SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS Tables
Page 1 TOP OF DOCBORDER SECURITY AND DETERRING ILLEGAL ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 1997
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:38 a.m., in room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Lamar Smith (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Lamar Smith, Sonny Bono, William L. Jenkins, Edward A. Pease, Christopher B. Cannon, and Melvin L. Watt.
Also present: Representative Silvestre Reyes.
Staff present: Cordia A. Strom, chief counsel; Edward R. Grant, counsel; Judy Knott, staff assistant; and Martina Hone, minority counsel.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SMITH
Mr. SMITH. The Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims will come to order.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have an opening statement. Then I'll recognize Mel Watt for his remarks, and then we'll get to the first of our three panels today.
Illegal immigration burdens our social services, harms employment prospects, lowers wages for tens of thousands of American workers, and brings crime and disorder to communities across the country. Bad as these effects are, they do not paint the full picture. Increasingly, the failure to secure our borders threatens our national security.
A growing number of illegal aliens who cross our land borders arrive under the auspices of sophisticated alien smuggling operations, often connected to organized crime. The day of the lone coyote is giving way to a more sophisticated era in which illegals are ferried by highway from staging areas near the border to employment across the United States. People in Colorado, Nebraska, Maryland, and Georgia no longer need to go to the border to see this problem; the border is coming to them.
Our porous border also facilitates drug smuggling. The Mexico-United States border rapidly has become the world's largest drug smuggling corridor. Approximately 70 percent of all cocaine and up to 80 percent of all marijuana entering the United States is coming from Mexico, in addition to 30 percent of the heroin.
At the border, the cartels spread an atmosphere of violence, intimidation, and corruption. The truckdrivers and port runners employed by the drug cartels to bring large shipments into the United States must use either fraudulent documents or legitimate documents obtained by fraud to cross the ports-of-entry.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Through other violations of our immigration laws, Mexican drug cartels are able to extend their command and control into the United States. Drug smuggling fosters, subsidizes, and is dependent upon continued illegal immigration and alien smuggling.
The crisis deepens when we consider the failures of Federal law enforcement to combat these problems. The core of this breakdown is the absence of an integrated, coordinated approach to law enforcement at the border. The statistics tell the story. The INS' well-publicized border initiatives have achieved more cosmetic than real effect. As the chart to my right illustrates, the problem has not declined, but merely shifted. The INS reported an astounding 1.5 million border apprehensions in fiscal year 1996. In parts of Texas, apprehensions have doubled in the last 2 years. Apprehensions in Texas now exceed the apprehensions in California.
In 1996, the Immigration Act required the hiring of 1,000 new Border Patrol agents each year until fiscal year 2001. Regrettably, the administration's budget only calls for hiring 500 new agents in 1998. The INS' commitment to interior enforcement also is a matter of words, not deeds. Congress has provided funding through fiscal year 1997 for many than 2,000 INS investigators. However, current INS staffing levels fall 260 short of the appropriated positions. Even worse, the administration's 1998 budget calls for hiring only several dozen new investigators, less than 20 percent of the figures authorized in the 1996 Immigration Act.
Spending on drug interdiction itself after inflation, in fact, has declined by 39 percent in the last 4 years. Antidrug smuggling efforts also are insufficient. The administration's national drug strategy has made a decided shift away from interdiction and law enforcement, and, not surprisingly, the Mexican cartels are able to move increased shipments of cocaine and other drugs into the United States.
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Last Sunday's TV program ''60 Minutes'' and articles in other newspapers, including the New York Times, suggest that corruption contributes to the flow of illegal drugs and illegal aliens. Prior hearings on border security have focused almost exclusively on the Border Patrol, border fences, and other deterrents to illegal immigration. The current crisis is such that our focus must extend to other aspects of immigration enforcement and to other Federal law enforcement agencies. These agencies must be given a single-minded mission: to dramatically curb the entry of illegal aliens and narcotics across our land borders. The Nation expects an unswerving commitment by these agencies to their primary responsibility as law enforcement agencies. I believe the entire Congress would favorably consider legislation necessary to remove any impediments to this mission, but the will and purpose to accomplish this mission must first come from the administrators and supervisors within the agencies themselves.
Unfortunately, it is increasingly clear that the current leadership of the INS has demonstrated that it is not up to the challenge. The latest revelations regarding the naturalization process prove that the agency's leaders apparently are incapable of ensuring that field offices comply with agency policy. The INS' No. 3 officer, in charge of field operations, has departed under a cloud of suspicion.
