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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Congressional Record: December 10, 2001 (Extensions)]
[Page E2243-E2244]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr10de01-6]                         

[[Page E2243]]

            CONGRESSIONAL IMMIGRATION REFORM CAUCUS HEARING
                                 ______                                 

                        HON. THOMAS G. TANCREDO

                              of colorado

                    in the house of representatives

                       Monday, December 10, 2001

  Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, recently the Congressional Immigration 
Reform Caucus held a hearing on INS reform, as well as the connections 
between immigration policy and terrorism. Our witnesses gave immensely 
insightful testimony. I am submitting the statement of Mr. Mike Cutler 
for the record.

         Testimony of Michael Cutler, INS Senior Special Agent

       Chairman Tancredo, members of the Congress, ladies and 
     gentlemen, I greatly appreciate this opportunity to share my 
     views and perspectives which I have acquired during my 
     roughly 30 years as an immigration officer. I would like to 
     start out by giving you an overview of my career with the 
     INS, I will summarize it for you briefly.
       I entered on duty with the INS at New York City in October, 
     1971, as an Immigration Inspector at JFKIA. I ultimately 
     spent 4 years in that assignment conducting inspections of 
     passengers arriving at that port and seeking entry into the 
     United States. During the course of that assignment I was 
     detailed for approximately one year to an examinations unit 
     known as the I-130 Unit, so-named because the applications 
     which we were adjudicating were known as I-130 Petitions. 
     These are the petitions that are filed by spouses and other 
     relatives who are seeking to obtain Lawful Permanent Resident 
     Alien status for their respective spouses, children or other 
     immediate relatives. My assignment dealt with the I-130 
     petitions which were filed by either United States citizens 
     or LPRs on behalf of their alien spouses. My goal in this 
     assignment was to seek to uncover marriage fraud in which the 
     marital relationship exists only for the purpose of providing 
     the alien beneficiary with LPR status.
       In 1975 I became a Criminal Investigator or, as it is now 
     known, a Special Agent. I have remained a Special Agent with 
     the INS since August of 1975. I have rotated through just 
     about every squad within the Investigations Branch of the INS 
     at NYC during my tenure as a Special Agent. I spent several 
     years, in the aggregate assigned to the Frauds Unit in which 
     I was responsible to uncover a variety of fraud crimes 
     involving INS issues, from fraud schemes carried out with the 
     ultimate goal of obtaining LPR status and/or U.S. 
     citizenship, to the use of fraudulent identity documents to 
     otherwise circumvent the laws enforced by the INS.
       In 1988 I was assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division 
     of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement 
     Administration. In this assignment I was responsible to work 
     cooperatively with members of the DEA and other law 
     enforcement personnel and analysts from a wide variety of 
     other agencies including members of the NYPD, New York State 
     Police, U.S. Customs Service, Internal Revenue Service, 
     Federal Bureau of Investigation, Royal Canadian Mounted 
     Police and British Customs. My assignment here lasted for 
     approximately 3 and a half years. During this assignment I 
     decided to conduct a study on the individuals who were 
     arrested by the DEA by reviewing DEA arrest records. We 
     determined that approximately 60 percent of the individuals 
     arrested by DEA and the DEA Task Force were identified as 
     being ``foreign born.'' Nation-wide approximately 30 percent 
     were identified as ``foreign born.'' For the 3 years that I 
     tracked these statistics, there were only slight variations 
     on the percentages. Although these numbers are now over 10 
     years old, I imagine that the percentages are probably not 
     much different.
       In 1991 I was promoted to my current position of Senior 
     Special Agent and assigned to the OCDETF Unit (Organized 
     Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force). This assignment requires 
     that I work with other agencies to investigate, apprehend and 
     prosecute aliens who are involved in narcotics trafficking 
     and related crimes.
       The INS is charged with the responsibility of enforcing 
     laws that govern the entry of aliens into the United States 
     as well as those laws that are involved in the granting of 
     Lawful Permanent Resident Alien status to aliens and to the 
     bestowing of U.S. citizenship on aliens.
       It is often said that you only get one opportunity to make 
     a first impression. Generally speaking, the first laws that 
     aliens entering the United States encounter are those laws 
     that the INS is supposed to enforce. When the INS fails to 
     effectively, consistently and fairly enforce these laws, we 
     are sending a very dangerous message to aliens seeking to 
     enter the United States. In effect we are telling them that 
     not only can they expect to get away with violating our laws, 
     they can anticipate being rewarded for violating our laws!
       I have come to think of the INS law enforcement program as 
     a tripod. The Border Patrol is responsible for enforcing the 
     laws between ports of entry, the Immigration Inspectors are 
     charged with the responsibility of enforcing the laws at 
     ports of entry and the Special Agents are supposed to back up 
     both of the other two divisions. Each of these components of 
     the enforcement program, in my opinion, need to be emphasized 
     equally. Just as a camera's tripod needs to have three legs 
     of equal length, the enforcement tripod needs to rest equally 
     on each of its three legs. If you shorten one of the legs on 
     your camera's tripod, it falls over. This is the reality of 
     the INS enforcement program. It seems that each time the call 
     goes out to tighten up on the enforcement of the immigration 
     laws, the typical response is to hire more border patrol 
     agents. I am a great fan of the Border Patrol, they do 
     dangerous and difficult work, however, if we do not also 
     boost resources allocated to the interior enforcement 
     mission, the entire enforcement program becomes ineffective. 
     Aliens who are illegally in the United States don't only come 
     to this country by running the border. Often, they obtain 
     visas under assumed identities or violate the terms under 
     which they were admitted after they enter the United States. 
     As we have seen with the terrorists, most of them, from what 
     I have read, appear to have entered the United States with 
     visas that were issued by the State Department and then 
     engaged in their treacherous missions. The task of tracking 
     down such aliens is purely the domain of the Special Agents.
       We also need to exploit technology to help us to track 
     aliens entering and departing the United States. We need to 
     also use this technology to help prevent aliens and other 
     criminals from creating multiple identities for themselves, 
     further complicating the law enforcement efforts of the INS 
     as well as other law enforcement organizations.
       We have heard calls recently for the implementation of a 
     student tracking system. We have similarly heard calls for 
     the INS to keep gabs on non-immigrants who violate their 
     terms of admission (or immigration status). I couldn't agree 
     more with these goals, however, I would like to know who is 
     supposed to do this work? If we simply enter this information 
     in a computerized database, we certainly will become aware of 
     violations of the Immigration laws, but then what? I presume 
     that the goal of establishing a tracking system would be done 
     to enable the INS to remove those aliens who violate their 
     Immigration status, however, without a cadre of dedicated 
     Special Agents, who will do the job? Currently, according to 
     published statistics there are fewer that 2000 Special Agents 
     of the INS nation-wide. At the present time, there are 
     approximately 100 Special Agents to cover the southern half 
     of the state of New York, including New York City.
       Clearly this situation is untenable. We need to have many 
     more Special Agents. We also need to have an agency that 
     functions effectively. At present, each district office 
     operates more as a franchise than as a component of a 
     paramilitary organization. While I agree that each office 
     needs to have some autonomy to take regional variations into 
     account, the over-all functioning of the agency should stress 
     a direct chain of command from Headquarters to each and every 
     field agent throughout the United States. Each employee needs 
     to feel that he or she is within the chain of command to 
     headquarters and the level of accountability should be 
     directly proportionate with the level that the employ works 
     at. That is to say, the higher up the chain of command, the 
     more accountable the employee needs to be. Issues of morale 
     and attrition rates which have been, in my experience, 
     virtually ignored, can no longer be ignored. A considerable 
     sum of money is spent on recruiting and training each law 
     enforcement officer of the INS. Special Agents require 
     several years from the time they are hired to the time when 
     they are truly ``up to speed'' and possess the skills and 
     abilities that they need to do their difficult and complex 
     jobs. However, for many reasons, highly qualified agents 
     often leave the INS shortly after they complete their 
     training at the Academy. This revolving door is not cost 
     effective and helps to erode morale and efficiency in those 
     offices which suffer from high attrition rates. It would seem 
     that when Special Agents resign they should be given formal 
     exit interviews to identify the issues which caused them to 
     leave. To my knowledge, this is not being done. Often the 
     agents who leave go on to other agencies where many of them 
     develop successful careers.
       The role of the Special Agents is vital. When our nation 
     was attacked on September 11, 2001, the danger posed by 
     terrorists became all too clear, however, various criminal

