Borders & Security


GA Senator Johnny Isakson has again introduced a bill for consideration in the US Senate which would tie border enforcement as the top priority before considering other changes to immigration law. Isakson was part of the earlier efforts to do this in the last Congress, but as we know, we ended up with border security authorization (as as with the construction of the border wall), but without any real confirmed guarantee of funding for the project.

I’m sure that both funding for existing initiatives as well as this new measure will face a tough road in the Democrat-controlled Congress, especially since the existing nearly toothless measure barely came out of the Republican-controlled Congress, but I think it is a good attempt to frame the problem as a multi-dimensional one.

As the AJC reported from Isakson speech on the Senate floor:

The hope and opportunity of reforming legal immigration in this country can become a reality.

And I am not an obstructionist to doing it. In fact if anything needs to be done, it’s that we need to reform the legal system because we almost promote, through the rigidity and difficulty of legal immigration, coming here illegally because we’re looking the other way on the border.

And we have a historical precedent. In 1986, we reformed immigration with the Simpson Act. We granted three million people amnesty, said we were going to secure the border and didn’t. Today we have 12 million because we did not secure that border.

That can never happen again.

Providing ad hoc amnesty will not nothing more than to encourage more people to continue to violate the laws unless we are prepared to really draw the line. And contrary to the biased opposition, measures like that proposed by Senator Isakson are not an attempt to “keep foreigners out of America”. There’s no question that reforming the process of legal immigration is not also essential. As long as that does not just substitute as a code-word for amnesty alone and continued non-enforcement of the borders.

There’s more at Sen. Isakson’s website as well, including this summary:

“There is no way you can reform legal immigration unless you first stop the porous borders and the flow of illegal immigrants,” Isakson said on the Senate floor. “I come to the floor of the Senate today to introduce a major immigration reform bill that I think is the bridge from where we are to where we must go. I stand ready to work with any senator on comprehensive immigration reform as long as securing the borders is the foundation of that reform.”

Isakson’s legislation would prohibit implementation of its guest worker program until the Department of Homeland Security certifies to the President and to the Congress that the border security provisions in the immigration legislation are fully funded and operational.

Those border security provisions that must be in place before a guest worker program can begin are spelled out in Isakson’s bill and they include five main items:

* Manpower – authorizing 14,000 new full-time Border Patrol Agents as well as 2,500 new Port of Entry Inspectors and 250 new Deputy U.S. Marshals.
* Detention beds – authorizing detention facilities with an additional 20,000 detention beds to end the practice of “catch and release.”
* Barriers – authorize additional barriers such as fences, roads or underground sensors where appropriate.
* Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — authorize more than $450 million to acquire and maintain a squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles with high-tech sensors and satellite communication to allow coverage on the border by an unmanned vehicle 24 hours a day.
* Biometric ID – establish a biometric secure identification card program so employers can verify an immigrants’ status.

“The reason we have this problem is we have the greatest nation on the face of this Earth. You don’t find anybody trying to break out of the United States of America. They’re all trying to break in,” Isakson said. “And they are for a very special reason: the promise of hope and opportunity and jobs. But we must make the only way to come to America be the legal way to come to America.”

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Something I missed mentioning last week, but despite recent news that Indiana’s Voter ID laws withstood the latest legal challenge, the outlook is not as good for the Georgia version. Thursday the AJC reported that new Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle believes that a proposal to amend the Georgia State Consitution to clear any objections to Voter ID rules will not even come to a vote in the Georgia State Senate.

Senate Resolution 4, sponsored by Sen. Cecil Staton (R-Macon), was assigned to a Senate committee Thursday. If approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate and House, and then by Georgia voters in a statewide referendum, SR 4 would allow the General Assembly to enact regulations over voting, including a future photo ID requirement.

Past attempts by the Legislature to enact photo ID at the polls have been struck down by state and federal courts. A Fulton superior court judge last year ruled that the Legislature lacked the authority in the state Constitution to pass laws restricting the right to vote to only those who hold picture ID.

On Thursday, Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta) predicted that another bitter, divisive fight over photo ID in the General Assembly would harm the newly-inaugurated lieutenant governor’s efforts at bi-partisanship.

