Michael Cutler | Front Page Magazine

1]On May 6, 2015 Fox News reported, “Purported ISIS warning claims terror cells in place in 15 states.” [2]
Here is how that ominous report began:

A grim online warning from a self-described American jihadist said Sunday’s terror attack in Texas was the work of ISIS and that the terrorist group has scores of “trained soldiers” positioned in 15 states, awaiting orders to carry out more operations.

The warning, which was posted on a file-sharing site, could not be verified, but was signed by Abu Ibrahim Al Ameriki. That name matches the moniker of a shadowy American known to have joined a terrorist group in Pakistan several years ago and who has appeared in propaganda videos before. The chilling threat named five of the states where it is claimed that ISIS has terror cells in place.

News coverage about this threat included statements by the administration that it was prepared to pay millions of dollars to anyone who could provide information to enable them to locate leaders of terror organizations. Monetary payments for information is a good strategy. However, although it is not generally known, immigration benefits or visas for aliens illegally present in the United States and their families can provide a far greater incentive to get aliens to provide vital information. I base this assessment on my personal experience.

I spent roughly half of my career involved in conducting investigations into large-scale narcotics trafficking organizations. I had a desk at the DEA, FBI and ATF. One of my key responsibilities was to use my authority as an INS agent to identify and cultivate informants and cooperators.

The administration’s outrageous immigration policies have largely undermined this important and highly successful incentive. Consider that the administration is willing to provide just about any illegal alien with the ability to remain in the United States and even be granted employment authorization.

I addressed the nexus between immigration enforcement and the cultivation of intelligence in my November 10, 2014 article for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), “Lack of Intelligence in Failures to Enforce Immigration Laws.” [3]

In its continuing coverage of this threat, Fox News interviewed Congressman Peter King on the day that the above article was posted on the Fox News website. King had been the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and currently is a member of the Homeland Security Committee [4] and Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence [5]. He also serves on the Financial Services Committee [6] and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence [7].

The interview included a discussion about the dangers associated with the Visa Waiver Program and the threat posed by terror “sleeper cells.” My article, “Sleeper Cells: The Immigration Component of the Threat,” [8] was published by FrontPage Magazine on January 23, 2015 and addressed this serious vulnerability.

The visa process requires aliens who seeks to enter the United States to complete an application that contains approximately 40 questions and is interviewed, in person, by a consular official. Aliens who are eligible to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program do not fill out that application and face no in-person interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy.

On 9/11 the Visa Waiver Program permitted aliens from 26 countries to enter the United States without first applying for a visa. Today that list has been expanded to cover 38 countries.

Given the severity of the threats posed by international terrorists, the Visa Waiver Program should have been terminated and not expanded. However, a new threat to national security has been created within the past two years. That threat is a program known as  Automated Passport Control (APC) [9]. Under this program, aliens who are eligible to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program may now enter the United States by interacting with a kiosk that looks similar to an ATM and is not to be confused with “Robo-Cop.”

Installing these kiosks began in March 2013 at international airports around the United States and the list of airports using these devices has been expanding ever since.

It is worth noting that the program references “controlling passports” but ignores the term “immigration.” Do we need to control passports or aliens who enter the United States?

This is yet another example of Orwellian Newspeak. The term “alien” has all but been expunged from the conversation except, of course, when we talk about “DREAMers” (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). Now the term immigration is about to be eradicated as well. In point of fact, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) had moved most of their special agents to a new subdivision known as HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) to expunge that apparently offensive term (immigration) from the vernacular.

The 9/11 Commission Report [10] addressed the importance of the immigration inspections process conducted at ports of entry noting:

Inspectors at the ports of entry were not asked to focus on terrorists. Inspectors told us they were not even aware that when they checked the names of incoming passengers against the automated watchlist, they were checking in part for terrorists. In general, border inspectors also did not have the information they needed to make fact-based determinations of admissibility.The INS initiated but failed to bring to completion two efforts that would have provided inspectors with information relevant to counterterrorism—a proposed system to track foreign student visa compliance and a program to establish a way of tracking travelers’ entry to and exit from the United States.

On November 20, 2013 ABC News reported, “Exclusive: US May Have Let ‘Dozens’ of Terrorists Into Country As Refugees.” [11] This was not a new problem. On July 13, 2011 the Washington Times published a truly disturbing article, “Visas reviewed to find those who overstayed — Aim is to find any would-be terrorists.” [12]

I began my career with the INS in 1971 as an Immigration Inspector assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport. After a four-year stint in that position I became an INS Special Agent.

