The Immigration Bon Bon Factory

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By Michael W. Cutler

Mike is a Senior Fellow with CAPS and retired INS Senior Special Agent. During his 30-year career with the INS he rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. He was assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA and for 10 years was assigned, as an INS Senior Special Agent, to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force. He has testified at numerous hearings conducted by committees and subcommittees of the House and Senate and provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission.

He hosts "The Michael Cutler Hour" on USA Talk Radio Fridays at 7 p.m. (EST) and is frequently interviewed by broadcast media on various aspects of immigration issues, especially the nexus to national security.

The writer's views are his own.

April 28, 2013

In the 1950's one of the most beloved television programs was “I Love Lucy,” one of the very first sit-coms, in which Lucille Ball played a lovable ditzy woman who managed to get into all sorts of mischief, often with the assistance of her “side-kick” Ethel Mertz played by Vivian Vance.

In a classic episode, Lucy and Ethel get a job at a candy factory wrapping morsels of candy bonbons that are delivered to them on a conveyor belt. They have a tyrannical boss who threatens to fire them if they miss any candy.

At first they have no problem dealing with the candy but, in short order, the belt picks up speed and the candy begins hurtling at them at warp speed. No matter how fast they work, they cannot keep pace. Out of desperation, they begin stuffing the bonbons down their dresses and try eating them, but to no avail.

Today there are hapless adjudications officers who work for USCIS, a division of the DHS that adjudicates applications for a variety of immigration benefits including the granting of political asylum and the conferring of resident alien status and United States citizenship upon aliens.

Not unlike Lucy and Ethel, the hapless adjudications officers at USCIS are under great pressure to approve nearly every application that is put on their desks. It only takes minutes to approve an application but can take hours of days to deny an application.

As the investigation of the Boston Marathon terror bombing proceeds, questions are rightfully being asked about how the two alleged terrorists, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, had been granted political asylum and lawful immigrant status and how Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could have been naturalized. Clearly these serious questions deserve serious answers.

On April 22, 3013 the Washington Times ran an article entitled 99.5 Percent of Illegal Immigrants Get Approval for Legal Status; High Number Raises Concerns about Fraud.

Clearly the adjudications officers need to satisfy their bosses who are, in turn, being pressured to clear up the backlog of applications. Unlike Lucy and Ethel, they cannot stuff the applications down their clothing and they cannot eat them, so the only thing they can do to keep pace with the ever-accelerating bureaucratic conveyor belt is to approve nearly all of the applications they are given to process.

The Washington Times story begins with this statement:

The administration has approved 99.5 percent of applications of those who have applied for legal status under President Obama’s nondeportation policy for young adults, granting legal status to more than 250,000 formerly illegal immigrants.

The adjudications process is done without an in-person interview. This is an open invitation for fraud. Aliens who have criminal or terrorist affiliations could obtain official identity documents under false names.

This poses an obvious threat to national security. It must also be understood that if Comprehensive Immigration Reform were to be enacted millions or, more likely, tens of millions of applications filed by so-called "undocumented" aliens and who cannot prove who they are or when they actually entered the United States would be able to easily game the immigration system the same way that the 9/11 Commission found that many terrorists had previously gamed the process to enter the United States as an embedding tactic.

The terror attacks carried out in Boston should serve as a reminder that the all clear has not sounded and now, more than ever, our immigration laws must be effectively enforced. The often-stated refrain that the “immigration system is broken” is primarily “broken” because the laws go unenforced and there is no integrity to the adjudications process.

In 2007, the last time Comprehensive Immigration Reform was debated, I wrote an Op-Ed for the Washington Times in which I suggested that the legislation should be given a more honest name- "The Terrorist Assistance and Facilitation Act."

That title is even more appropriate today than at any time in our past.

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