- - Wednesday, August 14, 2013

In the various efforts to reform the U.S. immigration system, often overlooked in the debate is its impact on national security. The recent communications intercept of al Qaeda’s intent to conduct a terrorist attack or series of attacks against U.S. facilities in the Middle East and North Africa should also remind us of the likelihood of terrorist cells on American soil.

It is an acknowledged fact that since we have refused to secure our borders, we have facilitated the transit and infiltration of al Qaeda affiliated terrorists and narco-terrorists who are now living illegally in the United States. This is a serious national security issue, as manifested by the Boston Marathon bombing.

It should be equally disturbing that the Obama administration has cavalierly designated aliens — whether legal or illegal — as “customers.” According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, these “customers” are to be “fast-tracked” to “get to yes” on their applications. What this means is that the director has instructed his staff that their job in processing applications is to “get to yes,” no matter the issue. With such a directive, national security issues are obviously ignored or bypassed.

Under current rules, the legal immigration procedures are as follows:

Applications submitted with verified proof of identity.

In-person interviews must be conducted, usually by a representative of the State Department.

Applicants must submit fingerprints, which are then checked by the FBI.

Trained adjudicators run background checks through the Treasury Enforcement Communications System, which includes immigration, criminal and intelligence databases.

If derogatory information is found based on the background check, then the case is referred to Immigration and Custom Enforcement so applicants can be further investigated, located and, if warranted, placed into removal proceedings.

While the current procedures are not perfect, they are effective under normal processing procedures. However, when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives a sudden large volume of applications, as with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (President Obama’s version of the Dream Act), the following occurs:

No proof of identity is required.

No in-person interviews are conducted.

Background checks are superficial. “Hits” are not checked to determine if an arrest resulted in conviction.

Information about applicants who are denied Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status may not be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for removal processing.

Safeguards in the current application process are not only violated, but ignored under this accelerated process with an obvious adverse impact on national security. Will the Senate’s immigration-reform bill fix these problems, as well as President Obama’s version of the Dream Act? The short answer: Unlikely.

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