In a question-and-answer session in his office today with reporters, Cagle said he supports the voter ID requirement, but he said he doesn’t believe SR 4 can gain the required two-thirds majority in the Senate.

“If you don’t have the votes, it’s not worth the fight,” said Cagle, who has appointed three Democrats to chair Senate committees. “I’m not pushing it. I’m not interested in bringing bills to the floor … if there’s no possibility of it passing.”

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The AJC is reporting that Alvin Lorenzo Murdock of Norcross, GA was indicted on bigamy charges. As I detailed back in October, Murdock was one of three people arrested in Gwinnett County for multiple marriages to illegal immigrants, including multiple marriages at the same County Courthouse. The cases did prompt Gwinnett County to at least search its own database for matches when someone applies for a marriage license, although fraud is still possible because there is no system today that coordinates between counties in Georgia, let alone with those in other states.

Murdock, 38, married five other women after marrying his first wife. All the alleged illegal marriages occurred in a 5 month span in late 2005 and early 2006, according to the indictments.

In a separate indictment, Murdock was also charged in connection with the stabbing of his daughter.

In that case Murdock is accused of stabbing his daughter and another male while two young children watched. He was arrested on that case in July.

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Banner stance by the new chairman of the Republican National Committee : temporary legal status urged for illegal workers:

Backers of overhauling immigration rules began a congressional push Wednesday to give temporary legal status to up to 1.5 million illegal immigrant workers to provide a labor pool for U.S. agriculture.

The proposal is a recycled version of parts of a bill that stalled after passing the Senate last year. House Republicans blocked negotiations on the measure, sticking with a get-tough stand against illegal immigrants before the November elections.

Those wanting to liberalize immigration laws hope the combination of a Democratic majority in Congress, support from President Bush and a perceived backlash against anti-immigration rhetoric in the elections will help power the comprehensive immigration proposals.

“The reality is Americans have come to rely on an undocumented migrant work force to harvest our crops,'’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a news conference.

Under the bill, illegal immigrants who can show they have labored in agriculture for at least 150 work days for the past two years would become eligible for a ‘blue card'’ bestowing temporary legal status. Their spouses and minor children also could get a blue card if they already live in the U.S.

People with these cards who work an additional three years, at least 150 days a year, or five years, at least 100 days a year, would be eligible for legal residency. But they first would have to pay a $500 fine, be up to date on taxes, have no record of committing crimes involving bodily injury or threat of serious bodily injury or have caused property damage of more than $500.

The blue card program would end after five years, unless it is renewed. The bill would reduce the time it takes to get a visa for an immigrant who wants to come to the U.S. to work in agriculture.

Among those supporting the bill are Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., a chief architect of last year’s Senate immigration bill, and Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Mel Martinez, R-Fla.

Reps. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, and Howard Berman, D-Calif., are sponsoring the House version. It has the backing of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. and Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, a member of the Republican leadership team.

I would ask Sen. Feinstein to challenge the agriculture industry: is it simply the lack of workers that his hurting agriculture… or a lack of people willing to work for depressed wages (where illegal immigrants can not push for more).

Depressing.

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Via the Associated Press, the report:

Immigrants arrested for being in the United States illegally may have been charged up to six more times, for more serious crimes, after they were released by local authorities, new Justice Department data indicate.

Additionally, a separate report also issued Monday concludes that the number of illegal immigrants deported after being declared a felon is on the rise.

The Justice findings by department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine examined the criminal histories of 100 illegal immigrants arrested and then released by local and state authorities in 2004, the latest complete data available. Of the sample group of 100, according to the audit, 73 immigrants were later arrested a collective 429 times on charges ranging from traffic tickets to weapons and drug charges.

The data suggest “the rate at which released criminal aliens are re-arrested is extremely high,'’ the audit noted. The report, parts of which were redacted, was required by Congress in 2005 and looked at how local and state authorities that receive Justice Department funding are working with the Homeland Security Department.

