Stricter Policies Will Solve the Problem of Illegal Immigration
Stricter Policies Will Solve the Problem of Illegal Immigration
MICHAEL W. CUTLER, FORMER INSPECTOR, EXAMINER AND SPECIAL AGENT, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 109TH CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION, SEPTEMBER 1, 2006
A nation's primary responsibility is to provide for the safety and security of its citizens and yet, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, the members of the Senate who voted for S. 2611 are seemingly oblivious to the lessons that the disastrous amnesty of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) should have taught us. That piece of legislation led to the greatest influx of illegal aliens in the history of our nation. Fraud and a lack of integrity of the immigration system not only flooded our nation with illegal aliens who ran our borders, hoping that what had been billed as a "one time" amnesty would be repeated, but it also enabled a number of terrorists and many criminals to enter the United States and then embed themselves in the United States.
A notable example of such a terrorist can be found in a review of the facts concerning Mahmud Abouhalima, a citizen of Egypt who entered the United States on a tourist visa, overstayed his authorized period of admission and then applied for amnesty under the agricultural worker provisions of IRCA. He succeeded in obtaining resident alien status through this process. During a five year period he drove a cab and had his license suspended numerous times for violations of law and ultimately demonstrated his appreciation for our nation's generosity by participating in the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 that left six people dead, hundreds of people injured and an estimated one-half billion dollars in damage inflicted, on that iconic, ill-fated complex…. The other terrorists who attacked our nation on subsequent attacks, including the attacks of September 11, 2001, similarly exploited our generosity, seeing in our nation's kindness, weakness, gaming the immigration system to enter our country and then, hide in plain sight, among us.
As I recall, when IRCA was proposed, one of the selling points was that along with amnesty for what was believed to have been a population of some 1.5 million illegal aliens would be a new approach to turn off what has been described as the "magnet" that draws the majority of illegal aliens into the United States in the first place, the prospect of securing employment in the United States. In order to accomplish this important goal, IRCA imposed penalties against those unscrupulous employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens. My former colleagues and I were pleased to see that under the employer sanctions of IRCA, the unscrupulous employers of illegal aliens would be made accountable, or so we thought. We were frustrated that we had seen all too many employers hire illegal aliens and treat them horrendously. They paid them sub-standard wages and created unsafe, indeed hazardous working conditions for the illegal aliens they hired, knowing full well that these aliens would not complain because they feared being reported to the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service, now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)]. Meanwhile the employer would not face any penalty for his outrageous conduct. Finally, it seemed that the employer sanctions provisions of IRCA would discourage employers from hiring illegal aliens and would also make it less likely they would treat their employees as miserably as some of these employers did.
Of course, we now know that the relative handful of special agents who were assigned to conduct investigations of employers who hired illegal aliens made it unlikely that employers would face a significant risk of being caught violating these laws and that they would face an even smaller chance of being seriously fined. Furthermore, the way that the amnesty provisions of the law were enacted simply created a cottage industry of fraud document vendors who provided illegal aliens with counterfeit or altered identity documents and supporting documents to enable the illegal alien population to circumvent the immigration laws. Ultimately approximately 3.5 million illegal aliens emerged from the infamous shadows to participate in the amnesty program of 1986. I have never seen an explanation for the reason that more than twice as many aliens took advantage of the 1986 amnesty than was initially believed would but I believe that two factors came into play. It may well be that the number of illegal aliens in the country was underestimated. I also believe, however, that a large number of illegal aliens were able to gain entry into the United States long after the cutoff point and succeeded in making false claims that they had been present in the country for the requisite period of time.
To put this in perspective, I have read various estimates about the number of illegal aliens who are currently present in the United States. These estimates range from a low of twelve million to a high of twenty million. If, for argument sake, we figure on a number of fifteen million illegal aliens, or ten times the number that had been estimated prior to the amnesty of 1986, and if the same sort of under counting occurs, and if a comparable percentage of aliens succeed in racing into the United States and making … false claims that they had been here for the necessary period of time to be eligible to participate in the amnesty program that the Reid-Kennedy provisions would reward illegal aliens with, then we might expect some thirty-five million illegal aliens will ultimately participate in this insane program. Once they become citizens they would then be eligible to file applications to bring their family members to the United States, flooding our nation with tens of millions of additional new lawful immigrations while our nation's porous borders, visa waiver program and extreme lack of resources to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States would allow many millions of illegal aliens to continue to enter the United States in violation of law.
