As you may know, I occasionally check out the news releases to be found on the ICE and other DHS websites to provide unique perspectives, asking and sometimes answering the questions no one thought to ask.
Today my focus is on a press release that was issued just about one week ago, on 4th of January.
The press release provided information about how ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)has begun using federal information sharing in Licking County, Ohio to help identify criminal aliens who are in custody to seek their removal from the United States once they are done serving their prison sentences. The program is a part of program known as “Secure Communities.”
As you read the press release you will see that the criminal aliens are identified through the use of biometrics- generally fingerprints.
I am certainly happy to see that this is being done and, in fact, I had testified about the need to use biometrics when I testified before a Congressional hearing for the very first time back on May 20, 1997 when the focus of the hearing was on Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefit Application Fraud
Here is the link to the transcript to that hearing:
Of course in most situations there is a component of “good news / bad news.” This press release makes note of an important program but there are a number of issues you need to be made aware of. First of all, check out the ominous sentence to be found in the press release:
Since ICE began using this enhanced information sharing capability in October 2008, immigration officers have removed from the United States more than 54,500 aliens convicted of a crime. ICE does not regard aliens charged with, but not yet convicted of crimes, as “criminal aliens.” Instead, a “criminal alien” is an alien convicted of a crime. In accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, ICE continues to take action on aliens subject to removal as resources permit. There are two points to consider- first that criminal aliens are aliens who have already been convicted of committing a felony. This makes sense because under our system of justice, a defendant enjoys the presumption of innocence right up until the point where he (she) is found guilty of committing that felony at trial or by having pleaded guilty to the crime in question. The point is, however, that since the focus is on criminal aliens- aliens who have been convicted, what we need to know is what happens to an illegal alien who is put on trial for a crime and not found guilty as a result of the trial? Are such illegal aliens deported anyway or are they simply allowed to go on their merry way because they do not meet the statutory definition of “Criminal Alien?”
Next I highlighted the last part of that passage from the press release where the statement is made that “ICE continues to take action on aliens subject to removal as resources permit. This begs the question, “How often are aliens who have been convicted of committing felonies not removed (deported) from the United States because of a lack of resources?” I would also love to know by what standards does ICE fail to remove such criminal aliens and how many such aliens are released each day or week or month?
I would love to know how many of these aliens who should have been removed from our country but aren’t are ultimately re-arrested for committing more crimes and victimizing more people in the United States?
Here is something you must consider- the system depends purely on aliens who have been fingerprinted. Aliens who run our nation’s borders are not fingerprinted when they sneak across our borders. Aliens who stow away on ships and other conveyances are also not fingerprinted. This means that if such an alien is arrested and law enforcement authorities fingerprint them, there will be no record in the system attesting to the fact that they are aliens and hence subject to removal upon conviction- of course, resources permitting!
What efforts are devoted to properly identifying such criminal aliens when there are no previous fingerprints on file because they ran our nation’s borders?
In my experience as an INS special agent, I can tell you that illegal aliens, especially aliens with lengthy criminal convictions and aliens who are fugitives from other countries will go to great lengths to conceal their true identities including the fact that they are actually aliens. Many will make false claims to being a United States citizen but if there is a lack of agents to conduct in depth interviews and if the agents who do the work lack adequate training and resources to determine the true nationality of criminal aliens who falsely claim to be United States citizens, then these aliens will succeed in passing themselves off as citizens of the United States and avoid being deported from the United States. When they are released from prison, they will simply be put back out on the street until they are arrested once again.
An important tool to detecting such false claims to United States citizenship is foreign language training. I would therefore like to know how many ICE agents are provided with language training?
When I attended the United States Border Patrol Academy back in 1972, all INS officer corps personnel were required to undergo Spanish language training. Anyone who could not pass the language program was removed. Today, I have been told, few agents are being given Spanish language training at all! Meanwhile, given the many challenges our nation faces from foreign nationals who may be engaged in terrorism or criminal activities you would think that a variety of foreign languages would be taught to the special agents of ICE. Incredibly, this is not the case!
If you recall, Janet Napolitano and others made a big deal about claiming that running our nation’s borders is not a felony and from that statement heated debates took place over whether or not simply running our border was a crime. Of course for an alien who was formally deported, the crime of reentry after deportation is certainly a felony. Aliens who were deported and have no criminal convictions face a maximum of 2 years of incarceration for unlawful reentry while aliens with criminal convictions face a maximum of 20 years of incarceration for reentry after deportation (removal).
The point is that the argument about whether or not an alien who circumvents the inspections process has committed a felony but rather what the implications for national security or community safety are when an alien succeeds in evading the inspections process.
When I assisted the law firm retained by Governor Jan Brewer to defend her and her state of Arizona against the lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice for enacting its own state-wide immigration law, SB 1070, I noted how aliens are supposed to be scrutinized by CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspectors to make certain that the alien does not fall into a category of aliens who are supposed to be excluded from the United States such as aliens who have dangerous communicable diseases, aliens who have serious mental illness and are prone to violence, aliens who are convicted felons, aliens who are narcotics traffickers or human smugglers, aliens who have committed war crimes or human rights violations, aliens who are members of terrorist organizations or aliens who are seeking to engage in espionage, to name some of the many categories of aliens who are supposed to be kept out of our country for the good of our nation and the safety and well being of our citizens.
In considering how ICE deals with incarcerated aliens you can also add to the significance of the inspections process, the fact that aliens who run our borders are not fingerprinted and may easily slip through the gaping holes in the system by which criminal aliens are supposed to be removed from the United States after they complete serving prison sentences. Think of how huge that criminal population of aliens may well be- more than 50% of the illegal aliens in our country did not undergo the critically important inspections process and were not fingerprinted when they entered the United States!
Every criminal alien who is deported from the Untied States is a success story however, every criminal alien who is not identified and not removed is a potential disaster!
The program being touted by ICE in the press release has a very reassuring name, “Secure Communities.” My question is, “Just how secure are our communities when ICE focuses on aliens who are already in custody and has, as I have noted, so many deficiencies in this program and has scant resources to conduct proactive field investigations of gangs and transnational criminal organizations who are, even as you read my commentary, plying their “trades” in nearly every community from coast to coast and border to border?
Many of the criminal aliens who are in prison committed crimes that involve victims. Proactive efforts could serve to reduce the number of those victims and must be a priority for our nation especially as members of such pernicious criminal organizations such as the Mexican drug cartels and other such transnational gangs send increasing numbers of their members into our country in furtherance of their criminal goals.
The outrage is that our government continues to fail to secure its borders and create an immigration system that has real integrity. This places our nation and our citizens at risk.
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!
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!