Responsibility for enforcement is scattered throughout the INS organizational chart with law enforcement officers frequently supervised by managers who have no law enforcement experience. This status quo cannot continue. At this hearing and beyond, we will look for specific commitments to dramatically change the way the INS carries out its law enforcement mission. That mission already has been revolutionized by the 1997 Immigration Act. That act will remain unenforced until the President and the Attorney General insist upon a significant magnitude of change in the way the INS conducts its business.
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I will now recognize the ranking minority member, Mel Watt of North Carolina.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The timing of this hearing is accidentally fortuitous, if you can be fortuitous accidentally. I think the ''60 Minutes'' segment last Sunday night, which I saw, raised some disturbing allegations or possibilities, and I think it's important for us to provide an opportunity for our enforcement agencies to respond to those allegations in a public setting, and I will be looking forward to hearing some of the responses today.
Part of the concern I have is that we are beginning to micromanage the Immigration and Naturalization Service to a point where I think we are becoming counterproductive, and for us to then blame INS for everything that occurs really is not productive or helpful to the cause. A lot of the emphasis on the border was as a result of the policies that we put in place under the immigration bill during the last Congress, and the failure of our appropriators to appropriate any money for internal enforcement, in addition to the money that was already programmed. None of the 600 agents that our immigration bill called for was actually appropriated for internal enforcement. So the notion that we could turn up the pressures at the border and not have that have a result on the interior is just, to me, a disconnect on the part of this committee and this Congress.
Having said that, I don't know what the answers are, unlike some of my Republican colleagues, who seem to believe that they have every answer to every question, but I do think that we ought to give the Immigration and Naturalization Service and our Customs officials some discretion to be able to move around personnel and address issues as they arise, rather than our sitting here in a committee room or in the Congress and saying: put all of our eggs at the border or put all of our eggs at the interior. There needs to be some administrative determination being made on some of these questions rather than legislative judgments being made on a number of these questions.
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It is obvious to me, however, that those administrative judgments and those bureaucratic judgments can have integrity only if we can trust our personnel out in the field, and so I think accidentally, fortuitously, the timing of this hearing on that issue may be more important than some of the original purposes of the hearing.
I, as you have noticed, have not read an opening statement. Those are just some general observations that I have, Mr. Chairman, and I would ask unanimous consent that I be allowed to insert an opening statement in the record at some point, if I get one that I decide that I want to
Mr. SMITH. This is the point, and without objection, so ordered.
Mr. WATT. And I will yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
Are there any other opening statements by any member of the subcommittee?
Mr. SMITH. OK, if not, we'll proceed to our first panel, and our first panel is the Honorable Silvestre Reyes, my colleague from west Texas, the El Paso area.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Silvestre, we welcome you and we look forward to your testimony, and if you'll begin.
STATEMENT OF HON. SILVESTRE REYES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. REYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't know how many others were supposed to be on this panel, so it makes me a little bit uncomfortable that I'm the only one that showed up. [Laughter.]
But, nonetheless, I'm pleased to be here, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Watt, and the other members of this committee. I think it's very important and vitally important not only to our Nation, but specifically to those of us that represent border communities and border areas.
So I would like to make a couple of comments before I read a portion of my opening statement. And that is, as I explained to you, I did not get a chance to read the minority staff memorandum or the majority staff memorandum before this morning, and there are a number of areas here that I would like to reserve an opportunity to make some written comments on and observations, because I think they're vitally important to the things that we need to be doing on the border and we need to be doing in conjunction with the Federal agencies that are responsible for carrying out the laws of our country. So if I could do that, I would appreciate that.
Mr. SMITH. Right. We'll look forward to any questions that you want to submit or any observations that you want to submit after this hearing.
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Mr. REYES. Thank you.
And I also want to tell you that I appreciate the opportunity to sit and ask questions of the following panels. As you know, I've been before Congress a number of times in my former job, and I will have to admit that I'm much more comfortable today than I've ever been testifying before a congressional
Mr. SMITH. Silvestre, if you'll let me interrupt you for a minute, you may be the first person who has been here a number of times before this very subcommittee as a witness, now testifying as a Member of Congress. I don't know if that's precedent or not, but we appreciate it all the more.