The utterly inept and incompetent USCIS, which is now unable to carry out its most basic missions with even a modicum of integrity would undoubtedly disintegrate. The system would simply implode, crushed by the burden of its vicious cycle of attempting to deal with an ever increasing spiral of rampant fraud thereby encouraging still more fraudulent applications to be filed. Terrorists would not find gaming this system the least bit challenging and our government will have become their unwitting ally, providing them with official identity documents in false names and then, ultimately, providing them with the keys to the kingdom by conferring resident aliens status and then, United States citizenship upon those who would destroy our nation and slaughter our citizens….
America is at historic crossroads at this moment in time. Courageous decisions need to be made by our nation's leaders. If our nation fails to select the proper path, there will be no going back. If our nation decides to provide amnesty to millions of undocumented and illegal aliens, I fear that our national security will suffer irreparable harm as we aid and abet alien terrorists who seek to enter our country and embed themselves within it in preparation for the deadly attacks they would carry out. The priority must be clear, national security must be given the highest consideration and priority where the security of our nation's borders and the integrity of the immigration system are concerned.
VERNON M. BRIGGS JR., CORNELL UNIVERSITY, HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIARY, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, EVANSVILLE, INDIANA, AUGUST 29, 2006
Immigration reform is the domestic policy imperative of our time. The revival of the phenomenon of mass immigration from out of the nation's distant past was the accidental by-product of the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965. Immigration had been declining as a percentage of the population since 1914 and in absolute numbers since 1930. In 1965, only 4.4% of the population was foreign born—the lowest percentage in all of U.S. history and totaled 8.5 million people (the lowest absolute number since 1880). There was absolutely no intention in 1965 to increase the level of immigration. The post-World War "baby boom" was on the verge of pouring a tidal wave of new labor force entrants into the labor market in 1965 and would continue to do so for the next sixteen years. Instead, the stated goal of the 1965 legislation was to rid the immigration system of the overtly discriminatory admission system that had been in effect since 1924. But as subsequent events were to reveal, this legislation let the "Genie out of the jug." Without any warning to the people of the nation, the societal changing force of mass immigration was released on an unsuspecting American economy and its labor force. By 2005, the foreign-born population had soared to 35.5 million persons (or 12.1% of the population) and there were over 22 million workers in the labor force (or 14.7% of the labor force).
Clearly, the overarching conclusion from the experiences of the past forty-one years is that, when it comes to immigration reform, legislative changes should only be taken with great caution. While there is common agreement that the existing system requires major changes, the need for reforms should not be seen as an opportunity to introduce a myriad of dubious provisions—each of which has significant labor market implications—simply to placate the opportunistic pleadings of special interest groups.
Immigration is a policy-driven issue. Policy changes make a difference. Any changes should be to the benefit of the nation—especially the welfare of its existing labor force…. For no matter how immigrants are admitted or by what means they enter the United States, most adult immigrants immediately join the labor force following their entry as do today many of their spouses and, eventually, most of their children. Immigration has economic consequences, which political leaders need to take into account when making any policy decisions….
The underlying reform issue that must be addressed before any others is illegal immigration. It makes no sense to debate remedies for deficiencies and/or additions to the extant immigration system when mass violations of whatever is enacted are tolerated year after year after year. The accumulated stock of illegal immigrants is believed to number between 11.5 to 12 million persons. The annual additional flow is estimated to be between 300,000 to 500,000 persons. Many believe these estimates are too low. Worse yet, these numbers exist despite the fact that over six million illegal immigrants have been allowed to legalize their status as the result of seven amnesties granted by the federal government since 1986. No other element of immigration reform has any claim of priority over the enactment of measures to end this scourge to effective policy implementation. The hemorrhage of illegal immigrants has not only made a mockery of the nation's immigration laws, it has seriously undermined the public's confidence in their own government's ability to secure its borders and control the nation's destiny….
