DHS Plans to Catch Only One in Four Travelers Committing ‘Major’ Violations

The news article I have attached below was forwarded to me by a close friend, Bruce DeCell. Bruce, as you may know, is a former New York City police officer and a founding member of an organization known as 911 Families for a Secure America. On September 11, 2001, his son-in- law was many of the thousands of innocent victims whose lives were brutally obliterated in the most violent act of terrorism ever committed on American soil and, in fact, one of the most violent acts of terrorism ever committed anyone on the face of this planet.

The idea that DHS predicts that it will only catch one in four travelers entering our country while committing criminal violations should stop all of us in our tracks!

I am a realist and I understand that in spite of law enforcement’s efforts, many people manage to get away with committing crimes. However let us stop for a moment and consider that as we have heard ever so frequently from our nation’s leaders, “In order to be successful, the terrorists only have to get it right once while, in order to protect our nation from terrorism, we have to get it right every time!”

Yet the Department of Homeland Security is predicting that they will only get it right 26% of the time! Do you wonder why I have come to refer to the DHS as the Department of Homeland Surrender?

Each and every year millions of travelers enter our country at the various ports of entry to be found at land border ports, seaports and airports. Yet Ms Napolitano believes that her agency will only stop about 26% of the travelers who are traveling under false identity documents or smuggling narcotics or other contraband through airports. Incredibly this number represents and improvement of the 25% it racked up in the past year.

The report states that in 2008 73.5% of travelers arriving by air were screened, in 2009 80% of all travelers arriving by air were screened but that this year, 2010, DHS plans to screen 85%!

Think how many travelers won’t be screened this year and have not been screened in previous years- yet our nation claims to be waging a “War on Terror!”

Stop and consider how much death and destruction just 19 terrorists were able to inflict on our nation on September 11, 2001 and yet the Department of Homeland Security bumbles along (bungles along?) even as the citizens of our nation continually face an erosion of their expectations of privacy and freedom in the name of “national security!”

The excuse that the government provides is that most of the criminal violations of law involve the smuggling of small quantities of narcotics but that all passengers are screened before they are permitted to board airliners and their names are compared against the “No Fly” list. However, if you think about how many passengers may have traveled with false travel documents or if you consider how difficult it is to administer a “No Fly” list when many of the names on that list were originally written in a foreign language, especially a language that did not use the English alphabet, you realize how complex and difficult this is.

Think of the various languages where the translation of the name into English is, at best, a hit or miss proposition. How do you accurately translate names that originated in Chinese, Arabic, Urdu, Hebrew, Japanese, Sanskrit and other such languages?

To illustrate my point, consider how many different ways you can write the word Hanukah. That word can also be spelled Chanukah and several other ways. Then, you need to factor in the fact that in some countries the date of birth may be written in a different order from that which we customarily use. For example, if someone has a date of birth of May 10, 1985 is his date of birth 5/10/85 or 10/05/85? As an INS special agent I have often found those who sought to obfuscate their true identities by reversing those numbers intentionally but then claiming it was an “innocent mistake.”

One way to increase the accuracy of the screening of arriving aliens would be to immediately end the Visa Waiver Program but the executives of the travel and hospitality industries have been spending unknown millions of dollars to lobby our politicians in Washington to expand the Visa Waiver Program. Today there are some 35 nations that participate in the Visa Waiver Program.

You can review the State Department Website for information about this wrong-headed, indeed extremely perilous program at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html

I have written extensively about the Visa Waiver Program and have even testified about it before a Congressional hearing, and don’t want to be repetitive but I believe it is worthwhile for me to once again list 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. Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker, as a citizen of France, was also exempt the visa requirement. 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. Theirs 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.

Under the auspices of the Visa Waiver Program, none of the above- noted, significant benefits to law enforcement or national security apply.

On May 11, 2006 I was called upon to provide testimony before a Congressional hearing conducted by the Committee on International Relations on the topic:


You can find a copy of the transcript of that hearing at:


Certainly if our government can suggest that United States citizens not be allowed to use bathrooms on airliners during the final hour of a flight nor keep a blanket or clothing on their laps the insanity of the Visa Waiver Program should be reconsidered.

