National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers
A Proposal for Comprehensive Immigration and Enforcement Reform (CIER)
It is widely claimed and too often believed that the immigration system of the United States is broken. In fact, it is our immigration laws that are too often broken, honored more in the breach than in the observance. However, the system those laws established would, with a few adjustments, still be useful were they honestly applied. Instead, they have been warped by forty years of neglect, court action, and change to favor special interests. We have, for some time, been paying the price for that.
This proposal has been prepared by a group of former Border Patrol and Immigration officers who served at all levels in all branches of the Border Patrol and INS. Our institutional memory goes back to the 1950s and our cumulative experience is counted in millennia. We have no careers to protect and are beholden to no one. There is no other organization that can speak as knowledgeably and freely as we can about what has been done with respect to immigration in the past: what has worked, what has not worked, and why and why not.
We are utterly apolitical. Our only agenda is the national interest as we perceive it.
NAFBPO Mission Statement
We will contribute to the security and stability of the United States. To that end we shall propose and be advocates for immigration laws and policies that we believe serve those national interests and we will oppose those that do not.
• To educate the American public and our elected representatives about issues surrounding the immigration laws and policies of the United States
• To awaken the American public to the threat that illegal immigration and open borders pose to the welfare of our country
• We call for secure borders and meaningful processes to screen those wishing to enter our country legally
• We oppose legislation that would allow aliens illegally in this country to remain here
• We support meaningful employer sanctions. Laws presently on the books are generally adequate tools for this purpose
• We support specifically-targeted guest worker programs, once a need has been shown by proving that qualified U.S. workers are not available
Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement and Reform
CIER Step 1: Secure our borders
It is not possible to secure our borders unless we concurrently secure our interior– and vice-versa. No number of agents on the border can humanely stem the flow as long as the economic and social draws exist.
a) Secure our borders between ports of entry
• Officer strength is nearly adequate at the projected 20,000 officer level. Current and anticipated technology is useful as an adjunct to manpower but is no substitute for it
• All of the border must be open to patrol operations without hindrance
• Assure adequate space to process and detain all those arrested
• Prosecute for immigration violations whenever possible, particularly for alien smuggling violations
b) Secure our borders at ports of entry (POEs)
• As many as one half of illegal aliens (of all nationalities) enter through POEs, either surreptitiously or by fraud. The use of unmanned POEs must be stopped
• The balance between expediting traffic and conducting meaningful inspections tilts now toward expediting traffic. If we are to truly control our border, the balance must be recast in favor of more thorough inspections
• POEs (land, sea, air) have not received adequate attention in recent years. They are undersized and understaffed. Criminals know that and act on it. The inspections staff and facilities must be increased and improved
• Effectiveness of inspectors can be enhanced by technologies not yet widely used. They should be brought on-line as quickly as possible
CIER Step 2: Interior Enforcement
• Increase the force of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE – now called Homeland Security Investigations) agents devoted to immigration enforcement. Only a small number of the total number of those agents enforce immigration laws
• Vigorously enforce employer sanctions. This is a fundamental, but not sole, precept for interior control
• Seek out and remove any aliens found illegally in the U.S, not just criminals. No illegal alien should feel immune to detection and removal
• Investigate and prosecute those who commit immigration fraud, including United States citizens and lawfully admitted aliens
Step 2: Interior Enforcement (Continuation)
• Respond to calls from other law enforcement officers who have encountered people they believe are illegal aliens
• Ancillary units upon which ICE enforcement depends, from detention and removal to intelligence to trial attorneys and immigration judges must be increased in size commensurate with the increase in enforcement personnel
CIER Step 3: Enforce existing laws and use other tools
- Employer sanctions – prosecute those who knowingly hire illegal aliens. At present, there are not enough prosecutions filed to provide a deterrent to those who knowingly hire illegal aliens. Small fines are seen as a cost of business
- Section 287(g) – return to widespread granting of authority to state and municipal law enforcement agencies, authorizing their officers to make immigration arrests
- E-Verify program – encourage the present use of this voluntary program that verifies the eligibility for employment of job applicants. Its diligent use should be an affirmative defense against fines when illegal aliens are found on a job
- No-Match letters – make a matter of law the practice of having the Social Security Administration issue letters to employers when withholdings submitted under an SSAN do not match the name in SSA records
- Sanctuary cities – cities that impede or fail to cooperate with ICE in detecting illegal aliens should be penalized by loss of federal funds for justice programs. In egregious cases, city authorities responsible for such actions should be prosecuted under 8 USC 1373 for willful concealment of illegal aliens
CIER Step 4: Identification Fraud
- Issue a secure, tamper-resistant Social Security card as the sole evidence of eligibility for employment in the U.S.
- Implement the Real ID Act, HR 98 – this law, if passed, would be an important tool in dealing with fraudulent documents and their use.
