before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Citizenship on
improve co-operation between local police forces and
federal immigration officials—which, incredibly, is now
virtually non-existent. Did you think there was a war
Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for
the privilege of testifying before this subcommittee.
Senate Bill 1906, the Homeland Security Enhancement Act,
closely tracks many of the recommendations I made in my
Invasion on how to fix systemic failures to
detect, detain, and deport immigration violators who
undermine our safety and our values.
I approach today`s topic from two
levels—as an investigative journalist who has reported
extensively on the
consequences of lax immigration enforcement, and as
a second-generation American whose immigrant parents
arrived legally in this great country three decades ago.
My professional interest has been
the exposure of weaknesses, lapses, loopholes, and
obstacles in our immigration system that imperil public
safety and national security. My personal
interest—shared by untold numbers of naturalized
Americans and their families—is in seeing these problems
remedied effectively so that the American dream remains
accessible to those who embrace freedom and respect the
rule of law.
The “Other Wall”
There has been much public debate
over the past few weeks about the “wall” of
separation between the CIA and FBI. This bureaucratic
barricade between agencies prevented crucial
information-sharing about potential terrorist threats.
Three thousand innocent men, women, and children paid
for this policy with their lives on September 11, 2001.
USA PATRIOT Act tore down this infamous wall, but
there is another dangerous barrier that impedes
communications between investigators and undermines our
safety and security: the
perceived wall between federal immigration
authorities and state and
local law enforcement officials. Terrorists and
criminal aliens alike have benefited directly and
indirectly from this barrier.
When September 11 hijackers Hani
Hanjour and Khalid Almihdhar needed help getting
fraudulent government-issued photo IDs before embarking
on their suicide mission, they hopped into a van and
headed to the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store in Falls
Church, Va. That`s where scores of
migrant day laborers—often
erroneously referred to as "undocumented"—ply
bogus identity papers to other illegal aliens from
around the world.
During my research, I visited this
7-Eleven. It is a stone`s throw from the Pentagon, where
Hanjour and Almihdhar deliberately crash-landed American
Airlines Flight 77. The parking lot was, as usual,
filled with “undocumented”
Local cops I interviewed suspect
that most of these men are here illegally and that they
continue to facilitate trade in fake identification
documents. But nobody arrests them.
This is an
all-too-familiar scene from the border states to the
heartland. Public officials talk tough about the need
for improved cooperation among local, state and federal
authorities to secure the homeland. Yet, several areas
of the country serve as safe havens for criminal
aliens—and as magnets for immigration outlaws with even
more nefarious aspirations.
The overwhelming majority of
illegal aliens, of course, have no connection to
terrorism. But they are
breaking the law. And one of the key lessons of 9/11
was that our continued high tolerance for massive
illegal immigration gives terrorists and criminal aliens
Remember: More than half of the 48
Islamic radicals convicted or tied to recent terrorist
plots in the United States
over the past decade either were themselves illegal
aliens or relied on illegals to get fake IDs.
participated in the
first attack on the World Trade Center, the Los
Millennium bombing plot, and the New York
subway bombing conspiracy. Three of the 9/11
hijackers were here illegally; two had previous
immigration violations. [VDARE.COM
comment: Actually, they were all illegal. None of
them told visa officials the truth—that their real
intent in coming was to fly planes into buildings.]
Many of these operatives who were
here in violation of our immigration laws were not under
investigation for terrorism at the time they hatched and
carried out their plots. Three 9/11 hijackers—Mohammed
Atta, Hani Hanjour, and Ziad Jarrah—came into contact
with state and local police before the attacks for
speeding. Atta and Hanjour were visa violators.
How many lives might have been
saved if there had been collaboration between local or
state law enforcement officers and the feds to detain
them on immigration charges?
Victims of the Other Wall
The dangerous public-safety impact
of the Other Wall reaches beyond terrorism. Illegal
aliens, some with long criminal records, were the
perpetrators of the savage gang-rape of a
Queens mother in
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park last December. The NYPD
had previously arrested three of the illegal aliens
numerous times for such crimes as assault, attempted
robbery, criminal trespass, illegal gun possession, and
drug offenses. But in keeping with the tradition of the
Other Wall, local cops never notified the then-INS.
If a local/federal cooperation
scheme had been in place, some of the accused might have
been turned over to
federal immigration authorities for deportation
before the rape occurred.
