Visa Waiver Program Helps Tourism and Terrorism Equally


As I am certain you know, just a couple of weeks ago, a naturalized citizen of the United States, Faisal Shazhad who had immigrated to the United States from his native Pakistan, attempted to set off a car bomb. It was constructed in a manner that, had it worked, would have caused death and injury to many people in Times Square, one of the most famous and heavily trafficked of all sights associated with tourism in New York, the United States and, indeed, the world.

Fortunately the bomb did not detonate as planned and many lives were thankfully spared.

As I noted shortly after the attempted destruction of an airliner in the skies over Detroit last Christmas Day – “If hope is not a strategy, then dumb luck is not a success!”

Of course in this case, a number of people, including a street vendor notified a member of the New York City Police Department. The location where the bomb laden SUV was parked and seen to be smoldering was immediately evacuated. Members of the NYPD Bomb Squad completed the action of rendering the bomb harmless.

There is a bit of irony to be had in considering the unsuccessful attack in the middle of Times Square. The travel and hospitality industries have gotten together to create an advertising campaign called, “Discover America.” They have been spending huge sums of money to lobby Congress and the administration to expand the Visa Waiver Program in the hopes that if they can facilitate the travel of tourists into the United States, they will be able to keep the hotels full of wealthy tourists and get them to visit all the tourist attractions to increase their profits.

They even hired Tom “Duct Tape” Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security who told Americans that they should keep plastic sheets and duct tape handy in case of an attack, to hawk their program that was purely and utterly motivated by greed and the profit motive.

I understand that companies want to maximize profits – that is why they are in business – but the point that they have apparently forgotten what I always like to remind them about. While they call their public relations campaign, “Discover America” they should remember that al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have already discovered America! Think what would happen to the travel and tourism industries if, God forbid there is a serious terrorist attack committed anywhere in the United States, on U.S. soil!

Today the New York Post and many of the newspapers and other news media reported on how the FBI had conducted a number of raids in the NorthEast, searching various locations and taking three men into custody, described as citizens of Pakistan. The news reports indicated that the men were not arrested for terrorism related charges but rather for immigration law violations.

I have attached a number of items below including the New York Post article and it is of great importance that you consider what actually took place today.

First of all, if you check out the photo in the news report, you will notice that the federal agent seen securing a suspect in the back of a car is wearing an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raid jacket. I don’t believe I am going far out on the proverbial limb by speculating that the ICE special agent was assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) or at the least was working in conjunction with the JTTF. Thus far the nature of the immigration law violations that these individuals are believed to have been committed have not been disclosed to the public but here are the possibilities:

1 – They entered our country without being inspected by running our border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico or Canada.

2 – They entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visa at a port of entry and then, in one way or another, violated the terms of their admission into the United States by remaining beyond their authorized period of admission, securing a job they were not authorized to take or by committing and being convicted of a crime(s) that rendered them deportable.

3 – They engaged in either visa fraud or immigration benefit fraud.

Of course the devil, as they say, is in the details, but these are the three possibilities in the broadest categories that could be expected to apply.

The point is that it was the ability of these individuals to, in one way or another, enter the United States that provided them with the opportunity to assist Mr. Shahzad. Additionally, they were most likely able to embed themselves in this country by maintaining a low profile. Consider how many people have been interviewed about these individuals who have talked about how they were quiet, friendly, paid the rent on time, etc., etc. This is precisely how a sleeper agent operates.

Furthermore, often – indeed all too often, criminals and terrorists commit a variety of crimes in our country to get their hands on the money they need to enable their criminal and terrorist organizations to flourish and conduct their operations which often results in the death and suffering of people inside the United States and, indeed, around the globe. Just yesterday I wrote a commentary that explored an incredible failure of the government to take the enforcement of the immigration laws seriously. While it is estimated that some 40% (or more) of the illegal aliens in our country did not run our nation’s borders but rather underwent the inspections process and then, in one way or another violated the terms of their admission, ICE stated that they only have 272 special agents seeking those aliens who are illegally present – having entered the United States with a visa or under the auspices of the ever expanding Visa Waiver Program! Just 272 special agents seeking God knows how many millions of illegal aliens!

How many terrorists and criminals are among those millions who will never be sought, let alone arrested?

In that game of hide and seek, the terrorists are hiding and no one is seeking!

