The Center for Immigration Studies held a panel at the National Press Club on Sept 26, 2003 to discuss whether US immigration laws can actually be enforced. Would it be possible to control immigration if the laws were enforced? The panel shares my view that immigration could be controlled if only our political leaders would make a good faith effort to enforce the relevant laws in the first place. First off, Michael Cutler, former Senior Special Agent at the New York District Office of the INS:
From 1988 until 1992, I was the assigned INS representative to the Unified Intelligence Division of DEA in New York City. In that position I worked in cooperation with law enforcement personnel from virtually every federal law enforcement agency, as well as state, local, and other law enforcement personnel from other countries.
While I was in that assignment, I did an analysis of DEA arrest records. This analysis shows that some 60 percent of all individuals arrested in New York by DEA were identified as foreign-born. Nationwide, about 30 percent of the people arrested by DEA were identified as foreign-born. Those percentages remained constant for about five years, and I suspect they wouldn’t be much different today.
The violence that is attendant with the drug trade leads to the loss of many more people’s lives than the 3,000 people who perished on 9/11, and this is because of the crimes that are carried out within the borders of our country by drug traffickers.
Nearly half of all illegals came in through legals ports of entry. So the construction of a barrier on the border with Mexico would probably cut illegal immigration by about half.
It is the interior enforcement program that has been ignored and neglected for decades. There are currently approximately 10,000 Border Patrol agents working for our government nationwide. Compare that number with the 2,000 special agents who are employed by the government to enforce the immigration laws from within the United States. Consider also the fact that it is currently estimated that of the 8-12 million illegal aliens believed to be living in the United States today, nearly half of them did not run the border but rather entered the United States through ports of entry, as did the terrorists. These aliens could not have been stopped by the Border Patrol because they were lawfully admitted into the United States, meaning that only once they became deportable it was only the special agents who had the authority and the wherewithal to go after them.
Those 2,000 special agents are an even smaller number than first appears because they have a lot of other responsibilities.
We also need to consider another important issue. Border Patrol agents have a specific and narrow focus. They are responsible for the interdiction of aliens attempting to run the border and to attempt to identify, investigate, and apprehend alien smugglers. Special agents have many more missions to carry out under their jurisdictions. They are supposed to seek out and apprehend aliens who have been deported for committing serious felonies and have subsequently illegally re-entered the United States. They are supposed to conduct investigations into immigration fraud. They are supposed to conduct investigations into alien smuggling. And they are also supposed to conduct investigations involving employer sanctions.
Additionally, the special agents are also supposed to work with such organizations as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, where I spent 10 years of my career, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Now, Congress has additionally mandated that we are supposed to also track foreign students in the United States to make certain that they go to the schools that they’ve been admitted to attend, and to implement a meaningful departure control program to make certain that people that are here for a limited time leave when they’re supposed to.
Now, additionally, it’s been announced that the new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement will also provide agents to serve as air marshals, and also back up the United States Secret Service protecting the President, the vice president, and visiting foreign dignitaries. And all this is going to be done with what will now become a force of 5,500 agents when we merge Customs in with the immigration agents. The thing that you need to realize also, though, is that when they merge Customs with immigration, you’re going to also be doubling the area of responsibility because now all these agents will need to enforce the customs statutes as well as the immigration statutes.
Politicians respond to their own undermining of immigration law enforcement by trying to undermine it further with additional amnesties.
Today, perhaps in part because of the abysmal track record, and also because of the politicization of the entire immigration system, politicians talk about creating another amnesty as a way to bring the massive illegal alien population out of the shadows, notwithstanding that this approach was tried before. World War I was supposed to have been the war that would end all wars, and the immigration amnesty program of 1986 was supposed to be the best way of getting illegal aliens out of the shadows and restoring a measure of credibility to the thoroughly dysfunctional administration and enforcement of immigration laws. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, we now know that World War I led to World War II, and we know that the 1986 amnesty led to perhaps one of the largest influxes of illegal aliens into the United States. And yet there are people today calling for yet another amnesty.
