2003 October 05 Sunday
Can Immigration Law Be Enforced?

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

Lupira said at February 13, 2005 4:24 AM:

I would like to know your answer to this question. What would happen to the United States if there was no one percentage of illegal people? Would the economy will stay the same? From where would you bring people to work for less money? Do you think that Americans will do it? Work as dishwashers, work in the fields picking up vegetables, cleanning rooms in hotels? Give me a break. All those jobs are done from people that are just looking for a better life. I know, it is not the American government's fault that those people don't have a good life in their countries. You also said that the terrorist got in the country legal. Why? Because those crazy people were coming from a rich country, and the United States want their petroleo. I wish if all good illegal people will return to their countries. I am not talking about 10% of the ones living in America, I meant all of them, just to make politicians like you happy. Then, we will see who will be in trouble. Most of all the people that don't like illegal people are people that like to descriminate people. It would be nice if all the people in the world work together, and finish with terrorism. Have you thought about some immigrants seeing some people breaking the law? Do you think, they will call the police? NOOOOOOOOO Why? Because they are afraid, it is a fear that people like you grew in them. I live in The Netherlands, and I wish someday, we will be able to finish with those crazy terrorists, but I also hope that someday all those people against immigrants will have to hit their heads against a wall for the big mistake they had made.


Randall Parker said at February 13, 2005 4:59 PM:


There are still parts of the United States that have few Hispanic immigrants. In those parts the trash still gets collected and the restaurants still get their dishes washed.

Take away large quantities of illegal immigrant labor and the wages for lower skilled jobs will be higher. Also, businesses will use more automation and will reorganise their business processes to require less labor. For example, I worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant when I was in college. The restaurant could have reduced the amount of labor needed to clean dishes by, for example, not putting liquid cheese on nachos in straw baskets. The cleaning of the cheese of the straw was a time-consuming part of my job that was avoidable by switching to a different kind of basket.

In Australia they do not allow in lots of cheap low-skilled labor. The vintners in Australia use autommated grape-picking machines that the California vintners do not use. Why don't the California vintners use more machines? Because they can get such large quantities of low cost laborers who have 8th grade educations. Take away that labor and the vinters would pay more for manual laborers and would use less manual labor and more machinery.

Low cost labor is not producing that much and is not that important to the economy. How can I know this? Because are not paid very much. Wages are a good rough measure of the value of a job. A $70 per hour job produces far far more of economic value than a $7 per hour job. Putting an end to the import of laborers who make only $7 per hour will cost the economy very little. Given that those laborers get more in government benefits than they pay in taxes the net result of deporting the illegals would be to raise the living standards of everyone else who no longer has to pay for them.

D. Bonilla said at March 27, 2005 7:01 PM:

I would like for the government to try something else instead of amnesty because to me that is like awarding people for breaking the law. There are people that came up here from Mexico that became citizens by learning enough English to pass the citizenship test and it's not that hard most people can learn it by repeating the questions over and over again and the answers and they are available in Spanish. These people that became citizens do it for a reason to help their brothers or sisters or parents get up to give them a better life, so they can afford their own means of having a way to make a living. There are thousands of people that are on lists to migrate legally, because their relative studied to become a citizen to help them get here, I believe you must be a citizen to bring a brother or sister to this country legally by immigration and for most of the brothers and sisters the wait is about 10 years if not more and if the person that became the citizen to petition you legally dies in the meantime say after 91/2 years guess what all your time waiting does not count, there is nothing you can do unless another brother or sister becomes a citizen again to legally migrate you and then your waiting time on the list to migrate legally starts all over at day 1 so you might be waiting again another 10 years or more, this I know from my own personal experience trying to migrate my late husbands relatives while he was a citizen and was still alive. It is very nerveracking, and a lot of heartbreak. Therefore what signal are you giving these people that are so despertly waiting their American dream after it goes up in smoke. These people that are waiting for legal entry should be the first on the list to arrive, they should not show discrimination by letting people who are breaking the law come first. I believe also, that they should pass legislation so that families that are legally in the U.S. should be able to have a family visitation document so that it would be easier for their brothers and sisters to come visit them. Let their family members stay for awhile maybe 6 months and then let them come back again when the family wants them to come back, maybe they could get and extension of the 6 months or legal status someday if they show they are contributing to society in a worthwhile way either by securing a job or helping the elderly, I am sure they are a lot of elder people who need help doing their lawns and cleaning basements and garages and running errands and so forth and people need people to care for their elder parents they would rather have them at home then in a nursing home and people also need babysitters if they work sometimes they can't afford day care. Also if the relative that gets the family visitation permit can provide for there brother or sister or parents what is the difference if they bring them for a visit, God gave this world to all of us, make people happy, how would some of us feel if we could not see our brothers, sisters and parents for years on end because of our hectic work schedule and the cost of travel. Remember home is where the heart is. I also think this would help along the border because when people can come of their own free will for a visit they will not pay a "coyote" all the money they get and risk their lives. Therefore there would not be as much drug money or they could secure our borders better. I hope to hear more discussion about my thoughts. By the way I did call the immigration office a long time ago and I asked them once before why they were giving amnesty to people that were breaking the law because that teaches them that laws can be broken and they are being rewarded, and at the time whomever answered the telephone, which was a number of people, when I finally got to the last person they said "Technically you are right, buy we have to do things the way the law is written. This is a subject that is dear to my heart, why I could never understand the people that were waiting down in Mexico didn't complain about this type of discrimination whereby someone breaking the law gets in sooner then the poor souls waiting to come here legally. If this helps someone to better understand the fustration of legal immigration and why our policies are at fault then I will be proud I am speaking for the people who are maybe afraid to speak up.

