is no distinction to be found in those laws that differentiate individuals according to race, religion or ethnicity. The only distinction our nation’s immigration laws take into account is one simple issue- whether or not a person is a citizen of the United States or is an alien. In this perilous era, the time has long since passed for these critically important laws to be enforced to protect our nation and our citizens.

Nothing less than the survival of our nation and our citizens hang in the balance!

A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!

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.

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. We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

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 resolve this year to get involved!

I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world. However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

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!

Michael Cutler, a former Senior INS Investigator, an expert witness in more than a dozen Congressional Hearings is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and an advisor to the ‘911 Families for a Secure America.’ He writes about the nexus between immigration and national security.