Thursday, August 3, 2006

Former Bush Immigration officials: House plan doomed to fail

On Wednesday a coalition of former high level officials from the Department of Homeland Security announced their opposition to the House immigration bill, stating that any plan based on enforcement only is "doomed to fail." The members of the Coalition for Immigration Security, a group of former Bush administration immigration officials now able to "speak their minds," told reporters that while they applaud the efforts to increase border security, the only realistic approach to immigration reform is a comprehensive plan that takes into account the 12 million undocumented already here, and makes provisions future immigration.

Former DHS Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security, Stewart Verdery said, "The coalition strongly believes that you can never enforce your way out of this problem, that you have to figure out a way to relieve the pressure on the border by channeling the flow of migrants who do not present a security risk into a worker program and, also, to find a mechanism to bring the estimated 12 million or so individuals here, already illegally out of the shadows...,"

Coalition members see the current debate over immigration reform as an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past and set up a lasting policy that would not only secure the borders but address the realities of immigration. " Immigrants are coming to America regardless of what House Republicans think, and need to be regulated." "We are now poised, for the first time in decades, to get a plan for full operational control over our borders," said Elaine Dezenski, former acting assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.

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The Coalition sent a statement to President Bush and Congressional leaders in June explaining their opinion on immigration reform:

The undersigned each have held high-ranking positions in the Executive Branch with responsibilities for enforcing our immigration laws and securing our borders from those who would seek to harm the United States or violate its laws. We are proud to have been part of the effort since September 11, 2001, to secure our borders and bring integrity back to our immigration system.

As the Congress considers immigration legislation, some have portrayed the debate as one between those who advocate secure borders and those who advocate liberalized employment opportunities. This is a false dichotomy. The reality is that stronger enforcement and a more sensible approach to the 10-12 million illegal aliens in the country today are inextricably interrelated. One cannot succeed without the other. Without reform of laws affecting the ability of temporary, migrant workers to cross our borders legally, our borders cannot and will not be secure.

Since 9/11, the Executive Branch and Congress have worked together to make significant but incomplete efforts to secure our borders.


But enforcement alone will not do the job of securing our borders. Enforcement at the border will only be successful in the long-term if it is coupled with a more sensible approach to the 10-12 million illegal aliens in the country today and the many more who will attempt to migrate into the United States for economic reasons. Accordingly, we support the creation of a robust employment verification system and a temporary worker program in the context of an overall reform of our border security and immigration laws.

With each year that passes, our country's shifting demographics mean we face a larger and larger shortage of workers, especially at the low-skilled end of the economy. Entire segments of the economy in a growing number of urban and rural areas depend on large illegal populations. Existing law allows only a small fraction of these workers even to attempt to enter the United States legally, even though our unemployment rate has fallen below 5 percent.

Thus, each week our labor market entices thousands of individuals, most from Mexico but many from numerous other countries, to sneak across our border, or to refuse to leave when a temporary visa expires. These numbers add up: DHS apprehends over 1 million migrants illegally entering the United States each year, but perhaps as many as 500,000 get through our defenses every year and add to our already staggering illegal immigrant population. As believers in the free market and the laws of supply and demand, we believe border enforcement will fail so long as we refuse to allow these willing workers a chance to work legally for a willing employer.

Most such migrants are gainfully employed here, pay taxes, and many have started families and developed roots in our society. And an attempt to locate and deport these 10 to 12 million people is sure to fail and would be extraordinarily divisive to our country.

Lastly, individuals who have maintained employment in the United States for many years without evidence of ties to criminal or terrorist behavior should be granted the opportunity to make in essence a plea bargain with law enforcement. By paying a stiff fine and undergoing a robust security check, these individuals can make amends for their mistake without crippling our economy and social structures by being part of a mass deportation. Each day that we fail to bring these people out of the shadows is another day of amnesty by default.

In conclusion, we encourage the Congress and Administration to work together to enact legislation that takes a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. We support strong immigration enforcement but it will only be successful when coupled with realistic policies related to our labor markets and economic needs.

Victor X. Cerda
Former Acting Director of Detention and Removal Operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Elaine Dezenski
Former Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy Development, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Brian C. Goebel
Former Counselor and Senior Policy Advisor to the Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Pancho Kinney
Former Director of Strategy, White House Office of Homeland Security

Jason Klitenic
Former Deputy General Counsel, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Admiral James M. Loy
Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Michael J. Petrucelli
Former Deputy Director and Acting Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Seth M. M. Stodder
Former Director of Policy and Planning, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

C. Stewart Verdery, Jr.
Former Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security


While there is much debate among those who advocate for immigrants rights over the merits of the "temporary" or "guest" worker programs favored by the coalition, the fact that those who have had hands on experience in formulating border security policy see the folly of the Houses' enforcement only proposals can only be seen as a welcome addition to the debate. While Republican congressional candidates criss-cross the nation with their immigration crisis carnival, the statements of these immigration professionals offer a voice of reason in the din of right-wing fear mongering and electioneering.

