Illegal immigrants and security

While at ASIS 2008 earlier this week, I had a chance to attend a seminar regarding illegal immigration and what type of impact it has on security professionals.

The speaker was former INS Agent Neville Cramer, who now runs a security consulting firm in his home state of Arizona.

In addition to speaking about the threats posed by illegal immigrants working in what he referred to as "minimal threat" positions, such as agriculture and landscaping, Cramer brought up several problems posed by the issue that very few people think about when the topic is discussed.

Cramer said that those companies who employ illegal immigrants to work in such industries as security guard services, building maintenance, health care, daycare, data entry, hotels, and trash collections are leaving their customers and themselves extremely vulnerable to crimes like identity theft, being that many of these type workers have unfettered access to sensitive information.

He said that one of the reasons that illegals in these positions are not deterred from stealing personal information is that the harshest penalty they face is deportation.

As such, Cramer added that these companies are leaving themselves open to civil liability lawsuits.

Another interesting point posed by Cramer was the fact that many illegal immigrants are being utilized by communist or terror states and organized crime to carry out espionage or other nefarious activities.

 Among the state sponsor's of illegal immigrants Cramer listed included China, North Korea and Iran.

The bottom line of Cramer's presentation was that businesses and their security directors need to wake up to the fact that illegal immigration has much more of an impact than that of the social irresponsibility of a corporation. It also plainly has an impact on the security of companies, their customers and our nation as a whole.

Cramer urged businesses to use the Department of Homeland Security's new eVerify program, as well as non governmental or private security measures such as credit bureaus and background investigations.

"Hopefully we can try to bring some semblance of responsibility to how we handle our illegal immigrants," Cramer said of the U.S. government. "It is really security professionals that have to... learn your vulnerabilities and discuss them with your company's executives."

I agree with Cramer. Companies need to be more aware of the dangers posed by illegal immigrants, as well as others who may have something to gain by compromising sensitive data. It would be better to take the time to verify the identity and background of an employee now, rather than have to invest more time and resources in court after someone finds that the company was liable in hiring illegal personnel.  

 -Joel Griffin