Michael Cutler Provides a Unique Perspective for Combating Human Trafficking

I am providing you with an item that appeared on the DHS website yesterday, August 3, 2011.

It addressed the purported efforts of DHS to combat a serious immigration crime, that of Human Trafficking.

I hope that my experiences as an INS Special Agent, and especially as one of the first members of the Anti-Smuggling Unit in the New York District Office of the INS, can be helpful in providing a unique perspective.

First of all, words do have meaning and may create certain impressions and illusions. When I was assigned to the Anti-Smuggling Unit back in the late 1970’s we dealt with two groups of people, smugglers and smuggled aliens. In the “street jargon” of the illegal aliens, smugglers were referred to as being “Coyotes” while illegal aliens who were smuggled were referred to as “Pollos.” Both terms were Spanish terms although coyote is the same in English or Spanish both in terms of spelling and definition. The Term “Pollo” is the Spanish term for the “chicken” (as in a barnyard animal). These terms referred to the relationship between smugglers and those they smuggle. We all know that the preferred lunch for a coyote is a chicken!

Certainly an alien who intends to run our nation’s borders and hires a coyote is placing his (her) life in jeopardy! In my experience smugglers are among the most pernicious and contemptible criminals. I was very happy to have initiated and participated in investigations that focused on these individuals who, especially at present, are likely to rob, rape and beat women, and beat and rob the men they assist. In some cases they leave the aliens in the unforgiving deserts of the American Southwest where they quickly die.

We were aware of instances where smuggled aliens died in the back of a truck and where the smugglers would demand additional ransom money for the delivery of a dead smuggled alien!

Anything that can be done to combat the heinous crimes of smugglers should be welcomed by all of our citizens.

That said, we also need to understand how the overused term “victim” has skewed the system. When our government is eager to brand a smuggled alien a “Victim” and provide that illegal alien with the sort of assistance that enables them to attain lawful status in the United States, our government is missing the point. An alien who enters into a consensual agreement with an alien smuggler may well be victimized by the smuggler and may, as a form of the sort of mistreatment such aliens are likely to encounter, may be forced to act as a “Mule” and carry a load of narcotics across the border, but that alien is also a co-conspirator!

When the head of the DHS, the Department of Homeland Surrender focuses her remarks on the need to punish the smugglers and then fails to acknowledge that aliens who intentionally employ the smugglers are also committing crimes, there is something very wrong with this picture!

Consider this quote from the press release:

“During the meeting, Secretary Napolitano joined U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Director Connie Patrick, and Blue Campaign Chair Alice Hill to highlight the important work of NGOs committed to ending human trafficking by providing vital services to victims and supporting them as they integrate into the community.”

By stating that the goal of DHS is to help “Victims” to integrate into the community she is providing an incredible amount of encouragement to aspiring illegal aliens, sending a clear and unambiguous message that if you are smuggled into the United States DHS is ready, willing and able to provide whatever assistance you may need in order to be provided with lawful permission to become a permanent member of the community in which they will help you settle! How does this achieve the goal of ending human trafficking?

Statements such as this one does not discourage aliens from hiring smugglers but does encourage them to make statements about how they were abused so that they can qualify to remain in the United States!

Next consider this excerpt from the press release:

Secretary Napolitano also underscored the Department’s efforts to support victims of human trafficking through outreach campaigns including a USCIS informational video, narrated by human trafficking survivors to raise awareness for immigration relief available for victims. Victims of human trafficking are eligible for T visas and U visas – protections allowing them to remain in the United States and assist federal authorities in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases.

The Secretary recognized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the expansion of their Suspension and Debarment Program, which penalizes individuals and companies convicted of human trafficking through debarment from conducting business with federal agencies – a critical step forward in bolstering efforts to discourage and punish human trafficking offenders.

I am certainly in agreement with the concept of providing T and U Visas to aliens who assist in the investigation and prosecution of alien smugglers and other criminals. In fact,

before we go further I do want to provide a bit of clarity to make certain that I am not misunderstood or misquoted- when smuggled aliens are attacked and fall victim to the crimes committed by the smugglers, then it is vital that the smugglers be arrested and brought to justice. The smuggled aliens who suffered violence at the hands of the smugglers should be provided with incentives to provide testimony and other evidence in order to enable the investigation of smugglers to proceed and ultimately lead to a successful outcome- in fact I provided testimony on May 18, 2004 at a hearing that focused on these cases. In fact, it was then Minority Member Sheila Jackson Lee who requested my appearance before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims. The title of that hearing was:


Here is a link to the transcript of that hearing: http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/judiciary/hju93716.000/hju93716_0f.htm

As an INS Special Agent assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA and then when I was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and assigned to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, I worked with members of foreign law enforcement agencies and virtually every other federal law enforcement agency as well as with state and local police departments. One of my responsibilities was to help other law enforcement agencies by cultivating informants and cooperators. Often these individuals where aliens who were subject to deportation from the United States. I was able to provide them with the prospect of being provided with lawful status in the United States if they provided vital assistance to our investigations.

While most other agencies needed to pay informants cash, the reward of temporary authorization to remain and work in the United States and, where appropriate, the authority to be ultimately granted lawful immigrant status were potent tools in our efforts to combat transnational gangs and drug trafficking organizations.

The problem is that aliens who desired lawful status needed to make meaningful contributions to the law enforcement goals.