Last spring, I reported on the case
David Montiel Cruz a.k.a. Enrique Sosa Alvarez, an
illegal alien from Mexico who dragged a 9-year-old girl
from her San Jose, Calif., home in broad daylight, and
is charged with kidnapping and raping her over three
days. Cruz is scheduled to stand trial later this
summer. The case stands out as a textbook example of the
continued failures of interior immigration enforcement.
According to the
San Jose Police Department`s official policy manual,
under section L7911 of the line and operations
procedure, officers may not "initiate police action
when the primary objective is directed towards
discovering the alien status of a person."
Translation: San Jose cops are prevented from
proactively contacting federal immigration authorities
if they suspect violations of immigration law in the
course of their duties.
"Our department is very lenient"
when it comes to illegal aliens, San Jose Police
Department spokeswoman Katherine Unger told me. In fact,
San Jose is one of the police departments that refused
to cooperate with the
Justice Department`s effort to interview thousands
of illegal aliens from terror-friendly and
terror-sponsoring nations in the wake of the Sept. 11
"We don`t do anything on
immigration," Unger lamented. "It`s not, you
know, politically correct. It`s frustrating.”
It`s important to note that the
Other Wall is not just a one-way obstruction. In untold
instances, cops have risked punishment by their
politically correct superiors and reached out to federal
immigration authorities—only to be ignored or rebuffed.
On Memorial Day weekend 2002, for
example, with the nation on high alert, NYPD officers
contacted the then-INS and attempted to turn in seven
illegal aliens from the Middle East who had been
arrested with false IDs in a dilapidated van near a
major tunnel. The agency
ordered furious cops to release the men who were all
admitted illegal aliens.
Just this week, four illegal aliens
from Mexico suspected of felony crimes walked free in
White County, Arkansas, after federal immigration
officials explained to local law enforcement officers
that they cannot automatically expel the men just
because they are illegal.
"I had to hand this guy his car
keys and allow him to walk out the door," Detective
Randy Rudisill said. "He is not even supposed to be
in this country, and he admitted he was here illegally,
but we can`t do a thing about it. Our hands are tied."
Even if every state were to enter
into cooperative agreements with the federal government
to train the nation`s 600,000 state and local law
enforcement officers to enforce immigration law, little
would change without an effective system of detention
and deportation that puts an end to the standard
procedure of “catch and release.” This policy
undermines homeland security and has cost lives:
Victor Manuel Batres Martinez a.k.a. Maximiliano
Silerio Esparza, an illegal alien from Mexico, was
convicted a year ago on charges of brutally raping two
nuns who were praying on a walking path in Klamath
Falls, Ore.—and then strangling one of them to death
with her own rosary beads. Esparza had been detained
twice last year by the U.S. Border Patrol, but was
released both times. Martinez/Esparza was let loose
under the federal government`s cost-saving
catch-and-release policy. He previously served time in
jail in California, had been arrested later in Portland
on drug charges, and had an outstanding warrant for his
arrest at the time of the alleged rapes and murder.
mandates that immigration authorities detain
criminal aliens with extensive rap sheets such as
Martinez/Esparza`s until their deportation outside the
U.S. But following standard procedure, Esparza was set
free in violation of the law.
- Two years ago next week, Los
Angeles sheriff`s deputy
David March pulled over Armando Garcia for a routine
traffic stop in a San Gabriel Valley suburb. Garcia
walked toward the officer, pulled out a 9 mm
semiautomatic pistol, and fired at close range several
times before fleeing. The deputy died of gunshot wounds
to the head. Garcia was an illegal alien from Mexico who
had been previously deported three times in 1992, 1994
and 2001 and convicted of two felonies while in America.
Garcia had an extensive criminal history, from drug
dealing and weapons violations to suspected murder.
"standard procedure," neither the INS nor the
U.S. Attorney`s Office in Los Angeles took any measures
to keep Garcia off the streets and enforce a federal law
requiring criminal prosecution for illegal re-entry into
the United States. Garcia
remains a fugitive.
- In August 2002, Miguel Angel
Heredia Juarez, an illegal alien from Mexico, was
convicted for viciously raping and beating a 19-year
old North Bend, Wash., woman. Juarez was on probation at
the time, after serving time in prison for threatening
to kill someone. Juarez had been previously convicted of
four other felonies, including theft and assault, since
illegally crossing the Mexican border five years ago.