Perhaps instead of taking testimony from potbellied local sheriffs or civilian militiamen, the House Republicans could ask these former DHS officials to join them at one of their border dog and pony shows … but then again why would they want to hear informed proposals from experts when they can feature hysterical rants about invading hordes rushing over the border … it's all about giving the people a good show for their infotainment dollar after all.


Pondering American said...

Good info here. There is one problem. IF you want to be a cheerleader for the dems great. But in doing so you are deluding yourself as to the immigration issue

If you look at the polls most people support the President view. That is a comprehensive solution. There are alot of people that are Republicans that are fighting against the Tancredo approach including me. MY blog is just a example. But I must say I am tad amused. The Tanton groups are right wing? I think not there wacko policys of wanting to reduce the US population firmly comes from the political left. As well as other policies they have.

I have wondered why when the fate of up to 20,000,000 people are up in the air that in reality that Dems have taken a pass to watch the Repubs battle each other on this issue. If the Dems had reached out(more than just Kennedy) to the President I wonder if the dynamic would have changed. By the way where was the traditional dem base. When are you going to talk about the Congressional black cacacus and their horrible view on this. Sorry don't want to expose that. I was at a town meeting while visiting my grandparents in Mississippi. Dem Beeny Thompson said seport them all. Not a hair's difference between him and Tancredo. And you know what. We both know he isnt the only one

I commend you for focusing on the immigration isse. I can't help but notice at other big Dem sites and forums the only time they talk about it is to enjoy seeing het ePresident get a bloody nose. Pretty pitiful if you ask me. Well its only 20,000,000 lives in the balance but as long as Bush looks bad.

But because the Dems largely decided to take a back seat for political and partisan gain this silly astroturfing by the Tanton groups is having an effect. Even though most polls show that most Republicans do not support the Tancredo option.

Well, its all been a sorry state of affairs. But I do know this. We had the courage to have the debate. We Republicans were willing and are taking casualities over it. I also haven't given up yet. Perhaps, Yall will show up for it.

Just saying I think your blog might need to turn that microscope a little on itself. If the Dems had come in support of a comprehensive solution believe it or not that would have helped the wavering Repubs. Oh well, what a wasted momment this was.

Jason Chang said...

To Pondering American: I don't speak for Migra Matters but I don't think the Dems had any intention of putting a fight up for broad-based legalization, family re-unification, and de-criminalization of immigration violations. After all, the Dems put IIRIRA into effect with the two other "terrorism deterence" laws of '96.
As for the Congressional Black Caucus, you might want to check out (TX-D) Sheila Jackson-Lee's Save America Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (HR 2092). This bill never had a chance, but at least serves as an example of what is possible.
The Dems have just as much invested in keeping undocumented immigrants in the shadows as the Republicans do.
Most who are here in undocumented status are here because of neo-liberal free-trade economic policy. An economic policy which has garnered the pet name, "the Washington Consensus." The Dems and the Repubs. both have a huge stake in keeping this issue a non-issue.
To Migra Matters: Great blog! Just linked up to yours on mine. Drop by some time to check out US Border Patrol in Iraq.

Duke1676 said...

I think the vote on S.2611, The Senate’s “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act” says it all about who’s on which side of this debate…and who’s been sitting out the fight.

23 Yea
32 Nay

38+1 Yea
4 Nay
2 non-voting

Grouped By Vote Position YEAs ---62
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brownback (R-KS)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Chafee (R-RI)
Clinton (D-NY)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Craig (R-ID)
Dayton (D-MN)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dodd (D-CT)
Domenici (R-NM)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Frist (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)
Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs ---36
Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bond (R-MO)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Nelson (D-NE)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Sununu (R-NH)
Talent (R-MO)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)

Not Voting - 2
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)

and don't forget that 33 Republican Congressmen voted against the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because they couldn'y get the multi-lingual ballote provisions removed ... OR the fact that HR4437 was the sole brian child of the House Republican Immigration Reform Caucus.

Although I applaud your efforts and the efforts of others like you .. you must realize that a large and vocal segment of YOUR party are the ones who are responsible for pushing the anti-immigration agenda to the forefront. This was never a Democratic agenda even though a few Dem contrarians have joined the far right-wing immigration band wagon.