An investigation carried out by The New York Times has uncovered widespread corruption within the ranks of the Department of Homeland Security. Over the past 10 years, 200 employees or contract workers of Homeland Security have taken nearly $15 million in bribes.
One example is the case of Joohoon David Lee, a Homeland Security official in Los Angeles, who was charged with investigating a Korean businessman suspected of human trafficking. Lee received approximately $13,000 in bribes and gifts to make the businessman’s legal troubles disappear.
Another agent uncovered Lee’s actions and he was charged with bribery. Lee was sentenced to 10 months in prison, but he is far from the only person involved in such activities. As noted above, hundreds of immigration and Homeland Security officials have taken bribes in exchange for the violation of immigration law.
These officials have allowed millions of dollars’ worth of drugs and thousands of illegal immigrants to enter the United States. Additionally, they have falsified documents and even given sensitive law enforcement data to members of drug cartels. In one case, this information was used to arrange the attempted murder of an informant.
The Times notes that their investigation likely underestimated the amount of bribe money paid because courts do not always keep records of the exact amounts and the numbers they do have don’t include gifts, trips or money stolen by Homeland Security personnel.
In terms of presidential politics, corruption on this scale could pose a unique problem for Donald Trump. The president-elect has made stricter immigration policy, including the building of a massive border wall, a cornerstone of his campaign. However, a wall does little good if the people guarding it can simply be paid to look the other way. An unnamed internal affairs official at Homeland Security told the Times that Trump should focus on dealing with corruption before worrying about a wall or stricter enforcement.
‘It does absolutely no good to talk about the building of walls or tougher enforcement if you can’t secure the integrity of the immigration system, when you have fraud and corruption with your own employees.’
It should be noted that the number of those who have been caught taking bribes represents less than 1 percent of the men and women who work to secure our nation’s borders, but even one person can cause a lot of harm.
For an example of this, you only need to look at the case of Ivhan Herrera-Chiang. In 2013, Herrera-Chaing was sentenced to 15 years in prison for providing sensitive information to drug cartels. Herrera-Chaing provided maps of hidden underground sensors, lock combinations to gates along the United States-Mexico border and the locations of Border Patrol traffic checkpoints to members of the drug cartels. The cartels used his information to transport methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana into the United Stats.
As noted above, 200 people have been found to have been involved in similar acts, but it’s highly likely that more have gone undiscovered. If Trump is truly concerned about stopping the flow of drugs and illegal immigration then he would be better served in combating corruption within the Department of Homeland Security than spending money on a massive wall.
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