Michael W. Cutler
Center for Immigration Studies
Before the House Committee on the Judiciary,
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
Chairman Hostettler, Ranking Member Jackson Lee, members of the subcommittee, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to come before this subcommittee hearing to offer testimony on an issue is that one of the most challenging and important issues our nation faces today. I commend Chairman Hostettler and members of this subcommittee for demonstrating true leadership at a time when our nation is in need of true leadership.
The principle by which most responsible and sensible people live their lives can be summed up by the phrase, Safety first. We instill this principle in our children as soon as they are old enough to understand the words. Yet, this fundamental and commonsense approach is clearly lacking among all too many of the senators of our nation. They voted for a bill that utterly ignores the findings and recommendations of the 911 Commission at a time when our nation is threatened by acts of terrorism. Nearly every week we read news accounts of suspected terrorists being arrested in countries around the world as well as within the borders of our own country. We see compelling coverage of bombings of trains in Spain, England and India, most recently. One of this country's closest allies, Israel, has been forced to take military action to defend itself against terrorism in the Middle East. Yet inexplicably, there are senators and others who insist on pushing forward to implement a guest worker amnesty program that would be utterly disastrous for national security.
USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that would be responsible for administering the proposed guest worker amnesty program, is unable to cope with all of its responsibilities as we speak. The GAO issued a report in March of this year, makes it clear that USCIS is unable to carry out its vital missions today, without the added burden that the guest worker amnesty program would undeniably bring to bear against that overworked, under funded and in general, inept agency. The report is entitled, Immigration Benefits: Additional Controls and a Sanctions Strategy Could Enhance DHS's Ability to Control Benefit Fraud and can be found at the following link:
I would recommend that a copy of this report be reviewed by the members of not only this subcommittee, but by all members of our government who favor a guest worker amnesty program.
My fear is that because we are dealing with millions of illegal aliens who, in the parlance of the open borders advocates, are undocumented, have no verifiable means of proving their true identities. This means that if this program were enacted, these millions of illegal aliens would be able to go to an immigration office, assume any identity they found convenient and receive official identity documents from our government. It would be a simple matter for a terrorist or criminal, to walk into such an office, provide a false name to the over-worked bureaucrat at USCIS who will probably be given only a minute or two at most to interview each applicant. The terrorist would then receive a guest-worker identity document in that new identity that would permit him to circumvent the various terrorist watch lists or so called, No fly lists and thereby embed himself in our country and gain access to what are supposed to be secure venues. Undoubtedly, these identity documents will become the most valued breeder document enabling the bearer to receive driver's licenses, credit cards, Social Security numbers and even library cards in a false name, completing the process of creating new false identities at grave risk to national security, at a time that the citizens of our country have witnessed an erosion of many of the freedoms we have come to take for granted.
I have heard the President often state that if our nation allowed aliens who simply wanted to work, to do so, that law enforcement could then focus on the terrorists. I have to respectfully disagree with this optimistic but extremely naive assessment. Awhile back, Robert S. Mueller, the Director of the FBI testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his concerns about so-called sleeper agents. As you know, a sleeper agent is a terrorist, spy or enemy combatant, who one way or the other succeeds in gaining entry into our country awaiting instructions to carry out a terrorist attack or other hostile act against our country. While awaiting his instructions, such individuals do whatever they have to do in order to not call attention to themselves. Many, as we have seen, get a low-profile job such as driving an ice cream truck or a taxi cab, work at a used car lot or attend school. Often the job they take provides them with the mobility to move freely among us as they conduct clandestine meetings, surveillance or other preparatory functions for the day they are called into action. A few days before a terrorist carries out an attack he is, in fact, likely to hide in plain sight by going to his job.
If our government makes it that much easier for a terrorist to legally get a job under an assumed identity, then Al Qaeda should give the people in our government who make this possible, the MVP Award. When we see commercials on television or ads in the newspapers for various goods or services, the ad usually concludes with a disclaimer by the provider of that product or service that details the potential negative impact that the product may have on the consumer. With all of the high-pressure sales pitches we have been bombarded with by members of the United States Senate in attempting to sell their bill, S. 2611, they have neglected to provide a disclaimer, so I will do it for them.