… Because illegal immigrants tend to be disproportionately concentrated in certain segments of the nation's labor market, their direct impact is quite specific. The 2000 Census reported that 58% of the adult foreign-born population had only a high school diploma or less. Undoubtedly the educational attainment level of illegal immigrants is even worse than this bleak Census finding that is the product of our entire immigration system. Consequently, there is no doubt that most illegal immigrants are poorly educated, unskilled and often do not speak English. Of necessity, therefore, they seek employment in the low skilled occupations in a variety of industries. In the process, they artificially swell the labor supply in those occupations and industries and depress the wages of the low skilled American workers who also work in these sectors.
If permitted to compete for these jobs with American workers, the illegal immigrants will always win. This is because they will do anything to get the jobs—accept lower than prevailing wages; work longer hours; work under dangerous and hazardous working conditions; and live in crowded and sub-standard housing. They will accept conditions as they are and are less likely to report violations of prevailing laws pertaining to work standards, anti-discrimination and sexual harassment—even if they know these laws exist (which many do not). No American worker can successfully compete against them—nor should they—when the rules of the game are who will work the hardest, for the longest, and under the worst conditions.
As a consequence, the illegal immigrant worker becomes the "preferred worker" for employers. It is not that "American workers will not do certain jobs;" it is that they will not do the jobs under the same terms that illegal immigrants often will—nor should they. As for the illegal immigrants, they willingly work under these adverse conditions, because their orbit of comparison is with the conditions of work in their homelands. Literally, it does not matter how bad the working conditions are in the United States as they are invariably far better than they were where they come from. Sometimes it is simply the fact that it is possible to get a job at all that distinguishes the state of economic opportunity in the United States from their previous experiences in their countries of origin….
… There are more than thirty-four million low-wage workers in the U.S. labor force … who are in the low skilled sector of the labor market. Overwhelmingly, most of these workers are American workers…. Also, as the number of illegal immigrant workers has soared since … 2000, 3.2 million native born persons of working age who had only a high school diploma or less have dropped-out of the labor force. Presumably, they have found it more rewarding to seek public benefits to support themselves or chosen to pursue illegal activities to support themselves…. It is these low skilled American workers who bear most of the burden of competing for the jobs on the lower skill rungs of the nation's economic job ladder with illegal immigrants….
Massive numbers of illegal immigrants such as those now in the U.S. labor force—and the prospect that many more will continue to come until the magnet of finding jobs is turned-off—has opened wide the door for human exploitation. The literature is rampant with case studies and reports that document that the portion of the labor market where illegal immigrants work is infested with the use of extortion and brute force (by human smugglers which is a thriving criminal enterprise), human slavery (workers bound to human smugglers until their fees are paid off), wage kickbacks (to employers of illegal immigrants as well as to labor contractors), child labor, sexual harassment, job accidents (especially by illegal immigrants who cannot read safety warnings or who lie about their past work experiences and are injured or killed in jobs that they really do not know how to do), and the growth of "sweat shop" manufacturing.
Thus, there is nothing romantic about the nation's failure to enforce its immigration laws no matter how often or vocal pro-immigrant advocacy groups try to spin and to rationalize the issue. Indeed, the indifference paid by many of our national political leaders, the media, and many elite leaders of business, labor, religious, civil rights, and civil liberties groups to these exploitive conditions represents a decidedly seamy side … of our democracy….
Illegal immigration is the primary issue that immigration reform must embrace. Not only is it a cause itself of significant harm to the economic well-being of the most needy members of the American populace, but it also adversely affects the broader society itself. Hence, there is little reason to believe that other policy reforms can be beneficial as long as the integrity of the entire system is in question. There are three steps that must be taken: 1. The employment sanctions system must be made to work…. 2. Enforcement must become a reality…. 3. There must be no amnesties—now or in the future—for those illegally in the United States.
PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY, HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION, BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 109TH CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION, JULY 18, 2006
Americans are basically a fair-minded people, and the continued entry of thousands of illegal aliens offends our ideals of fairness.
Failure to stop the entry of illegal aliens is unfair to those who don't have health insurance but see illegal aliens given costly treatment at U.S. hospitals for which U.S. taxpayers have to pay the bill. It is unfair to the legal immigrants who stand in line and wait their turn to comply with our laws. It is unfair to our friends in Arizona who are afraid to go out of their homes without a gun and a cell phone. It's unfair to small businessmen who are trying to run an honest business, pay their taxes and benefits to employees, but can't compete with their competitors whose costs are so much less because they hire illegal aliens in the underground economy. It is unfair to American children in public schools who see their classrooms flooded with kids who can't speak English and cause a gross decline in the quality of education. It's unfair to our own high school dropouts who need those low-wage jobs to start building a life.
Americans are basically a law-abiding people and they believe our government has betrayed us by its failure to enforce immigration law. Failure to stop the entry of illegal aliens is an offense against our fundamental belief that our nation respects the Rule of Law.
In addition to believing that failure to enforce the law is unfair and a betrayal, the American people have lost faith in the honesty of our leaders. Americans think we are being lied to … by the Senate bill's use of the term "temporary guest workers." We know the President and the Senators are not telling the truth when they imply that guest workers will go home after a few years. The American people are thinking, we don't believe you—and worse, we don't believe that you believe what you are saying because the evidence is so overwhelming that guest workers do not go home. The Senate bill gives guest workers a path to citizenship after a few years and, anyway, it's obvious that those few years give plenty of time to produce an American-born anchor baby.
The American people also believe we are lied to by those who say we can't get border security unless we also have a guest-worker program and "amnesty lite." That's what they mean when they demand a "comprehensive" bill. But "comprehensive" has become a word as offensive as amnesty because we have figured out that it is just a cover for a plan to repeat the mistakes of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, known as Simpson-Mazzoli. That was truly a comprehensive law which combined amnesty with promises of border security and sanctions on employers who hired illegal aliens. The illegal aliens got their amnesty, but we did not get border security or employer sanctions. There was massive fraud, and the illegal population quadrupled.
The American people are not willing to be cheated again…. When we hear the word "comprehensive," we believe that legalization and guest workers will be fully implemented, but that we will get nothing but pie-in-the-sky promises about border security and employment verification….
The Senate Bill Repeats the 1986 Mistakes
The Senate bill would give legal status and a path to citizenship (i.e., amnesty) to the eleven to twenty million aliens (workers, spouses and children) who entered our country illegally and have been using millions of fraudulent documents. They would then become recipients of our generous entitlements. The cost to the taxpayers of this monumental expansion of the welfare state would be at least $50 billion a year. U.S. taxpayers would be saddled with paying for the entitlements of these low-income families, including Medicaid, Social Security …, Supplemental Security Income, Earned Income Tax Credit …, the WIC program, food stamps, public and subsidized housing, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, public schooling and school lunches, and federally funded legal representation….
"Comprehensive" Compromises Are Mistakes, Too
Faced with the American people demanding border security, we now hear some voices saying, okay, we'll package border security with legalization and guest worker, and we'll even promise to deal with border security first. We don't believe them. We have to see proof that the border is closed to illegal aliens and to illegal drugs before we talk about anything else. These so-called compromise plans are heading down the same failed road as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act….
Guest Worker Plans Are Immoral and Un-American
Even if a guest worker plan actually works the way it is promised, it would be immoral and un-American…. Inviting foreigners to come to America as guest workers is equivalent to sending the message: You people are only fit to do menial jobs that Americans think they are too good to do. We will let you come into our country for a few years to work low-paid jobs, but you have no hope of rising up the economic and social ladder, and we do not expect (or want) you to become Americans.
Inviting foreigners to come to America to do jobs that Americans think they are too good to do would create a subordinate underclass of unassimilated foreign workers, like the serf or peasant classes that exist in corrupt foreign countries such as Mexico or Saudi Arabia. That's not the kind of economy or social structure that made America a great nation….
