November 29, 2005: Comments By Mike Cutler, a retired 34-year veteran of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service on A Speech Made By President Bush Regarding Enforcement of Immigration Laws At The U.S.-Mexico Border and Within the U.S.
The President is attempting to do something that is physically impossible- he appears to want to be, or at least appear to be, in two places at one time. On the one hand, he claims he want to see the immigration laws enforced and talks about the need to remove illegal aliens who are caught near the border. He noted that the administration wants to implement “expedited removal” for aliens caught anywhere on the border. He also talked about the effort to repatriate illegal Mexican aliens to the interior of Mexico to make it more difficult for those aliens to attempt to try to run the border. Yet, his guest worker program would reward those illegal aliens who succeed in getting to the interior of the United States. These illegal aliens would be eligible to participate in his guest worker program.
While he did address the issue of the enforcement of the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States, what he did not say, however, is how many new special agents he would want to hire to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States. During his speech yesterday, a portion of which I have attached below, he talked about doubling the resources dedicated to immigration law enforcement from within the interior of the United States. It is also worth noting that in March of this year, I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims about the issue of resources dedicated to the interior enforcement of the immigration laws. Congress had authorized the hiring of 800 new special agents, in conjunction with recommendations made by the 911 Commission. Inexplicably, the administration indicated that they only wanted to hire 143 new special agents who would be dedicated to the enforcement of the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States. I was very disappointed that Congress was only willing to hire 800 new special agents. You can imagine my reaction to the President's ultimate decision to hire only 143 new special agents! Many of the new agents that the President was apparently happy to talk about have been hired over his objections!
What he did not talk about is how would he deal with the many illegal aliens who don't run our borders and evade the inspections process but rather, enter through ports of entry and then after being admitted into our country, violate our immigration laws by overstaying the period for which they were admitted, accept illegal employment, commit felonies, or otherwise become deportable. What would prevent an alien who entered the United States via the established lawful procedure of being inspected at a port of entry and then seeking employment under the auspices of his guest worker program? Since it is estimated that some 40% or more of the illegal alien population did not run the border, would he include them in this program?
The President was right when he said that “We understand that border security and interior enforcement go hand in hand.” His lack of enthusiasm to actually create an effective interior enforcement program leaves me underwhelmed. To speak about the “successes” including the arrest of hundreds of illegal aliens when we know that there are millions of illegal aliens who are working within our country is absurd. He touted the arrest of nearly 1,400 gang members when the truth is that it has been estimated that there are more gang members in the United States than there are sworn police officers throughout the entire country! It is, of course true, that not all gang members are aliens, however, it is estimated that there are at least tens of thousands of illegal aliens who are currently present within our nation's borders. Last year, only three employers of illegal aliens were notified of the intention of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to levy fines against them. These numbers do not constitute a deterrent against illegal immigration and does not act as a deterrent against those who would hire illegal aliens.
And then the President spoke about his real objective, the implementation of a “Guest Worker Program.” He repeatedly has made the point that this program is not “Amnesty.” Many other politicians such as Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy also are eager to state that their guest worker programs do not constitute amnesty. They do this because everyone knows that the Immigration Amnesty of 1986 was an absolute abysmal failure. It was supposed to bring an estimated 1.5 million illegal aliens out of the 'shadows.' Ultimately, some 3.5 million availed themselves of the opportunity to be given lawful status in the United States. Perhaps there was some undercounting of the true numbers of illegal aliens involved in this program, but it must also be understood that fraud was a major problem because of the huge number of aliens and the small number of special agents and other personnel who were involved in administering this program. It is all well and good when politicians decide on a mission for the civil servants of our nation. They must understand the limitations of an agency that has meager resources that are simply inadequate to do the job effectively. In any event, the 1986 amnesty which was implemented as a one-time program to finally restore integrity to the immigration program lead to the greatest influx of illegal aliens in the history of our nation. Today it is estimated that there are anywhere from 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens.