For years, the government was forced to release thousands of illegal immigrants who were caught in the United States because of not enough jail space and other resources. But last fall, with immigration as a key election-year priority, Homeland Security declared it would detain 99 percent of non-Mexican illegal immigrants until they could be returned to their home nations. The policy generally does not apply to Mexicans, who are almost immediately returned to Mexico after being stopped by Border Patrol agents.

The Justice audit, however, only looked at immigrants who were arrested and released by local and state authorities before they could be turned over to Homeland Security to be detained or deported. In all, 752 cities, counties and states participating in the program received $287 million in 2005, the audit noted.

Five states California, New York, Texas, Florida and Arizona received the bulk of the money, together pulling in more than $184 million.

Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield, who oversees the Office of Justice Programs that controlled the funding, declined comment on the audit, noting that it does not contain any recommendations.

A separate report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University showed that the number of immigrants who were deported as “aggravated felons'’ doubled over the last 15 years, from 10,303 in 1992 to an estimated 23,065 in 2006.

But TRAC, which obtained the data from the Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review, noted concerns that some of those immigrants never committed felonies.

“An individual can be declared an aggravated felon on the basis of a conviction on misdemeanor charges such as shoplifting,'’ the TRAC report concluded.

The entire (redacted) report is available here. It’s actually a very interesting read. A good portion of the material deals with looking at whether communities who received money as part of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) program actually cooperated with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Very interesting how some entities interpret cooperation - seems to vary greatly between areas.

Much like the experience reported earlier for Roswell, GA, many indicated that they do report suspected illegal immigrants to ICE when they are arrested for other reasons, but don’t get much response.

“Our experience has shown that ICE is not going to respond anyway.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “On every occasion we attempt to inform ICE but ICE does not always respond.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Past history has shown that they will rarely pick the subjects up for transport.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Depends on nature of crime.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “ICE agents come into our facility on a regular basis and review our records of undocumented aliens.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Sheriff’s deputies do not inform ICE. Detention staff will notify ICE if information obtained from a criminal history rap sheet or information obtained from our local database alerts [our] Department of previous contacts with ICE (releases to ICE or previously deported criminal alien).” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “This is a sheriff’s department function.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Law enforcement officers may contact ICE but jail staff do not. We have an ICE employee [who] regularly reviews inmate rosters.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Most patrol officers do not have the time or know the number in order to inform ICE.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]

The study showing criminal recidivism is a very limited sample owing to the fact that it was difficult to mine the data, so the results, while quite shocking, are difficult to generalize across the population. More from the report:

After querying NCIC, the FBI provided us with nearly 433,000 text files that could not be searched by automated means. The volume of files was too great to search manually and quantify the results. Consequently, we judgmentally selected a sample of 100 criminal histories, which we reviewed for evidence of arrests of criminal aliens subsequent to June 30, 2003. The criminal histories for 73 of the 100 individuals documented at least one arrest after that date. Those 73 individuals accounted for a total of 429 arrests, with 878 charges and 241 convictions. These figures represent an average of nearly six arrests per individual.
The charges for the 73 individuals ranged from traffic violations and trespassing to more serious crimes, such as burglary or assault. Some of those charges included:
• 166 drug-related;
• 37 immigration-related;
• 213 burglary, robbery, or theft;
• 40 assault;
• 10 property damage;
• 3 terrorist threat; and
• 13 weapons charges.
Based on this limited sample, we cannot statistically extrapolate the number of offenses committed by undocumented criminal aliens who were released from local custody without a referral to ICE. Based on the information available to us in the criminal histories, we could not determine the number of the criminal aliens in our sample that were deported, if any, and later arrested after reentering the United States. We also could not determine if ICE was notified before the criminal aliens in our sample were released from custody. But if this data is indicative of the full population of 262,105 criminal histories, the rate at which released criminal aliens are rearrested is extremely high.

Not sure if the FBI was really anxious to help or not, but it would seem that it should have been possible to get better data in order to examine a sample size larger than 100. At any rate, it’s very interesting in what it does show.

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It took Newsbusters to highlight that a Federal Appeals Court actually *upheld* Indiana’s voter ID law. Of course, I had to read about it there, because there has been almost no coverage elsewhere in the media outside of Indiana.