Border Security Is Essential and Must Come First
When is our government going to protect us from the crime, the drugs, the smuggling racket, destruction of property, and the endangerment to U.S. residents along our border and to our undermanned Border Patrol?…
Let's put border security in perspective. We currently have 37,000 U.S. troops guarding the 151-mile border between North and South Korea, but we have fewer than 12,000 agents to monitor 2,000 miles of our southern border….
Illegal Immigration Is Affecting American Jobs
The American people know, even if our government doesn't seem to get it, that the vast influx of foreigners is costing Americans both jobs and good wages. We see this in unskilled entry-level jobs, needed by our own high school dropouts and college students, all the way up to skilled jobs needed by our engineers and computer specialists….
… If every one of the illegal aliens in our country played hooky from his job, the overwhelming majority of those same types of jobs will be worked by millions of American citizens. All over the country, American citizens flip hamburgers in fast-food shops, wash dishes in restaurants, change sheets in hotels, mow lawns, trim shrubs, pick produce, drive taxis, replace roofs on houses, and do all kinds of construction work. Americans are quite willing to work unpleasant, menial, tiresome, and risky jobs, but not for Third World wages.
HEATHER MACDONALD, SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE FOR POLICY RESEARCH, HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION, BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 109TH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION, APRIL 13, 2005
Sanctuary laws are a serious impediment to stemming gang violence and other crime. Moreover, they are a perfect symbol of this country's topsy-turvy stance towards illegal immigration.
Sanctuary laws, present in such cities as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Austin, Houston, and San Francisco, generally forbid local police officers from inquiring into a suspect's immigration status or reporting it to federal authorities. Such laws place a higher priority on protecting illegal aliens from deportation than on protecting legal immigrants and citizens from assault, rape, arson, and other crimes.
Let's say a Los Angeles police officer sees a member of Mara Salvatrucha hanging out at Hollywood and Vine. The gang member has previously been deported for aggravated assault; his mere presence back in the country following deportation is a federal felony. Under the prevailing understanding of Los Angeles's sanctuary law (special order 40), if that officer merely inquires into the gangbanger's immigration status, the officer will face departmental punishment.
To get the felon off the street, the cop has to wait until he has probable cause to arrest the gangbanger for a non-immigration crime, such as murder or robbery. It is by no means certain that that officer will successfully build a non-immigrant case against the gangster, however, since witnesses to gang crime often fear deadly retaliation if they cooperate with the police. Meanwhile, the gangbanger is free to prey on law-abiding members of his community, many of them immigrants themselves.
This is an extraordinarily inefficient way to reduce crime. If an officer has grounds for arresting a criminal now, it is perverse to ask him to wait until some later date when maybe, if he is lucky, he will have an additional ground for arrest.
Sanctuary laws violate everything we have learned about policing in the 1990s. Police departments across the country discovered that utilizing every law enforcement tool in their tool chest against criminals yielded enormous gains. Getting criminals off the streets for seemingly "minor" crimes such as turnstile jumping or graffiti saved lives. Gang crime, which exploded 50% from 1999 to 2002, is too serious a problem to ignore this lesson.
No one knows for certain the percentage of illegals in gangs, thanks in large part to sanctuary laws themselves. But various estimates exist:
- A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60% of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations. It commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico….
- Law enforcement officials estimate that 20% of gang members in San Diego County are illegal….
- The leadership of the Columbia Lil' Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around Los Angeles's MacArthur Park, was about 60% illegal in 2002. Francisco Martinez, a Mexican Mafia member and an illegal alien, controlled the gang from prison, while serving time for felonious reentry following deportation.
- In Los Angeles, 95% of all outstanding warrants for homicide in the first half of 2004 (which totaled 1,200 to 1,500) targeted illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) were for illegal aliens.
- The Los Angeles Police Department arrests about 2,500 criminally-convicted deportees annually….
