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Memo to the Terrorists 

Want a social security card? Here's how.

Attention terrorists, drug-running foreign nationals and human slavery ring operators.

Are you tired of sneaking around every time you enter this country illegally? Do you want a driver's license? Need a social security card? How about bona fide work documents that will allow you to stay here and "blend in"? I'm not talking about the junk you can buy from counterfeiters on the street. No, I'm talking the real thing, mailed to you by the federal government.

Here's what you do. First, cross the border (that'll be easy). Then you make up an identity -- or use your own, either way, no one will notice -- and apply for lawful permanent resident status. You can download the application at the library if you don't have a computer. Then you mail it in to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

According to federal regulation, if USCIS doesn't process your application in under 90 days, it must send you something called an employment authorization document while you wait. Because only five out of dozens of USCIS district offices have the means to process your application in time, odds are your employment authorization will show up in your mailbox in a few months. Once you have the authorization, you can apply for a temporary social security card, driver's license, etc.

Sure, since you're in the country illegally, they'll probably eventually turn down your application for lawful permanent residence, but by then you'll be established here with all the documents you need to function.

If I actually thought I'd be helping suicide bombers out by printing this information, I wouldn't do it, but I have a feeling this is old news to Al Qaeda and friends, given that there have been two government reports published about this problem recently and two Congressional subcommittee hearings on it. In fact, the American people are probably the only ones still in the dark. According to the USCIS Ombudsman's June report to Congress, 325,569 employment authorization documents were issued to ineligible aliens between May 2004 and February 2006.

Meanwhile, over 1,000 immigration processors at USCIS still lack the security clearance they need -- the clearances were supposed to be upgraded over a year ago -- to determine if they are awarding everything from permanent residence to citizenship to known terrorists or members of criminal gangs.

Even if they had the clearances, federal agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are fighting a turf war with USCIS and often won't disclose criminal and national security information they have on applicants to USCIS workers.

The FBI is supposed to be running name checks on these people, but it has a backlog of over 200,000 immigration applications. After 120 days, immigration courts can award citizenship and residency to applicants, regardless of what is in their file at any of these agencies.

That USCIS, the immigration agency that decides who gets "immigration benefits" that allow outsiders to remain in this country legally, has descended into chaos is no secret in the committee rooms of Washington. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff admitted as much when he testified before the judiciary committee nine months ago, telling members of Congress that "parts of the system have nearly collapsed under the weight of numbers" and that "the current situation is desperately in need of repair."

A recent report by independent investigators at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said fraud was a "serious problem" at USCIS, that foreign governments, terror networks and criminal enterprises had infiltrated it, and that the full extent of corruption was unknown. That report also said that the USCIS doesn't have the internal controls it needs to detect fraud.

So most Americans will no doubt be horrified to learn that USCIS is the same agency that will be processing the applications of up to 20 million illegal aliens that the US Senate wants to offer amnesty to, and the tens of millions more outside this country that the Senate and some Republican House members want to offer work visas to. Republicans figure they can solve USCIS' problems by "outsourcing" the avalanche of new applications to private corporations -- with USCIS still in charge of the whole fiasco.

On July 27, whistle blower Michael Maxwell (see CL June 28 cover story), the former head of security at USCIS, again testified before a subcommittee of the US House Judiciary committee, practically begging them to halt the immigration debate until the broken system is torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

Going forward with the Senate or House immigration worker visa plans "would codify the nightmare and ensure that criminals, terrorists and foreign intelligence operatives who have already gamed our immigration system are issued legal immigration documents and allowed to stay permanently," Maxwell said. This time, a second whistle blower joined him.

With Lebanon dominating the news, Maxwell's testimony got little coverage. Unfortunately, that's exactly the way Congress wants it.

Got a story idea? E-mail Tara at

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