2003 January 07 Tuesday
White House Groundsworker Illegal Alien Caught At Border

Michelle Malkin reports on an illegal alien who was working the White House for a couple of years after he was ordered deported as an illegal alien. Salvador Martinez-Gonzalez was caught at the Laredo, Texas border crossing with false documents when a fingerprint check identified him as having a deportation order against him.

While the Secret Service has now instituted criminal and citizenship screening procedures for all tourists (including children) who visit the White House, federal agents failed to detect an illegal alien who used a false identity and fraudulent documents and was employed for at least two years as a supervisor of tent installation for White House social events.

This illegal alien had been ordered kicked out of the county by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in February 2000, but was able to evade the law and fool both his employer and the Secret Service through petty identity fraud. He was finally caught at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, but it was no thanks to the law enforcement agents in Washington who are assigned to protect the White House from unknown intruders.

Update: Mark Steyn examines the national security implications of illegal aliens and the black market for fake IDs.

Maybe the Secret Service are right and all the fellows with "legitimate identification purchased from someone else" pose no security threat. But, in her riveting exposť of the immigration bureaucracy, Invasion, Michelle Malkin does a superb job of connecting the particular lapses of September 11th with the broader "undocumented" culture in the U.S.

One vignette is especially choice: A month before their rendezvous with destiny, two of the 9/11 killers drove to Falls Church, Virginia, to the parking lot of a 7-Eleven where "undocumented" Hispanics congregate in search of casual labour. The terrorists were in search of ID, and it pretty much fell into their lap. Luis Martinez-Flores, an illegal from El Salvador who's been in America since 1994, approached their car and offered his services. He accompanied them to the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles office, supplied the al-Qaeda guys with fake addresses for the residency forms and certified that they lived there. The ID was processed on the spot, and afterwards the trio drove back to the 7-Eleven where Hanjour and Almidhar withdrew a hundred bucks from the ATM and paid off Mr. Martinez-Flores.

America is still not entirely committed to fighting the Islamic terrorists. People do not yet believe that the threat is so great that hundreds of thousands or even millions will die from a terrorist attack. Look at the indicators. No serious attempt is being made to crack down on illegal aliens even though the methods that the job seeking illegal aliens use are many of the same methods that terrorists make use of as well. Also, the Bush Administration is proposing tax cuts in order to stimulate the economy even as the military is too stretched to deal with North Korea because it already has Iraq, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda fighters in Pakistan, peacekeeping duties in Kosovo, and assorted other commitments on its plate. A comparison to the mobilization for World War II is laughable.

We are supposed to believe that the threat is enormous (and I do). Yet its business as usual. The military's budget has grown by less than one whole GDP percentage point. Some even claim that increase is too much money even though in World War II the US dedicated over 50% of GDP to military spending. Current military spending is (at about 4% of GDP) about an order of magnitude less as percentage of GDP. Also, on assorted other public policy topics other considerations take precedence over fighting terrorism. For instance, the State Department is more concerned about inconveniencing Arab travellers than it is about preventing terrorists from entering the country. An alliance of business interests, Democratic Party activists eager for more naturalized Democrat voters, and Hispanic immigrant activists combine to ensure that increasing the flow of legal and illegal immigrant takes precedence over national security.

The inability of Al Qaeda to mount a second attack on American territory since 9/11 has lulled the public into complacency. A minority of the populace is very concerned but most people are not sufficiently worked up to make demands that override the forces that want to return to business as usual. This complacency is eventually going to cost a great many lives. The US is not going to exercise sufficient control of its borders or of its immigration process to prevent terrorists from infiltrating American society. It also seems unlikely at this point that the United States is going to do what is necessary to prevent the rise of an even greater threat of catastrophic terrorism. Programs to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proceed apace in North Korea, Iran, and very likely Libya. North Korea has already demonstrated a willingness to sell missiles and WMD technology to the highest bidder. It is not inconceivable that the North Korean regime would even sell a nuclear weapon.

Delay makes the problem harder to deal with. In 1994 Bill Clinton could have taken out the North Korean regime, albeit at considerable loss of lives. Clinton and Carter opted for a naive path of bribery instead. But the North Koreans never intended to live up to the bargain. Taking out the North Korean regime now may exact a higher price if the regime can get off some nuclear or biological weapons before it goes down (to be fair, it might have been able to do that in 1994 but to a lesser degree). An attempt to take out the North Korean regime 5 or 10 years from now after, say, its sold nuclear weapons on the black market and after it has ICBMs capable of reaching America would exact an enormously greater price.

To watch the TV news shows one would get the sense from the rhetoric that Islamic terrorism is a major concern. But against all the rhetoric and the speechifying measure what gets done and what could be done. America isn't fully mobilised to eliminate the threat of catastrophic terrorism committed by Islamic terrorists. It is not going to be until the scope of the attacks grows larger. Unfortunately, by the time the larger attacks begin the cost of victory will be much greater.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 January 07 07:31 PM  Immigration Border Control

Dan Van Zile said at January 8, 2003 4:56 PM:

Randall I disagree with you, I think the terrorist threat is overrated. All 9-11 showed, is that if one is willing to go to great lengths to die, one can cause much damage doing so. As far as future terrorist attacks, they will happen, but there is lttle one can do about it. All one can do is increase the level of difficulty for terrorists. Adding 2-3 divisions and newer missles will have no bearing on terrorism whatsoever. Concerning WMD the genie is out of the bottle and the cork cannot be put back on it. Within the next 2 years there will probably be an atomic bomb set off, probably in the Middle East or Asia. Dan

Randall Parker said at January 8, 2003 5:52 PM:

Dan, why do you think the terrorist threat is overrated? Since there are people who are willing to die shouldn't we expect new attacks?

Also, regards the nukes: Do you not believe the terrorists are going to acquired bio or nuclear weapons? Do you think the nuclear bombs will not be exploded by terrorists? And why in Asia or the Middle East rather than in the US?

The genie out of the bottle: That's like saying there are criminals and so we can't do much about it. Yet we still have police who hunt down criminals. Why? Because if we didn't then there'd be even more criminals and we'd be much bigger victims of them.

On one had you are saying there is no problem. On the other hand you sound fatalistic about our ability to control the problem.

Paul Cella said at January 9, 2003 1:39 AM:

This is a fine piece. I used it as my point of departure in this post.

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