The U.S. Border Patrol has nabbed 15,195 non-Mexican migrants crossing over the Rio Bravo around Eagle Pass in the past eight months, a rise of almost 240 percent on the same period last year, officials said on Monday.
Agents say what they call "OTMs" -- "other than Mexican migrants" -- now account for 90 percent of all migrant detentions in the sweltering trade and ranching hub of 40,000 people. That is up from the 5 percent to 10 percent nationwide normally recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Mexicans who are caught crossing the border are deported back to Mexico very quickly. But the bulk of Other Than Mexicans (OTMs) are released with orders to appear at a deportation hearing at some future date. Few of those OTMs show up for their hearings. To deport the OTMs the illegal crossers must be held in detention for days or weeks to do legal processing and arrange for transportation (typically flights) back to their countries of origin. But the Border Patrol lack funding to hold all the OTMs for the needed lengths of time. Knowledge of this fact is gradually spreading throughout Latin America and even to more distant places such as the Middle East.
Think about that one year 240% rise of OTMs at Eagle Pass Texas. Effectively the United States now has open borders for non-Mexicans. Unless the Border Patrol's capacity to detain OTMs is greatly increased the flood is going to grow.
Congressman Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), who has served as a sheriff in south Texas, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee - Subcommittee on Immigration on March 3, 2005 says 90% of OTMs never show up for their deportation hearings and organized crime gangs from Central America enter the United States as OTMs.
1. The release of OTMs (other than Mexicans) by the U.S. government. Border law enforcement officers routinely release illegal immigrants into the general population of the U.S. because they do not have sufficient funds and space to detain them at detention facilities. Captured OTMs are released on their own recognizance and are ordered to appear at a deportation hearing weeks after their release. The number of “absconders” – those who never appear for deportation – varies widely, but is said to be 90% of those released, a number now approaching 75,000.
2. The growing number of Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gangs, the bloody, violent Central American gangs that are now a serious criminal element in major cities and in states around the country. These gangs are entering the country as OTMs, and gaining easy release.
3. A recent warning to Americans by the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico illustrating the danger of narcotrafficking gangs along the U.S. border directed against Americans in the border area, including kidnapping of American citizens.
Detention facilities and Border Patrol staffing are not keeping pace with the needs.
The Intelligence Reform bill passed by Congress, and signed by the President, mandated 10,000 Border Patrol agents over 10 years, 2,000 annually. The budget received by Congress in early February only funded 210 BP agents. The Border Patrol will lose more than 210 agents to attrition – the strength of the Border Patrol is dwindling. Just this week, 24 more Border Patrol agents were mobilized with the National Guard to the war in Iraq from the McAllen sector alone.
Intelligence Reform mandated an increase of 8,000 beds in detention facilities annually for the next 5 years, still not nearly enough to hold all those coming in to the U.S. Yet, our budget proposal provides for only about 1,900 new detention space beds – over 6,000 beds short of the congressional mandate passed in December 2004.
This is a clear and present danger inside the United States, and the number of released illegal immigrants not returning for deportation grows by the hundreds each week.
Border Patrol agents do not have time to even do background checks on the OTMs to identify and hold the known criminals.
I asked those who stand on our front lines what they would want to say to the U.S. Congress; here’s what they said:
- “Our borders are not secure.”
- “What’s our mission here? We’re spinning our wheels.”
- “The whole system is broken.”
- “We’re releasing OTMs without proper checks due to lack of time and info.”
The Border Patrol caught 39,215 OTMs in 2003 and 65,814 in 2004. The numbers will continue to rise until most OTMs are held for deportation. Terrorists could obviously exploit this route if they got their act together. Middle Easterners enter the US as OTMs from Mexico.
OTM release is just one of the big gaps in immigration law enforcement. Another big gap is the collapse of interior enforcement against employers who hire illegals.
In the Los Angeles area, there are about 400 ICE agents to investigate cases involving narcotics, gangs, port security, criminal immigrants, computer crimes, smuggling and customs violations. They cover seven Southern California counties and part of Nevada.