[[Page E2244]]

     organizations over the years have also exacted their toll 
     from our nation and our people. Go back to that statistic I 
     quoted earlier. Sixty percent of all people arrested in New 
     York City by the DEA and the DEA Task Force were identified 
     as being foreign born. Over the years, how many people may 
     have lost their lives or suffered terribly at the hands of 
     narcotics traffickers? What of the impact of other criminal 
     aliens? We have seen the rise of ethic organized crime 
     throughout or nation. How many more people have fallen victim 
     to these criminals? The most effective way of dealing with 
     these criminals is to beef up the interior enforcement 
     program of the INS. Any law enforcement agency has two 
     primary goals. Goal one is the detection of crime and the 
     successful investigation, apprehension and prosecution of the 
     criminal who commits the crime. The second goal is to be a 
     credible deterrent to those who would violate the laws which 
     fall under the jurisdiction of that law enforcement agency. 
     This goal is directly dependent on how effectively the agency 
     carries out its first goal. Without an effective interior 
     enforcement program, criminal aliens are emboldened to 
     attempt to enter our nation to commit their crimes. They are 
     not deterred by a program that lacks man-power and 
     leadership. We need to change the reality and consequently, 
     the perception. Not only to prevent future terrorist attacks, 
     but to also deter criminal activities of a wide spectrum of 
     criminals who still find America to be a ``Land of 
     Opportunity''.
       Please understand, I am not opposed to the lawful entry of 
     aliens who come to the United States to share the ``American 
     Dream'', I only take issue with those who come here in 
     violation of law and who end up creating America's 
     nightmares. Indeed, my own mother was welcomed by this 
     country shortly before the Second World War, enabling her to 
     survive, while her mother, for whom I am named, perished in 
     the Holocaust. We simply need to know who we are admitting 
     and having an agency that possesses the resources to not only 
     tracks aliens who end up violating their Immigration status, 
     but also has the resources to track them down and ultimately, 
     when appropriate, remove them from the United States. This 
     capability is a matter of nothing less than national 
     security.
                          ____________________



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