Mr. REYES. And I don't know if it's a precedent, but I know it's a lot better situation today than it's ever been. [Laughter.]
So let me just make a few comments, and then I have taken an opportunity to highlight a few areas that I would like to make some general observations on, and then I've got a few recommendations, and then I would be glad to answer any questions. I see a number of my colleagues here, and I would be happy to do that.
As you know, I spent more than 26 years with the U.S. Border Patrol and INS, and 13 of them as the chief in McAllen and El Paso, and I know from personal experience that the policies adopted by this subcommittee and this Congress will have real-life consequences for our constituents back home, those of us that represent border communities. Today I want to try to help you visualize what's going on along the border between Mexico and the United States.
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I think it's important to point out that last year 280 million people crossed our border, the border between the United States and Mexico. As you know, there are several Federal agencies that are responsible for enforcing our immigration and drug laws. These include the Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Customs, the Department of Agriculture. Approximately 14,200 Federal agents are responsible in one way or another for patrolling, inspecting, enforcing, interdicting, and implementing the laws that we pass in Congress. That comes down to 1 Federal agent for every 19,700 people crossing the border every year. It's no wonder that we in Congress and those that live along our 2,000-mile border with Mexico feel, and rightfully so, that we have a problem.
Those of you that saw the story on ''60 Minutes'' on Sunday night can understand what we're up against. We must take decisive action to solve our problems along our border. I think the recent vote to decertify Mexico is a perfect example of just how little we understand the border and how important it is to work as a body to stop the drug trafficking.
Half the members of this committee voted to decertify Mexico, despite the number of steps Mexico has taken in the last year to strengthen its efforts to fight the spread of illegal drugs. This was, as you know, Mr. Chairman, a point of some controversy when the issue came up before Congress.
I think that illegal drugs are readily available almost anywhere in the United States. We have not done enough to deter drug use among our Nation's children and in our neighborhoods. Illegal drug trafficking is not just a Mexican problem; it is our collective problem. We need to work with Mexico and foster a cooperative relationship with our neighbors to the south, and we don't want to engage in a combative relationship; that would be very counterproductive. Drug trafficking is not just a Mexican issue. We on the northern side of the border must do more to stem the tide and the demand of narcotics.
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Everyone in this room agrees we must do more to stop the flow of drugs into our country. If we don't want drugs in our neighborhoods, we have the responsibility to stop it at our borders. I have been on the front lines in the so-called war on drugs, and I am here today to tell you that we must do more. I agree with the finding of the General Accounting Office in the report to Congress in December 1994 that, despite law enforcement efforts, the flow of drugs continues, and unless Border Patrol efforts become more effective, illegal immigration is expected to increase over the next decade.
If we want to stop drugs from coming across the border into the United States and we want to stop illegal immigration, we have to give our agents the tools and the leadership they need and deserve to do the job. For example, as a way of an example, one Border Patrol sector in Texas has only seven pairs of night vision goggles for 407 agents. As you know, there is widespread public support for efforts to stop drugs and illegal immigration from coming into this country. There is, however, a frustration in terms of the way that we facilitate traffic, legal traffic, between the United States and Mexico. I would like to speak to that a little bit later.
Mr. Chairman, I'd like to extend an invitation to every one of you to visit my district, so that you can see for yourselves what our real needs are. But, more importantly, one of the recommendations I would like to make this morning is that you take the opportunity not just to visit my district, but districts all along the border, and that you request that you have access to and take testimony from district directors and chief patrol agents that have to manage the problem of illegal immigration along our borders. I think that only then can you get a factual and accurate picture of the problems that are affecting in this case the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Border Patrol.
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I think the bottom line in my testimony has to be that we can control our border; we can manage the border, and we can do a much better job. But I think in order to be able to do that, there are a number of things that have to occur. Some of them, obviously, will require some changes as it relates to our laws and regulations, but together I think we can make a significant difference.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Reyes follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. SILVESTRE REYES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before this subcommittee today because one of my primary goals as a Congressman is to call attention to the unique needs of the Southwest border.
As you may know, I spent more than 26 years with the U.S. Border Patrol13 of them as Chief in the McAllen and El Paso sectors. I know from personal experience that the policies adopted by this subcommittee and this Congress will have real-life consequences for our constituents back home.
