For far too long our federal government, and many state and local governments, have been representing everyone and anyone but the citizens of the United States.
As an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agent I became painfully aware of how the supposedly “broken” immigration system has been operating as one of the most efficient delivery systems in the entire federal government, rivaling the both Fed-Ex and UPS. The broken immigration system has been delivering a virtually unlimited supply of foreign tourists, foreign students and especially an unlimited supply of exploitable Third World workers who bring with them Third World expectations of Third World wages and working conditions.
Over time the magnitude of the immigration crisis grew exponentially. This crisis undermines national security, public safety and the overall well-being of America and Americans.
The Amnesty of 1986 that was part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) not only resulted in nearly four million illegal aliens acquiring lawful status and ultimately enabling those newly legalized aliens to petition to have their family members admitted as lawful immigrants, but encouraged an influx of even more illegal aliens who believed that if one amnesty could be enacted to “solve” the immigration crisis, other such amnesties would likely follow.
The immigration system became ever more ineffective and politicians from both parties made false claims that since there were so many illegal aliens in the United States the only way of solving this huge problem was to legalize all of the illegal aliens and secure the U.S./Mexican border so that more illegal aliens ostensibly could not enter the country.
Of course, while the U.S./Mexican border must be made secure, as I have noted in many of my articles and especially in my testimony before a succession of congressional hearings in both the House and Senate, our nation does not have four border states (California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas), but 50 “border states.” Any state that lies along America’s northern and southern borders are border states, as are those states that have access to the estimated 95,000 miles of the U.S. coastline and any state that has an international airport.
On November 15, 2014 the David Horowitz Freedom Center sponsored an event in which I was honored to join three true leaders in the United States Congress in a panel discussion on immigration: then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions and Congressmen Louis Gohmert and John Fleming. A video of this panel discussion has been posted and includes a statement by Rep. Gohmert in which he said that my perspective on America having 50 border states was gaining traction in Washington.
It is encouraging when we are able to change the perspectives of our political leaders. However, those instances are far too infrequent.
This weekend I was elated to find out that I may have had an impact on how the leadership of USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) perceives its vital mission in adjudicating applications for a wide variety of immigration benefits, which include applications for political asylum, lawful immigrant status and United States citizenship. This is a welcome change from years of inadequate leadership, especially during the Obama administration.
On March 20, 2013 during the disastrous Obama administration, I testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the topic, “Building An Immigration System Worthy Of American Values.” I concluded my prepared testimony with the following paragraphs:
I want to make this clear: Law enforcement is at its best when it creates a climate of deterrence to convince those who might be contemplating violating the law that such an effort is likely to be discovered and that, if discovered, adverse consequences will result for the law violators. Current policies and statements by the administration, in my view, encourages aspiring illegal aliens from around the world to head for the United States. In effect, the starter’s pistol has been fired, and for these folks, the finish line to this race is the border of the United States.
Back when I was an INS special agent, I recall that Doris Meissner, who was at the time the Commissioner of the INS, said that the agency needed to be ‘‘customer oriented.’’ Unfortunately, while I agree about the need to be customer oriented, what Ms. Meissner and apparently too many politicians today seem to have forgotten is that the ‘‘customers’’ of the INS and of our Government in general are the citizens of the United States of America.
I have referenced Meissner’s fatally flawed perceptions and guidance in numerous articles and speaking events in addition to my prepared testimony at that Senate hearing.
On February 22, 2018 NPR reported “America No Longer A ‘Nation Of Immigrants,’ USCIS Says.” Here is an excerpt from the NPR article bemoaning the removal of the phrase “nation of immigrants” and the term customer:
The agency’s new mission statement as it appears on the agency’s website reads:
“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”
Here is USCIS’s previous mission statement:
“USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”
The removal of the phrase “nation of immigrants” was announced to agency staff in an email letter from Director L. Francis Cissna.
In the letter, Cissna said, “I believe this simple, straightforward statement clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and the commitment we have to the American people.”
He also explained why the new mission statement deletes the reference to agency applicants as “customers.”
“What we do at USCIS is so important to our nation, so meaningful to the applicants and petitioners, and the nature of the work is often so complicated, that we should never allow our work to be regarded as a mere production line or even described in business or commercial terms. In particular, referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits, and the beneficiaries of such applications and petitions, as “customers” promotes an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners, rather than the correct adjudication of such applications and petitions according to the law. Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve.”
Director Cissna’s understanding of the true mission of his agency is a refreshing change from those who preceded him and insisted that the adjudications officers “get to yes” and seek to approve virtually every application that lands on their desks.
In the business world, it is said that “the customer is always right.” Bringing that dangerous notion to an element of homeland security encourages and enables immigration fraud, a key vulnerability exploited by the majority of terrorists who have entered the United States determined to carry out and/or support deadly terror attacks.
Undoubtedly there are going to be some employees as USCIS who will find the change in fundamental philosophy to be a shock to their systems, particularly if they have entered on duty during the Obama administration where the “customer” was always right.
However, the clear and unequivocal message that the new mission statement and use of terminology sends to personnel at USCIS and to all who interact with USCIS is that the priority is to imbue the system with integrity.
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 embed themselves in the United States. For example, page 54 contained the following excerpt under the title “3.2 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.
This new and welcome philosophy will help to deter potential fraudsters from filing fraud-laden applications by those who thought that as “customers” they could game this system.
As the number of applications for immigration benefits decline, beleaguered USCIS adjudications officers will have more time to more carefully scrutinize each application. (It takes just minutes to approve an application, but can take days or longer to deny an application.) This will likely result in more fraud being discovered, thus deterring the filing of fraudulent applications as the word gets out. Deterrence through enforcement works.
EDITORS NOTE: This column first appeared in FrontPage Magazine.