Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” appeals to most concerned with national security. But there is a gaping institutional vulnerability ensconced in the federal law that has always required some level of vetting for entry into the U.S. and American citizenship.
Immigration law and the U.S. Border Patrol owe their existence to legitimate, periodic national concerns that too many of one ethnicity or another were entering America. This is not an irrational concern. During construction of the transcontinental railroad and the gold mining booms of the late 1800s tens of thousands of Chinese were hired to do the hard labor. Many Europeans from the other side of the world also worked the railroad and mines. With completion of the railroad and the mining boom going bust Congress completely closed the immigrant floodgates for periods of ten to twenty years to allow time for these persons already here to “become Americans.” The intent is to prevent America from becoming like any one other country in the world with the attendant foreign prejudices, privileges and poverty.
Any level of immigrant vetting requires obtaining information on foreign nationals within their own country. This requires a depth and breadth of language ability by the adjudication officer rarely found in Americans. Ergo most of the vetting process abroad is conducted by native employees contracted by the State Department. They exist in every American embassy in the world. Even assuming the integrity of the native adjudicator, the difficulty of obtaining accurate information in most countries where privilege is bought or inherited and integrity is marketable is nigh impossible.
This is also true of our national signal intelligence collection effort. As an intelligence officer and an instructor at the U.S. Army intelligence school, I was given a tour of a self contained intelligence facility (SCIF) requiring three levels of perimeter security at an Army installation in Texas. This facility was a microcosm of the same activities conducted within the walls of the National Security Agency. I was introduced to their best analyst: an Afghan native. This military unit depended on this man for the most immediate tactically important information intercepted from the Taliban in Afghanistan. As a trained interrogator and counterintelligence officer I saw a gaping vulnerability to our troops security. My suspicions only increased as I engaged him in conversation.
I have overheard an Arab Muslim “cultural representative” attempting to quietly recruit young, impressionable female student soldiers into accepting Islam while they studied at the Ft. Huachuca M.I. library – totally out of his scope of employment (as is any religious proselyting). As it is part of their religion I see no reason to doubt this takes place at every military training installation in America where there are “cultural representatives.”
It is also true of our national law enforcement intelligence collection efforts. The day after 9/11 a newly-hired, female, native Arabic translator arrived for her first day of work at the FBI’s New York Field Office. Expecting to see a translator staff somber over the tragedies of the previous day, she was astounded to see the entire room stocked with Arabic celebrity food amid joyous comments (in Arabic of course) that “America finally got what it deserves.”
Military units in Iraq and Afghanistan depend on native speakers to translate information gleaned during any contact with the local population. The number of translators ultimately fired for intentionally mistranslating information and promoting the enemy’s agenda while taking a very generous U.S. government pay check is closely held information. I vetted my Somali translators in Mogadishu by carrying a micro-cassette recorder in my pocket and replaying the taped conversation to an uninvolved translator for verification.
Finally, the same problem exists within the former Immigration and Naturalization Service that was absorbed into Customs & Border Protection (CBP). Working as an immigration officer, I frequently overhead locally grown Mexican-american immigration inspectors tell unqualified Mexican applicants for entry into the U.S. to “come back later when he (the Gringo) is gone and I will take care of you.”- forgetting I spoke Spanish as well. On the contrary, I have undying admiration for those locally hired officers who do maintain their integrity and enforce (as much as they’re allowed) immigration law. They’re fighting an uphill battle.
There are no stronger loyalties than family, religion and nationality. When a religion guarantees Paradise to faithful followers for lying to infidels (anyone who doesn’t believe in Islam), there is no stronger incentive to lie than to go to Paradise …or obtain entry into the U.S. …or protect your kin from military destruction. With the politically correct sanction imposing a ban on “profiling” -the most effective tool- the vetting process has long been turned into a foam rubber hammer. As long as our immigration policy relies on foreign translators I see no enhanced security in the future. For that and non-assimilation by those already here immigration needs to stop completely.