Today I want to try to help you visualize what's going on along the border between Mexico and the United States. Did you know that, last year, more than 280 million people crossed that border? As you know, several federal agencies are responsible for enforcing our immigration and drug laws. This includes the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Customs, the Border Patrol and the Department of Agriculture. Approximately 14,200 federal agents are responsible in one way or another for patrolling, inspecting, enforcing, interceding and implementing the laws we pass. That's one federal agent for every 19,700 people crossing the border.
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No wonder we have a problem. If any of you saw 60 Minutes on Sunday night, you understand what we're up against. We must take decisive action to solve these problems!
I think the recent vote to decertify Mexico is a perfect example of just how little we understand the border and how important it is to work as a region to stop the drug traffic. More than half the members of this committee voted to decertify Mexico, despite the number of steps Mexico has taken in the last year to strengthen its efforts to fight the spread of illegal drugs. Would you be as willing to decertify the United States?
Illegal drugs are readily available almost anywhere in the United States. We have not done enough to deter drug use among our nation's children. Illegal drug trafficking is not just a Mexican problem. It is our problem. We need to work with Mexico and foster a cooperative relationship with our neighbors to the south, not a combative one.
Drug trafficking is not just a Mexican issue. We on the northern side of the border must do more to stem the demand for illicit drugs. The good news is the number of people who have used drugs in the last month has declined by almost 50 percent from the 1979 high of 25 million. The bad news is an estimated 12.8 million Americansabout 6 percent of the household population aged 12 and older haveused illegal drugs within the past thirty days.
Everyone in this room agrees we must do more to stop the flow of drugs into our country. If you don't want drugs in your neighborhoods, you have a responsibility to stop it at our borders. I have been on the front line in the so-called war against drugs and I am here today to tell you that we must do more. I agree with the finding of the General Accounting Of rice in its report to Congress in December of 1994. ''Despite law enforcement efforts, the flow of drugs continues, and unless border patrol efforts become more effective, illegal immigration is expected to increase over the next decade.''
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If you want to stop drugs from coming across the border into the United States and you want to stop illegal immigration, you have to give our agents the tools they need to do the job.
For example, did you know that one Border Patrol sector in Texas has only seven pairs of night vision goggles for 407 agents?
Did you know that most of our border patrol agents are stationed in San Diego, which is eight miles from the border? El Pasothe largest international border community in the worldis literally across the road from Mexico and yet less than half of our border patrol agents are stationed there.
There is widespread public support for efforts to stop drugs from coming into the country and to prevent illegal immigration. Last year's welfare reform act and immigration reform act prove that. So we have no excuses. We can talk or we can act. When all is said and done, more often than not, more is said than done.
Mr. Chairman, I'd like to extend an invitation to every one of you to visit my district so you can see for yourselves how real the needs are. Members of this subcommittee and members of this Congress should support efforts to provide the agencies with the personnel and the funding they need to do this very important job. We cannot afford to do otherwise.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Thank you.
Let me beginI guess I have an acknowledgment, an observation, and a question. And the acknowledgment, Silvestre, is that I don't think anyone has ever appeared before our subcommittee who has more firsthand experience than you do, and that's why we especially appreciate your comments.
The observation is that I have never heard before the figures that you mentioned that put in perspective, which is to say that the number of entries that we had into the United States last year actually exceeded the population of the United States, 280 million people. That shows two things. One, the challenge to our Government of trying to know who's coming into the country, why, and for how long, and it certainly points out the extent of the problem as well. The other figure that you mentioned about one Federal agent for every 19,000 entries also shows why we need a lot more resources, a lot more personnel to do the job that we should.
My only question is: What advice do you have for us or what advice would you give the administration? What steps should they take in the next couple of months to try to secure the border?
Mr. REYES. Well, I'm glad you asked that question. There are a number of steps that we can take to become more effective, and I've had an opportunity to answer that question to a number of my colleagues since January, since coming to represent the 16th District of Texas. But, as you can imagine, being a freshman Representative and having to set up an office here in Washington and back in my home district, I have not really had an opportunity to, with any degree of detail, do the kinds of things in written fashion that I think need to be done.
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Nonetheless, I would like to offer a number of recommendations for this committee, and in a larger sense for agencies to do a better job in terms of the job that has to be done in order to facilitate the movement of traffic between Mexico and the United States as it increases with the impact of NAFTA, and, more importantly, our ability to do a better job for border communities and for this country in order to monitor illegal immigration and narcotics trafficking.