My colleagues and I were expected to complete an inspection of an arriving alien in one minute or less.  This process was called into question by the 9/11 Commission.

Now, bowing to obvious pressure from the same greed-motivated executives of the United States Chamber of Commerce and the CEO’s of companies in the hotel, hospitality and travel industries, who have joined that extremely cash-heavy lobbying outfit in an unholy alliance known as the “Discover America Partnership” [13] that pushed for the expansion of the dangerous Visa Waiver Program, we now have millions of aliens entering the United States each year with the electronic nod of a machine.

The executives of these industries know nothing about national security. They are the “leaders” who are supposed to arrange for room service and clean linen in hotel rooms. Nevertheless, their demands — that ill-conceived programs be implemented to hopefully increase their profits — are being met by the administration and politicians who have put their campaign contributions over national security and public safety.

The Visa Waiver Program is supposed to attract more tourists and likely more illegal foreign workers who ignore the terms of their admission into the United States, and the insane APC is designed to speed the flow of passengers into the United States and create a business opportunity for some companies. This may be good in the short-term for business but potentially catastrophic for national security.

Unbelievably, the vital inspections process conducted as ports of entry is now obviously viewed as a nuisance to be dispensed with as quickly as possible and not as an important layer of security for our nation and our citizens in a very dangerous era.

The face-to-face interaction between an inspector and an alien seeking admission is invaluable in finding aliens whose documentation may have been in order, but whose intentions were anything but honorable. That brief interview provides the inspector with an irreplaceable opportunity to review entry and exit stamps in the passport of the alien seeking entry into the United States. This is especially important in light of concerns about finding aliens who may have traveled to the Middle East to be trained in terror tactics. How will a machine carry out this important segment of the inspections process?

You must remember that for the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Inspector, just as was the case for the old INS Inspectors, the intentions of the people entering the United States are critical. A police officer seeks the suspect of a crime that has been already committed. The inspectors at ports of entry seek evidence of an individual intending to violate laws. This is a critical job, is difficult and represents America’s first line of defense and last line of defense against international terrorists and transnational criminals.

How on earth can a machine determine the intentions of a human being when this is a difficult task for our enforcement personnel who often have to work for years to acquire real proficiency in this mission that is as much an art as a science?

Let us now consider some background information.

That ISIS and other terrorist organizations have their sights on the U.S. mainland is not a news bulletin.

On August 28, 2014 CBS News (Washington, DC) published the article, Expert: ISIS Could Carry Out ‘Mass Slaughter In The United States’ [14] that highlighted the threats posed to the United States by international terrorists.

The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel [15] (monograph) focused on the way that the terrorists traveled across international borders as they went about their deadly preparations. The report examined the inspections process conducted at ports of entry, visa fraud, immigration benefit fraud and other elements of the immigration system. These failures have not been remedied and, in fact, have been exacerbated by the administration’s policies.

Here is an excerpt from that report that makes the above issues crystal clear:

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.

It has been estimated that nearly half of the illegal aliens in the United States did not run our borders, but were admitted into the United States and then went on to violate the terms of their admission. While the often-cited statistic of 40% is the percentage of aliens who violate the terms of their admission as compared with aliens who entered the United States without inspection, the reality is that we don’t know what we don’t know.

We have no accurate way of determining just how many illegal aliens are actually present in the United States. For years we have been told that there are 11 million illegal aliens present in the United States, yet every day unknown thousands are gaining entry without being inspected at ports of entry.

Additionally because of the failure by DHS to complete US-VISIT a program was supposed to track the arrival and departure of nonimmigrant aliens and was required by the immigration reform legislation in 1996 and highly recommended by the 9/11 Commission as no less than a matter of national security.

After a decade of work and the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, primarily to an offshore company, Accenture, we still have no idea as to the actual number of illegal aliens who are present in the United States who had been lawfully admitted.

It is worth pointing out that US-VISIT was replaced in March 2013 by a new program known as Office of Biometric Identity Management [16].

The point is that there are millions of illegal aliens present in the United States who were lawfully admitted. This huge number of aliens who violate the terms of their admission provides clear and unequivocal evidence that the inspections process conducted at ports of entry is not effective.