Georgia’s long-standing struggle over enforcement of enhanced Voter ID rules received significantly more play in the press… and it seems that the last step we were left with was possibly needing to go as far as to amend the state constitution in order to address some of the objections.

It would be interesting to understand how the Indiana law was crafted differently that made it “not too burdensome”. We know that providing state ID’s at no cost and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on education programs was not enough. I’m sure that there are some very interested lawmakers in Atlanta right now.

UPDATE: This is exactly the same scenario that I can see with various communities trying to create ordinances regarding illegal immigrants. Whether it’s Cherokee County, GA or Hazleton, PA or Valley Park, MO, or Escondido, CA, or somewhere new… eventually one of these communities will bear the financial and time burden of navigating the myriad of lawsuits. And when one of these ordinances is eventually judged as sound law, then it will have a cascading effect as it is copied by communities across the country.

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Back in September, I wrote about the case of Nohe Gomez Hernandez (aka Nohe Gomes Hernandez), an illegal immigrant from Mexico who stole the identity of a US citizen, Jason Smith, for use when filling out his I-9 employement verification. Not only did Mr. Hernandez submit the false name and social security number, he even had the guts to have the name “Jason” on his work uniform. The real Mr. Smith found out his identity had been purloined when the IRS indicated that he had additional unreported income (that earned by Mr. Hernandez at the Harrison Poultry plant) which he had not claimed on his tax return.

After the plot unraveled, Mr. Hernandez was charged with identity theft. His lawyers argued that this was not the case, because he did not use the information in a very narrow way to make fradulent purchases using Mr. Smith’s credit.

However, the Georgia Supreme Court disagreed, saying in a unanimous decision that it is indeed proper to charge him with identity theft, and leaving the two-year prison sentance in tact.

In a unanimous decision released Monday, the justices said Georgia’s identity theft law is not unconstitutionally vague, nor is it pre-empted by federal law.

The high court found that Nohe Gomes Hernandez “misappropriated the Social Security number of Jason Smith,” and that he “then used this misappropriated number to obtain a Social Security card and a California driver’s license in Smith’s name” so he could get a job at a northeast Georgia poultry plant.

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How many times have you ever filled out one of those slips to enter a contest somewhere, and ever actually read all of the fine print that’s attached? I’m sure that most people don’t bother. As a rule, I avoid those contests like the plague, because I assume that I have a lot better chance of having my long distance service changed or a flood of sales calls during dinner than I would ever have of winning one of their ‘wonderful’ prizes.

But buried somewhere in that fine print are usually some eligibility rules. You have to be over 21 to win that Budweiser beer mug. You. Whatever. And so it was with a contest that Toys-R-Us ran to reward the first baby of the New Year. But the winner of the contest was upset for being disqualified because she didn’t meet the eligibility requirement of being a legal US resident!:

Toys “R” Us Inc. is facing some heat after the company denied a Chinese-American infant a $25,000 savings bond prize in a contest for the New Year’s first baby because the girl’s mother is not a legal U.S. resident.

Yuki Lin was born at the stroke of midnight at New York Downtown Hospital, according to hospital officials. She won a random drawing held to break a tie with two other babies entered in the contest, Toys “R” Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh said.

The Wayne, N.J.-based company had said the prize would go to the first American baby born in 2007.

Although promotional materials called for “all expectant New Year’s mothers” to apply for the contest, Waugh said eligibility rules required babies’ mothers to be legal residents. Many sweepstakes have such requirements, Waugh said.

The prize went instead to runner-up Jayden Swain, born 19 seconds after midnight at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Ga.

The company’s decision — which came less than a month after it opened its first mainland China store, in Shanghai — has infuriated some Chinese-American advocates, who say the decision smacks of second-class citizenship.

“People are just pretty much outraged,” said John Wang, president of the New York-based Asian American Business Development Center.

Second-hand citizenship? Not exactly… being an illegal immigrant is not “citizenship” at all!

None of the initial reports indicated that there was any mistakes in determining the immigration status of Yuki Lin’s mother.

Ultimately Toys R Us reversed their initial decison and gave identical prizes to three children including Yuki… just to quiet the flap. And they are a retail chain who sponsored the contest in order to get some good publicity. It’s their decision entirely if it’s worth it to them to spend an additional $50,000 in order to make bad publicity disappear.