Criminal aliens are supposed to be taken immediately
into INS custody after serving their sentences, but as
the Justice Department`s Inspector General reported, the
INS lets tens of thousands of them
run loose. In fact, following "standard
procedure," federal immigration authorities` failure
to track foreign-born inmates led to the release of
35,318 criminal aliens into the general population in
2000—roughly one-third of whom went on to commit
Finally, for aliens actually
ordered deported in Immigration Court, who were not
relief from removal, and who exhausted all of their
lengthy appeals, the Justice Department`s inspector
- 97 percent of all asylum-seekers from ANY country
who were released from immigration custody were never
apprehended again by the federal government, and were
- 94 percent of aliens from
terrorist-supporting countries who were released
from immigration detention were never found again, and
were never deported;
- and 87 percent of all aliens
released from immigration custody were never caught
again, and were never deported.
Even when deportation absconders
are tracked down, for example, they are often let go
because there`s nowhere to put them. One official of a
bonding company said the feds were freeing 50 percent of
the aliens he had been ordered to track down and turn in
since September 11.
Arresting and detaining illegal
aliens and criminal alien residents is long overdue. But
as long as catch-and-release is the order of the day,
all the help in the world from local and state officers
won`t help federal immigration authorities control the
The bottom line is that increased
enforcement and collaboration cannot succeed without
greatly expanding the federal government`s current
20,000-bed detention capacity.
Breaching the Other Wall: The
What happens when the wall between
federal immigration authorities and local law
enforcement officers is surmounted? In at least one
case, the decision likely saved untold lives. A year and
a half ago, I reported on the extraordinary
circumstances surrounding convicted
D.C.-area snipers Lee Malvo and John Mohammed.
On Dec. 19, 2001, Bellingham,
Wash., police detective Al Jensen called the Border
Patrol for assistance during a domestic dispute
involving Malvo, his mother, and Mohammed. The detective
suspected that Malvo and his mother were illegal aliens;
Olson and Ruiz confirmed their unlawful status and
processed them as deportable aliens. Malvo and his
fingerprinted and photographed (and later released
pending deportation proceedings against the
recommendation of the Border Patrol).
As we all know now, Malvo and
Mohammed went on to carry out a bloody rampage that
terrorized the greater Washington, D.C. area and took
the lives of ten innocent people.
The toll probably would have been
higher if not for police detective Jensen`s decision to
call the Border Patrol and have Malvo processed as an
illegal alien. Malvo`s prints, taken by the Border
Patrol and filed in the former INS/now-BICE database
called IDENT, were found at an Alabama liquor store
crime scene. The prints were critical in unraveling the
Neither Det. Jensen nor the Border
Patrol agents could have foreseen the havoc Malvo helped
create. But in the course of doing their jobs together,
one local cop and
two federal immigration officers may have averted an
even greater public-safety disaster by just doing their
This kind of unimpeded
collaboration is especially necessary in a
post-September 11 era when the Department of Homeland
Security`s interior enforcement forces remain woefully
understaffed and rampant illegal immigration remains
unchecked. According to the former INS` statistical
yearbook, the federal government sent home 184,775
illegal aliens and criminal alien residents in the year
2000. But over 800,000 illegal aliens were entering the
country illegally every year during the late 1990s.
BICE`s 2,000 interior enforcement agents are no match
for this onslaught.
The Malvo case underscores the
importance of basic, routine cooperation between local
and state police and federal immigration authorities.
Police officers are sworn to uphold the law and to
enforce it when they have reason to believe that the law
is being broken. Local police do not sit back and watch
bank robbers escape because they lack jurisdiction over
a federal crime. A state trooper wouldn`t look the other
way if he spotted someone breaking into a US Postal
Service mailbox or committing arson in a national
forest. Just because immigration law enforcement is not
a local cop`s primary responsibility does not mean that
he must or should ignore indications that these federal
laws are being broken.
Senate Bill 1906, the Homeland
Security Enhancement Act, would help break down the
“Other Wall” by affirming the inherent authority of
states and their political subdivisions to apprehend,
arrest, detain or transfer illegal aliens to federal
It would increase criminal
penalties for illegal entry into the US; improve
information-sharing among local, state, and federal law
enforcement officials on immigration violators; and it
would address the federal detention space crunch.
These steps all reflect a
fundamental principle that must be adopted to make
homeland security meaningful—namely, that immigration
law-breaking must carry real consequences in a
post-September 11 world.
Michelle Malkin [email
her] is author of
Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists,
Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores.
here for Peter Brimelow`s review. Click
here for Michelle Malkin`s website.
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