There are a number of these recommendations that I will follow up in greater detail in the context of explaining why it's necessary, why I think it's necessary based on my 26 or so years of experience, but, more importantly, I want this committee to understand that since being elected a congressional Representative, I have not stopped communicating with my former colleagues in the U.S. Border Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. I say that so that you understand that there is a willingness and there is great dedication in the agency to do a better job.
There is, however, a tremendous amount of frustration, and one of the first recommendations that I would like you to entertain would be to separate the Border Patrol out of INS. I mention that because the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as I've discussed with a number of you in the past, is an agency that has double priorities that create friction and create an unhealthy competition within the agency.
First of all, it's an agency that has to focus-in on the service side. That means the facilitation of legal immigration, the facilitation of the naturalization process, while at the same time it's charged with enforcing laws that require its agents to monitor the border, to do investigations, to do all detention and removal, all the things that really work diametrically opposed to each other. I think it's practical and reasonable, and from personal experience, an issue that needs to be addressed, so that justice is done to both functions and so that we don't have an inherent competition within the same agency to both do the enforcement side of it as well as the service side.
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As I mentioned to you earlier, it's something that I want to and am in the process of further developing, and I think that's a question that you should ask this morning of those that are here, and also keep in mind as you go through the process of hearings.
And I would like to just, as a matter of public record, say that thisthe issue of controlling our borders, of managing our borders, and of ensuring that there is a process of everything from naturalization to legal immigration, is not a Democrat or Republican issue; it's an issue of what's good and right for America. We are a nation of immigrants, and we should be looking at our ability to do a better job for our country, and do a better job for those throughout the world that have been playing by the rules, that have been respecting our laws, and are waiting to come in legally.
So, in that context, my first recommendation would be to separate Border Patrol out of INS. Secondly, I would also recommend that we look at consolidation of the responsibility for the inspection process at the ports-of-entry. I think in that context it addresses the two biggest problems that I see that we have on the border today, and that's our ability to monitor and do a good job of monitoring and controlling borders in between those ports-of-entry, and, secondly, the frustration that people feel daily of having a confusing atmosphere at the ports-of-entry in terms of who is participating in the inspection process, who is responsible.
Today we have a situationand I should ask you: do Ihow much time do I have?
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Well, we're actuallyI want you to continue, Silvestre, but what you
Mr. WATT. I'll pick up
Mr. SMITH. Let me yield to the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, and you could follow up under his time, if that's all right.
Mr. REYES. OK.
Mr. WATT. That's fine.
Mr. SMITH. OK. So please proceed.
Mr. REYES. Well, the only other thing that I want to mention is that today there's a tremendous amount of frustration that will continue to build as NAFTA kicks in and we see more commercial traffic and more interaction between the United States and Mexico, because we don't have a single entity in charge of the inspection process. We don't have one agency.
I think that we ought to look at consolidation. I think it makes sense. I think we, as a Congress, need to understand that resources are limited, and we need to do a better job for the taxpayer. And part of what I see as a problem today is that there is too much competition and too much duplication in border enforcement and border inspections.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have a number of different areas that I would like to focus in on as time permits, but why don't I stop there and then answer any other questions that you might have.
Mr. WATT. Congressman, I would be delighted if you have two or three other recommendations that you want to just give us, so we can outline them and have them, and then give us the follow-up justifications or discussion about the points at a subsequent time. Do you have a list of additional recommendations that you wanted to make? If so, I certainly want to get those in the record.
Mr. REYES. Well, I do, and part of it will require, as in talking to many people, will require an opportunity to actually sit down and justify the rationale behind it.
Mr. WATT. I don't know if I have enough time on the clock to give you the justification time, but I sure would like to have the list, if I could have it, if you want to do it now, or you could give it subsequent.
Mr. REYES. Well, I would like to, instead of shooting out all the recommendations here, I would like to actually follow up in writing because I think part of the process with the issue that your committee is charged with, it's a very complex area, and in order to fully understand it, a lot of these points need to be fully developed.
Mr. WATT. And I think the chairman's going to leave the record open, I hope
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Right.
Mr. WATT [continuing]. For whatever period of time you need to submit detailed recommendations.