Meanwhile, the President derided the true leaders of Arizona for attempting to do what the federal government obviously will not, under any circumstances do, secure our nation’s borders and enforce the immigration laws that enable terrorists, drug traffickers and a wide variety of criminals and law violators to enter our country. It should be presumed that the numbers of these criminals and terrorists present in our country continues to grow along with the threat they pose to the safety of the citizens of our nation, the immigrants living in our country and to the security of our country itself! Someone apparently needs to remind Mr. Obama that the effective enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws and the securing of our nation’s borders is not the punch line for a joke!

As the investigation progresses and more information is provided to the public I will try to continue to provide you with my perspectives and insight based on my many years of experience as an INS special agent. Meanwhile I would like to consider a couple of additional issues that prompted me to provide you with additional material below the newspaper article link.

There are members of both houses of Congress such as Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and others who are touting how wonderful “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” would be for our nation.

By now I am certain you know that I am adamantly opposed to Comprehensive Immigration Reform for many reasons. First and foremost, this massive legalization program would enable terrorists and criminals to easily game the immigration bureaucracy and thus obtain lawful status with assumed identities that would enable them to enter our country and hide in plain sight.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted an oversight hearing into operations at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama expressed his concerns about the nexus between the immigration benefits program and national security. As a part of his statement, he was kind enough to quote something I had said on a previous occasion and, in fact, it was the same quote that Michelle Malkin included in a recent column she wrote about the immigration link to terrorism.

Here is that quote:

“Immigration benefit fraud is certainly one of the major ‘dots’ that was not connected prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and remains a ‘dot’ that is not really being addressed the way it needs to be in order to secure our nation against criminals and terrorists who understand how important it is for them to ‘game’ the system as a part of the embedding process.”

This is not the first time I have been honored by Senator Sessions. As you may know, three years ago when the Senate last attempted to ram Comprehensive Immigration Reform down the throats of the citizens of this nation, I wrote a commentary for the Washington Times in which I compared the hearings conducted to consider this piece of legislative detritus with the countdown for the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger that was launched on that cold January morning in 1986 against the advice of a number of NASA’s engineers. We all know that 73 seconds after liftoff the shuttle exploded and obliterated the lives of the 7 astronauts who were strapped into their seats on the ill-fated spacecraft.

In fact, I had testified before a number of those hearings and made the point that while NASA refused to listen to its experts who urged them to not launch I was one of a number of experts who urged Congress to not go forward with “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”

In my Op-Ed I stated that the bill should more honestly and accurately be renamed the “Terrorist Assistance and Facilitation Act.”

Senator Sessions decided to quote from my commentary on three separate occasions during the floor debates on that bill.

Senator Sessions is one of a handful of true leaders in the United States Senate who is demonstrating true leadership on the various aspects of the immigration crisis that is confronting our nation. I was greatly honored that he has seen fit to quote some of my statements.

Additionally, as you watch the video, you will notice that Senator Orin Hatch also raises some insightful questions about integrity at USCIS. The director of USCIS can be heard talking about what he will do or plans to do.

What he plans to do? When? How? The point is that more than 17 years ago our nation was attacked on two separate occasions by aliens who succeeded in gaming the immigration system to enter the United States and embed themselves in our country. This was how they were able to carry out their attacks at the CIA and at the World Trade Center.

Nearly 9 years ago, the terrorist attacks were carried out by terrorists who secured visas through fraud and also gamed the immigration system in order to embed themselves in our country as they prepared to slaughter as many innocent men, women and children – not just from the United States but from other countries as well.

When our nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 our nation, working in close cooperation with its allies built fleets of airplanes of assorted types, fleets of ships of multiple varieties, new weapons, even nuclear bombs with unproven technology. In just about 44 months the war was over and the world was declared to be safe for democracy! Back then the citizens of our nation were said to be a part of the “Greatest Generation!”

My fear is that if we allow Pelosi, Reid, Schumer and the other assorted “leaders” in Washington including the President himself, to foist The Terrorist Assistance and Facilitation Act (Comprehensive Immigration Reform) on our citizens and on our nation – our generation might well be remembers as the “Last Generation!”

My dad used to say that in life there are no mistakes – only lessons – if we learn from what goes wrong and make certain to not repeat those mistakes. For him, and for me, it is inexcusable and unforgivable to repeat the same mistakes. To put it another way – insanity has been defined as doing the same things the same way and expecting a different outcome!

If reading this makes it difficult for you to 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 nation’s 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. We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

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 Representatives. 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!

FBI busts three following raids across Northeast in Times Square bomb plot

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.