Here is something else to consider: New York is the safest big city in the United States. A major factor in this success story is the fact that the United States has some 35,000 police officers. The division of the Department of Homeland Security that is charged with enforcing the immigration laws is ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). That agency employs about 6,000 special agents for the entire United States of America and many of these agents are engaged in enforcing the customs laws and not immigration laws. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the difference between customs and immigration I would suggest you consider that before DHS was created, the Customs Service was situated in the Treasury Department because the primary concern of Customs was the movement of goods and money across international borders. Customs was also responsible for collecting duties and tariffs. Customs was far more similar to the IRS than it was to the INS.

The former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) was involved with the movement of people across our nation’s borders. Immigration law also deals with the presence of aliens (foreign nationals) in our country in terms of permitting them to acquire resident alien status and United States citizenship.

The only similarity between Legacy Customs and Legacy INS is the fact that both were border agencies. However, once you got past the border, they shared little in terms of goals, laws and orientation.

Today, the vast majority of leaders at ICE Headquarters and at ICE field offices around the United States came from Legacy Customs. Immigration law enforcement is given far less attention than is the enforcement of Customs laws. As one of my former colleagues at the old INS has repeatedly told me, “The bosses at ICE are far more concerned with counterfeit Gucci luggage than counterfeit passports!

If, as Ms Napolitano concedes, many international travelers are getting away with committing crimes when entering our country, then the solution to back up the inspections program and the porous borders that the Border Patrol is unable to secure, is to back up the inspectors at ports of entry and the Border Patrol who attempt to interdict those who seek to evade the inspections process altogether is to hire an adequate number of special agents of ICE to seek to apprehend those who have violated these laws.

There is a term to describe many of these law violators. They are called “illegal aliens!”

Incredibly there are members of the administration and members of both houses of Congress who are now preparing to provide millions of illegal aliens with United States citizenship even though there is no reliable way to know the true identities of these millions of illegal aliens. There is, therefore, no way of knowing their nationalities, backgrounds, potential affiliation with criminal or terrorist organizations or even when, where or how they entered the United States.

The failure to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States is the rough equivalent of playing baseball and telling your outfielders to sit in the dugout when they should be playing defense in the outfield. By having the outfielders sit out the game, anyone hitting the ball over the infielders’ heads would get an in the park home-run. This sums up our nation’s pitiful efforts to enforce the immigration laws and secure our nation against the goals of terrorists and criminals.

The admission of failures by the inspections process makes it utterly clear that the only reasonable solution to the failures of the inspections program committed each and every day is to back up the inspections program and the efforts of the Border Patrol with a vibrant, well staffed and effectively led interior enforcement program by ICE. Our nation truly appears to be led by the “Not ready for prime time players” or worse!

Our nation used to have an unofficial two word motto. That motto was, “Can Do!”

Our nation had a tradition of accomplishing that which no other country could accomplish. When our nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 it took our nation roughly three and a half years to create fleets of ships, aircraft and weapons that had never existed previously. We even created nuclear weapons with unproven, fledgling technology.

In roughly three and a half years our nation’s “Greatest Generation” brought the Second World War to a successful conclusion, defeated Nazism and fascism and liberated the concentration camps and showed the sort of leadership that made the United States the envy of all other countries. “Can Do!” summed it up succinctly.

When President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States would land men on the moon and return them safely to the earth by the end of that decade (the 1960’s) the goal seemed unbelievable, but then, we were Americans, we could make the difficult look easy and make the impossible possible!

When Neil Armstrong planted his space-suited boots on the lunar surface, accompanied by Buzz Aldrin, that eloquent phrase again came to mind- “Can Do!”

That was arguably the last time that “Can Do!” accurately described our nation’s achievements. Today it would seem our leaders stand before the microphones to utter explanations and apologies about why we “Can’t do.”

Our nation has not changed but the qualities of our leaders and their priorities have.

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.

Next year each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. Next 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!

Any American who has lost his job certainly has enough time on his (her) hands to get involved!

Any American who fears the loss of his job must make effective use of his spare time to make certain he keeps his job! (Remember, the job save may be your own!) 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! You need to politely but pointedly, demand to know what they are doing to protect our nation. You need to ask them how they are protecting you and your families. You can also forward this commentary to them. 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!

DHS Plans to Catch Only One in Four Travelers Committing ‘Major’ Criminal Violations While Entering U.S. on International Fights in 2010 By Terence P. Jeffrey, Editor-in-Chief

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.