My syndicated column today explores the persistent homeland security lapses that allow visa overstayers and deportation fugitives like the Boston-area men arrested yesterday in the Times Square bombing plot to embed themselves in the country with impunity. Since I filed the piece, there has been at least one more immigration-related arrest in connection with the counterterror investigation.
A related must-read: Jessica Vaughn at CIS has a thorough analysis of Faisal Shahzad’s immigration history: “So Easy, Anyone Can Do It.”
Our busted deportation system strikes again
by Michelle Malkin
Wouldn’t it be grand if the Obama administration cared more about policing our borders than about policing our refrigerators? How about fixing our deportation system instead of fixing our junk-food diets?
First Lady Michelle Obama argued this week that obesity is a “national security” issue. But her husband allows far greater threats to go unabated. The FBI’s arrests of two Boston-area men tied to the Times Square bombing attempt — both held on immigration violations — underscore the continuing homeland security lapses.
FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents say two men of Pakistani descent were taken into custody during a series of New England-, New York- and New Jersey-based raids on Thursday. Federal officials believe the individuals may have provided cash to Times Square bomb plotter Faisal Shahzad. One was here on an expired visa. The other was on the loose while an immigration court adjudicated his deportation and removal order. He had reportedly been ordered deported in 2002, yet managed to embed himself in American society for more than seven years. But for the ability to detain potential illegal aliens on “administrative” charges, the men most likely would have remained free.
(How convenient that the White House can choose to enforce immigration laws in the interest of public safety and then threaten to sue Arizona for stepping in and doing the same when the feds refuse to enforce those laws consistently.)
Failure to crack down on visa overstayers and failure to stop the deportation revolving door are two key security vulnerabilities that lawmakers vowed to address after 9/11.
There are currently more than 2 million illegal alien visa overstayers in the country, along with an estimated 500,000 illegal alien absconders who have ignored orders from immigration judges to leave the country. Voluntary departure policies — granting illegal aliens the privilege of deporting themselves on an honor system — have allowed countless law-breakers to remain in the country. There are federal laws mandating up to 20 years in jail for those who re-enter the U.S. illegally after being deported, but the provisions are enforced sporadically.
The endless immigration litigation system lets known deportation fugitives stay in the country pending endless appeals (just ask President Obama’s illegal alien absconder aunt Zeituni Onyango, whose 2002 asylum request was rejected and yet who remains here in taxpayer-subsidized public housing while awaiting the outcome of a second immigration hearing).
Just two months ago, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner reported on lingering obstacles to enforcement and deportation of visa overstayers and absconders, including insufficient detention capacity; limitations of its immigration database; and insufficient staffing. “While most visitors leave by the time their visas expire, many thousands remain in the United States illegally,” Skinner testified before Congress. “Overstays perpetuate the illegal immigration problem by using the visa process to break the law to remain in the United States. Moreover, some overstays represent a very real national security risk to the nation.”
Indeed, they do. The Nationwide Visa Overstayers Club includes dozens of jihadists, including 9/11 hijackers Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Hani Hanjour, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Satam al-Suqami; 1997 New York subway bomber Lafi Khalil; 1993 World Trade Center bombers Mahmud and Mohammed Abouhalima, Mohammed Salameh and Eyad Ismoil; and 1993 New York landmark bombing and conspirator Fadil Abdelgani.
Before 9/11, no comprehensive foreign visitor entry-exit tracking system existed. Open-borders lobbyists, the travel industry, civil rights absolutists and ethnic grievance groups have lobbied hard ever since to stall full implementation of coordinated databases.
The rallying cries of the May Day illegal alien marches this month implored President Obama to “Stop the raids!” and “Stop the deportations!” While their underlings launch select counterterrorism and immigration raids to track down the global network of “lone wolves,” Attorney General Eric Holder and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano have been all too happy to threaten punitive measures against local and state officials who understand that reckless immigration enforcement moratoriums carry grave domestic security consequences.
Last time I checked, the government’s fundamental duty “to provide for the common defense” did not include the qualifier “when it’s politically expedient.” Or “as long as special-interest feelings are not hurt.” Or “only after catastrophic security breaches force us to do so.” Which version of the U.S. Constitution is Team Obama reading?