Response to ‘Lack of Translators Still Hampers Intelligence’

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A new Washington Times news article relates to immigration on a number of levels, even though the word “immigration” does not appear anywhere in it.

First of all, I have made the point on a number of occasions including when I testified before various Congressional hearings that it is extremely important that employees of both CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and ICE (Immigration and Customs Employment) be given foreign language training.

An example of such a hearing at which I raised the issue of foreign language training took place on May 5, 2005 (more than four years ago) when I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims at a hearing entitled:

“NEW “DUAL MISSIONS” OF THE IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES”

Here is the link to the transcript of that hearing:

I have also attached my prepared testimony for that hearing beneath the news article.

As you will note in the highlighted segments of my prepared testimony, below, since the creation of DHS, the personnel of our government whose day to day duties require them to interact with foreign nationals, many of whom do not speak English or may be prone to using foreign languages as a means of concealing their activities, are not being given vital foreign language training.

When I was first hired by the INS in 1971 each and every employee who was involved in enforcing the immigration laws were required to undergo Spanish language training because it was recognized that some 80% of the alien population of the United States spoke Spanish.

Failure to achieve a measure of facility in the Spanish language would cause a trainee to be fired. The theory behind this requirement was that you could not investigate people you could not communicate with.

This abysmal situation continues today.

While we have heard much talk about fighting the terrorists “over there” so that we will not have to fight them here, in the United States, this is obviously absurd.

There have been many occasions when our federal agents of a variety of agencies such as ICE and the FBI have arrested terrorism suspects operating inside the United States. Clearly these arrests constitute “fighting them here.”

The ability to understand the languages used by our nation’s adversaries would be advantageous to our agents, yet this training is not being given to the agents of ICE who spend the majority of their time interacting with foreign nationals.

As I have noted in many of my commentaries, hundreds of American cities are infested by members of the Mexican drug cartels, MS-13 and various criminal and drug trafficking organizations from countries from all over the world. They use foreign languages as a means of doing business. As an INS special agent assigned to DEA Intelligence and then as a senior special agent assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force, my rudimentary ability to speak and understand Spanish was indispensable to the investigations my colleagues and I conducted of drug trafficking organizations.

Yet this basic skill is no longer a part of the training process for the special agents of ICE!

Additionally, I would remind you that we are rapidly approaching the 8th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Our nation fought and won the Second World War in less than four years!

In order to win the Second World War, our nation had to devise, design and produce fleets of aircraft that had never flown before. Our nation had to construct fleets of naval vessels possessing all sorts of innovations. Our nation even developed and constructed nuclear weapons with brand new, unproven technology.

Yet today our borders are still not secure and the immigration bureaucracy has no integrity, enabling criminals and terrorists to easily game the immigration system to acquire immigration benefits including resident alien status (lawful immigrant status) and even United States citizenship.

This issue dovetails perfectly with the news article I have referred to.

Generally speaking the people who possess real fluency with foreign languages are individuals who were born in the foreign countries where those languages are used on a daily basis.

This means that many of our translators are naturalized citizens, making it absolutely vital that the system by which we confer United States citizenship upon aliens must have integrity. Yet the system has no integrity!

There have been a number of news reports about how some aliens committed fraud in obtaining resident alien status and United States citizenship and then parlayed their newly acquired United States citizenship and language abilities into jobs at contractors that provide translators for the military and our law enforcement agencies. In one case, a Lebanese woman by the name of Nada Nadim Prouty, entered our country in 1988 on a student visa. She overstayed her visa and accepted unauthorized employment at a restaurant and engaged in a marriage fraud arranged by the owner of the restaurant.

Ultimately she became a naturalized United States citizen and incredibly got a job at the FBI as a special agent with a top secret security clearance! After a couple of years she left her job at the FBI and went to work for the CIA. It was subsequently determined that she had been accessing classified databases on a pernicious terrorist organization, Hezbollah, although she had no “need to know!”

