Im­mi­gra­tion agents ac­cused of aid­ing Is­lamists

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Sara Carter

A crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­port says sev­eral U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices em­ploy­ees are ac­cused of aid­ing Is­lamic ex­trem­ists with iden­ti­fi­ca­tion fraud and of ex­ploit­ing the visa sys­tem for per­sonal gain.

The con­fi­den­tial 2006 USCIS re­port said that de­spite the sever­ity of the po­ten­tial se­cu­rity breaches, most are not in­ves­ti­gated “due to lack

of re­sources” in the agency’s in­ter­nal af­fairs de­part­ment.

“Two Dis­trict Ad­ju­di­ca­tions Of­fi­cers are al­legedly in­volved with known (redacted) Is­lam ter­ror­ist mem­bers,” said the in­ter­nal doc­u­ment ob­tained by The Wash­ing­ton Times.

The group “was re­spon­si­ble for nu­mer­ous rob­beries and used the heist money to fund ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties. The Dis­trict Ad­ju­di­ca­tions Of­fi­cers made nu­mer­ous DHS data­base queries to track (Alien)File move­ment and check on the ap­pli­cants’ sta­tus for (redacted) mem­bers and as­so­ciates.”

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, other po­ten­tial se­cu­rity fail­ures in­clude re­ports that:

Em­ploy­ees are shar­ing de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on in­ter­nal se- cu­rity mea­sures with peo­ple out­side the agency.

A Le­banese cit­i­zen bribed an im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer with air­line tick­ets for visa ben­e­fits.

A USCIS of­fi­cer in Har­ling­ton, Texas, sold im­mi­gra­tion doc­u­ments for $10,000 to as many as 20 peo­ple.

A USCIS em­ployee, who wished to re­main anony­mous for fear of reprisal, said many of the com­plaints in the mul­ti­page doc­u­ment are as many as three years old.

“Ter­ror­ists need im­mi­gra­tion doc­u­ments to em­bed in our so­ci­ety and work here with­out rais­ing alarm bells,” said the em­ployee.

“Whether through brib­ing an im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer, an em­ployee with the de­part­ment of mo­tor ve­hi­cles, or uti­liz­ing highly ef­fec­tive coun­ter­feit doc­u­ments pro­duced by the Mex­i­can drug car­tels. They are al­ways look­ing for that doc­u­men­ta­tion to live amongst us.”

Bill Wright, spokesman with USCIS, said that he could not com- ment on any on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions but that USCIS “takes all in­ter­nal al­le­ga­tions se­ri­ously.”

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tions that are ref­er­enced are on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions that we can not com­ment on,” Mr. Wright told The Times. “We take all of th­ese al­le­ga­tions se­ri­ously, and we are act­ing on them. For any­one to sug­gest that they are ig­nored is bla­tantly wrong.”

In March, USCIS es­tab­lished the Of­fice of Se­cu­rity and In­tegrity to in­ves­ti­gate in­ter­nal cor­rup­tion.

“We’d like to clean up our own house first,” Mr. Wright said.

The of­fice would add 65 in­ves­ti­ga­tors and in­ter­nal-re­view spe­cial­ists, for a to­tal of 245 em­ploy­ees and con­tract em­ploy­ees, but none of the new 65 va­can­cies ap­proved in March has been filled.

Two weeks ago, The Times dis­closed a con­fi­den­tial DEA re­port sub­stan­ti­at­ing the link be­tween Is­lamic ex­trem­ists and Mex­i­can drug car­tels. The 2005 DEA re­port states that Mid­dle East­ern op­er­a­tives, in U.S. sleeper cells, are work­ing in con­junc­tion with the car­tels to fund ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions over­seas. Sev­eral law­mak­ers promised con­gres­sional hear­ings based on the in­for­ma­tion dis­closed in the DEA doc­u­ments.

The DEA re­port also stated that Mid­dle East­ern ex­trem­ists liv­ing in the U.S. — who speak Span­ish, Ara­bic and He­brew flu­ently — are pos­ing as His­panic na­tion­als.

USCIS Di­rec­tor Emilio Gon­za­lez in March told Congress that he could not es­tab­lish how many ter­ror sus­pects or per­sons of spe­cial in­ter­est have been granted im­mi­gra­tion ben­e­fits.

“While USCIS has in place strong back­ground check and ad­ju­di­ca­tion sus­pen­sion poli­cies to avoid grant­ing sta­tus to known ter­ror risks, it is pos­si­ble for USCIS to grant sta­tus to an in­di­vid­ual be­fore a risk is known, or when the se­cu­rity risk is not iden­ti­fied through stan­dard back­ground checks,” said a state­ment pro­vided to law­mak­ers.

“USCIS is not in a po­si­tion to quan­tify all cases in which this may have hap­pened. Rec­og­niz­ing that there may be presently known ter­ror risks in the ranks of those who have ob­tained sta­tus pre­vi­ously.”

Mr. Gon­za­lez’s re­sponse, along with the 2006 USCIS doc­u­ment ob­tained by The Times, show a “pat­tern of na­tional se­cu­rity fail­ures that have put the na­tion at risk,” the agency source said.

An­other in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volved more than seven USCIS and Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­tom’s En­force­ment (ICE) em­ploy­ees — in­clud­ing spe­cial agents and se­nior dis­trict man­agers — who were mov­ing con­tra­band via “diplo­matic pouches” to the United States from China.

ICE — the orig­i­nal in­ves­ti­gat­ing agency — down­graded the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion to a man­age­rial prob­lem, and the case was never pros­e­cuted, a source close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said.

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