Though the numbers of illegal gang members remain elusive, the evidence for the destructive effects of sanctuary laws is incontrovertible. In 2002, for example, four illegal Mexicans, accompanied by one legal immigrant, abducted and brutally raped a forty-two-year-old mother of two near some railroad tracks in Queens, New York. The New York Police Department had already arrested three of the illegal aliens numerous times for such crimes as assault, attempted robbery, criminal trespass, illegal gun possession, and drug offenses. But pursuant to New York's sanctuary policy, the department had never notified the INS….
In September 2003, the Miami police arrested a Honduran visa violator for seven vicious rapes. The previous year, Miami cops had had the suspect in custody for lewd and lascivious molestation. Pursuant to Miami's sanctuary law, however, the police had never checked his immigration status. Had they done so, they would have discovered his deportable status, and could have forestalled the rapes.
Cousins Aneceto and Jaime Reyes committed murder and a car-jacking, respectively, after returning to Los Angeles from Mexico following deportation. The Los Angeles police had encountered them before these most recent crimes, but had to wait for them to commit murder and a car-jacking before they could lay a finger on them for their immigration offenses….
The Los Angeles Police Department began revisiting special order 40 last month. Its proposed revision merely underlines how perverse our attitudes towards illegal alien criminals remain.
Los Angeles's top brass propose to allow a Los Angeles officer who suspects that a criminal has previously been deported to contact his supervisor about the reentry felony. That supervisor would then contact ICE [U.S. Immigration Control and Enforcement]. ICE officials would next go before a federal judge to get an arrest warrant for the immigration felony. Then, with warrant in hand, the Los Angeles cop may finally arrest the felonious gangbanger—if he can still find him.
This burdensome procedure is preposterous. To arrest an American citizen for a crime, arrest warrants are rarely required; about 95% of arrests of citizens are warrantless. But in L.A., under the new rules, illegal criminals will have due process rights that citizens can only dream of: not just judicial review before they can be taken off the streets, but federal judicial review—the gold standard of all constitutional protections. Maybe home-grown criminals should renounce their citizenship and reenter the country illegally. It would be a constitutional windfall for them.
Other jurisdictions that are reconsidering their sanctuary laws are also proceeding with unnecessary timidity. The Orange County, California, sheriff plans to train a few deputies to use immigration laws only for special enforcement actions against sexual predators or gangs…. The Miami Police Department will join with ICE only on high-level gang cases.
These minor tinkerings all put unwise limitations on a vital law enforcement power. Local immigration enforcement power should not be limited to the felony of reentry following deportation. Nor should only a small subset of officers be authorized to use it. There are many illegal alien criminals who have not yet reentered following deportation, but who are just as dangerous to their communities. Every officer should have the power to enforce any immigration violation against a criminal suspect, not just immigration felonies.
Nothing demonstrates the necessity of this power better than ICE's March enforcement action against Mara Salvatrucha. Following the March round-up, ICE proudly displayed three of its trophy cases: the founding member of MS-13 in Hollywood, California, who had already been convicted for robbery and possession of a dangerous weapon; the leader of MS-13 in Long Branch, New Jersey, who had a prior criminal history of aggravated arson, weapons possession, grand larceny, and criminal possession of stolen property; and the founder of Port Washington, New York's, MS gang, who had a prior drug conviction.
ICE got all three of these leading gang bangers off the streets through what it calls administrative immigration violations, not felony immigration violations. Local officers in Hollywood, Long Branch, and Port Washington, as elsewhere, should have the power to use any type of immigration violation as well to get a thug (who may also prove to be a terrorist) off the street.
Immigration enforcement against criminals should also not wait upon a major federal-local gang initiative. The majority of opportunities to get criminals off the streets come from enforcing misdemeanors and quality of life offenses. While the police are waiting to make a major federal case against an illegal criminal, they are far more likely to have picked him up for a "petty" theft or an open-container offense. Officers should be empowered at every arrest or lawful stop to check someone's immigration status. If a suspect is committing an immigration offense, the officer should be empowered to arrest him immediately for that offense.