George W. Bush would happily sign an immigration amnesty bill if one reached his desk.
Jessica Vaughan, former Foreign Service officer and Senior Policy Analyst at CIS, discusses how an approach developed by a young US State Department Foreign Service officer, worked too well at identifying people ineligible for green cards and other immigration benefits due to illegal use of US social welfare programs. The results were predictable:
This fellow working in Paris realized that he was having a really hard time figuring out whether people were ineligible for reasons like that. So he decided to start calling social service agencies in the United States. He started with California. He found out that the state of California was very happy to provide him with this information, which was very relevant to his adjudication of the application.
Then this person went on in his next tour to serve in Manila, which is a much higher volume post in the Philippines. It’s known as a visa mill because of the number of applications that they process every year, and lots and lots of them are going to California, and lots and lots of the applicants have spent time in California. So he really got a lot of great information from California, MediCal officials in particular. Instead of just using it to do green card applications, he also started checking on people who were applying for temporary visitors’ visas, and uncovered tons and tons of fraud, including one notorious case of a Philippine Airlines pilot who was basically bringing his child over for regular leukemia treatments in the California hospitals, completely free.
So this was working so well that all these other posts found out about the program and thought it was a great idea. There were three posts in Mexico which worked out an arrangement with the state of California to get this information. Then word kind of got out among people who were applying for green cards that the embassy was actually going to check to see if you had access to services to which you were not entitled, and people started deciding to pay back the amount of the services that they’d received, so all these checks started flowing in to the California treasury from all these people who really did want their green card and they didn’t want to be found ineligible. So all this money starts flowing in and California is really loving the program. The governor at the time went and visited the consulate in Manila and went around and shook everybody's hand because he loved it so much.
Then Texas decided that it wanted to sign up because it was working so well for California. At about that time, the front office of Consular Affairs got wind of it and pretty quickly sent out a cable to all posts saying, you’ve got to stop this now. And the reason that they gave was that it was taking too much time to do these checks. This was in spite of the fact that the state of California had actually offered to pay for the positions for people to sit and do the background checks. Then the Department of Health and Human Services got involved and said, you know, this is kind of a violation of people’s privacy to be checking on what services that they’ve obtained. So the program was, as I said, working so well that it ended, even though tens of thousands of people had been found ineligible and all the consular officers really liked it a lot.I hope that some of the other programs that we’ve instituted recently, like NCRS and SEVIS, where we’re already starting to see some good results, do not go down the same road of being found so effective that they have to be canceled.
Consider the HHS argument: the government can be made to pay medical and other benefits to foreigners who are not eligible but to investigate foreigners to see if they have used services of the government is a violation of the privacy of those same foreigners. This boggles the mind. On the other hand, it seems logical to expect a bunch of leftist bureaucrats who see their mission as handing out as increasing amounts of services and other benefits to look at any policy that would reduce their ability to do so as a threat to their mission to expand the welfare state. Plus, there are powerful interest groups fighting to give immigrants more goods and services and citizenship and those groups are going to seek to undermine any program serves as an impediment to their goals.
Mark Krikorian lists a number of methods that show promise for identifying illegal aliens but notes that as long as political leaders don't want to stop illegal immigation they will just stop any program that starts to effectively identify illegals for deportation.
Another example was just in the newspaper yesterday or the day before. The Internal Revenue Service has announced that it’s looking into sharing information from tax returns, specifically from people who file using what’s called the individual identification number, which is in place of a Social Security number, largely used by illegal aliens, though not necessarily, and sharing that information with the Homeland Security Department.
If past experience is any guide, it will work and then it will be stopped, precisely because it succeeds in deterring illegal aliens from working.
The argument for amnesties is that it is not possible to stop illegal immigration. But the United States government has repeatedly undermined any efforts that started to make serious in-roads against the problem. We have illegal immigration because a majority of our elites want it in spite of the fact that the majority of the populace wants it cut back. Our immigration policy is therefore undemocratic.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 October 05 09:21 PM Immigration Law Enforcement|