Six Hundred Sixty Thousand Flawed Background Checks Don’t Shake Jeh Johnson’s Confidence

Jeh Johnson confirmed as DHS SecretaryLast Friday, at the U.S. Conference of Mayors , Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson claimed that President Obama’s version of “immigration reform,” that is, amnesty, increased immigration, and promises of future enforcement, is crucial to homeland security. If such promises to secure the border were not just a pretense, the security aspects of an immigration bill might have some positive effect. But on Friday, Johnson claimed that the process of amnesty itself, not just the proposed enforcement measures, would benefit security, because illegal aliens would come “out of the shadows” to become legal.  Considering that many acts of terrorism have been carried out by those who were not even “in the shadows,” such as the Tsarnaev brothers, the Times Square bomber, the shooter at the El Al ticket counter at LAX, and the thwarted Fort Dix attackers, to name only a few, the claim that homeland security could be improved in this way is implausible from every perspective.

While he was unclear about how precisely bringing illegal aliens “out of the shadows” would enhance homeland security, most likely Johnson meant to imply this process would allow the government to conduct background checks on the illegal population. However, this expectation falls apart upon scrutiny.  First, illegal aliens who pose serious security risks through terrorism or crime are unlikely to step forward if they might be caught by doing so.  Any investigations during an amnesty would therefore be at the discretion of the illegal alien, as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has no idea how many there are.  Amnesty would only let us find and check those who are willing to be found.

Secondly, in the event of a large scale amnesty, DHS will not be able to conduct a proper background check on the ones who do come forward to be investigated. Federal agencies are already struggling to conduct sufficient background checks necessary for their ordinary operations. Just two days before Johnson’s comments, the Department of Justice (DOJ) demonstrated that the government is failing this struggle when it joined a lawsuit first filed by whistleblowers against U.S. Investigations Services Inc. (USIS).  USIS is the federal government’s largest security background checker, used by many federal agencies, including DHS. In their complaint, the DOJ alleged that USIS, the contractor that checked NSA leaker Edward Snowden and the Navy Yard shooter, had defrauded the government of millions of dollars by filing more than 660,000 flawed background checks. USIS allegedly released incomplete background cases to the government and represented them as complete in order to increase their profits. How could a government that allowed such an alarmingly massive security breach to occur be trusted to maintain any semblance of integrity over the background check process in the event of an amnesty for millions of illegal aliens?

Only enforcement will improve homeland security, not legalization of illegal aliens.  Johnson in his speech defined DHS’s five core missions as: “guarding against terrorism, securing our borders, enforcing our nation’s immigration laws, safeguarding cyberspace and critical infrastructure in partnership with the private sector, and supporting emergency preparedness and response efforts at every level.”  Though he tried, Johnson cannot make a coherent case that amnestying illegal aliens will serve any one of these five missions.

Unfortunately, Johnson also revealed during his speech that he is motivated by considerations other than DHS’s mission. He believes that illegal aliens by their (illegal) presence have “earned the right to be citizens.” DHS could start doing its job of by working on these core missions now, without waiting for an amnesty, if the Administration had the will to do so.  As important as the core functions of DHS are, Johnson will continue to hold them hostage until he can grant illegal aliens the benefits he believes they have come to deserve by breaking the law. He should stop adding insult to injury by pretending he wants to do so for the benefit of the American people.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    This guy is either incredibly stupid or extremely Leftist, or both, to make such stupid statements as “amnesty will improve national security”. How can adequate security checks possibly be done on 15 million Mexicans about whom we know almost nothing? Do you think maybe al-Qaeda has figured this out too? There already are numerous reports that Islamic terrorists are entering Central America and then migrating up to Mexico in anticipation of getting easlly into the U.S.

    How in the world does he propose we’ll be able to do adequate security checks on 15 million illegal Mexicans about whom we know nothing? This guy seems to think just by saying something might make it true–wonder who he learned that from?
    Jeh Johnson” could be Obama’s worst appointee, but then again he has a lot of competition–think Chuck Hagel
    . Heaven help America and our security from the result of putting these jerks in charge of managing our safety.

  2. avatar

    I still find it unbelievable that so many years after the 9/11 attacks and other smaller terrorist attacks carried out within the US we still have unsecured borders. I also find it amazing that our government still allows so much legal immigration from the Muslim world. We did fine for most of our history without much immigration from the Muslim world. It seems like a pretty basic concept, but Islamic terrorists can not carry out terrorist attacks like the Boston Marathon bombing if they are not in this country to begin with.

  3. avatar

    Oh yeah, all those drug cartel members in this country are going to come forward when there’s an amnesty. All those gangbangers too. We will know everyone who is here. Sarcasm alert off. The ONLY way to deal with these people is make it difficult for anyone here illegally to stay. E verify for every job NOW. The system is in place and being used by some businesses. Mc Donald’s for one. Then announce that anyone using a false or stolen ID will be prosecuted.

    Instead we do everything to accommodate these people. And if anyone suggests we actually enforce the law to make them leave, then everyone faints dead away because you suggested “self deportation”.

    And Jeh Johnson says one of his five goals will be “enforcing our nation’s immigration laws”? When will you start that? Because we have not been doing it for years.