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Immigration Caseworkers Union: 'We Are Letting Terrorists into U.S. Right Through Front Door'

By Craig Bannister | September 18, 2014 | 2:53pm EDT

The U.S. is letting terrorists in "right through our front door," Kenneth Palinkas, president of the 12,000-member union of government immigration caseworkers and adjudicators warned today.

In a statement concerning the planned administrative amnesty, ISIS, and the threat of terrorism,  National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council (NCISC) Pres. Palinkas warns also warns that "ISIS will exploit our loose and lax visa policies to gain entry into United States":

"The National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council represents 12,000 dedicated immigration caseworkers and adjudicators who are on the front lines in the fight to keep terrorists out of the United States. In addition to the extremely real and serious threat that ISIS has already or will soon slip across our porous southern border, it is also essential to warn the public about the threat that ISIS will exploit our loose and lax visa policies to gain entry to the United States.

"Indeed, as we know from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, from the Boston Bombing, from the recent plot to bomb a school and courthouse in Connecticut, and many other lesser-known terror incidents, we are letting terrorists into the United States right through our front door."

Palinkas also charges that the Obama Administration is actively blocking efforts by ICE officers to protect Americans:

"In fact, this Administration has widened the loopholes that terrorists could use to gain entry to the United States through our asylum system. The Administration has also blocked our partners in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from enforcing visa overstays."

"Applications for entry are rubber-stamped, the result of grading agents by speed rather than discretion. We've become the visa clearinghouse for the world," he says.

Palinkas concludes by calling the administration's new $2 billion immigration computer program intended to replace human judgment "an absolute failure":

"Finally, I would note the failed 'transformation' computer system into which this government has poured $2 billion dollars. This system is an attempt to replace human judgment with a rote computer program, and has proven to be an absolute failure. The answer is more in-person interviews, more officers and adjudicators, not to undertake the 'transformation' of our immigration system by removing human judgment."

The full text of Palinkas' statement is presented below:

The National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council represents 12,000 dedicated immigration caseworkers and adjudicators who are on the front lines in the fight to keep terrorists out of the United States. In addition to the extremely real and serious threat that ISIS has already or will soon slip across our porous southern border, it is also essential to warn the public about the threat that ISIS will exploit our loose and lax visa policies to gain entry to the United States. Indeed, as we know from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, from the Boston Bombing, from the recent plot to bomb a school and courthouse in Connecticut, and many other lesser-known terror incidents, we are letting terrorists into the United States right through our front door.

Unfortunately - and perilously overlooked in Washington - our caseworkers are denied the urgent professional resources, enforcement tools, and mission support we need to keep out those who are bent on doing us harm. In fact, this Administration has widened the loopholes that terrorists could use to gain entry to the United States through our asylum system. The Administration has also blocked our partners in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from enforcing visa overstays. The 9/11 hijackers got into the U.S. on visas and now, 13 years later, we have around 5 million immigrants in the United States who overstayed their visas -many from high-risk regions in the Middle East. Making matters more dangerous, the Obama Administration's executive amnesty, like S. 744 that he unsuccessfully lobbied for, would legalize visa overstays and cause millions additionally to overstay - raising the threat level to America even higher. There is no doubt that there are already many individuals in the United States, on visas - expired or active - who are being targeted for radicalization or who already subscribe to radicalized views.

Many millions come legally to the U.S. through our wide open immigration policy every year -whether as temporary visitors, lifetime immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, foreign students, or recipients of our 'visa waiver program' which allows people to come and go freely. Yet our government cannot effectively track these foreign visitors and immigrants. And those who defraud authorities will face no consequence at all in most cases. Our caseworkers cannot even do in-person interviews for people seeking citizenship, they cannot enforce restrictions on welfare use, and they even lack even the basic office space to properly function. Applications for entry are rubber-stamped, the result of grading agents by speed rather than discretion. We've become the visa clearinghouse for the world.

Finally, I would note the failed 'transformation' computer system into which this government has poured $2 billion dollars. This system is an attempt to replace human judgment with a rote computer program, and has proven to be an absolute failure. The answer is more in-person interviews, more officers and adjudicators, not to undertake the 'transformation' of our immigration system by removing human judgment.

So I would plead to lawmakers: give USCIS adjudicators and caseworkers the tools they need to keep America safe - and keep terrorists out.

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