POLITICAL "WILL" IS LACKING TO SECURE BORDERS
June 20, 2008
article appeared in today's edition of the New York Times and has
special significance for me.
In the early 1980's I approached then New York Senator Alphonse D'Amato to attempt to interest him in becoming involved in a number of issues relating to immigration law enforcement. In a meeting he held with me, he asked me to get as many of my colleagues at the INS to corroborate what I had to say about failings of the INS. Over the next 6 months I managed to convince more than 30 of my fellow INS employees including some immigration inspectors (I started my career as an immigration inspector at John F. Kennedy International Airport) to attend meetings with members of the senator's staff in New York.
Ultimately, Senator D'Amato met with me and three of my colleagues. We were told to expect the meeting to last 30 minutes. Instead he met with us for nearly 3 hours. This was the first time I would ever approach a member of the Congress to seek assistance with the enforcement and administration of the immigration laws. It was certainly not to be my last! Although that meeting took place more than a quarter of a century ago, I still recall that in the trepidation I felt in the days before the meeting. I recall worrying over what I should say to the senator to capture his attention. I recall that we were ushered into the conference room in the senator's offices located, at that time in the Madison Square Office Building complex an awaited his arrival. He strode into the room holding a huge coffee mug in his hand emblazoned with the words, "THE BOSS!"
As we settled into our seats along with members of his staff, I told him what I had prepared in the days before the meeting. I said to him, "Senator, we are gratified by your willingness to take time out from your busy schedule to meet with us. The four of us who are here today are civil servants who work for the INS. But we are not here as civil servants but rather as taxpayers who have come to the same unhappy conclusion that we are unable to get our money's worth from our own efforts every day we go to work, not because of failings of ours, but rather because of failings of the agency for which we work!"
By the expression on Senator D'Amato's face it was clear that my message resonated!
He told me that my statement concerned him and he wanted to know what was going on. I responded by telling him that here were four relatively low-level INS employees, I believe none of us, back then was higher than a GS-11, who were, in effect lobbying a member of the United States Senate to increase resources for that beleaguered agency and to find creative solutions for making the INS a more effective agency. "Shouldn't the commissioner of the INS or one of his immediate subordinates be doing what we are doing?" I asked him.
Clearly we had a captive audience!
I provided him with 3 basic ideas that he agreed with. First of all, I told him that the INS should allocate more resources to the enforcement of the immigration laws and prioritize aliens involved in serious criminal activities. Second, I recommended that deportation hearings should be held inside prisons. At that time, an alien who had been convicted of committing felonies and languish in prison for a decade or more and yet deportation proceedings would not be initiated until after that alien was released from jail. The result of that was that the INS would have to either detain that criminal alien in a detention system that was bursting at the seams or release him (her) on bail while the alien appealed an order of deportation, a process that in some instances took years. Meanwhile many such criminal aliens absconded and then often committed additional crimes. My suggestion that deportation hearings be conducted inside prisons meant that aliens could be ordered deported and all appeals of the order of deportation could be exhausted before the alien was released from jail. Such aliens would be simply put on airplanes upon release from jail; and deported from the United States.
Today that program is referred to as the Institutional Hearing Program, but like just about everything else about the enforcement and administration of the immigration laws, it still lacks the necessary resources that are essential for the success of that program.
My final suggestion is to increase the criminal penalties for aliens who are deported from the United States and then re-enter our country without authority.
Back then there was no distinction between aliens who had been deported because of having been convicted of committing felonies and aliens who were being deported from simply violating our nation's immigration laws. The "one size fits all" penalty for illegal re-entry was a maximum of two years in federal custody. I strongly recommended that criminal aliens should face a maximum of 20 years in prison. To my thinking, If an alien enters our country and then commits a felony, it is essential to make it clear that we don't want that person to ever return to our country again. Additionally, as an agent I often found that federal prosecutors were reluctant to prosecute such re-entry cases because the alien would often receive a sentence of several months. It did not appear to be worth the effort to them. Bumping up the penalty to many years would, I reasoned, encourage prosecutors to be more willing to use limited resources to pursue such criminal prosecutions. (The prosecution of re-entry is an easy case, all that is required is to obtain the executed Warrant of Deportation, match the fingerprint of the deported alien on that warrant and then obtain certification that no authorization had been issued to the alien in question to permit him (her) to return to the United States after being deported. Such a prosecution is simple to pursue and virtually impossible for the criminal alien to argue against in court.
