Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
The recasting of the Senate’s immigration reform bill as national security legislation is a farce, contends a former chief adviser to the U.S. attorney general, arguing the plan offers alien terrorists easier ways to obtain legal status and carry out attacks on Americans.
“The top priority in this bill is extending amnesty as quickly and easily as possible to as many illegal aliens as possible,” writes Kris W. Kobach, professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “The cost of doing so is to jeopardize national security.”
Kobach, former chief adviser on immigration law to Attorney General John Ashcroft, contends it’s a “certainty that many more illegal alien terrorists are quietly at work in the United States.”
He points out that in fiscal 2005, the Border Patrol apprehended 3,722 aliens from nations designated as state sponsors of terrorism or places in which al-Qaida has operated.
For every alien the Border Patrol apprehended, there likely were three aliens who were not caught, he reasons.
“If so, it is probable that more than 10,000 aliens from high-risk, terrorist-associated countries illegally entered the United States in fiscal year 2005 alone,” Kobach writes on the Heritage Foundation website. “Assuming conservatively that only one in 100 was an actual terrorist, that is still over 100 terrorists who snuck across the border in a single year.”
Bill co-sponsor Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., claims the legislation will compel all illegal aliens to come forward, and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez repeatedly has called it a “national security bill,” declaring, “We are fixing a national security problem.”
Kobach, however, calling it a “national security nightmare,” maintains the bill actually will make it easier for the terrorists by allowing them to create fraudulent identities.
Within 180 days after the president signs the legislation, the Department of Homeland Security must start issuing “probationary” Z visas, which require minimal documentation and just one business day. At this point a terrorist can choose from three options: to continue operating as an illegal alien, to obtain amnesty using his real name or to invent a clean identity with the help of the U.S. government.
Continuing to operate as an illegal alien is particularly easy, Kobach points out, if the terrorist lives in a sanctuary city in which police refuse to inform federal authorities when they come in contact with an illegal alien. Most major U.S. cities are now sanctuary cities, including New York City, Los Angeles and Detroit, which has a huge population of Middle Eastern immigrants to provide cover.
Kobach refers to the case of the Fort Dix, N.J., Islamic terrorists, who were arrested in May. The three illegal aliens in the group – who came across the Mexican border – were pulled over a total of 19 times by local police for traffic violations but never reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement because of sanctuary policies.
“If proponents of the Senate bill were seriously concerned about national security, Kobach writes, “they would include a provision in the bill denying federal law enforcement funds to sanctuary cities. Such a provision would quickly bring the lawbreaking cities back into line.”
But Kobach notes that even if an alien terrorist operates outside a sanctuary city, “the bill would not impede his operations.”
“Indeed, the Senate immigration bill will make life easier for him by reducing the risk of deportation,” he writes, “because the legislation transforms Immigration and Customs Enforcement from a law enforcement agency into an amnesty distribution center.”
That’s because an ICE agent cannot detain any illegal who appears eligible for the Z visa, which means just about all of them.
Presently, ICE can place the alien in detention and immediately initiate removal proceedings, but under the new legislation, the officer must provide the alien a reasonable opportunity to apply for the Z visa.
So if the alien terrorist is apprehended, he still has two more options, Kobach says. He could obtain the Z visa using his real name, especially if he has been operating underground and is unknown to authorities. It’s also possible for him to obtain it if he’s known to authorities, because the bill allows the government only one business day to conduct a background check on each applicant.
A background check might be feasible, Kobach writes, “if the government had a single, readily searchable database of all the world’s terrorists, but it does not.”
Worse, he says, the Government Accountability Office reported in 2006, ICE is already stretched to the breaking point by the approximately 6 million applications for immigration benefits it receives every year.
The situation is so bad, the report says, that that agents have an informal rule in which they are allowed to spend no more than six minutes on each application. The GAO concludes failure to detect fraud is already “an ongoing and serious problem” at the agency.
Moreover, if more than12 million illegal aliens apply for the amnesty within the year allowed, it would triple the incoming workload, from 6 million applications to 18 million.
The third option, to invent a clean identity, is possible because the bill contains no requirement that the alien produce a secure foreign passport proving his identity.
“In other words, a terrorist can declare that his name is ‘Rumpelstiltskin,’ or perhaps ‘Mohammed X,’ and most likely, walk out the next day with a probationary Z visa, complete with a government-issued ID card backing up his false identity,” Kobach writes.
All the terrorist needs to do is provide two easily forged pieces of paper indicating that a person of that name was in the country before Jan. 1, 2007. A pay stub, bank receipt or a remittance receipt is sufficient – or “a declaration from one of the terrorist’s friends that he was in the country before January 1, 2007.”
The new identity, backed up by an ID card issued by the federal government, would allow the alien terrorist to obtain driver’s licenses and just about any other form of identification he desires, Kobach says.
“This is essentially what the 19 9/11 hijackers did: They used their passports and visas as breeder documents to obtain 63 driver’s licenses. The documents allowed them to travel openly and board airplanes easily.”