The Immigration Crisis Confronting Our Nation

I was recently interviewed by Casey Wian, a CNN journalist who has been covering the immigration issue for many years. Casey has interviewed me a number of times over the past several years so that I could provide my perspectives on various aspects of the immigration crisis confronting our nation. He most recently interviewed me about a week ago and the story aired on Memorial Day.

Here is a link to the video of the segment in which I briefly appear:

The focus of this story, as you will see when you go to that link, is the issue of illegal aliens whose presence in our country is not attributable to their having run our nation’s borders but rather because although they were admitted via the inspections process, they either overstayed their temporary visas or otherwise violated the terms of their admission into the United States.

Casey makes it clear that the efforts to locate and apprehend aliens who entered the United States through ports of entry are all but nonexistent. He noted that while the Border Patrol has about 20,000 agents, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has fewer than half the manpower that the Border Parol has and that many of these agents are not even working to enforce the immigration laws but rather are focused on the enforcement of customs laws.

Furthermore, Casey noted that fewer than 300 special agents at ICE are assigned to seeking to locate and apprehend aliens who overstay their authorized period of admission or otherwise violate the terms of their admission into the United States. Think about it- fewer than 300 special agents seeking to locate millions of illegal aliens!

Yet the illegal aliens that these special agents at ICE are seeking to arrest are not less illegal than are those illegal aliens who ran our nation’s borders and, in so doing, circumvented the inspections process.

This is why I have often said that any state that has a seaport or an international airport is as much a border state as is any state that is geographically located along the borders that are supposed to separate the United States from Mexico or Canada.

On May 10th of this year, the Arizona Republic ran a story that addressed the issue of the failures of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to effectively seek to locate and apprehend these illegal aliens. Daniel Gonzalez, the reporter who wrote that news report interviewed me for the story that was titled:

“U.S. not cracking down on immigrants with expired visas” Here is the link to this news report: On May 11, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on International Relations on the topic:


You can read the transcript of that hearing at:

A couple of points that were not covered in either the Arizona Republic newspaper report or in the CNN report is that many of the illegal aliens who entered the United States via the inspections process most likely committed a felony as they made preparations to enter the United States by providing false information on their visa applications. Of course it might prove difficult, if not impossible to prove that they made false or misleading statements in their applications where their intentions were concerned.

In connection with the visa process, it would be worthwhile to understand that generally applications for visas are processed by State Department consular officers who are operating under conditions that are all too often comparable to the way that adjudicators at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) are forced to work- making the priority of speed over accuracy the goal. Similarly the inspectors of CBP (Customs and Border Protection) are under a similar “pressure-cooker” environment where they are supposed to spend no more than one minute inspecting an arriving alien who is seeking entry into the United States.

There have also been many reports issued by the GAO (General Accountability Office) and OIG (Office of Inspector General) that explain problems with the visa issuance process in which so-called “local” State Department employees- citizens of the country in which an American Embassy or Consulate is located play an integral role in the visa issuing process and are involved in corruption. These employees are all but immune to prosecution if they engage in corrupt activities because they are foreign nationals operating in their own countries!

On May 30 the New York Times ran a story entitled: “U.S. Presses Pakistan for More Data on Travelers” Here is the link to that newspaper article:

Clearly there are some very serious and justifiable concerns about aliens from Pakistan because it is an established fact that Pakistani nationals have been involved in terrorism. Faisal Shahzad, the so-called, “Times Square Bomber” was, in fact born in Pakistan and managed, on numerous occasions in various ways to game the visa process and the immigration benefits program to ultimately acquire United States citizenship before he attempted to inflict mass casualties on one of the United States’ most famous tourist locations- Times Square. Ironically, that location acquired a nickname that appears particularly apt today, “Crossroads of the World!”

Out of these concerns our government is attempting to gain access to more information about citizens of Pakistan who apply for visas in order to seek to enter our country.

What our geniuses in Washington seem to be oblivious of, however, is that there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of naturalized citizens living in England today who are now citizens of Great Britain. Many have retained their Pakistani passports even after their became naturalized British subjects.

As citizens of Great Britain, these naturalized British citizens who were born in Pakistan, do not require a visa at all, in order to seek to enter the United States because of the Visa Waiver Program- yet our government is seeking to try to get more information about citizens of Pakistan who apply to enter the United States because of national security concerns! You cannot make this lunacy up!

You can review the State Department’s website for information about this wrong headed and, indeed, treacherous Visa Waiver Program at:

Some time ago I compiled a list of the ways in which the visa process can be helpful to law enforcement and bolster our nation’s efforts to prevent the entry of aliens whose presence on our country may prove harmful to our nation and our citizens.

Here is the list of the 6 benefits that the visa requirement provides to national security:

1. By requiring visas of aliens who seek to enter the United States, this process helps to screen potential passengers on airliners that are destined to the United States. Richard Reid, the so-called “Shoe Bomber” was able to board an airliner to come to the United States although he had no intentions of entering the United States, his apparent goal was to blow up the airliner and its many passengers somewhere over the depths of the Atlantic Ocean by detonating explosives he had concealed in his shoes. Because he is a subject of Great Britain, a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program, Reid did not obtain a visa before he boarded that airliner.

