International partnerships are key to fighting transnational crime

Published on April 5th, 2012

An ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) news release dated March 20, 2012 reported on the importance of the close working relationship that has been established between personnel of the HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) division of ICE, with law enforcement authorities of both the government of Israel and representatives of the Palestinian Authority.

Here is an excerpt from the recent ICE news release:

As part of their duties overseas, HSI special agents often examine visa applications for fraud, initiate investigations, coordinate with law enforcement partners and provide training and advice to Department of State consular officers. The work performed by these special agents is vital to protecting the United States against terrorist and criminal organizations.

As is all too often the case, while news releases issued by the administration provide flowery statements that accurately explain effective strategies on the one hand, the administration takes actions and adopts policies that are diametrically opposed to the very same strategies that are touted in the news releases.

The fact is that fraud is a huge factor throughout the entire immigration system and the process by which visas are issued must be considered an integral component of the immigration system. Although it is up to the consular officials of the State Department to determine whether or not to issue a visa to an alien in the first place, the authority to admit an alien who has a visa is the domain of the inspectors of CBP (Customs and Border Protection).  In a manner of speaking, the visa requirement pushes our nation's border to the United States Embassy or Consulate where visas are issued.

However, while the news release correctly addresses the importance of combating fraud in the visa process, under the Visa Waiver Program, the United States currently permits aliens from some 36 countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days without first applying for and receiving a visa – a process that adds an important layer of security for our nation.

“Visa Waiver Program Endangers our Safety and Security,” a recent commentary on CAPS’ website, provided a list of six ways in which the visa process can be helpful to law enforcement and prevent the entry of aliens whose presence in our country may prove harmful to our nation and our citizens.  (Under the Visa Waiver Program, not one of these important benefits applies.)

The Visa Waiver Program runs contrary to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission which cited flaws in the system resulting in visas being issued to the terrorists.  If laxity in the visa issuing process enabled the terrorists to enter the United States, why would we now permit citizens of 36 countries to enter our country in this day and age without first obtaining any visa at all?  Incomprehensibly, the President has made it clear that he intends to seek to expand the Visa Waiver Program to include even more countries – this at a time when American citizens, including the elderly and young children, can expect to experience ever more intrusive searches if they seek to board airliners in the United States!

Consider this:  There are more than 60,000 employees at the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration), many of whom are engaged in searching airline passengers, but there are only about 7,000 ICE special agents for the entire United States of America and fewer than half of them are engaged in investigating violations of customs laws and not immigration laws.  In fact, many of the key managers of ICE and CBP came from Legacy Customs and not from the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service).  There are reportedly fewer than 300 ICE enforcement personnel searching for a population of visa violators that is estimated to be in excess of 5 million!

These numbers just don't add up, nor do the decisions made by our government's leaders, where nothing less than national security is at stake!

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