Politics & Policy

How Obama’s Amnesty Could Threaten Our National Security

At the Mexican border. (Jerry Conlin/Getty)
Experts warn of document fraud and a new wave of illegal immigration.

Veterans of the law-enforcement and intelligence communities are worried about the federal government’s ability to protect the homeland once President Obama’s executive amnesty takes effect. In interviews with NRO, they expressed concerns about rampant fraud in federal documents and the possibility of a new wave of immigrants at the southern border.

Having lived through the amnesty of 1986, James Chaparro, a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security who managed intelligence efforts across the department, warns of the potential for massive fraud. “Very frequently you see unscrupulous immigration consultants and criminal organizations taking advantage of new programs that are being implemented,” he says. “You will likely see an industry grow up around fraud.”

Chaparro, who left his position as the assistant director of intelligence at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (part of DHS) in the summer of 2013, says he expects to see instances of fraud similar to the complications that followed the 1986 amnesty.

In fact, fraud has already begun and counterfeiters are already being called upon to provide falsified records for illegal immigrants seeking to take advantage of Obama’s amnesty, says former national deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Ronald Colburn. “All this does is mask those that could or would do harm to the U.S. in the future,” he says. “The worst is yet to come.”

Right now, Colburn says, drug cartels seeking to infiltrate the United States are expanding their operations inside Mexico and around the world. The Sinaloa Cartel, Gulf Cartel, and Los Zetas are among the criminal enterprises that he says have begun training militant Islamist groups in West Africa in exchange for safe passage of the cartel’s contraband into western Europe. As a result, he says the challenge American forces face in West Africa today has shifted from a counterterrorism dilemma to a counter-narcotics-trafficking and counter-organized-crime problem — a problem the amnesty could help bring home.

Border Patrol agents are anxiously awaiting the rush of illegal immigrants that may result from the president’s executive action. Illegal immigration typically slows in the winter months, but the president’s action may encourage a new influx of foreign nationals around the end of January, says Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley, where large numbers of Central Americans illegally crossed last summer.

Shawn Moran, the National Border Patrol Council’s at-large vice president, says it’s this potential wave that concerns Border Patrol agents most. He adds that the agents are still waiting on word from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency about how their job responsibilities will change.

The Department of Homeland Security has released information about its strategy to adjust the federal government’s operations at the border in light of the president’s executive action. The plan, the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign, creates three task forces of several law-enforcement agencies designed to defend the southern border on land and sea. One of the task forces will also be responsible for investigations that support the operations of the other two task forces.

The professionals are still skeptical. Chaparro says he is not sure that ICE or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, which will handle much of the amnesty, are equipped to deal with the problems inside the country that will result from the president’s action. Colburn, who has more than 30 years’ experience working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, agrees: “The No. 1 crime in America is still identity theft, and the No. 1 customer of that crime is still the illegal alien, and those are the ones this president just said he is going to give a pass to.”

While testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson said preventing the deportation of illegal immigrants via executive action was “simple commonsense” and added that he was “fully comfortable” with the executive branch’s authority to implement the executive action. Many of those responsible for implementing the action clearly are not.

— Ryan Lovelace is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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