Let me zero in, then, on the two recommendations that you have made, because, to some extent, at least on the surface, one could argue that they appear to be inconsistent with each other. One of thethe second recommendation is that we consider consolidation of the inspection function. I take it that inspection function is now done by Immigrationby the INS, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Agriculture, Customs; everybody's got a little piece of that action when it comes to inspecting traffic, and you're saying if that were more coordinated, maybe under one function, then we would have a more efficient process? Is that what you're saying?
Mr. REYES. Well, yes, and I appreciate your question because that really speaks to what I said in terms of the complexity. DEA does not play a role in the inspections process. The ports-of-entry basically come under three agencies. That's Customs, INS, and Agriculture.
Mr. WATT. So who is it out there with the dogs sniffing the trucks? That's not DEA?
Mr. REYES. No, it's not.
Mr. WATT. Oh, is that right?
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Mr. REYES. That's Customswell, dogs actually are a function of Customs, and also INS has dogs on those ports-of-entry, and of course the Border Patrol also has canines, as does Customs Patrol. But, see, that's one of the reasons why I would like to have the time to be able to make sure people understand what the process is.
That's part of the confusion, incidentally, Mr. Watt, that frustrates people as they're crossing the border. The first thing, when you have a complaint at a port-of-entry, is: what agency did the inspection? You have toin order to find out, you have to ask questions like: what kind of uniform were they wearing, because there's two distinctive uniforms, and that leads to the confusion.
The other part of it is that, although everyone receives cross-training, so that a Customs inspector also verifies the status of the individual in terms of being able to enter this country, their primary focus is on goods and ensuring that the contrabandconversely, INS' inspectors' primary function is to make sure that people have the proper documentation.
I just think that in order to facilitate and to streamline the process, there has to be a consolidation, so that there aren't any questions in terms of who's responsible today. It's not inconceivable that at a port-of-entry you've got three officers in charge, one for each one of those agencies, and they have competing priorities within the scope of their respective agency.
Mr. WATT. But let me go back to your first recommendation, which seems to me to be a little bit inconsistent with this notion of consolidation of functions. If you're going towe've got all of these agencies operating at the border now, and I take it that recommendation would be to set up a separate agency, a Border Patrol agency, which would add to the diffuse nature of what's going on at the border in one sense. Are you suggesting Border Patrol be taken from INS and given to some other agency or that they be freestanding?
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Mr. REYES. I think the nature of the job that the Border Patrol is so unique that I think they should be their own agency, and there are a number of reasons
Mr. WATT. But wouldn't that require a bunch of coordination with what other people are doing, too
Mr. REYES. Well
Mr. WATT [continuing]. In the same way that this inspection process does?
Mr. REYES. Well, remember what I said in terms of there's two areas of concern. There's in between the ports-of-entry, which is largely today the responsibility of the Border Patrol, and at the ports-of-entry themselves. And in my recommendation, as it gets fully developed, I make some recommendations in the context of having one agency in charge of all enforcement activities in between the ports-of-entry, which would mean consolidation of some assets out of some other agencies assigned to the Federal agency responsible and taking the lead for monitoring and enforcing the laws in between those ports-of-entry. Consolidation of the inspection process at the ports-of-entry would be separate and apart. You're talking about two different activities, in essence, and it's a very complex issue because there are agencies that work for the Department of Justice and agencies that work for the Department of Treasury and then the Department of Agriculture. So in that context, we're going to have to radically change the way we look at the ability to facilitate commerce, goods, and people through our ports, as well as the way we monitor our borders.
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But I think, realistically, that has to occur as we move toward a global economy and we move toward doing, hopefully, a better job of monitoring the border against narcotics trafficking and the other issues that affect the national security of our country.
Mr. WATT. The chairman has been very gracious in extending the time, and I want to join the chairman in saying we welcome you to the Congress to help us try to solve some of these problems, and I'll be looking forward to receiving your written recommendations and to hearing your thoughtful analysis of these issues as we go forward, based on the experience you have in the field. I think that will be invaluable.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. REYES. And I should say that, you know, I don't presume to tell you that I have all the answers. A lot of these issues will fully have to be developed in consultation with the agencies that I mentioned, and, obviously, I think that we need to look at the border in the context of 1997 and not 1910, 1911, as far as some of the laws that go back that affect our inspections process today.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
And you may not have all the answers, but you've got a lot of good suggestions, Silvestre.
Let me recognize other members who may have questions for you as well. The gentleman from California, Mr. Bono.
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Mr. BONO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and, Silvestre, thank you for coming and testifying. It's very apparent how detailed you have studied this issue, and being limited with time.
