Irene Martin

Michael Cutler | Front Page Magazine

DHS manager gets honored for thwarting the San Bernardino investigation.

I have written a follow-up article to my March 18, 2016 piece with the sarcastic title, “Are DHS Leaders Seeking an MVP Award From ISIS?The day after the San Bernardino terror attack, why exactly did USCIS managers block a team of ICE agents from entering their facility?

I began my original commentary by saying that I was not trying to go “over the top” with the title of my article and that I had not lost my mind but that I was infuriated that a manager of USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) would block ICE agents from entering that facility.

It is worth noting that both USCIS and ICE are component agencies of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

At the time I wrote my original article, the actual identity of the manager who blocked five ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents was not known, however, it has been disclosed that the manager is Irene Martin.

It must be noted that these ICE agents were assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the office that they sought to enter was located in San Bernardino, the very same city where less than 24 hours earlier, on December 2, 2015, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook carried out a terror attack that resulted in the murder of 14 and the wounding of 22 innocent victims.

Furthermore, Enrique Marquez, the individual the ICE agents were hoping to locate at the office, was believed to have provided the weapons used in carrying out that terrorist attack.  They had discovered that Marquez was scheduled to appear for an interview that day in conjunction with the application he filed for his wife to provide her with lawful immigrant status.

The agents were not only concerned about questioning and arresting Marquez because of the crimes he was alleged to have already committed in providing weapons and possibly other material support to the two terrorists, but the agents were greatly concerned that Marquez may have provided similar assistance to other terrorists who had not yet carried out additional attacks.  Time was obviously extremely critical and potentially innocent lives were hanging in the balance.  The clock was ticking and time was not on the side of the agents — or of possible additional victims, for that matter.

As for the supposed “marriage” between Marquez and his “wife” Chernykh, they have subsequently been charged with conspiracy to commit immigration/marriage fraud.  I addressed this issue in my May 3, 2016 article, “Immigration Fraud Linked to San Bernardino Jihadist’s Family.”

On April 28, 2016 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issued a press release about this case,  “3 people tied to shooter in San Bernardino terrorist attack arrested on federal conspiracy, marriage fraud and false statement charges.”

Additionally, it must be pointed out that if ICE agents had information about anyone who was seeking an immigration benefit for an alien, even if terrorism is not a component of the case, the adjudications officers should welcome any information that would provide relevant information about the bona fides of the petition/application that is to be adjudicated.  Immigration fraud is a felony without any other factors being involved.  Furthermore the 9/11 Commission noted that immigration fraud and visa fraud were key entry and embedding tactics of terrorists.

I am intimately familiar with these issues inasmuch as I served as an adjudications officer for one year, many years ago.  I volunteered to be a part of a pilot project that paired adjudications officers with Criminal Investigators (Special Agents) of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) to uncover fraud.  During that assignment my colleagues and I collaborated closely with the agents.  When I became an INS Special Agent I worked closely with the adjudications officers who, back then, were referred to as Examiners.

However, in this case, Ms. Martin refused the ICE agents entry into her facility for reasons that have never been made clear.  This is especially insane given the nexus this all has with a terror attack that was conducted in the very same city as her office less than 24 hours earlier.

On March 16, 2016, Senator Ron Johnson, the Chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC), requested that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Homeland Security conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this monumental screw-up.  On June 1, 2016 the OIG report of the investigation was made public.

That OIG report noted, in part:

At approximately 12:20 p.m., December 3, 2015, less than 24 hours after the shooting, HSI was notified that the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), San Bernardino, CA, had developed information that Mariya Chernykh, a Russian national attempting to adjust her immigration status, was married to Enrique Marquez, an associate of Syed Rizwan Farook, and that she had an appointment at 12:30 p.m. on December 3, 2015, at the USCIS Office, San Bernardino, CA.

The JTTF believed that Marquez might accompany her to the appointment. HSI dispatched a team to go to the USCIS office to prevent any possible further attacks as well as to detain Marquez and Chernykh for questioning.

The OIG report noted that the five ICE agents were wearing tactical gear and that they explained the importance of their mission and that time was critical.  They were delayed by approximately 30 minutes and when they were finally admitted into the offices, they were brought to an interview room.

This is how the GAO report described this meeting:

The Field Office Director told the agents they were not allowed to arrest, detain, or interview anyone in the building based on USCIS policy, and that she would need to obtain guidance from her superior before allowing them access. During this exchange, the agents also spoke by phone with the Acting Chief, Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS), USCIS, Los Angeles. According to the HSI agents, he told the agents that it was USCIS policy not to arrest, detain, or interview on USCIS property.

The OIG report also noted that Ms. Martin made statements that were contradicted by statements made by others — she apparently lied to OIG investigators.  Such lies are felonies and also subject employees to dismissal.

USCIS adjudicates more than 6 million applications for various immigration benefits. This process has serious national security implications.

Page 47 of “9/11 and  Terrorist Travel: Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” includes this paragraph that draws a clear nexus between immigration fraud and national security:

“Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.” Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.

The administration has apparently decided to take action concerning Ms. Martin, however, it is not the action that would make sense. But then when has this administration taken actions that makes sense especially where immigration and terrorism are concerned?

In my March 18th article I sarcastically suggested that whoever interfered with the ongoing terror investigation should be given the Most Valuable Player Award by ISIS.  So far ISIS has not weighed in, but, unbelievably, on June 23, 2016 Fox News reported, “Immigration boss who barred feds from terror suspect up for award, but agency won’t say why.”

Here is an excerpt from report about the egregious actions of the administration:

Irene Martin heads the San Bernardino U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, where last December, she allegedly blocked five armed Department of Homeland Security agents from the man authorities say supplied the firepower in the deadly attack a day earlier. Although an Inspector General’s report found she acted improperly, and then lied to investigators, has learned she has been nominated for the Secretary’s Award for Valor.

Generally that high honor, the Secretary’s Award for Valor, is bestowed upon government employees who, acting on or off duty, put their lives at risk to save the lives of others.  It is not clear if she has been nominated in spite of her outrageous actions or because of them.

Perhaps in the twisted parallel universe of the Obama administration, Ms. Martin “stood up” to five armed ICE agents, thereby “protecting” an alleged accomplice of a massive deadly terror attack and his alien wife.  Today we not only have the lunacy of “sanctuary cities,” but apparently “Sanctuary DHS Agencies” where illegal aliens and criminals and terrorists are safe from detection and arrest.