2. The CBP inspectors are supposed to make a decision in one minute or less as to the admissibility of an alien seeking to enter the United States. The visa requirement helps them to do a more effective job. Their’s is a tough job I can certainly relate to, I began my career at the former INS as an immigration inspector at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and worked there for 4 years before I became a special agent.

3. The application for a nonimmigrant visa contains roughly 40 questions that could provide invaluable information to law enforcement officials should that alien become the target of a criminal or terrorist investigation. The information could provide intelligence as well as investigative leads. You can check out the application for a nonimmigrant (tourist) visa by clicking on this link:

4. If an alien applicant lies on the application for a visa that lie is called “visa fraud.” The maximum penalty for visa fraud starts out at 10 years in jail for those who commit this crime simply in order to come to the United States, ostensibly to seek unlawful employment or other such purpose. The penalty increases to 15 years in jail for those aliens who obtain a visa to commit a felony. For aliens who engage in visa fraud to traffic in narcotics or commit another narcotics-related crime, the maximum jail sentence that can be imposes rises to 20 years. Finally, when an alien can be proven to have engaged in visa fraud in furtherance of terrorism, the maximum penalty climbs to 25 years in prison. It is important to note that while it may be difficult to prove that an individual is a terrorist, it is usually relatively simple to prove that the alien has committed visa fraud when there is fraud involved in the visa application. Indeed, terror suspects are often charged with visa fraud.

5. The charge of visa fraud can also be extremely helpful to law enforcement authorities who want to take a bad guy off the street without tipping their hand to the other members of a criminal conspiracy or terrorism conspiracy that the individual arrested was being arrested for his involvement in terrorism or a criminal organization. You can arrest the alien who commits visa fraud for that violation of law and not for other charges that might make it clear that the investigation underway is targeting a criminal or terrorist organization.

6. Even when an alien applies for a visa and his application is denied, the application he filed remains available for law enforcement and intelligence personnel to review to seek to glean intelligence from that application.

Incidentally, you may be interested to know that just weeks ago, the administration announced that Greece would be added to the list of countries that participate in the dangerous Visa Waiver Program even as even more intrusive searches are being conducted at many airports across the United States. With the economic meltdown now hammering Greece, do you suppose that a number of citizens of that economically beleaguered nation might decide to attempt to enter the United States to seek jobs and money they can send home to assist their families? The visa process can also help to screen out those who are seeking entry into our country to obtain illegal employment. Apparently our “leaders” could care less about this possibility!

Before the Second World War, the enforcement and administration of the immigration laws was carried out by the United States Department of Labor because, back then, our government was actually concerned about the negative impact a flood of foreign workers would have on the American worker and his family!

Ask the current crop of politicians who favor Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the ever expanding Visa Waiver Program if they give a damn about the citizens they were elected to represent!

Ask the current crop of politicians who will be all but begging for your vote come November if they believe that the State Department has been effectively managing the program by which visas are issued when you consider how many aliens how violate our immigration laws were able to acquire visas as they made preparations to enter our country even though they were apparently intent on remaining in our country long after their authorized period of admission expired? While you are at it, perhaps you should ask them what plans they have to address this lunacy.

Clearly the way that visas are issued does little to prevent the entry of aliens into our country who easily game the visa process in order to enter our country and violate our laws- even in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. (Remember, each and every one of the 19 terrorists who attacked our nation on that horrific day had succeeded in obtaining a visa and getting through the inspections process.)

I hate to be repetitive, but I think it is worth remembering how our nation’s leaders voiced outrage in March of 2002 that two of the dead terrorists, could have been sent letters of approval from the former INS precisely 6 months after those attacks authorizing them to extend their stay in the United States and change immigration status so that they could attend flight schools! The House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims convened a hearing into that fiasco on March 19, 2002. I was invited to appear before that hearing and I gladly accepted that invitation offered to me by the then Ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee, Sheila Jackson Lee.

Here is the link to the C-SPAN video of the Congressional hearing conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, at which I testified on March 19, 2002 as you watch this video I want you to consider how much has not changed in the more than 8 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001:

Topic for the hearing:

“INS’S March 2002 Notification of Approval of Change of Status for Pilot Training for Terrorist Hijackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi”

Here is the link to the transcript of the hearing in its entirety

The video runs about 2 hours and 30 minutes. I would urge you to watch it and, as you watch the hearing, I want you to ask yourself a simple question, “What has really changed?”

What has changed is that the citizens of our nation, in the name of national security have found their expectations of privacy and freedom have been continually eroding even as our nation’s leaders expand the Visa Waiver Program and fail to secure our borders, fail to address the widespread ineptitude and incompetence in the processes by which applications for visas and immigration benefits are adjudicated.

Of additional great concern is the fact that the immigration laws remain all but unenforced, encouraging still more illegal aliens to run our nation’s borders or game the visa program and, once they succeed in entering our country, they find it a simple matter to embed themselves in communities across our nation from border to border and coast to coast.

Immigration is not a single issue but a major factor in nearly every significant challenge confronting the United States today. Failures to secure our nation’s borders and create an immigration system that has real integrity and honors those lawful immigrants who follow the laws and play by the rules to join the magnificent tapestry that is America hammers those challenges and compromises national security, the safety of our citizens and threatens the “American Dream.”

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 al-Qaeda!

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 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.

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 “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!

Check out my website:

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.