Immigration: A Matter Of Integrity – Or A Lack Thereof

Michael Cutler Former INS Special Agent
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Before we discuss immigration we must first consider that the army of civilian federal employees who are charged with enforcing and administering our immigration laws get their marching orders from the President of the United States, much the same way that the members of our armed forces operate under his command.

It is worth considering that the Oxford Dictionary’s first definition of integrity addresses the issue of “moral uprightness” while the second definition equates integrity with “national sovereignty.”

The abject lack of integrity of all components of our immigration system reflects the abject lack of integrity of our political leaders.

It is absurd to imagine taking politics out of any issue that involves decisions made by politicians. However, most of our politicians make many of their decisions that are consistent with the priorities and indeed, demands, of the major campaign contributors. Often these decisions are at odds with morality, commonsense and the well-being of America and Americans.

However, if there is one goal for our government that all of our leaders, irrespective of political party or ideology must agree with is that national security must, without equivocation, be sacrosanct.

Many folks are quick to blame civil servants for the failures of our government — whether on the local, state or federal level. However, I can tell you that the great majority of the employees of the DHS understand the true significance of the immigration laws to protect our nation and our citizens from transnational criminals and I international terrorists, however, they are stymied by the executive orders issued by the administration and an abject lack of resources.

Politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties still refuse to use effective immigration law enforcement as one of the most potent weapons with which to combat the threat of terror attacks being carried out inside the United States.

Current immigration policies of the administration exacerbated by “Sanctuary Cities and proposed “fixes” for our “broken” immigration system proposed by leaders of both political parties and nearly all of the candidates for the presidency, fly in the face of the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and its staff of federal agents and federal attorneys.

In my judgement, any politician who insists that, since we cannot arrest and deport all of the millions of illegal aliens who are present in the United States we must provide them with lawful status once we secure the border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico is either a liar, a fool, or a crook.


The report, “9/11 and Terrorist Travel: Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” provides important information and insight into the entry and embedding tactics of terrorists, yet it almost never referred to by political leaders from both political parties.

The emphasis on the U.S.-Mexican border to the exclusion of the other components of the immgration system is as duplicitous as it gets. Consider that Page 54 of the report contained this excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot.”

Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.

In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.

Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.

Could the point be driven home any more clearly? Very few terrorists who have attacked our nation ran our borders — the vast majority including the 9/11 terrorists were welcomed into the United States at ports of entry. Certainly all of our borders must be made secure — both our northern and southern borders. We have 95,000 miles of coastline and 328 ports of entry including international airports.

Clearly we cannot hermitically seal all of our borders, but what we can and must do is enforce our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States. Aliens who violate our immigration laws must be subject to arrest and removal (deportation).

There must be integrity to the process by which applications for immigration benefits are adjudicated. This would require that thousands of ICE agents be hired and trained to conduct criminal investigations into those who participate in defrauding the immigration benefits program and arresting those who engage in such criminal conspiracies.

By enforcing our immigration laws ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents will be able to cultivate informants and cooperating witnesses and help to penetrate the veil that surrounds ethnic immigrant communities.

This would provide immeasurable assistance to the gathering of intelligence- an issue that is ever so often raised by politicians and journalists.

Today we have more than 45,000 employees at the TSA, we have more than 20,000 Border Patrol agents but only about 7,000 ICE agents and more than half of them are enforcing customs laws and are more concerned about those who produce counterfeit Gucci loafers than counterfeit passports. To put that number in perspective, the NYPD has more than 35,000 police officers just for the city of New York.

Meanwhile terrorists have been admitted into the United States as tourists, resident aliens and foreign students, as I have written elsewhere.

Terrorists including one of the Tsarnaev brothers who savagely attacked the Boston Marathon and Faisal Shazhad, the “Time Square Bomber” were granted U.S. citizenship just months before they launched their terror attacks. Clearly the legal side of the immigration system is fatally flawed.

Michael Cutler