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THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM IS FRAUGHT WITH PERILS

 

By Michael Cutler
December 1, 2008
NewsWithViews.com

By now I am certain you have seen the horrific images of the ongoing terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. The attacks focused on two luxury hotels plus a Jewish cultural center in this affluent section of India.

I have links to two news articles that appeared in the Thanksgiving Day edition of the Washington Times. First news article, second news article.

The issue I want you to consider is the fact that the obvious goal of the terrorists was to do as much damage as possible to the economy of the Indian government by convincing travelers that India is not a safe place to visit. The fact that hotels bore the brunt of the attacks this time and on previous occasions make it clear that the terrorists focused on commerce and tourism to achieve their nefarious goals..

At the same time, the executives of the travel industry of in the United States are applying tremendous pressure on the administration to increase the number of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program to boost the number of visitors that they hope will come to the United States, thereby filling seats on airliners and occupying more hotel rooms and spending money on various tourist attractions across our country.

The Travel Industry Association, in fact, issued a press release last month that is entitled:

Expansion of Visa Waiver Program to
Strengthen American Economy,
Attract Up to One Million New Visitors to United States

You can read the press release here.

What is unacceptable is that the current administration has gone along with the demands of the ill-informed executives of the travel industry who suffer near-sightedness and don't truly understand the fact that even with the use of biometric passports, the Visa Waiver Program deprives law enforcement and intelligence agencies the benefits that are inherent in a properly administered visa program.

I know that just a couple of days ago I discussed the issue of the Visa Waiver Program and it inherent hazards it poses to the security of our nation, but in reviewing the ongoing situation in India I felt compelled to remind you of the benefits to be found in requiring that foreign visitors be required to obtain visas before setting foot in the inspectors booth at a port of entry in the United States. Those 5 important benefits are:

1. By requiring visas of aliens who seek to enter the United States, this process helps to screen potential passengers on airliners that are destined to the United States. Richard Reid, the so-called "Shoe Bomber" was able to board an airliner to come to the United States although he had no intentions of entering the United States, his apparent goal was to blow up the airliner and its many passengers somewhere over the depths of the Atlantic Ocean by detonating explosives he had concealed in his shoes. Because he is a subject of Great Britain, a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program, Reid did not obtain a visa before he boarded that airliner.

2. The CBP inspectors are supposed to make a decision in one minute or less as to the admissibility of an alien seeking to enter the United States. The visa requirement helps them to do a more effective job. Their's is a tough job I can certainly relate to, I began my career at the former INS as an immigration inspector at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and worked there for 4 years before I became a special agent.

3. The application for a nonimmigrant visa contains roughly 40 questions that could provide invaluable information to law enforcement officials should that alien become the target of a criminal or terrorist investigation. The information could provide intelligence as well as investigative leads. You can check out the application for a nonimmigrant (tourist) visa by clicking on this link.

4. If an alien applicant lies on the application for a visa that lie is called "visa fraud." The maximum penalty for visa fraud starts out at 10 years in jail for those who commit this crime simply in order to come to the United States, ostensibly to seek unlawful employment or other such purpose. The penalty increases to 15 years in jail for those aliens who obtain a visa to commit a felony. For aliens who engage in visa fraud to traffic in narcotics or commit another narcotics-related crime, the maximum jail sentence that can be imposes rises to 20 years. Finally, when an alien can be proven to have engaged in visa fraud in furtherance of terrorism, the maximum penalty climbs to 25 years in prison. It is important to note that while it may be difficult to prove that an individual is a terrorist, it is usually relatively simple to prove that the alien has committed visa fraud when there is fraud involved in the visa application. Indeed, terror suspects are often charged with visa fraud.

5. The charge of visa fraud can also be extremely helpful to law enforcement authorities who want to take a bad guy off the street without tipping their hand to the other members of a criminal conspiracy or terrorism conspiracy that the individual arrested was being arrested for his involvement in terrorism or a criminal organization.o

Under the auspices of the Visa Waiver Program, none of the significant benefits to law enforcement or national security apply.

I hope that as the executives of the travel industry follow the coverage of the attacks in India they will pay attention to the fact that hotels are the focal point of the attacks. I suspect that even the most myopic of those executives will understand that in the wake of those attacks the travel industry in India, and even at other locations around the world will suffer as potential traveler postpone their trips out of a concern about safety.

If those executives could put aside their greed and desire for immediate profits, they have to understand that measures that compromise safety and national security are against their best interests as well.

The Visa Waiver Program is fraught with peril and must be ended.

The safety of our nation begins at its borders. Our nation's borders are not only to be found at the geographical borders that separate the United States from Canada and Mexico. In point of fact any state that has an international airport or a seaport is truly a "border states."

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In this perilous era, it is essential that our borders be secured against those who would enter our country to do us harm. We the People must make this demand known to our elected officials.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

2008 - Michael Cutler - All Rights Reserved

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Michael W. Cutler graduated from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1971 with a B.A. in Communications Arts and Sciences. Mr. Cutler began working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in October 1971 when he entered on duty as an Immigration Inspector assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport. In August 1975 he became a Criminal Investigator (Special Agent) for the INS at NYC.

He rotated through virtually every squad in the Investigations Branch. From 1988 until 1991 he was assigned as the INS representative to the Unified Intelligence Division (UID) of the DEA in New York. In 1991 he was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and was assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) which required that he work with members of other law enforcement agencies including the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Customs and local and state police as well as law enforcement organizations of other countries including Israel, Canada, Great Britain and Japan, to conduct investigations of aliens involved in major drug trafficking organizations. He retired from the INS in February 2002, after a career that spanned some 30 years.

Finally, Michael Cutler has appeared on numerous television and radio programs including Lou Dobbs, Fox News, MSNBC and many other television and radio news-oriented programs to discuss the enforcement of immigration laws.

E-Mail: mcutler007@aol.com


 

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The issue I want you to consider is the fact that the obvious goal of the terrorists was to do as much damage as possible to the economy of the Indian government by convincing travelers that India is not a safe place to visit.