Inspector General Report: Fraud Compromises the Immigration System Thus Compromising National Security

Published on February 10th, 2012

When failures of the immigration system are discussed in the news media, the focus of the discussion most likely involves either our porous southern border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico and the need to investigate and prosecute employers who intentionally hire illegal aliens.

In this era of sound-bites and news reports that run for under 3 minutes, televised news reports depend heavily on providing dramatic video footage to make a point that is quickly understandable by audiences that appear to be suffering, increasingly from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  Where the immigration issue is concerned, news programs apparently cannot resist the temptation to provide dramatic images of illegal aliens jumping our southern border- thereby providing a skewed perspective to the viewers of the television programs.

An issue that is almost never mentioned or reported on is the way that aliens are able to attain lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship.  The adjudications process certainly does not provide opportunities for dramatic videos.  Yet the adjudications process has a huge impact on the integrity of the entire immigration system and as a consequence, on national security.

As an INS special agent, I conducted numerous investigations into suspected immigration fraud and all too often these cases involved aliens who successfully gamed the immigration system and were involved in serious criminal or terrorism-related activities.

By providing an alien with resident alien status and consequently a pathway to United States citizenship, we are providing that alien with a veritable “Key to the Kingdom.”  Unlike many other countries, our nation does not make any distinction between citizens who acquire their citizenship by being born in the United States as compared with aliens who acquire United States citizenship through the naturalization process.  High ranking political leaders of our country have, in fact, been naturalized United States citizens.  Therefore this process should be of great concern to our government and our citizens yet, over the past couple of decades, this process has evolved into a near formality and for decades the focus on those who are in charge of the process by which aliens receive various immigration be benefits including the naturalization process, has been to clear up the backlog, running the bureaucracy as fast as possible.  Of course there is an inverse relationship between speed and accuracy so that the faster applications are processed, the more likely that quality control will suffer.

I have come to compare the plight of these USCIS Adjudications Officers with the plight of Lucille and her side kick, Ethel in that old television sitcom “I Love Lucy” when they get a job at a candy factory and they are given the job of wrapping morsels of candy that are delivered on the conveyor belt. At first they are able to do the job quite well and then the conveyor belt begins to pick up speed. No matter how fast they work, they cannot keep up. They begin eating some of the bonbons and then they try stuffing them down their clothes but to no avail as the candy on the belt hurtles at them at warp speed.

The image of the lunacy at the candy factory made for a classic bit of hilarious television humor. However, when applications for resident alien status and United States citizenship are flung on the desks of the hapless Adjudications Officers at USCIS in ever greater numbers and ever more quickly, there is no humor to be found. Certainly these USCIS employees cannot eat the applications or the relating immigration files- nor can they stuff them down their clothes.

Requiring that the adjudications process to be continually speeded up in an effort to keep up with the increasing numbers of applications creates a vicious cycle where quality control and integrity of the system become the casualties of this hobbled system. Ultimately the citizens of our nation may well become the real casualties as a significant component of national security falters and fails.

The 9/11 Commission identified 94 terrorists who had entered the United States in the decade before the attacks of September 11, 2001 and determined that 59 of those terrorists had used visa fraud and/or immigration benefit fraud in order to enter the United States and embed themselves in our country as they prepared to participate in terrorist plots.  Other such terrorists have subsequently made use of similar tactics.

Therefore I was greatly concerned when, about a year ago, staffers at Senator Grassley's office contacted me to inform me of information that they had received about allegations made by high-ranking officials at the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) Service Center located in California that they were being pressured into approving applications for various benefits even when fraud was suspected.

Ironically, the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims conducted a hearing into the findings of the OIG concerning CUSA on September 7, 2000, just one year and four days before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

As a result of the allegations that were recently made by the managers of the California Service Center the OIG issued a report, and the USCIS wrote a report that was, appropriately enough, entitled, Rubber Stamp.

Here is an important quote from that article:

One-quarter of the 254 officers surveyed said they have been pressured to approve questionable cases, sometimes “against their will.”

The report does not call out any particular officials and indicates that the agency has had a problem with valuing quantity over quality since at least the 1980s.

But high-ranking USCIS officials said the pressure has heightened after the Obama administration appointed Alejandro Mayorkas as director in August 2009 during an effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform, bringing with him a mantra of “get to yes.”

Clearly the situation at USCIS is unacceptable and although the administration now claims to have addressed these serious deficiencies, this is a bit like the case where Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano claims that the borders are more secure than ever!  Given the situation to be found in Mexico and the threats posed by porous borders, what passes for secure borders is not secure enough and what passes for integrity where the adjudications process is concerned does not have adequate integrity.

Last month Jeanine Pirro interviewed House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith about the abysmal situation to be found at USCIS.  He stated that a hearing will be conducted by the House Judiciary Committee on February 15, 2012.  This is a hearing that we need to pay attention to!

Groucho Marx once remarked that he would not want to belong to an organization that would have him as a member.  United States citizenship should be taken far more seriously for a host of reasons that begins with national security but must also take into account how so many lawful immigrants were proud to achieve their dreams of U.S. citizenship that has been so demeaned and cheapened by politicizing the immigration system that has turned this once solemn process into little more than a meaningless formality.

You are donating to :

How much would you like to donate?
$10 $20 $30
Would you like to make regular donations? I would like to make donation(s)
How many times would you like this to recur? (including this payment) *
Name *
Last Name *
Email *
Additional Note