Eliminating ICE Is a Clueless Proposition
People forget – or don’t care – that the 9/11 Commission made up of five Democrats and five Republicans released a report that cites multiple loopholes in immigration laws that allowed the September 11th hijackers to move around the US, take pilot lessons, and launch the deadliest terror attacks in our nation’s history. Most of those loopholes are still problematic, according to court records in other U.S. terror attacks including the Boston Marathon bombing.
There were supplemental reports released in 2004 including “9/11 and Terrorist Travel” that stated, “prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one”
A specially appointed bipartisan panel of people made that conclusion 14 years ago. It was about public safety, not politics. Sadly, in 2018 “Never Forget 9/11” is, well, forgotten.
Cynthia Nixon, Gubernatorial candidate for New York, may have played a lawyer from Manhattan in “Sex In the City,” but clearly she didn’t read the 9/11 Commission Report or any of the supplemental reports when she called Immigration and Customs Enforcement a “terrorist organization.” And she is not the only New York politician who is pushing for the abolishment of ICE. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who beat Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of New York, won on the platform of ridding the country of ICE.
Two of the human-filled bombs that hurtled into the World Trade Center Towers that terrible morning were launched from Boston’s Logan Airport but both Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey are calling for ICE to be shuttered. Warren called the agency “ugly and wrong” and wants to replace it with something “that reflects our morality.” Markey called ICE a “deportation army.”
I have been a crime reporter for decades and have covered multiple stories about the true work of ICE agents in Enforcement Removal and Homeland Security Investigations. There have been nearly a dozen war criminals, human rights violators, who have been tracked and brought to justice by HSI agents in Massachusetts alone. A Salvadoran army colonel was found by HSI hiding in Everett after he became one of 20 military officials accused of the 1989 slaughter of six Spanish Jesuit priests, their maid, and the woman’s daughter. He was deported to Spain late last year to face trial.
Then there was the woman hiding in New Hampshire despite charges that she was part of the horrifying violence of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Witnesses testified that Beatrice Munyenyezi, who was found guilty after a HSI investigation of immigration fraud in 2015, shot a Tutsi nun in the head, after ordering that her soldiers rape her, and beat a little boy to death in front of his father with a nail-spiked club. Her husband imprisoned Tutsi women for rape in his family’s hotel, according to testimony in the Rwandan tribunals. A federal appeals court that upheld her conviction and ten-year sentence called her crimes “bone chilling.” She was the recipient of the “immigrant of the year” award in Manchester, N.H.
And then there was the Bosnian warlord found in Burlington and the former mayor from Haiti accused of murder, arson and other atrocities against his countrymen there. He fled to the U.S. and was found late last year driving a school bus in Malden. The list goes on and on.
I just spent three years covering Operation Mean Streets, a sophisticated sting operation that resulted in 61 members of the violent MS-13 gang being brought to justice after the North Shore Gang Task Force made up of local and federal cops – including ICE agents – spent three years protecting the life of an undercover informant who infiltrated Boston’s most violent La Mara Salvatrucha cliques. The case solved the murders of a woman shot dead by an errant MS-13 bullet in a domestic violence shelter; the killings of three East Boston high school students; the shooting of another man in a Chelsea after-hours bar and the dismemberment of a Lawrence man. Six MS-13 murders, 22 attempted killings, and a slew of other violent crimes solved. Nearly every one of the defendants – and their young victims – had come to the U.S. as Unaccompanied Alien Children, or the UACs, kids who are now the subject of so much controversy at the border.
Watching a little girl sob last week as she was reunited with her mother at Boston’s Logan Airport 55 days after they were separated at the border was heartbreaking for most of us.
But so was the victim impact statement made by the 16-year-old daughter of Katerin Gomes, a 38-year-old woman who fled her abusive partner with her three young babies only to be shot dead after she looked out the window of the shelter as MS-13 battled 18th Street below on Oct. 18, 2014. She crumpled to the ground and died with her three children screaming around her. Her daughter was 13 at the time and her siblings were 4 and 2. “I miss my mom everyday,” she testified through tears at the sentencing of her mother’s MS-13 killer in recent weeks.
That little girl will not enjoy a tearful reunion with her mother. She is helping raise her siblings – with the help of the state troopers, local cops, and federal agents that continue to visit her long after they helped bring her mother’s killers to justice. The gunmen were two teens, Chelsea High School students, who were once held at the border as Unaccompanied Alien Children and who were recruited by MS-13 in their U.S. public schools, according to court testimony.
As someone who was there on 9/11 and then again on Patriot’s Day in Boston, as someone who has written about countless plots launched to kill Americans by jihadi and has seen the bodies dropped by MS-13 in my neighborhood of East Boston, I hope we can have common sense, bipartisan conversation that ends the hysteria of blaming dedicated agents, most who attempt to protect us from terrorists of all intentions, foreign and domestic.
– Michele McPhee is a best selling true crime author; award-winning columnist; magazine contributor.