Jails and prisons should routinely check the immigration status of their prisoners. Such an initiative should not be dependent on the presence of an ICE officer stationed in a prison; there are simply not enough federal agents available to cover the relevant facilities. Moreover, ICE agents do not routinely visit local jails where misdemeanor offenders are held, yet those offenders may be as dangerous to the community as someone against whom a felony case has been made. Someone convicted of stealing a jacket today may be shooting a rival tomorrow. And many misdemeanor convicts in jails have been allowed to plead down from more serious felonies.
The standard argument for sanctuary laws is that they encourage illegal aliens to work with the police or seek government services. This argument is based on myth, not evidence. No illegal alien advocate has ever provided a shred of evidence that sanctuary laws actually accomplish their alleged ends. Nor has anyone shown that illegal aliens are even aware of sanctuary laws. The evidence for the destructive effects of sanctuary laws is clear, however.
The idea that sanctuary laws are "pro-immigrant" is perhaps the greatest myth of all. Keeping illegal criminals in the community subjects all immigrants to the thrall of crime and impedes economic growth in immigrant communities.
Obviously, the final prerequisite for ridding immigrant communities of illegal thugs is enough ICE detention space and deportation resources. But providing police officers with every lawful tool to fight crime is a crucial first step to protecting immigrant lives and should be the unanimous recommendation of the Subcommittee.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL T. DOUGHERTY, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (BICE), HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION, BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 108TH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION, MAY 8, 2003
… We as a nation are proud of our globally celebrated—and unmatched—commitment to embracing those who come here legally to join us in building up America, and rightfully so. It is what makes our country great.
However, as the tragic events of September 11, 2001 made clear, those intent on tearing us down will try to take advantage of our generosity and openness by exploiting any mechanism that allows them access to the United States. The nineteen hijackers used our immigration system to gain access to the country in order to carry out the deadly attacks of September 11. While the horrific events of that date reinforced the vulnerabilities in our immigration system, operatives in prior terrorism cases have used fraudulent identities, visas, and travel documents to gain access to our country and further their operations. In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, operatives arrived in the U.S. on student visas but never attended school here. What is also clear from this history is the incredibly powerful tool that immigration enforcement provides in addressing the vulnerabilities in our system that have been exploited by terrorists and other violent criminals….
… The investigation following the events of September 11, 2001, demonstrates how immigration authority and intelligence are critical to national security investigations. Immigration authority provided for the arrest and detention of Zacarias Moussaoui, the individual charged with complicity in the September 11th attacks, while the terrorism investigation was ongoing. Criminal immigration provisions allowed for the prosecution of associates of the September 11th hijackers who used fraudulent visas or documents or who applied for immigration benefits through fraud. The intelligence community relied on data produced by immigration databases and analyzed by the Intelligence Division to help track the hijackers and locate all their known places of residence and known associates in the U.S. and abroad. The Intelligence Division also provided data and analysis on travel patterns and document use by the hijackers. Finally, INS used its authorities to detain and remove aliens who came to the attention of law enforcement through leads related to the September 11th investigation, including known associates of the hijackers. Clearly immigration expertise and authority play a major role in such national security matters….
COUNTER-TERRORISM IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT
… A prime example of this national security focus is the initiative BICE launched on March 20, when agents began seeking out Iraqi nationals believed to be unlawfully in the United States. The joint effort, carried out with the FBI as part of Operation Liberty Shield, aimed to identify and collect information on individuals who might pose a threat to the safety and security of the American people. Approximately 2,000 interviews were conducted resulting in 92 arrests (84 on immigration violations and 8 on criminal charges) by BICE. The Iraqis targeted as part of this effort were identified using a range of intelligence criteria and based on screening of data from our immigration databases. Additionally, as part of Operation Liberty Shield, BICE detained arriving asylum applicants from Iraq and nations where al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda sympathizers, and other terrorist groups are known to have operated. This reasonable and prudent action allowed BICE agents to contact asylum seekers, determine the validity of claims, verify identities, and interview those detained in order to gather intelligence for potential threats and/or sources of information. Further, BICE led an initiative to review approximately 2,500 asylum files related to Iraqi nationals in order to exploit these files for potential threats and/or sources of information. Of the 2,629 reviewed, 619 cases have been referred for follow-up investigation by BICE and the FBI….