The President is now touting his plan to give them the opportunity to participate in a Guest Worker Program that would enable them to remain for an initial period of 3 years, renewable for another 3 years, whereupon they would have to go home. Simply stated this program is wrong for two basic reasons. First of all philosophically, it rewards illegal aliens who have violated our nation's sovereign borders and our nation's immigration laws by permitting them to work in the United States. If you came home tonight and found that someone had broken into your house would you offer the intruder a job or call the cops? This will only encourage more illegal immigration as did the 1986 Amnesty. It will also penalize those millions of aliens who are waiting their lawful turn to enter our nation and participate in the “American Dream.” Second, this program cannot be effectively managed. Just as we are currently unable to remove the millions of illegal aliens who are currently living in our country, I would love to know by what mechanism the President plans to make certain that these aliens will leave the United States when their authorized period has expired. I don't believe he knows how to do this either, but then, it is probably not a coincidence that he wants their initial period of authorized employment to run for three years. Three years from the date that any such legislation could possibly be enacted would be after he has left the Presidency! Talk about leaving a mess for someone else to clean up! The next President of the United States would be left holding the proverbial bag. The next President will not only have to deal with all of the aliens who participated in the guest worker program, he/she will have to deal with the millions of illegal aliens who will have succeeded in entering our country during the next three or four years as well.
It is also worth noting that the President addressed the issue of document fraud but did not talk about immigration benefit fraud. What would prevent these “guest workers” from getting married and then having applications filed for them by their United States citizen spouses? How many of such marriages would be arranged marriages set up to simply enable these aliens to remain permanently in the United States? With only a couple of thousand special agents and millions of aliens to deal with, these beleaguered special agents will be totally unable to cope with the avalanche of applications and other issues that would be their responsibility. Add to this the merger of the former United States Customs Service with the former INS wherein the great majority of the managers who are now running ICE have come from Customs and have little experience or, frankly, inclination to deal with immigration issues. This is not simply my opinion, it is the opinion of the OIG which recently issued a report on the disastrous situation that was created with the merger of these two very dissimilar agencies into ICE.
And now, here is the final issue to be considered. We are waging a “War on Terror.” The President and his administration remind us of this constantly. He stated that the guest workers would receive secure identity documents to help employers know who they are hiring. This is simply wrong! With the crush of millions of illegal aliens showing up at immigration offices around the country, it is to be expected that many of them will be undocumented aliens. Think, for a moment, what that term means. These individuals have no identity documents. Absolutely nothing would stop terrorists from showing up at an immigration office and apply for a guest worker permit under a false name. If they managed to stay 'under the radar' so that their fingerprints are not on file, it would be absolutely impossible for the immigration employees to really know the identity of the alien standing in front of him/her. Even if the person had been arrested for a minor charge the name relating to the fingerprints might still not be that person's true name. Whenever you look at an arrest record, or “rap sheet” it is not uncommon for the bad guys to have multiple identities. In fact, according to the 911 Commission, the 19 terrorists who attacked our nation used a total of 364 different identities. The only thing worse than no security is false security. These documents may be tamper-resistant, but if the process by which they are issued is so terribly flawed, they will not enhance our security, only provide the false illusion that they provide secure and accurate identification of the bearer of these documents.
I have attached a segment of the President's prepared statement below and underneath that I have attached today's New York Times article that deals with his speech.
-Written By Michael Cutler-
President George Bush's Speech On Immigration Law Enforcement:
As we work to secure the border, comprehensive immigration reform also requires us to improve enforcement of our laws in the interior of the country. Catching and deporting illegal immigrants along the border is only part of the responsibility. America's immigration laws apply across all of America, and we will enforce those laws throughout our land. Better interior enforcement begins with better work site enforcement. American businesses have an obligation to abide by the law, and our government has the responsibility to help them do so. (Applause.) Enforcing our immigration laws in the interior of the country requires a sustained commitment of resources. Since I took office, we've increased funding for immigration enforcement by 44 percent. We've increased the number of immigration and customs investigators by 14 percent since 2001. And those good folks who are working hard, too. Last year, the — this year, federal agents completed what they called Operation Rollback. It's the largest work site enforcement case in American history. This operation resulted in the arrest of hundreds of illegal immigrants, criminal convictions against a dozen employers, and a multi-million dollar payment from one of America's largest corporations. Our skilled immigration security officers are also going against some of the most dangerous people in our society — smugglers, terrorists, gang members and human traffickers. In Arizona, we have prosecuted more than 2,300 smugglers bringing drugs, guns and illegal immigrants across the border. As a part of Operation Community Shield, federal agents have arrested nearly 1,400 gang members who were here illegally, including hundreds of members of the violent Latin American gangs like MS-13. Since the Department of Homeland Security was created, agents have apprehended nearly 27,000 illegal immigrant fugitives. Thanks to our determined personnel, society is safer. But we've got more work to do. The legislation I signed last month more than doubled the resources dedicated to interior enforcement. We understand that border security and interior enforcement go hand in hand.
