Home­land Se­cu­rity hails drop in border ar­rests as a suc­cess

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

An 8 per­cent drop in the num­ber of ap­pre­hen­sions of il­le­gal aliens on U.S. borders in fis­cal 2006 was hailed by the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity on Oct. 30 as the re­sult of en­hanced border en­force­ment, but both im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cates and pro­po­nents ques­tioned the claim.

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Michael Chertoff said that the chal­lenge of con­trol­ling the borders “has been with us for 30 years,” and that the prob­lem will not be solved in 30 min­utes or in 30 days.

“But what is im­por­tant is to put into place a strat­egy that, if con­sis­tently fol­lowed, will put us on a course that will get us se­cu­rity at the border,” he said at a press con­fer­ence at the Ron­ald Rea­gan Build­ing and In­ter­na­tional Trade Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton. “That’s what the pub­lic has a right to ex­pect.”

Mr. Chertoff also said a guest­worker pro­gram was needed to slow the flow of il­le­gals into the United States, al­though con­ser­va­tive House Repub­li­cans have blocked ef­forts by the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion to pass a tem­po­rary-worker bill. He said get­ting con­trol of the border with­out such a pro­gram would be “very, very dif­fi­cult.”

Frank Sherry, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Im­mi­gra­tion Fo­rum, said en­hanced border se­cu­rity mea­sures by the ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress may have had an ef­fect on the num­ber of il­le­gal en­tries, but the gov­ern­ment’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion had the sound of “an in­fa­mous gen­eral who once said there was a light at the end of the tun­nel.”

“The prob­lem of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion didn’t start at the border, and it’s not go­ing to end at the border,” said Mr. Sherry, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion builds sup­port for pub­lic poli­cies that wel­come im­mi­grants and refugees. He said the gov­ern­ment has to deal with the 12 mil­lion to 20 mil­lion il­le­gal aliens now in the United States and their em­ploy­ers.

Mr. Sherry said the drop in the num­ber of border ap­pre- hen­sions may be the re­sult of “smug­glers and mi­grants try­ing to fig­ure out where the border is most vul­ner­a­ble.”

Steven A. Ca­marota, re­search di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, which seeks to limit im­mi­gra­tion, said it was dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine what the de­cline meant be­cause there is “no solid body of in­for­ma­tion” on how many un­de­tected peo­ple cross daily into the United States.

Mr. Ca­marota also said mi- grants look­ing to come to this coun­try may sim­ply have opted for other meth­ods, in­clud­ing read­ily avail­able border-cross­ing cards and tem­po­rary visas, which of­ten re­sult in over­stays.

“This well may be a sign that the mod­est steps taken by the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion to deal with il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion have been ef­fec­tive,” he said. “But we just don’t know. With a num­ber that falls into the mar­gin of er­ror, it’s very hard to tell if this is a trend or just a dip.”

In fis­cal 2006, ap­pre­hen­sions dropped to 1.1 mil­lion from 1.2 mil­lion in fis­cal 2005, which Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials at­trib­uted to ad­di­tional U.S. Border Pa­trol agents, en­hanced tech­nol­ogy and the pres­ence of 6,000 Na­tional Guard troops.

But it is not known how many peo­ple en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally each year, with es­ti­mates on un­de­tected aliens rang­ing from two to 10 for ev­ery one who is caught.

Home­land Sec­re­tary As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Julie L. My­ers, who heads U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, said ICE set records for en­force­ment ac­tiv­ity, end­ing the long-stand­ing prac­tice of “catch and re­lease” on the na­tion’s borders.

She said that ICE re­moved 186,600 il­le­gal aliens from the coun­try in fis­cal 2006, a 10 per­cent in­crease over fis­cal 2005, and that there were more than seven times as many work­site en­force­ment cases as in 2002.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Mireya Leal shares a pic­nic lunch through the U.S.-Mex­ico border fence with her hus­band Ray­mundo Orozco in Ti­juana, Mex­ico on Oct. 28. This sec­tion is the west­ern end of a 14-mile pri­mary wall sep­a­rat­ing Ti­juana from San Diego and runs through the beach be­fore end­ing at the Pa­cific Ocean. The cou­ple, who have been mar­ried for six years, have been meet­ing ev­ery week­end for seven months, while they are work­ing on im­mi­gra­tion pa­pers. Nei­ther can cur­rently cross the border.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.