November 20, 2006, - 11:34 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Why do we have so many illegal aliens in our midst? And why does it seem that the agency charged with enforcing immigration laws is such a mess?
Since Friday, plenty of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been sending me the link to “Meltdown: The Phoenix Branch of ICE is Exhibit A of this Country’s Failed Border Policies,” by Ray Stern in the Phoenix New Times. It is recommended reading for all of my readers.
The article repeats a lot of what I’ve written here about the disaster that is ICE and how non-sensical it was to combine the former INS Office of Investigations with the former U.S. Customs Office of Investigations and put an unqualified runaway-bride lookalike at the top to “run” things. (We love the photo of her that they use, posted below.)
But it is a well-written, extensive piece that well summarizes most of what is wrong with ICE. It’s interesting that ICE Agents who came from both the former-INS and former-USCS sent me this piece. The article attacks agents from both former agencies, a little bit unfairly. I can understand the frustration of agents on both sides. The merger of their agencies should have never happened, and the current structure is aimless with a clueless, connected girl at the top, Julie L. Myers a/k/a “The ICE Princess.”
Every day, I get e-mails from good, experienced agents from both former agencies telling me they’re throwing the towel in. They’re frustrated and demoralized. They simply can’t take it anymore–either deciding to retire early or transfer to another agency. It’s sad to hear that because it means America will only be less safe than it already is, with these good people gone.
In the Detroit office of the Special Agent in Charge of ICE (Brian Moskowitz a/k/a “Abu Moskowitz”), I’m told that more and more of the legacy senior INS agents are retiring or moving over to the Detention and Removal Operations division to escape the ICE structure and the low moral of Abu Moskowitz. One agent’s story, Mark Pilat’s, was even profiled in Newsweek, this summer. He went down at least a paygrade and at least $10,000 per year in salary to get away from the intransigent Moskowitz lair. Federal agents from several agencies in Detroit have relayed his legendary story, which is no longer unique
There are only three to five legacy INS Agents left in Abu Moskowitz’s Detroit office, with the rest from the old Customs. It’s hard to enforce immigration laws, when your most experienced investigators concerning those laws are all gone. Institutional memory is important.
There are only three to five legacy INS Agents left in the SAC Detroit and it is virtually becoming a Customs Office again.
I have a few disagreements with the piece. Stern writes that it’s the mission of the agency to tackle terrorism. Wrong. Though the ICE Princess and other top officials constantly tell new agents that they’ll stop terrorism, they won’t. As I’ve written here several times, in 2002, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft signed a Memorandum of Understanding, giving all terrorism cases away to the FBI and making it the lead agency on all terrorism cases.
That might explain why the FBI was the lead agency in an Iranian smuggling case the article mentions. It might have been terrorist-related. And the FBI can take any case away from ICE, anytime, if it deems it to be a terrorism-related case. Thank Ridge and Ashcroft for that, instead of blaming ICE agents trying to do their job.
The article claims that ICE agents don’t play well with the FBI on counterterrorism task forces and in counterterrorism cases. That might have something to do with the fact that the FBI has a history of ineptness on these cases, and, yet, remains the lead agency on terrorism matters. In contrast, prior to the agreement signed by Ridge and Ashcroft and the creation of ICE, U.S. Customs had Operation Greenquest and did a phenomenal job of stopping terrorist money laundering and weapons smuggling, something of which the FBI was always jealous. All of that is over and gone now.
And ICE wiretaps of terrorist money-laundering were not approved because of FBI hubris. A top respected ICE Special Agent in Charge, Joe Webber, retired over it. And terrorists connected with Al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad continued to operate and conduct business in Texas because of FBI turf wars against ICE. This isn’t a matter of snobbery against the FBI, as Stern implies, but of one agency that used to stop terrorist money-laundering cold now being overruled every step of the way by a giant, bloated bureaucracy (the FBI) that allowed 9/11 to happen and continued to do nothing here.
Given that, it’s hard to understand the quotes from Neville Cramer, a former high-ranking INS agent, who thinks the FBI should take over the job of immigration. I know Neville and have read his entertaining book, “Fixing the INSanity,” which is still apropos, even though there is no more INS. But giving the FBI the responsibility for immigration enforcement, when that agency can’t even do the terrorism job it’s usurped, is a huge mistake. If you think 20 million illegal aliens in our midst is bad, FBI incompetence and bureacratic tortoise-speed moves would rapidly raise that number to 40 million.
Overall, though, I recommend this article, as it is a good summary on the problems facing ICE. I don’t agree with the conclusion because I think Alonzo Pena will do a markedly better job in working with Arizona authorities than his predecessor Roberto Medina did. The problem lies at the top, The ICE Princess. When the “boss” at the top is replaced with someone else who actually knows immigration law, maybe things will improve.
The best solution, though, would be for ICE to disband and return the old INS to the way it was. Ditto for the old U.S. Customs Service. Creating the agency in the first place was a mistake that must be undone, if we’re ever to have any hope of addressing the illegal alien rising tide and the money-laundering by terrorists.
Morale and enforcement of immigration law will remain at an all-time low at ICE until that happens.
Tags: al-Qaeda, Alonzo Pena, America, Arizona, Brian Moskowitz, Cometh, Customs Office, Detroit, Federal Bureau of Investigation, ICE, ICE Special Agent, immigration law, INS Office of Investigations, Islamic Jihad, Joe Webber, John Ashcroft, Julie L. Myers, Mark Pilat, Neville Cramer, Newsweek, Phoenix New Times, Princess, Ray Stern, Roberto Medina, Special Agent, Texas, the Phoenix New Times, Tom Ridge, U.S. Customs Office of Investigations, U.S. Customs Service, USD