President Trump has delivered his much anticipated State of the Union Address
. There were many things he said that were encouraging and inspiring, however, his remarks about immigration were more than a bit problematic.
In his State of the Union Address he proposed the creation of “four pillars” upon which he would rest his immigration reform plan.
As a man who made his fortune in the construction industry, President Trump must know that in construction, supporting pillars must be of sufficient strength to support the structure that is to be supported by the pillars.
The most important question that must be asked is if these four pillars can bear the burdens to be placed on them by the Trump immigration plan.
Here is how he described those four pillars:
The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age — that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration. Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.
The second pillar fully secures the border. That means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country — and it finally ends the dangerous practice of "catch and release.”
The third pillar ends the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people. It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.
The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.
The president boasted that his amnesty program would provide three times as many aliens with permanent lawful status and a pathway to citizenship as were provided with temporary lawful status under the Obama administration’s program known as DACA (Deferred Action-Childhood Arrivals). Trump’s plan should, perhaps be referred to as (PACCA) Permanent Action-Claimed Childhood Arrivals.
It is important to note that there was no explanation as to how the president arrived at the figure of 1.8 million eligible illegal aliens. In reality, the ultimate number of applicants is likely to be much, much greater.
My recent article, "DACA: Trump and Congress Must Look Before They Leap" included the subtitle, 800,000 DACA aliens just became 3.6 million. That estimate was provided by the Migration Policy Institute.
The media and advocates for pathways to lawful status and citizenship for aliens who have participated in the DACA program steadfastly claim that these are all aliens who were brought here as children by their parents. In reality, these aliens may actually be approaching middle age but would simply need to claim that they came before they turned 16 to participate in this amnesty program. Hence there would be no way to accurately predict just how many such aliens would file applications.
It is bewildering that the president would not limit his amnesty program to aliens who were already enrolled in DACA, but he is happy to expand it to cover an even larger number of illegal aliens who claim that they meet the requirements but never enrolled.
The wall to secure the U.S.-Mexican border won’t be completed for years — if it is ever constructed. Until then illegal aliens could still run that border, every day (and night), until that border is made more secure.
And even then we have to ask, “how secure is secure?”
However, the U.S.-Mexican border is not the only way that illegal aliens enter the United States.
Awhile back I wrote an article, “Border Security and the Immigration Colander.”
Securing the southern border from illegal entry is the second pillar of President Trump’s plan.
Our nation, however, has 50 “border states” and claiming that once the wall is built, that our nation would be secure against illegal immigration is the equivalent of plugging one hole in the bottom of a colander and claiming that the colander has been magically transformed into a watertight vessel.
More illegal aliens will continue to enter the United States surreptitiously along our nation’s 95,000 miles of meandering coastline by stowing away on ships or simply coming ashore covertly, thereby evading the inspections process conducted at our seaports, the same way that aliens evade the inspections process conducted along our northern and southern land borders.
There would be no way to stop the program once 1.8 million illegal aliens were processed for lawful status and still more illegal aliens applied to participate.
If the Migration Policy Institute’s estimate of 3.6 million is correct, Trump’s 1.8 million applicants would represent only half the number of illegal aliens who might apply for lawful status under PACCA.
However, if the Migration Policy Institute’s estimate is wrong and millions of additional illegal aliens show up, all would be undoubtedly be eligible for lawful status.
While much is made about the issue of whether or not to provide such aliens with citizenship, from a national security perspective, lawful status and official identity documents alone would undermine national security, whether or not the aliens are placed on the pathway to U.S. citizenship. Of course U.S. citizenship, for such aliens, would exacerbate the threat to national security.
With such huge numbers of applications, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) the division of the DHS charged with adjudicating applications for immigration benefits would be unable to conduct in-person interviews of these aliens, let alone field investigations. That beleaguered agency already processes more than six million applications for various immigration benefits annually.
While the president has focused his attention on securing the U.S.-Mexican border with a wall, a necessary achievement, he is apparently ignoring that the United States has 50 “border states.”
In point of fact, most terrorists who have thus far been identified entered the United States through ports of entry — primarily international airports. The key entry and embedding tactic involved visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud.
It is to be presumed that his goal of closing “loopholes” in the immigration system that have allowed terrorists and gang members to enter the United States was actually a reference to aliens who successfully committed immigration fraud. Yet combatting such fraud, a critical issue identified by the 9/11 Commission, to which I provided testimony, is not a pillar of his immigration proposal and not even a component of any of the four pillars upon which his plan for immigration reform rests.
For a final thought, the nexus between immigration fraud and national security was the focus of my recent article, "Immigration Fraud, The Lies That Kill."
This is not just my concern, it was the concern of the 9/11 Commission to which I provided testimony.
The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud to enter the United States also to also embed themselves in the United States.
Page 54 contained this excerpt under the title "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.
This paragraph is found on page 98 under the heading "Immigration Benefits":
Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.
As a “deal maker” President Trump understands the need to compromise to achieve worthwhile objectives. However, achieving a compromise for political goals must never result in compromising national security and public safety.
National security and public safety must be the unequivocal foundation for any and every plan for America.
Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings in the House and Senate, provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission, and testified before state legislative hearings around the United States. He also testifies at trials where immigration is at issue and participates in public speaking engagements across the U.S. He hosts his Blog Talk Radio show, "The Michael Cutler Hour" on Friday evenings on USA Talk Radio. His personal website is MichaelCutler.net. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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