By providing nearly every illegal alien who simply claims to be a “victim” with lawful status, not only will more aliens be enticed to run our nation’s borders, but it will become increasingly difficult for law enforcement to seek the cooperation of aliens if these aliens come to understand that they need no longer cooperate with investigations but simply claim that they are victims- much the same way that aliens claiming “Political Asylum” are often granted lawful status even when there is absolutely no basis for their claims!

I have written a number of recent commentaries about my concerns about how the “victimization” of smuggled aliens and how the slipshod manner in which applications for asylum are adjudicated without meaningful investigations make a mockery of our nation’s borders and laws. On July 11, 2011, the New York Times ran an important news report entitled: “Immigrants May Be Fed False Stories to Bolster Asylum Pleas” Here is a link to that news report:


Here is an excerpt from the news article worth considering:

“The man caught on the wiretap urged his immigrant client to fabricate a tragic past if he wanted asylum in the United States. To say that he was a victim of political repression in Albania. Or police brutality. Or even a blood feud.

“Maybe you had to leave because someone threatened to kill you,” the man suggested. “Because of something that your father did to somebody else or something to do with the land. You understand? That can be a way to get asylum.”

Often enough, it is. A shadowy industry dedicated to asylum fraud thrives in New York, where many of the country’s asylum claims are filed. Immigrants peddle personal accounts ripped from international headlines, con artists prey on the newly arrived and nonlawyers offer misguided advice.

The revelation that the West African hotel housekeeper who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault apparently lied on her asylum application has focused new attention on the use of these schemes.

I was recently asked, by members of Senator Charles Grassley’s staff, to provide a written statement for inclusion in the Congressional Record of a hearing conducted by the United States Senate Judiciary Committee into the administration of the Violence Against Women’s Act which enables alien spouses who claim they are the victims of abuse to file for their Green Cards without the involvement of their U.S. citizen or resident alien spouses.

Certainly I don’t want to see any spouse, male or female abused- but my concern was that a malevolent alien could make a false claim of abuse to game the immigration system and simultaneously creating a nightmare for their unwitting spouse who brought them, in good faith, to the United States.

Here is a link to my written statement:


Last week I wrote a commentary that was predicated on the disconcerting headline that appeared in the ChicagoTribune: “Officials fear lapses in immigration security may have let insurgents and potential terrorists enter the country. More than 58,000 Iraqis are being screened again.”

Here is the link to my commentary:


What seems to be currently missing from the discussion about our nation’s immigration laws is the reason that those laws exist in the first place- to protect our nation and our citizens!

Title 8, United States Code section 212 is section of law that enumerates the various categories of aliens who, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, are supposed to be prevented from entering the United States and are supposed to be removed if they are found here:

Here is a link to that section of law:


Please take the time to review the contents of this section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Among the categories of aliens who are supposed to be kept out of the United States are aliens with dangerous communicable diseases, aliens who suffer serious mental illness and are prone to violence, aliens who are convicted felons, aliens who fugitives from justice in other countries, aliens who are human traffickers and drug smugglers, aliens who are war criminals and aliens who have committed human rights violations. Also aliens who are engaged in terrorism and espionage are among those who are, by law, supposed to be prevented from entering our country and are supposed to be removed if they manage to evade the Border Patrol and enter the United States.

Not long ago I wrote a commentary that was predicated on a New Release issued by ICE.

Here is the link to that news release:


Here is an important set of statistics provided in that news release:

“Between Oct. 1, 2010 and April 30,2011, ICE returned to their countries of origin more than 215,900 aliens, including 109,700 aliens with criminal convictions. Of those, 585 were convicted of homicide, 3,177 were convicted sex offenders, and 24,593 were convicted of serious drug offenses.”

Many of those criminal aliens entered out country with the assistance of alien smugglers (Human Traffickers in the parlance of the DHS).

Today it would certainly seem that an alien who runs our nation’s borders will find a friend at the DHS if they are simply savvy enough to know what to say!

For a magician, the magic word is “Abracadabra!”

For an illegal alien I am concerned that the magic words have either become either, “Asylum” or “Victim!”

Again, I have no problem with the proper use of appropriate safeguards to protect vulnerable aliens.

Indeed I would urge that those who are truly qualified for protection by our government be provided with protection.

My family was decimated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. All I want is for the system to have integrity so that those who lie about their circumstances will be discovered and punished for committing fraud.

At present I have virtually zero confidence that DHS will conduct the appropriate investigations and take the appropriate actions!

Aliens who run our nation’s borders are often motivated by more than simply the prospect of seeking illegal employment. As problematic this is, time and again we have seen how illegal aliens have concealed their true identities to mask their criminal histories or other such factors.

Aliens who evade the inspections process by running our nation’s borders also do not create a record of their entry into our country when they run our nation’s borders, making it easier for them to make false claims to United States citizenship and enabling aliens who may be fugitives from justice in our country or other countries, to enter the United States without making their presence known enabling them to easily hide within our country.

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 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 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!

Additionally- this summer, on Friday afternoons from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time, I will be filling in for Tom Garcia as the host on The USA Talk Radio Network’s excellent radio show, “The American Hour.”

I hope you will be joining my cohost, Paula Lauzon Ostman and me, on Fridays this summer!

Here is the link for this program: www.USARadioNetwork.com/tom.htm

Readout of Secretary Napolitano’s Meeting with Anti-Human Trafficking Leaders

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.