Nothing compromises our domestic defense against Islamic terrorism more than our failure to control who enters the country. The alien-smuggling trade is the "sea in which terrorists swim," explains David Cohen, the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and an ex-CIA expert on al Qaeda.
Shouldn't guarding public safety be the Department of Homeland Security's sole "priority mission" ?
A glance at a tiny section of the northern border, separating Vermont and a small part of New York from Canada, makes clear how lackluster the government's response to illegal entry remains.
Every week, agents in the border patrol's Swanton sector catch Middle Easterners and North Africans sneaking into Vermont. And every week, they immediately release those trespassers with a polite request to return for a deportation hearing. Why? The Department of Homeland Security failed to budget enough funding for sufficient detention space for lawbreakers.
In May alone, Swanton agents released illegal aliens from Malaysia, Pakistan, Morocco, Uganda and India without bond. Since all these aliens chose to evade the visa process, none has had a background check by a consular official that might have uncovered terrorist connections. All are now at large in the country.
Since the government is so pathetic that it can't even hold Middle Eastern illegal aliens who are caught crossing the border then any terrorists with the financial resources to make it to a US border is almost certain to be able to make it into the United States and start living here.
Better border walls and fences would reduce the number of people that would need to be held for deportation since fewer would manage to make it across the border in the first place. But combine a larger capacity for holding illegals with more border patrol agents to capture ilegals and then terrorists and other illegal entrants would be far less likely to make it into the interior of the United States. Also, if there was more enforcement of immigration law in the interior then more illegals who are already living here would be caught.
The inspector general's letter confirms worries about the impact of ICE's budget shortfalls on agency morale first reported last month by The Washington Times. The results of the audit were first reported by Congressional Quarterly's Homeland Security newsletter.
ICE officials are continuing a hiring freeze and a ban on all "non-mission-critical" travel or other expenditures, instituted earlier this year. Some training has been suspended, agency spokesman Dean Boyd said, but the measures did not affect ongoing investigations.
They said ICE's investigative efforts have undergone a "functional paralysis," noting that while the fiscal 2005 budget called for a $300 million increase, ICE canceled all training, let go personnel at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, implemented a hard hiring freeze, ordered its cars parked, ended Spanish-language training for investigators, and limited spending and investigative activities.
Nearly two years after ICE's creation, there has been little reconciliation between former Customs and former INS agents now assigned to the agency — most of whom still refer to themselves as either "legacy Customs" and "legacy INS," but not ICE.
Immigration agents in ICE are now pulled away from immigration investigations to do customs investigations of illegal smuggling of CDs and DVDs.
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. of The Heritage Foundation and David Heyman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies have co-authored a report on homeland security reform entitled DHS 2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland Security (pdf format) which argues for a major reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security to reduce management layers and bureaucratic infighting.
Putting it bluntly, the current organization of DHS must be reformed because it hampers the Secretary of Homeland Security’s ability to lead our nation’s homeland security efforts. The organization is weighed down with bureaucratic layers, is rife with turf warfare, and lacks a structure for strategic thinking and policymaking. Additionally, since its creation, whether one looks at the department’s capacity to organize and mobilize a response to a catastrophic terrorist attack or at the international dimension of DHS programs, the department has been slow to overcome the obstacles to becoming an effective 21st century national security instrument.
Prior to the creation of DHS, seven agencies (among others) were involved in securing U.S. borders, enforcing immigration laws, and securing the transportation system: the U.S. Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Executive Office of Immigration Review, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Coast Guard, TSA, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Agency missions overlapped to greater or lesser extents, and because the agencies resided in different Cabinet departments, it was difficult to resolve operational and policy conflicts without open turf warfare or resorting to the cumbersome interagency process.
The creation of DHS was supposed to consolidate agencies with overlapping missions and to better integrate our efforts in this area. It has succeeded to some degree. INS has been abolished, and its border inspectors and Border Patrol Agents have been merged with most of U.S. Customs and the border inspectors of APHIS to create U.S. Customs and Border Protection—a single uniformed face at our borders.
However, in “consolidating” responsibility for border, immigration, and transportation security, DHS actually increased the number of involved agencies to eight and created additional problems that now need solving. In addition, it has failed to clearly delineate the missions of DHS agencies that also have border, immigration, or transportation security responsibilities.
Additionally, the split of responsibilities between the CBP and ICE was done without a compelling reason—other than the vague (and ultimately incorrect) descriptive notion that the Customs and Border Protection would handle “border enforcement” and ICE would handle “interior enforcement.” Indeed, in various interviews, not one person has been able to coherently argue why the CBP and ICE were created as separate operational agencies. Indeed, some have compared it to deciding to break up the New York Police Department into two separate agencies —one housing the uniformed “beat cops” (analogous to the CBP’s uniformed officers) and the other housing the detectives (analogous to ICE’s plain-clothes investigators).
Complicating the border security picture is the unclear mission of the TSA. While most Americans associate TSA with baggage screeners at airports, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act that created TSA also makes it responsible “for security in all modes of transportation,” including ensuring the “adequacy of security measures for the transportation of cargo.” This has injected TSA into the realm of border security and created friction with other DHS agencies historically in charge of securing the movement of cargo into the United States—the Coast Guard and CBP. The BTS has not been particularly effective in clearly delineating the relative responsibilities of the CBP and TSA (and it has no authority over the Coast Guard), resulting in policy impasses such as the fights about who is responsible for moving forward on “smart” containers and who is in charge of such programs as Operation Safe Commerce.
Carafano and Heyman want CBP and ICE to be merged into a single agency. This would tend to reduce the distinction now drawn between catching illegal aliens at the border versus in the interior. So I expect the "Open Borders" crowd to oppose such a rational move.
Merger of CBP and ICE would probably help. But it would help even more if the combined CBP and ICE was given authority from their political masters to round up as many illegal aliens as they can manage to capture. When 12 men from the Temecula Border Patrol station rounded up 450 illegal aliens in 3 days (amazing!) higher-ups responded to Hispanic interest group complaints and stopped the sweeps. So the illegals could be rounded up and deported if only the government allowed CBP and ICE agents to go after the illegals with enthusiasm.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 December 20 03:55 PM Immigration Terrorism|