November 29, 2005
President Renews His Campaign to Overhaul Immigration Policies
By RICHARD W. STEVENSON
TUCSON, Nov. 28 – President Bush kicked off a new effort on Monday to unite Republicans behind an overhaul of immigration laws. He emphasized the need to choke off the flow of illegal immigrants while trying to address conservatives' concerns about his plan to grant temporary legal status to millions of illegal workers already in the United States.
On the first of two days of appearances in two border states, Arizona and Texas, Mr. Bush tried to stake out a middle ground on an issue that has divided Republicans, saying the nation did not have to choose between upholding its immigration laws and being compassionate to the millions of workers who travel here desperate to make a living.
His emphasis was unmistakably on the elements that most concern conservatives in his party. They are demanding more forceful steps to hold back the waves of people who flow across the Mexican border and are deeply opposed to anything that smacks of amnesty for people who have entered illegally.
“Illegal immigration's a serious challenge,” Mr. Bush said, flanked by two black Border Patrol helicopters in a hangar at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base here. “And our responsibility is clear. We are going to protect the border.”
Mr. Bush listed initiatives that he said were helping, including returning illegal immigrants from Mexico to their hometowns rather than simply sending them back across the border and moving to end the practice of releasing illegal immigrants in the United States in the expectation, usually dashed, that they will appear for court hearings.
He approvingly cited programs to build walls and fences in some areas, spoke of how technology was helping catch people sneaking across the border and pushed budget increases he has supported.
The president cast his original proposal for a temporary guest worker program as a safety valve that would reduce illegal immigration and sought to ease concerns among some conservatives that it would amount to amnesty for lawbreakers. His plan would let millions of illegal immigrants obtain legal status for a fixed but as yet undetermined period, but would then require them to return to their home countries, a provision that many immigration experts say is unworkable and unrealistic.
“We're going to secure the border by catching those who enter illegally and hardening the border to prevent illegal crossings,” Mr. Bush said. “We're going to strengthen enforcement of our immigration laws within our country. And together with Congress, we're going to create a temporary worker program that'll take pressure off the border, bring workers from out of the shadows and reject amnesty.”
He signaled that he would oppose any effort to limit changes in immigration policy to an increase in border security. In doing so, he suggested that the White House preferred the approach being taken by Senate Republican leaders who have promised to develop a broad approach to immigration and border security to that being taken by House Republican leaders who plan to bring up a bill just on border security.
In the audience were the two Arizona senators, both Republicans: John McCain, who has co-sponsored a plan to give participants in the guest worker program a path to citizenship, and Jon Kyl, who has co-sponsored a bill to deny temporary workers a path to citizenship.
Their bills are among proposals on Capitol Hill that include building a wall along the entire Mexican border, using military forces to patrol the border, creating a volunteer marshal program to help patrols and increasing fines for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
“Listen, there's a lot of opinions on this proposal,” Mr. Bush said. “I understand that. But people in this debate must recognize that we will not be able to effectively enforce our immigration laws until we create a temporary worker program.”
In taking on the issue, Mr. Bush has found himself caught between two powerful forces. On one side is business, which pleads for a system that will ensure employers' access to workers who are willing to take jobs that they say they cannot fill with Americans or legal immigrants.