Senator D'Amato was responsible for enacting the legislation that draws a clear distinction about the crime of re-entry after deportation for what are defined as "aggravated felons" and the maximum sentence for unlawful re-entry in such cases now is, indeed, 20 years in prison. Generally the lowest sentence is more than 4 years in prison.
enforcement is at its best and most effective when it is able to achieve
true deterrence. The motto of the Strategic Air Command was, "Peace
is our profession." The mission of the Strategic Air Command was
to deter a nuclear attack against our nation and they succeeded without
firing a single shot! Law enforcement, similarly, is at its best when
criminals are deterred from violating the law by convincing them that
they have a good chance of getting caught if they violate the law, that
they will be successfully prosecuted and that the punishment they will
receive upon conviction will be severe and certain!
Senator D'Amato was willing to listen to the advice of those of us who sought his assistance and provide us with representation in the United States Senate. He cold be a role model for many of our politicians today!
It is therefore extremely gratifying for me to read the article below that reports on just how much of a priority the pursuit of criminal prosecution of criminal aliens has become for federal prosecutors across the United States.
I only wish that those prosecutors were going after aliens and their co-conspirators who commit immigration fraud. This would reduce the huge backlog of applications for a wide variety of immigration benefits including applications filed by aliens seeking to naturalize. This causes honest immigrants to have to wait on long lines while enabling the bad guys to game the immigration system. Among those bad guys are criminals and terrorists. Yet immigration fraud is an issue that is never even discussed by politicians. It is my belief that an intensive effort to identify those who commit immigration fraud, successfully prosecute those who engage in such criminal activities and deport the aliens who would "game the system" after they have served prison sentences would go a long way to achieving the goals I noted above. As my mom used to tell me when I was a young boy, "Where there is a will, there is a way!"
For decades, our nation has lacked the political will to secure our borders and create an immigration system that possesses real integrity. This lack of will has done much damage to our countries and cost many lives, among them the victims of the terrorist attacks of 1993 and 2001.
Every year so many government agencies hire corporations and pay them millions upon millions of dollars to conduct studies and devise strategies to supposedly make those agencies work more effectively. I would submit that most of those contracts represent a boondoggle that squanders taxpayer money! We don't need to hire corporations to provide expert opinions- those experts already work for the government, they are the employees of those various agencies! They don't need to spend months or years orienting themselves to understand the issues, they grapple with those issues every day they go to work and have been dealing with those issues for years, if not decades!
We the People must become involved in the process of government! We the People must treat the politicians the way we treat a waiter in a restaurant. When we order a meal in a restaurant we are very specific about what we want to eat and how we want it prepared. I have never heard a patron of a restaurant tell the waiter, "Serve me whatever you think I should eat!"
In raising my children I have told them that the opposite of success is an excuse. How many excuses have we been hearing from our government? The time for failure and the excuses that call our attention to those failures must end! Our nation is at war against terrorists who would destroy our nation. Our nation is at war against criminals and drug traffickers who have done immeasurable damage to our nation and the lives of our citizens. These criminals have killed and injured far too many people in our country! By not securing our nation's borders, we have permitted criminals including drug traffickers, gang members and the like to enter our country, ply their "trades" sell their dope and then send their ill-gotten proceeds out of our country to enrich the coffers of the organizations that sent them here, to strengthen those criminal organizations such as the Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, the various violent gangs such as MS-13, the Chines triads, the Russian mob, etc., etc. We have also provided terrorists and their supporters with easy access to our nation leaving us vulnerable to the next terrorist attack!
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These concerns are not Conservative concerns nor are they Liberal concerns- these are clearly AMERICAN concerns and We the People must not remain silent on these issues because they have huge implications for the future of our nation and the survival of our citizens!
© 2008 - Michael Cutler - All Rights Reserved