But it’s indicative of society today that we even end up in this situation.
(1) Toys R Us may have given in and decided not to enforce one of their contest rules… but it’s pretty amazing that many feel that if someone breaks one of the rules or doesn’t meet one of the stated criterion, that the first action is to moan and complain instead of taking personal responsibility.
(2) The fact that the person who didn’t read rules was Chinese, somehow meant that Toys R Us was inherently ‘racist’ in enforcing their rules. They didn’t disqualify the winner because of her ethnicity, but because of her immigration status.
(3) Illegal immigrants are not ’second-class citizens’, they are not citizens at all. And because they have chosen to break the law in this way, they also lose the protections that legal residents are entitled to. This is the one point that advocates continue to make blurry. They are forced into an underclass without workplace protections and other legal considerations because they first broke the law and are unable to truely integrate properly into society.

I hope that the prize was worth it!

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It’s official… Cherokee County, Georgia has lost its backbone and “has agreed to temporarily block a new ordinance that bans landlords from renting to illegal immigrants, after activists launched a legal attack against it“.

The other day there was word that they might not start to enforce the ordinances, set to take effect on January 1, because it seems that the impending lawsuits did the trick for opponents of the measures, making the County too afraid to actually enforce them.

UPDATE: The first legal challenge was reportedly filed by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Interesting, since apparently no one has actually been questioned yet under the ordinance.

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It’s unbelieveable, but the AJC actually published an opposing opinion piece by Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR):

The new 110th Congress is about to subject America to yet another hard sell on the merits of amnesty for illegal aliens. With each repeated and failed pitch for this cure-all, the flaws become more apparent and the outcomes obvious.

Amnesty violates basic principles of fairness, promises to be enormously expensive, does nothing to stem the flow of still more illegal immigration.

Granting amnesty to people who entered the country illegally is an affront to millions of people all across the world who have waited, often for years, to come to the United States legally. This fairness principle is rooted in the beliefs of groups such as “You Don’t Speak For Me,” a growing movement of legal Hispanic Americans proud of their new citizenship and angry with those who cheat the system.

The cost of administering legalization programs involving millions of applicants would be staggering. If the Department of Homeland Security were to actually conduct thorough background investigations to weed out fraudulent claims and potential terrorists, the process could take decades to complete. In the absence of a credible verification system, millions of applications will get rubber stamp approvals and little scrutiny.

Granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens will result in still more illegal immigration. After all, we are in this mess because the last amnesty in 1986 had little regard for future consequences. Millions more people will be encouraged to come here illegally in the expectation that some future Congress and president will opt to make the problem go away with the stroke of a pen in a Rose Garden ceremony. Amnesty is a self-propagating phenomenon.

Finally, employers who prefer to hire illegal aliens because their status limits their bargaining power, will simply begin hiring the next wave of illegal entrants. So long as there is no enforcement of laws barring them from employing illegal aliens, there is no incentive for these employers to deal with millions of newly empowered amnesty recipients when there is a fresh crop of illegal aliens ready to take their place.

Most Americans are viscerally opposed to amnesty for illegal aliens, or turning them into guest workers, because it rewards people who have broken the law. And the overwhelming majority of the public also opposes the idea because they plainly see it for what it is: a massive labor subsidy program that they are paying for over and over again in many ways.

If you want to read the AJC Editorial Board’s Position, it’s here. In summary:

“What to do with those already here. This will be the most difficult challenge politically. But there is really no other answer, given the economic reality, than to find a way to make the vast majority of them legal. The mechanism for doing that —- deciding who will be eligible and the cost of running criminal and medical background checks on each one of them, for instance —- will be formidable. Opponents will call it amnesty; however, requiring would-be citizens to pay fines and back taxes hardly constitutes a free ride. Most of these workers and their families should come out from the shadows and become legal, as quickly as possible.”

Of course, true to form, no where in the entire AJC editorial written by Mike King is the word “illegal” used. He does, however, believe that Republicans lost control of the Congress because of their stance on immigration… and he’s certainly not talking about it being too soft!

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