Anonymous said at September 20, 2005 4:18 PM:

As an Immigration law enforcement officer, it's tough when you see what you were taught to do in an academy is thrown into the garbage by just pure political and international relationships issues. When we try to enforce immigration laws we are viewed as bad people that don't want others to prosper and fullfil the dream of coming to the US.

Many people don't see that allowing a person to enter illegally the country and providing that person a job is a huge bad example set for people who wanto to come to this country legally. What message is being send? Hey, don't bother waiting for an immigrant visa, just cross the border!

There is so much hype with this Homeland Security stuff and the truth is that the enforcement of immigration laws is as low as it was before the establishment of this department. Like me there are many other immigration officers that want to enforce the laws but have their hands tied up by the internal policies of this administration.

Unfortunately I don't see this getting any better any time soon. Well, probably I"ll never see it in my lifetime.

Fred Weeks said at May 2, 2009 12:28 PM:

May 3, ‘09

To those that should use their power for good,

I have married a lady who lives in China. I have gone though the entire process and expense to have her immigrate to this country. After 7 months of this process, she has been denied entry into Canada. The only reason they give is that, because of the age difference between us, they think that she only married me in order to get into Canada.
These are a few points that I would like to point out.
1. Shouldn’t a person be judged on the ability to contribute to the betterment of the country? This lady was a nurse in China. We have spent millions bringing nurses into Canada and, here, I am spending my own money to bring one in. She is a smart, ambitious person that could be paying taxes for the next 30 years. She is anxious to work here.
2. Did they read the details of the person I was sponsoring? They could see the difference in age, right away. Did they see and decide that there was no hope of her getting approved, and wanted to collect the fees before denying her. Of course, there was all the notarizations, travel and hotel bills I paid as well.
3. What is the worst thing that could happen, if she was to move here? The immigration papers safeguard against her going on welfare. I HAVE to support her and IS one of the qualifications. She could leave me? So what. Does that hurt the country? Everything in 1. still applies; right?
4. What are some other benefits; or the best things that could happen? Because of a divorce, my retirement funds are low. Chinese woman are dedicated to their men, not like a lot of woman in this country. A larger difference in age, is the norm in China. When I am older I would probly end in an old-folks home. It won’t be before my money will run out and the government would be subsidizing me. In this case, I will be well looked after, by a loving person and an ex-nurse, and die in my own bed.
5. Do the workers have strict policies? Maybe they are not allowed to think for themselves. I know, in “Chinese Communism”, people are treated like cattle, not as an individual. Is that what we are becoming? They have the excuse of a billion people. What is ours, beside laziness?
6. Results: I will be joining her in her country for as long as I am allowed. My resources and job talent will be used, and spent, in foreign lands. My family will be torn apart here. Under the circumstances, we could be living out of a suitcase, moving about because of visa restrictions in ALL countries. Perhaps we will apply for immigration in 5 to 6 years. Their excuse, about our marriage, will not be valid then.
It is sad that people are not allowed to live their lives without being dictated to. I know that there are too many people that abuse the systems. In my case, I have been abused by the system one time too many. This is the woman I love and I will stand up and be counted, this time. This is the one time I will NOT roll over and play dead as most Canadians do. I have no power, but the word and this all I can do. Many copies of this letter is being sent out. Every means will be used to get the word out. “World wide”.

I hope you can be of assistance to us. If not, I wish you well.
If you require all the details, do not hesitate to ask.

Fred Weeks

angie said at June 3, 2009 1:52 PM:

Why is the immigration officers is not fair with the other people who is traveling for tourist? I have a friend who is travelling here in Hong Kong and she has a already an invitation letter from the person has given her an validates. And why does she still need an red sold, invitation letter from the hong kong consulates such as she is not gonna work here. She just need to be here for 3 days and she has a round trip ticket. If this immigration law is always asks an invitation letter for tourist travel why is the airline ticket will not require an invitation letter for the beginning before traveller will book a ticket.??? poor services and shit immigration officers who just trying to modus operande and take some money,............... for contributions Kaya lalo nag hihirap ang pilipinas kc maraming gago sa ating sariling bansa.............. bulok ang economiya bacause of you

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