“Making America Safe Again” was the focus of the first day of the Republican National Convention.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani addressed the convention and unequivocally linked immigration to that vital goal, especially where the threat of terrorism is concerned.

Kent Terry — brother of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent who was killed on duty by illegal aliens — also spoke at the convention, as did two mothers and one father of children were slain by illegal aliens, saying that victims of criminal aliens needs to be addressed.

This means that there are about 10 percent as many ICE agent protecting the entire United States of America as there are cops protecting “The Big Apple.”

Early in his quest for the presidency, Donald Trump ignited a firestorm when he made the need for securing America’s borders a key issue for his candidacy, promising the build a wall to separate the United States from Mexico and getting the Mexican government to pay for that wall.

Many politicians were aghast at Trump’s candor. They had come to depend on the campaign contributions of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other organizations and deep-pocketed contributors that have been feeding at the super-lucrative trough of immigration, seeing in that massive influx of foreign workers (both illegal and legal with work visas such as the H-1B visa) a way of greatly reducing labor costs by importing a cheap labor force that would drive down wages and even supplant American workers with far more compliant foreign workers.

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However, the failures of our government to effectively secure our borders and effectively enforce our immigration laws to create a cheap labor force comes with a high price tag — the lives of innocent victims killed by criminal aliens and those killed by terrorists.

Sen. Sessions also talked about how flooding America with more foreign workers than the number of new jobs that have been created has caused wages to decline, especially for middle-class workers, thrusting millions of Americans into poverty and also resulting in tens of millions of Americans leaving the labor force.

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The 9/11 Commission, to which I provided testimony, made it clear that the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 (as well as other terror attacks) could not have been carried out if the terrorists had not been able to enter the United States in the first place and then been able to embed themselves (hide in plain sight) by acquiring multiple false identities and lawful immigration status by committing not only visa fraud but immigration benefit fraud.

Immigration is indeed inextricably linked to national security and public safety. We cannot protect ourselves from international terrorists and transnational criminals if we don’t prevent them from entering our country and then do nothing to seek them out if they succeed in entering the United States by one means or another.

While the U.S./Mexican border must be made secure, simply securing that porous border would not end the immigration crisis that undermines national security, public safety, and the economy of the United States. It is estimated that nearly half of all illegal aliens did not run that border but were admitted into the United States through ports of entry. None of the 9/11 terrorists ran our borders either.

The RNC leadership needs to hang a different sign on their walls: “It’s the Immigration Problem, Stupid!”

Securing America’s southwestern border, while absolutely essential, is only one component of the dysfunctional immigration system that must be quickly addressed.

The United States has 50 “Border States.” Any state that lies along our northern border as well as our southern border are border states, as are those states that have access to America’s 95,000 miles of meandering coastline. Any state that has an international airport is also a border state.

There is certainly no shortage of ways for aliens to enter the United States by evading the inspections process or by entering through a port of entry and then simply disappearing. The key to our immigration crisis is to also effectively enforce our immigration laws from the interior of the United States. This can only be done by having many more ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) special agents to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.

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Today there are only about 7,000 ICE agents for the entire United States. It is believed that fewer than half of them are actually assigned to enforcing the immigration laws while other agents are assigned to investigating violations of customs laws.

To put this in perspective, CBP (Customs and Border Protection) has more than 60,000 employees who work for the U.S. Border Patrol — which has well over 20,000 agents patrolling our nation’s borders and well over 20,000 inspectors conducting inspections of arriving cargo and people seeking entry into the United States at some 325 ports of entry across the United States.

TSA has more than 45,000 employees.

The NYPD has more than 35,000 police officers just to protect New York City. This means that there are about 20 percent as many ICE agents protecting the entire United States of America as there are cops protecting “The Big Apple.”

Furthermore, the notion that enforcing our immigration laws would, forgive the expression, “alienate” so-called “Latino Voters” is a massive lie perpetrated on America by those who are determined to erase America’s borders and end immigration law enforcement. Our immigration laws are utterly and completely blind as to race, religion, and ethnicity. As an INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) agent, many of the aliens I investigated and arrested were not citizens of Latin American countries but came from countries from all over the globe — including Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Canada, and elsewhere.

America’s immigration laws were enacted to protect national security and the well-being and lives and livelihoods of Americans. The section of our immigration laws that defines the categories of aliens to be excluded from the United States is found under Title 8 U.S. Code § 1182: (Inadmissible Aliens) and includes aliens who suffer dangerous communicable diseases or severe mental illness, aliens who are fugitives from justice, aliens who are convicted felons, spies, terrorists, war criminals, human rights violators, and others whose presence would undermine national security and/or public safety.

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This section of law also addresses the issue of protecting the jobs, wages, and working conditions of American workers. In point of fact, prior to World War II, the primary responsibility and authority for enforcing and administering our immigration laws was vested in the Labor Department. America’s political leaders who were part of America’s “Greatest Generation” understood that for America to do well, Americans had to do well.

The long-term viability of America depends on the well-being of our citizens. Effectively enforcing and administering our immigration laws to protect American lives and American jobs would strengthen our nation, help reduce poverty and enable America to once again provide the leadership that the safety and stability of the world desperately need.

When Bill Clinton first ran for the presidency, his campaign staffers posted signs on their office walls that said, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

Republican leadership needs to hang a different sign on their walls: “It’s the Immigration Problem, Stupid!”

Michael W. Cutler is a retired INS senior special agent and a senior fellow at CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization). Cutler’s career with the INS spanned some 30 years and he has provided expert witness testimony at more than a dozen congressional hearings.