It was also determined that her former employer who had arranged her marriage and the marriage of her sister (who became a Marine Corps officer!) had been sending millions of dollars to Hezbollah by skimming profits from his chain of restaurants in Michigan. He is now a fugitive, believed to be hiding in Lebanon.

The point is that United States citizenship represents the “keys to the kingdom.”

Unlike many other countries, the United States draws virtually no distinction between naturalized citizens and native-born citizens.

The only two jobs a naturalized citizen cannot have are to be the President of the United States or the Vice President of the United States.

Many years ago, aliens who applied for citizenship were investigated by INS agents who would hit the street and knock on doors to conduct what was known as GMC (Good Moral Character Investigations). It was not enough that an applicant for United States citizenship had never been convicted of a crime – they must demonstrate that they were decent people. They were, in fact, required to provide two witnesses who would vouch for their character before they could be naturalized.

During the Cinton administration an ill-conceived program known as “Citizenship USA” or “CUSA” jammed some 1.1 million aliens through the naturalization process and the GAO reported that at least 80,000 of those aliens were ineligible for naturalization. To my knowledge few, if any, of those aliens had their citizenship revoked! It is important to note that this was done some 3 years after the terrorist attacks at the CIA and World Trade Center in 1993 where immigration fraud was determined to have facilitated the entry and embedding of at least several of those terrorists.

As I have also noted, the GAO also found that a few years ago, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) the agency that is charged with adjudicating all applications for immigration benefits claimed to have lost 111,000 immigration files relating to aliens seeking a wide variety of immigration benefits including some 30,000 aliens who applied for naturalization.

Incredibly, but unfortunately, all too believably, USCIS processed all of those 111,000 without the critically important immigration files!

(It is my belief that the files were never “lost” but simply not sought.) If you wonder why they would do this, the answer is easy to figure out – retrieving and reviewing immigration files is time-consuming. If the goal is to move the bureaucratic conveyor belt as quickly as possible, ignoring the files would certainly speed the process. Of course while the “good news” is that the applications would be processed faster, the “bad news” is that this madness would make it easy for criminals and terrorists to be granted United States citizenship!

Here is my concern that keeps me awake nearly every night – Our government will ultimately hire translators and others who will work in sensitive positions including, potentially within law enforcement, the intelligence agencies and the military who are, in reality, seeking to harm our nation and our citizens. I am greatly worried that there are more individuals similar to Nada Nadim Prouty “Out there” seeking the opportunity to do what she did.

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying.

There are many naturalized United States citizens who love our country as much as do native-born Americans. Many of them have an even greater appreciation of our nation than do those of us who were born here. They have lived under totalitarian regimes and appreciate our nation. My mom passed away while I was a college student. She was a naturalized citizen. I can tell you that every day she thanked God that she was living in the United States. Her mother (my grandmother) and many of her family members were slaughtered in Poland during the Holocaust. She was one of the most patriotic Americans I have ever known. Many of her friends who similarly lawfully immigrated to the United States shared her level of patriotism and level of appreciation for our nation.

Today there are millions of naturalized citizens who are no less appreciative of their lives in our country.

National Security Implications

The point is that the system by which we naturalize aliens must possess integrity – this is nothing less than a matter of national security!

My adamant opposition to any sweeping “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” program is based on many reasons, but topping that list is the national security implications of such a program that would, of necessity, lack even a shred of integrity.

In the days and weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 many of our nation’s politicians stood before the cameras and thumped the podium behind which they stood, and demanded to know why no one connected the dots.

Clearly the clock is ticking and time is not on our side.

Our nation must not only secure its borders against the illegal entry of illegal aliens, but must create an immigration system that has meaningful integrity if our nation is to effectively address the many challenges confronting our country and our citizens.

In less than two years each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. In less than two years 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!

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! You need to politely but pointedly, demand to know what they are doing to protect our nation. You need to ask them how they are protecting you and your families. You can also forward this commentary to them. 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!

EXCLUSIVE: Lack of translators still hampers intelligence

By Rowan Scarborough