On the other side are conservatives who say the big problem is a porous border that is creating huge law enforcement problems and adding to the costs of social welfare, education and other programs.
Democrats are highlighting the Republicans' divisions, pressing Mr. Bush not to acquiesce to conservatives and asking him to address the full range of immigration issues.
“As Congress finally begins to address this problem, I hope that you will stand up to the right wing of your party and stand up for what is right,” Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who is minority leader, said in a letter sent on Monday to Mr. Bush.
Mr. Reid continued, “Democrats support immigration policies that will reunite families, provide for continued American economic growth, protect the rights of American workers, secure economic stability for our neighbors to the south and honor the values of the United States of America as a nation of immigrants.”
Immigration is among the trickiest issues on Mr. Bush's domestic agenda, and it is in some ways similar to what President Bill Clinton faced in pushing for an overhaul of the welfare system a decade ago.
As Mr. Clinton did with welfare, Mr. Bush became immersed in immigration as governor. Just as Mr. Clinton wanted to use toughening the welfare system as a way to break with liberal orthodoxy and lay claim to the political center, Mr. Bush and his advisers have always viewed addressing immigration in a way sensitive to immigrants as an opportunity to strengthen his party's appeal to Hispanics, a fast-growing segment of the population.
Just as Mr. Clinton had to risk outrage among Democrats in signing a Republican welfare bill just months before he faced re-election in 1996, Mr. Bush finds himself navigating between factions of his party and at risk of having opened a debate that he can no longer control at a time his political fortunes have been sinking and he is increasingly reliant on his conservative base for support.
MIKE CUTLERS BIO
Former INS Senior Special Agent. Mr. Cutler's 30-year INS career included criminal investigations of fraud, alien smuggling, drug trafficking and organized crime. Mr. Cutler has provide expert-witness testimony on immigration law enforcement at several congressional hearings, and he testified before the Presidential Commission on the Terrorist Attacks of September 11. Michael W. Cutler graduated from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1971 with a B.A. in Communications Arts and Sciences.
Mr. Cutler began working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in October 1971 when he entered on duty as an Immigration Inspector assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport. From 1973 until 1974 He was assigned as an examiner to the unit which was responsible for adjudicating petitions filed by United States Citizens and Lawfully Admitted Permanent Resident Aliens (LPRs) on behalf of their alien spouses to accord them LPR status. His goal in this assignment was to attempt to uncover fraud marriages and fraud marriage rings.
In August 1975 he became a Criminal Investigator (Special Agent) for the INS at NYC. He rotated through virtually every squad in the Investigations Branch. From 1988 until 1991 he was assigned as the INS representative to the Unified Intelligence Division (UID) of the DEA in New York.
In 1991 he was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and was assigned to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) which required that he work with members of other law enforcement agencies including the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Customs and local and state police as well as law enforcement organizations of other countries including Israel, Canada, Great Britain and Japan, to conduct investigations of aliens involved in major drug trafficking organizations which ultimately resulted in the seizure of their assets as well as their arrest and successful prosecutions for a wide variety of criminal violations.
Mr. Cutler has testified as an “Expert witness” in at least nine Congressional hearings on issues relating to the enforcement of immigration laws, having been called by members of both political parties. Mr. Cutler has also furnished testimony to the Presidential Commission on the Terrorist Attacks of September 11.
Mr. Cutler retired from the INS in February 2002 after a career that spanned some 30 years. He is currently a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank, is a Contributing Expert on the nexus between immigration and terrorism for the Counterterrorism Blog and is an advisor to the 911 Families for a Secure America. Mr. Cutler has appeared on numerous television and radio programs including the OReilly Radio Factor, OReillys No Spin Zone, Fox News and the Lou Dobbs Tonight Program on CNN to discuss the enforcement of immigration laws and has participated in various public debates and panel discussions on issues involving the enforcement and administration of immigration laws.
Among the areas of concern that he is able to speak about authoritatively are: The nexus between immigration and national security, the impact of immigration on the criminal justice system, strategies to combat illegal immigration and why amnesty for illegal aliens is the wrong way to go.