Should amnesty legislation be passed, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, would administer this program without the skills, staff or integrity needed. An amnesty of this size, to legalize the many millions of people applying, would place unprecedented demands on this already weak and nonperforming agency.

The most serious danger to Americans is the inability of USCIS to accurately identify applicants, know their actual names, history and backgrounds. Many applying will have a long history of scamming the immigration benefits system by deliberately using many alternative names and by presenting as valid a collection of bogus or stolen Social Security numbers, Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers or counterfeit birth certificates, passports and driver’s licenses, or try to prove who they are by using the unreliable Mexican government-issued Matrícula Consular Card.

What follows are examples of the incompetence of USCIS’ performance and the danger it already poses to Americans. In 2009, an Eritrean national, was granted U.S. asylum by this agency. Last month this 23-year-old, Samuel Abrahaley Fessahazion — aka “Sami,” aka “Sammy,” aka “Alex” and aka “Alex Williams” — pleaded guilty to smuggling illegal aliens into Texas from South and East Africa by a route through Brazil, Venezuela, Guatemala and Mexico. In his recent plea document, Fessahazion confessed to all of the false statements he made on his asylum application. The investigation was conducted by the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agent in charge-San Francisco, the ICE Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking Unit, ICE Office of Intelligence, ICE Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Alien Smuggling Interdiction.

Fessahazion’s story illustrates the dangerously inadequate screening of asylum pleas by USCIS, highlighting the unbelievable ease with which “Sammy” and untold others are able to game the immigration system successfully.

“Sammy” filed his asylum application after entering the United States illegally at McAllen, Texas, in March 2008. He claimed to be fleeing persecution in Eritrea, when in reality he was already smuggling African aliens into the United States. Yet, less than six weeks after submitting his fraudulent application, USCIS, in effect, rewarded him by approving his asylum application.

Clearly it was Fessahazion’s ability to ”con” the USCIS bureaucracy that enabled him, as an asylee, to remain in the United States, traveling back and forth freely across U.S. borders as he carried on his smuggling activities. This same inability to identify both unqualified and dangerous applicants will also be the most likely way amnesty requests will be processed by this dysfunctional agency.

The Fessahazion case was hardly an isolated incident. A succession of reports by the congressional General Accounting Office and Office of Inspector General has described USCIS’ alarming record of incompetence, highlighting where USCIS has failed repeatedly to administer the components of the so-called “immigration benefits program” properly.

For an alien to be approved for political asylum, he or she must establish “credible fear,” that their life will be in jeopardy if forced to return home. But how could USCIS possibly render a fact-based decision in a case like Fessahazion’s in less than six weeks when the country he was fleeing was half way around the world? This is an example of the risks this agency takes with the lives and well-being of Americans, by not being able to screen fake asylee applications.

In January 1993, Pakistani national Mir Kansi stood outside CIA headquarters with an AK-47 and fired on the vehicles of CIA officials. Two CIA officers died and three others were seriously wounded. Kansi fled the United States, was ultimately brought back to stand trial and executed for his crimes. It was found that Kansi, like Fessahazion, had also been improperly granted asylum.

Add to the risk for Americans the USCIS’ inadequate oversight of the massive Visa Waiver Program, our unguarded borders open to illegal-alien smuggling, the virtually routine visa issuing program overseas, and the lax U.S. inspection at airports, seaports and other places of entry for foreign nationals.

So we should be fearful, as well as skeptical, about how USCIS would handle the demands for legalization by millions of applicants, many with unknown or unknowable identities. It cannot be emphasized enough that what threatens our national security most right now is that USCIS would be responsible for administering any “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation, when even advocates for amnesty admit that USCIS lacks both the ability and resources to handle such a program.

If they are in charge and before even a fraction of the very massive numbers of applicants were processed, the United States would have lost all control over who qualified for legalization. That was a big problem at the time of the much smaller 1986 amnesty, when fraud was pervasive and produced the billion dollar bogus document industry we live with today.

Any new amnesty legislation will lure even more millions to our shores and eventually we will become a nation resigned to a de facto opening of our borders to the world. This outcome will be the result of decades of denial about how many people wanted “in,” mostly because we have made it so easy for them to arrive, have children and stay on indefinitely. Whatever damage we will have done, we will have done it to ourselves and it will be our failure alone in the end, because saying “no” was so harsh, and self-concern for ourselves and our country proved too difficult for promiscuously charitable Americans.

— Diana Hull is president of Californians for Population Stabilization. Michael Cutler is a retired INS senior special agent and a CAPS senior writing fellow. They can be reached at