The last time an employer targeted by the work-site division faced criminal charges here was in 2002, authorities said, when a Pasadena dress shop owner received probation after luring, then imprisoning, an illegal immigrant worker.
"How thin can you stretch roughly 400 employees with all our responsibilities?" Jeffery asked. "Everything is done on a priority basis. That's why the focus may not be the dry cleaners, but rather the power plants."
Any tips that do not involve critical infrastructure, he added, are "put in a file cabinet and filed."
Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies says immigration law enforcement can be improved to deter people from entering the country illegally and to encourage those who are here illegally to leave.
But there is a third way that rejects this false choice, and it is the only approach that can actually work: Shrink the illegal population through consistent, across-the-board enforcement of the immigration law. By deterring the settlement of new illegals, by increasing deportations to the extent possible, and, most importantly, by increasing the number of illegals already here who give up and deport themselves, the United States can bring about an annual decrease in the illegal-alien population, rather than allowing it to continually increase. The point, in other words, is not merely to curtail illegal immigration, but rather to bring about a steady reduction in the total number of illegal immigrants who are living in the United States. The result would be a shrinking of the illegal population to a manageable nuisance, rather than today’s looming crisis.
This is analogous to the approach a corporation might take to downsizing a bloated workforce: a hiring freeze, some layoffs, plus new incentives to encourage excess workers to leave on their own.
It is worth noting that such a strategy of attrition is implicit in many proposals for improved enforcement of the immigration law, such as the recently passed Real ID Act (which, among other things, sought to bars illegals from getting driver’s licenses) and the Clear Act (a bill which, if passed, would systematize the interaction of federal immigration authorities with state and local law enforcement). But however important such specific measures are, they are merely tactics, pieces of a larger puzzle. An overall blueprint for success also needs to be articulated, in order to place such tactics in strategic context for the public, for lawmakers, and for the enforcement personnel assigned to do the job.
Krikorian notes that self-deportation and other means to reducing illegal alien employment have worked in the past. We have precedents for how to make immigration law enforcement work.
During the first several years after the passage of the IRCA, illegal crossings from Mexico fell precipitously, as prospective illegals waited to see if we were serious. Apprehensions of aliens by the Border Patrol – an imperfect measure but the only one available – fell from more than 1.7 million in FY 1986 to under a million in 1989. But then the flow began to increase again as the deterrent effect of the hiring ban dissipated, when word got back that we were not serious about enforcement and that the system could be easily evaded through the use of inexpensive phony documents.
That showed that reducing new illegal immigration is possible; but what about increasing the number of illegals already here who give up and leave? That, too, has already been demonstrated. After the 9/11 attacks, immigration authorities undertook a “Special Registration” program for visitors from Islamic countries. The affected nation with the largest illegal-alien population was Pakistan, with an estimated 26,000 illegals here in 2000. Once it became clear that the government was getting more serious about enforcing the immigration law – at least with regard to Middle Easterners – Pakistani illegals started leaving on their own in large numbers. The Pakistani embassy estimated that more than 15,000 of its illegal aliens left the United States, and the Washington Post reported the “disquieting” fact that in Brooklyn’s Little Pakistan the mosque was one-third empty, business was down, there were fewer want ads in the local Urdu-language paper, and “For Rent” signs sprouted everywhere.6
And in an inadvertent enforcement initiative, the Social Security Administration in 2002 sent out almost a million “no-match” letters to employers who filed W-2s with information that was inconsistent with SSA’s records.7 The intention was to clear up misspellings, name changes, and other mistakes that had caused a large amount of money paid into the system to go uncredited. But, of course, most of the problem was caused by illegal aliens lying to their employers, and thousands of illegals quit or were fired when they were found out. The effort was so successful at denying work to illegals that business and immigrant-rights groups organized to stop it and won a 90 percent reduction in the number of letters to be sent out.8
Americans have to get mad enough about immigration to make politicians enforce immigration laws. Will anger build to a high enough level that elite desires will cease to determine immigration policy?
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2005 May 31 09:57 AM Immigration Law Enforcement|