Just mentioning the separation of the Border Patrol out of the INS, isn't that conflict somewhat outrageous? I know you described it as a problem, but doesn't it at times get ridiculous? Aren't the Border Patrol sometimes prohibited from doing their job, which is preventing illegals crossing the borders, because of the structure of the situation with the INS? Would that be a fair statement?
Mr. REYES. That would be a fair statement, and there are a number of reasons for that, but, again, one of the fundamental reasons is that you have an agency that is expected to do both the service side of it and the enforcement side. I don't think we have been as effective, and certainly we have not been as efficient, as we should be. I think that part of the problem that we have seen over the course of the last few years has been that, even though the Congress has been very emphatic and very specific about their concern in terms of addressing illegal immigration, there have been equal and competing priorities that have contradicted with those priorities out of Congress. And you've got one agency with one individual in charge that is trying to balance both issues, and it's justit's not fair to the agency; it's not fair to the individual that's having to make those decisions. And I'll tell you, the biggest concern I have is that it's not fair to the agents and the officers and the employees out in the field that are, in most instances, tremendously professional, but in some cases we don't get the type of support and leadership that really they deserve.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BONO. I don't think I covered it in the detail that you have. But I found that the representation, when it was reported back to me, to be incredibly frustrating by the agencies that had jobs to do. They said, ''We are restricted from doing these jobs,'' and not only were they frustrated, but at a certain point the attitude seemed to be, well, we'll pass sometimes, because we know that we won't be effective; we might get in trouble for doing what we're supposed to be doing. It's a huge conflict that, as far as I'm concerned, it gets down to downright stupid.
My question is, when we talk about micromanaging, I don't think anybody wants to micromanage, but when we have systems such as this that are so utterly ineffective and inefficient, is there someone at the INS that says this is not working; shouldn't we change it? Or do we then, in fact, have to sit here and micromanage? The last thing I want to do is micromanage the INS. But when you go down to the border and speak to these people and see the frustration, see the morale drop, and see the inefficiency, what do we do?
Mr. REYES. Well, you know, there are a number of points that you've made with your question, but certainly there is a tremendous amount of frustration within the INS and within the Border Patrol. We haveI think we owe those officers that put their life on the line every day and every night for this countrywe owe them more in terms of streamlining, shall we say, the process. That's why I recommended that you take an opportunity to actually go down and speak to the field managers that can actually tell you how they've been profoundly affected and impacted by decisions that sometimes get made in what is commonly referred to in my previous career as ''the void.'' And that can only come if you actually go down there and hear their story and hear their recommendations or actually bring individual people up here that are going to be able to candidly and frankly explain to you why it is that sometimes it appears like we're being very ineffective as an agency. I think it's vitally important that we get information from the field level versus the headquarters level.
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Mr. BONO. Thank you.
Can I ask the chairman for 2 additional minutes?
Mr. SMITH. Absolutely. Please proceed.
Mr. BONO. Thank you.
I agree; it seems like the frustrating thing for me anyway is, when we do discuss these issues with the agency, and they're not necessarily border members or people on the front line who are really doing the job and can give you a nitty-gritty description, we kind of get this cat-and-mouse game that seems to continue with the INS, and the result is inefficiency. I think it's an excellent suggestion, Mr. Chairman, that we start bringing some of these people up here. They can tell us the actual story that is really going on, rather than an interpretation by the agency administrators who will put their kind of spin on it, and then we all leave here. Thus every year we have the identical INS problems. I presume that's what you're sayingbring the people up here that really deal with this on a daily basis; is that correct?
Mr. REYES. Well, I would be pleased and happy to work with your committee on identifying individuals that need to come up here and tell the story. And I would be happy to also maybe suggest questions that you need to ask, because oftentimes in the process there are parameters that are set for individuals that come up here and testify that inherently limit the ability of a committee or a subcommittee to really understand the issues.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I would again reiterate, I would hope that you do at least a few hearings out in the field. I would strongly recommend that you get an opportunity to hear from business people and community people of the difference between a well-managed, well-run operation that, in the case of Hold the Line, that eroded somewhat because of lack of support in terms of resources.