On May 11, 2006 I testified before a Congressional hearing conducted by the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the topic, “Visa Overstays: Can We Bar the Terrorist Door?” [17]

On July 12, 2011 Californians for Population Stabilization posted my article, “Visa Waiver Program Endangers our Safety and Security.” [18] In my commentary I enumerated a list of benefits to national security that an effectively managed visa process could provide to enhance national security. These benefits are all lost when aliens are not subject to that important visa requirement.

The United States was attacked twice in 1993 by international terrorists from the Middle East who had easily gamed the visa process and immigration benefits program. This was more than 20 years ago. The continuing failures to address these vulnerabilities left America wide open to the terrorist attacks that would follow on September 11, 2001.

It was known that visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud were among the vulnerabilities that made the 9/11 attacks possible. In fact, on May 20, 1997, more than four years before the attacks of 9/11, the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims conducted a hearing that was predicated on the two attacks of 1993 at the CIA in January and the first World Trade bombing one month later, on the topic:”Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefits Application Fraud [19].”

I testified at that hearing and I raised my concerns and frustration with the failure of the old INS to make use of biometrics to verify the identities of aliens who frequently used biometrics to conceal their true identities. That hearing was held nearly two decades ago and we are still struggling with implementing a program to protect our nation and our citizens from the very real, immediate and growing threats posed by international terrorists and transnational criminals.

On April 6, 2015 FrontPage Magazine published my article, “Connecting the Dots: Iran, Immigration & National Security » [20] How Obama is empowering state sponsors of terror — and weakening our first line of defense.”

Consider how APC and its spinoff, MPC (Mobil Passport Control) is being touted:

Mobile Passport Control

Ready to breeze through Customs?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has introduced a mobile application for U.S. and Canadian citizens called Mobile Passport Control (MPC) [21]. It isthe first authorized app to expedite a traveler’s arrival into the U.S. Eligible travelers submit their passport information and customs declaration form to CBP via a smartphone or tablet app prior to arrival. Android and iPhone users can download the MPC app for free from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Much like Automated Passport Control (APC), MPC does not require pre-approval, is free to use and does not collect any new information from travelers. Travelers opting to use the app will no longer have to complete a paper customs declaration form and will have access to a designated MPC lane to clear customs instead of entering the traditional CBP processing lanes. As a result, travelers will experience shorter wait times, less congestion and faster processing.

There is not a single word about how this improves national security or how it will help to lower the rates of aliens who are lawfully admitted into the United States and go on to violate the terms of their admission into our country.

At a time when our nation and our citizens are under the imminent threat of terrorism, our borders and our immigration system must be thought of as a defensive weapons to defend us and not simply as an impediment to profit. Nor should kiosks be deployed to generate profits for the companies that own and operate them.

The nonsense about first “securing the border” — the border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico — before providing millions of illegal aliens with lawful status while blithely ignoring all of the other threats posed by the myriad failures of the immigration system must be replaced by a massive change in orientation and philosophy.

I addressed the many components of the dysfunctional immigration system that go well beyond the obvious failure of the administration to secure the US/Mexican border in my article for the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s FrontPage Magazine, “Border Security and the Immigration Colander.” [22]

I have come to compare the issue of securing the US/Mexican border with a wing on an airplane. Without the wing, the airplane will not, of course, fly. However, a wing by itself goes absolutely nowhere. We have 50 border states and our nation must address the abject lack of integrity to be found in the entire immigration system.

Furthermore, the policies of the administration to provide illegal aliens with identity documents and lawful status without a face-to-face interview or field investigations undermine national security and public safety.

I addressed this issue in my December 19, 2014 article for Californians for Population Stabilization:

“Obama’s ‘Gift’ to International Terrorists: Immigration Executive Action.” [23]

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here are two pictures worth considering. How would you rather our borders, and consequently our nation and our citizens, be protected?

Border Security 1 Border Security 2


SOURCE: Front Page Magazine


Michael W. Cutler is a former Special Agent with the INS, where his career spanned nearly 30 years. Mr. Cutler has provided expert witness testimony at more than a dozen Congressional hearings. He has testified before the 9/11 Commission and regularly provides expert testimony at state legislative hearings and in trials where immigration is at issue. Michael Cutler can be reached through his website, www.michaelcutler.net that contains his commentaries, Congressional testimony and links to his appearances on national television news programs and other public venues.