Absconder Apprehension Initiative
… Under this initiative, BICE tracks, apprehends, and removes violators of U.S. immigration law who had been ordered deported, but fled before the deportation order could be carried out. Careful analysis has determined there are in excess of 300,000 alien absconders with unexecuted final orders of removal including approximately 80,000 with criminal records. Moreover, historically, voluntary departures have not been tracked. BICE views the failure to track departures as a serious issue effecting national security. The affective implementation of the Entry-Exit system, now part of U.S. VISIT, under development will be part of the solution to confirm departures….
National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS)
… Congress called for development of an integrated entry-exit system for arriving visitors. NSEERS is the first part of that system. NSEERS promotes several key national security objectives:
Allows the United States to run the fingerprints of aliens seeking to enter the country or already present against a database of known terrorists and criminals;
Enables the United States to determine whether such an alien has overstayed their visa status; and
Permits the United States to verify that an alien is complying with the terms of his visa status by living where he said he would live and by doing what he said he would do while in the United States, thus ensuring that he is not violating our immigration laws.
Since the implementation of NSEERS last September, more than 138,000 individuals from more than 151 countries have registered. BICE Special Agents are responsible for interviewing and processing registrants referred for investigation of possible immigration violations, criminal violations, or terrorism-related matters. To date, the program has resulted in the identification of 11 aliens linked to terrorism, the arrest of more than 120 criminal aliens, and the issuance of more than 12,000 notices to appear for removal proceedings.
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
Ensuring that foreign students comply with the terms of their visas is also vital to our nation's security. That is why the Congress mandated in 1996 the development of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which was deployed under the legacy INS. This new Internet-based system, now part of U.S. VISIT and operated by BICE, maintains information that can be accessed electronically, making it a powerful tool for combating fraud and for ensuring that individuals comply with the terms of their visa. Student status violators are now referred to our Division of National Security Investigations where those leads are prioritized based upon factors such as criminal history and prior adverse immigration history. High priority leads are then referred to the appropriate field office for investigation. To date, 174 cases have been referred for field investigation resulting in 20 arrests….
Critical Infrastructure Protection Operations
Another priority within BICE is reflected through the creation of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Office which will focus its traditional immigration employment verification authorities on our nation's critical infrastructure or venues. The presence of workers who have presented fraudulent identification and employment authorization documents poses a significant security breach at our nation's critical infrastructure. Operation Tarmac, for example, was launched in recognition of the fact that illegal workers at airports may pose a serious security risk. It aims to ensure that people with access to secure areas at airports are properly documented and identified. Those without proper documentation are either prosecuted or removed. So far, more than 229,000 Employment Eligibility Verification Forms (Forms I-9) have been audited at more than 3,000 airport businesses. Nearly 1,000 unauthorized aliens have been arrested, with more than two-thirds of them being charged with criminal violations. Additionally, fines have been levied against employers for worksite violations….
BICE's Anti-Smuggling Program aims to dismantle smuggling organizations with links to terrorism and others groups that pose a risk to our national security. Available information indicates terrorist organizations use human smuggling rings to move around the globe, which makes investigating and dismantling these organizations a vital part of our overall effort to enhance homeland security.
Focusing our anti-smuggling resources on domestic security led to the initiation of Operation Southern Focus in January 2002. This multi-jurisdictional operation targeted large-scale smuggling organizations specializing in the movement of U.S.-bound aliens from countries of concern. Many targets of Operation Southern Focus were believed to be responsible for smuggling hundreds of aliens into the country. Since the inception of this operation, nine major smugglers have been arrested and charged with alien smuggling violations, and significant alien smuggling pipelines have been severely disrupted….
Deterring illegal migration and combating immigration-related crime have never been more critical to our national security. The men and women of BICE are tackling this challenging mission with diligence, determined to ensure that no duty is neglected even as they continue to adjust during this time of transition into the new Department. We are eager to work with you and the other members of Congress to provide the American people with the level of security they demand and deserve.