CIER Step 5: Temporary Worker Program (TWP)
- A TWP may be implemented only after demonstration of a secure border and proof of effective interior enforcement operations
- A TWP must be a plan for temporary workers with a defined period of stay
- Aliens may apply for a TWP only from their home country
- All aliens seeking consideration for TWP must appear in person at a consulate or dedicated office overseas to allow criminal and background checks
- Temporary workers must be limited in what work they do, what they may benefit from under immigration law and the program must be tightly controlled
- The “H” and “L” nonimmigrant classifications allow aliens to perform temporary services when legal U.S. workers are unavailable. They are fraudulently used in many cases. The programs and participants should be subjected to intense reconsideration
CIER Step 6: No Amnesty
- Widespread problems with the 1986 amnesty (IRCA) should have taught this nation something. Fraud was endemic to the entire process – 30% in some parts and the number legalized was three times what was anticipated
- Most proposals for a legalization program are a corrupt bargain. By paying a “fine” and being allowed to stay, illegal aliens are buying their way out of the offense. It is not a fine, but a bribe, because the money changing hands gives the alien what he wants. The fact that he is bribing the government as a whole does not sanctify the deal
- Registering the estimated 10-12 (truly, and unknown number) million applicants would be a monumental task, impossible to accomplish in any rational time frame or fashion unless applications are simply rubber-stamped. Furthermore, it is impossible to verify identities or criminal histories on that scale
- Judicial involvement in any legalization program would certainly expand and extend it beyond recognition, just as happened with the 1986 law.
- Judging from the IRCA experience, chain migration, that is, families following to join those getting amnesty, would number around five times as many more over 20 years as gained the benefit initially (per U.S. Dept. of State)
- An accurate cost of an amnesty is incalculable but an estimate by the Heritage Foundation supposes that it could be around 2.6 Trillion dollars over 20 years
- An amnesty will again send a signal to the world that the U.S. is not serious about enforcing its immigration laws, thus setting off another wave of illegal immigration. NAFBPO members recall arresting aliens in 1987 who stated they wanted to be here for the next one
CIER Step 7: What To Do With Those Here Now?
- NAFBPO neither contemplates nor encourages massive waves of arrests and deportations. A proper application of social pressures will cause millions to depart on their own. Recent state laws of this nature prove the point
- To create those pressures, illegal aliens must be denied access to jobs, public benefits, sources of identification (particularly driver’s licenses,) vehicle registrations, mortgages and loans from federally-insured institutions, and tuition assistance at public educational facilities
- Normal enforcement activities will deal with those who choose to continue to flout U.S. laws
CIER Step 8: Thoughts on Immigration Legislation
- The fundamental balance of priorities for immigrants established in 1965 must be changed. Currently, the laws favor family reunification, which does this country as a whole no particular good and is in some ways financially damaging. Laws must offer preference those who bring with them skills and job-creating investment
- Citizenship by virtue of birth in the United States is an idea past due for change. Citizenship should be granted at birth only to children born to those living legally in the U.S.
- Congress should issue a “sense of the Congress” statement that immigration laws matter and they deserve careful enforcement, not deliberate neglect as a policy
CIER Step 9: Other Matters
In no particular order
- Border security – Violence in Mexico by drug cartels is undeniably spilling onto and over the border. The Border Patrol’s training should be expanded to deal with armed threats by small units and their armament should be upgraded commensurate with that mission
- Use of the military on the border – The National Guard is an appropriate entity to provide logistical support, training, and armed backup for the Border Patrol
- Environmental legislation – Creation of wilderness areas along the border is sought by environmental groups and supported by apologists for illegal immigration who would prefer an open border. It must be opposed vigorously
- Visa issuance process – This is the first line of defense against illegal and fraudulent entry through ports of entry. It is often not used effectively as the tool it should be to detect and deter those who would come here for nefarious purposes
- Blanket visa waivers – on a basis of reciprocity, we do not demand visas from nationals of many countries regarded as low-risk for fraud, and friendly. The existence of terrorists in every nation now makes this process suspect in that people from those countries arrive on our shores without previous screening
- Departure verification – we have no system in place to verify that an alien who has come here has departed as he stated he would or was required to do. We do not know who, how many, or where aliens are at any given time
- Fraud avoidance - Improving the tamper-resistance of immigration documents is always a worthwhile goal. Steps in that direction were recently taken; they should continue
- The Matricula card – this is an identification card issued to Mexican citizens by Mexican consular offices in the U.S. It is not secure identification in any way, shape, or form, yet it is accepted by many government entities and private institutions. It must be declared invalid as a matter of law for purposes other than personal identification
- State and local police cooperation – in short, this should be encouraged, not discouraged. Section 287(g) of the INA should be promoted as a tool for law enforcement
- Foreign Students – They are managed under the aegis of foreign student advisors. Immigration authorities have no idea what they are doing for good or for ill – or if they are even in school. One notes that all of the 9/11 hijackers were students who had not been in good standing – but no one paid attention
- The annual alien address report – this report, discontinued in the early 1970s, should be reinstituted. Modern technology makes it easy and national security calls for its use
Immigration laws are not whimsical. They exist to:
- Protect national security and sovereignty
- Protect American jobs and social programs
- Protect public safety
- Protect public health
For decades we have neglected immigration laws, forgetting that they exist for demonstrable reasons. Good laws and diligent enforcement benefit the nation, both in what they encourage and what they forbid.
We are paying the price now for that neglect, and it is time for it to cease. The nation should reexamine its immigration laws in light of national interests and the interests of individual Americans then adopt laws and practices that benefit us all.
NAFBPO believes that the existing statute, although 60 years old, is an adequate framework for the purpose, needing only modification along lines we have set forth to be effective for further generations.