If we provide illegal aliens with guest worker amnesty that differentiates how we treat aliens based on how long they have been here, it will be virtually impossible to make certain that this, along with all of the other provisions, will have integrity, just as it will be impossible to make certain that many more illegal aliens don't run our borders, stow away on ships or gain entry through ports of entry, claiming that they have been here for the 5 years that would virtually provide them with the keys to the kingdom. There would be no way to force these millions of illegal aliens to leave our country because we cannot enforce their departure today. The guest worker amnesty program will undoubtedly entice ever increasing numbers of illegal aliens to head for our country because this program will convince people throughout the world that in the United States, not only will you be permitted to break the law and get away with it, we are willing to reward you for breaking the law by even providing you with Social Security benefits if you commit identity theft and work, or claim to have worked, under someone else's Social Security number, even as law enforcement agencies across our nation are increasingly turning to asset forfeiture strategies to combat a wide variety of crimes on the city, state and federal level. Moreover, there is no door that can be shut, so there is no way to keep millions of more illegal aliens from gaining access to our country. The confidentiality provisions would also hobble efforts by law enforcement officials to make certain that criminal and terrorist aliens have their applications properly scrutinized. The avalanche of applications will further erode any effort to restore integrity to the benefits system meaning that fraud will become even more attractive to criminal and terrorist aliens, further encouraging more of them to seek to enter the United States and making it easier for them to game the system to enable them to embed themselves within our country and hide in plain sight. As it is, each year the director of USCIS and his subordinates promise to reduce the backlog of pending applications for a wide variety of immigration benefits including the granting of resident alien status and the conferring of United States citizenship upon aliens. It is common knowledge that there is an inverse proportion between quantity and quality. The more work you try to do in a limited period of time, the more that the quality of the work you are doing suffers. By having USCIS make the reduction of the backlog of pending applications the priority, more fraud escapes detection. Consequently more aliens get away with committing fraud, emboldening still more aliens to file more fraudulent applications for benefits, further eroding any efforts at quality control and fraud detection. This creates an ever-increasing backlog and an ever-increasing spiral of fraud. In order to break this dangerous cycle, we need to establish a clear priority of combating fraud where those who perpetrate fraud can expect that they may well be discovered and prosecuted. Additionally, a meaningful effort needs to be made to locate, arrest and deport alien beneficiaries of fraudulent applications.
Because of the current pressure to move the applications, much of the fraud escapes detection and only a relatively infinitesimal number of aliens are ever prosecuted or deported because they were involved in immigration benefit fraud. A guest worker amnesty program that has the potential of dumping millions of more applications into the hopper at USCIS would be absolutely disastrous for any effort at combating immigration benefit fraud and restoring even a modicum of integrity to the immigration system and would fly in the face of recommendations of the 911 Commission.
As all of this is going on, our valiant soldiers are fighting in far off lands to help protect our nation against terrorists while some of our politicians at home are seemingly unwilling to secure our nation against the scourge of terrorism in the name of free trade and a desire to keep our nation's borders wide open. They use deceptive language to obfuscate the issue and, quite frankly so has the President of the United States. I have often heard the President say that he wanted to legalize immigrants. I am, as you know, a former INS special agent. This combination of words, legalizing immigrants, has confounded me. Language is important and so I think it is important to make this point. To offer to make immigrants legal is about as meaningful as offering to make water wet. Water is wet and immigrants, by legal definition, are already legal. In fact, an immigrant is defined as an alien who has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence. An immigrant has a so-called green card and is able to travel freely around our country and across our nation's borders. An Immigrant has the right to work at any job he is qualified to do. An immigrant has the right to petition the government to have his spouse join him in the United States as an immigrant and may also do this for his (her) minor children. Indeed, an immigrant is on the path to United States citizenship. How much more legal would the President want to make an immigrant?
I believe that just as the members of the Senate who voted for S. 2611 and other pro illegal alien advocates are not likely to provide a disclaimer for their remedy to the immigration crisis confronting our nation today, this improper and misleading use of the term immigrant falls under the heading of deceptive business practices. By eliminating the distinction between illegal aliens and immigrants, it becomes a simple matter to keep hammering away at the concept that America is the land of immigrants and that immigrants have made immeasurable contributions to our nation over the years. I am a strong advocate for the recognition of the contributions of immigrants to our nation, indeed, I am the son of an immigrant; however, there is a world of difference between an immigrant and an illegal alien.
There is scant difference between the bill the Senate recently passed and the disastrous Amnesty of 1986, notwithstanding the protestations of the members of the Senate who would take issue with my position. But, if they do not want to learn the lesson of relatively recent history where the Amnesty of 1986 is concerned, then I would recommend that they study much more distant history and study the strategy behind the Trojan Horse. Only a fool would permit strangers into his home without knowing their true identity or purpose for seeking to enter. Yet, this is precisely what S. 2611 facilitates. In these perilous times, this is not acceptable and must not be allowed.
In support of my concerns about the failings of USCIS I respectfully request that a copy of the GAO report I cited previously be attached to this testimony along with a press release prepared by USCIS dated June 29, 2006, entitled, A Day in the Life of USCIS that details the myriad tasks that are performed on a daily basis now, before they might have to deal with the onslaught of millions of amnesty applications that the Senate bill would cause. I have attached a copy of that press release to my prepared testimony and believe it provides ample evidence of just how USCIS is over-extended, even without the guest worker amnesty program it would be mandated to administer under the provisions of S. 2611. It may be found at the following website:
Simply stated, a guest worker amnesty program would not only attract even more illegal aliens into our country enabling terrorists and criminals to more easily blend into our country, it would also provide unknown aliens with official identity documents in assumed identities that would enable the terrorists and criminals with an easy means of creating new identities they could use to travel freely across our borders, around our nation and gain access to secure venues and embed themselves in our country. This would, I fear, create a grave risk to our nation's security.
I look forward to your questions.