ICE No Longer Provides Foreign Language Training for Personnel

I received the article that is attached below by a former high-ranking member of INS management who is also a good friend. He undoubtedly sent it to me because of an issue of have raised at a number of Congressional hearings- that fact that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) no longer provides foreign language training for its personnel.

In addition to providing the article below, that appears this month in Police Magazine, I have also provided you with some of my testimony before a couple of Congressional hearings that not only addressed the need for Spanish language training for DHS personnel but addressed other areas of vulnerability that have only gotten worse under this administration.

The first excerpt I have attached below is quite short and only deals with a question I was asked by Rep, John Hostettler who was, at the time, the chairman of the Subcommittee. That question was focused on whether or not, in my judgment, if our nation was able to deter alien terrorists from entering our country.

The second excerpt was of my oral remarks at the beginning of that hearing and the questions I was asked as I read my prepared testimony. I also provided a copy of my prepared testimony below that.

I ask that you take the time to read the segments of the testimony I have provided and that you consider reading the entire transcripts if you want to understand just how vulnerable we are. Foreign language training should be a “no-brainer” but then that would make sense and provide an important tool to help our agents enforce our laws. It is impossible to find evidence of any desire to enforce our nation’s immigration laws or secure our borders. However, my goal is to provide as much insight and information as I can to educate our fellow citizens about the many aspects of the immigration crisis that need to be addressed but are not. Problems cannot be solved until and unless you first identify the problems.

When you read the segments of the testimony that I have provided I want you to understand that these issues have not been addressed and, in many ways things are far worse today than they were more than five years ago!

I would remind you that it took the United States all of 44 months to win the Second World War!

On March 10 2005 I testified before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims of the House Judiciary Committee on the issue of Interior Enforcement Resources.

Here is a link to the transcript of that hearing in its entirety:

Here is the link to the transcript of the hearing before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on International Relations:

The title of that hearing that was conducted on May 11, 2006 (more than five years ago) was:



The news article that serves as the predication for my commentary today reports on the success of ICE Special Agent Patrick Simpson in locating and arresting a murder suspect because of his Spanish language proficiency.

The opening paragraph of the report provides a concise account of what happened:

Special Agent Patrick Simpson of the Department of Homeland Security was instrumental in helping members of a DHS task force apprehend a fugitive wanted for double homicide. The fact that he spoke Spanish allowed him to locate the suspect, apprehend him, and then elicit a confession. For his efforts, Simpson has been named November 2011 Officer of the Month by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.

As you may know, I was sworn in as an INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) Immigration Inspector in October 1971. In February 1972 I was sent to the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Los Fresnos, Texas. Back then, all INS officers including obviously, Border Patrol Agents, Criminal Investigators (Special Agents), Immigration Inspectors and Deportation Officers were all required to attend basic training at the Border Patrol Academy.

An integral part of the training for all enforcement personnel, irrespective of where they would be assigned and irrespective of their job descriptions were required to successfully complete a Spanish language training program. While we were not as fluent as native speakers, the course did equip us to conduct interviews in the field. Many of us were able to build on the training that we were given and acquire excellent language skills.

Any trainee who was unable to pass the Spanish language training was terminated. We were told that this training was so essential because the majority of the illegal aliens in the United States spoke Spanish. A working knowledge of the Spanish language also enhanced officer safety- if a number of illegal aliens were encountered and they decided to engage the agents in a fight, we were trained to be able to understand what was being said as a matter of self-defense.

I recall that when I attended Border Patrol Academy a couple of trainees were terminated- they had “washed out” because they just could not get past that Spanish language training.

That language training served us well throughout our careers and often other law enforcement agencies would specifically ask that we accompany them during field work and arrest operation because of our foreign language skills.

I was astounded that when DHS was created and the INS was disbanded and separated into ICE, CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) that the Spanish language requirement was dropped for CBP Inspectors, ICE Special Agents and other enforcement personnel.

This made no sense.

The report about the success achieved by ICE Special Agent Simpson, a success for which he has been justifiably recognized, reinforces the point I have made at a number of Congressional hearings about the wrong-headed approach taken by DHS to discontinue providing Spanish language training to these enforcement officers who, by the fact that most of the folks they are likely to encounter are aliens who may not speak English.

If Special Agent Simpson had not been available to join the other agents in that field operation, it is likely that a dangerous murderer would still be at large. Think of how many times bad guys got away and perhaps committed still more crimes as a result.

The lack of foreign language training for immigration enforcement personnel is yet another example of how our government is not working to facilitate the vital work of these agents who are putting their lives on the line on our behalf but don’t get the backing of the government that puts them in harm’s way on a daily basis!

I have been doing whatever I can to change this madness but, at least thus far, I have not seen any improvements.

In fact, I recall noting at a hearing that not only must the Spanish language training requirement be reinstated but that other languages should be taught to our agents including Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and other such strategic languages.

It was shocking to me when not long after I made mention of the need to reinstate the Spanish language training and provide incentives for ICE and CBP enforcement personnel to acquire strategic language training that President George W. Bush held a news conference at the State Department and said that the government would provide essential tools to the employees of our government upon whom we depended for our safety and security. As I recall, Bush talked about how strategic foreign language training would be provided including Arabic, Farsi and Urdu to the employees of the State Department, the intelligence services and the military but he left out ICE and CBP!

Often folks who can speak English feign a lack of English fluency to get law enforcement officers to leave. I have often joked that for them, the magic words to get a law enforcement officer to disappear was not “Abracadabra” but “No hablo ingles.”

It is time for our nation’s leaders, on all levels, to come to terms with the fundamental fact that the purpose of our immigration laws is to protect our nation and our citizens from aliens whose presence has the potential to have a serious adverse impact. Ignoring those laws exposes our nation and our citizens to a variety of serious threats and challenges ranging from national security and criminal justice and public safety to the economy, the environment, healthcare and education!

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.

For far too long our citizens demonstrated apathy which 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.

It is therefore understandable that the politicians of both parties, are greatly concerned about the demonstrations currently sweeping our nation just as did the creation of the Tea Party. Clearly more and more of our fellow Americans are demonstrating that they are not as dumb as the politicians from both parties had expected us to be!

I am encouraged that more and more of us, We the People, are not willing to simply sit on the sidelines anymore!

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 our government’s failures to secure our nation’s borders and effectively enforce our immigration laws 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!

Bilingual DHS Agent Catches Man Wanted for Murder

Michael Cutler
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.