I think, as I see that graph up there, if you will note that in fiscal year 1995 El Paso arrested 34,586 illegal entrants, and in fiscal year 1997 that figure is quickly approaching doubling, and that is a direct result of lack of support for El Paso, and not only does this reflect more people entering, but it also leads to the erosion of morale by officers that made a terrific impact on the whole region of the border and have not received the support to allow that kind of impact to continue. And there are a number of reasons, and I willI'm in the process of writing those out for you, but I thinkI just that only as an example because, clearly, initiatives and ground-level efforts have been made, are being made, but it speaks to your question that after swimming upstream, you finally throw your hands up and get frustrated, and either accept the consequence that maybe somebody doesn't care; somebody is not going to give you the support that you expected or deserve. Officers retire out of frustration or in some cases they even run for Congress. [Laughter.]
Mr. BONO. Congressman, I can't thank you enough for your testimony. It is so right on, and I hope, Mr. Chairman, that we look at some of these solutions that the Congressman has mentioned. I know time does not allow, but I don't even think you hit the tip of the iceberg on the NAFTA issues, the problems with the NAFTA, the drug-running that we have to deal with and the amount of drugs that we are now importing into this country to compound this INS problem. I'm sure you could go into great detail. If you could give us a recommendation in that area as well to get it from where it really needs to be heard from, I would appreciate it.
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Again, I concur with you a thousand percent, and thank you so much for your testimony.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bono follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. SONNY BONO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Thank you Mr. Chairman, I congratulate you for holding these oversight hearings. This issue is extremely complex as well as vitally important for my district, California, and the entire Nation. This Congress I serve as both a member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims and the National Security Committee. Recently, I travelled to Bosnia as part of my service on the latter panel. I see a similarity between the events in that part of the world and the circumstances surrounding our southern U.S. border. In my view, the essence of this hearing is about our sovereignty as a country.
The federal government's responsibility in this area is clear and certain. We must be very honest that our actions will affect the public safety in many different ways, some beyond the core scope of this hearing. Border security encompasses illegal entry, drugs, and smuggling, certainly, these are of great concern. This is not, however, the end of the list. In addition, the threat of criminal alien terrorists is another specific reality that we must guard against.
My knowledge concerning border security and these matters comes from a variety of sources. First, my knowledge is personal and arises from being a long-time resident and later a mayor in Southern California. In the past two years, I have also earned an advanced degree in this material at the side of my chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith. He, of course, has done a masterful job in the 104th Congress championing immigration reform. One of the great lessons I carry with me is the failure of some of our trusted public institutions. Unfortunately it is too often the Immigration and Naturalization Service at fault.
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Several weeks ago, the subcommittee met to consider the actions of INS relating to the Citizenship USA program. Then, I reminded the INS that they must put the ''I'' back into ''Illegal'' and remain vigilant in border enforcement. The problems revolving around criminal aliens gaining citizenship due to faults with the fingerprinting regulations persist according to the latest KPMG report.
Today, we will learn more about the INS' and other agencies' actions and failures in carrying out their mission and enforce the law. In the 44th Congressional District that I represent, there are many people who are being affected by the changes at the INS. These are individuals who have dedicated themselves to public service and now work in the Border Patrol. Last term, one of Congress' objectives was securing the public safety by authorizing new criminal investigator positions. A charge was brought to my attention that the INS is delaying the hiring of new criminal investigator positions, in order to mask the size of their budgets and create the illusion of efficiency. At the same time, highly qualified personnel are being denied the opportunity to serve in those new investigatory positions. Instead, they are being pressured to relocate to new assignments that generally were reserved for the newest and most inexperienced new recruits. If this is true, it is another example of the mismanagement of resources available to the INS and another of their failure to protect the U.S. public. It is my hope that the INS will soon provide me answers about this policy. In addition, I would appreciate an assessment of the impact of their actions on the public and the public servants who rely on the wisdom of the INS' management practices.
Again, my Chairman I commend of your efforts to hold these hearings and appreciate the opportunity to participate today. I yield back the balance of my time.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Bono.
Congressman Reyes, as you know, Mr. Watt and I are happy for you to join us, and I only wish that you were a permanent member of this subcommittee rather than just a visitor today, but please come forward and join us, and thank you for your testimony today as well.
Mr. REYES. Thank you very much.
Mr. SMITH. Before we get to the second panel, I want to recognize someone who has come into the room in the last few minutes, and he is Congressman Ron Mazzoli, a former Chair of this subcommittee who's in the back of the room; also, a member of the Commission on Immigration Reform.
Ron, we're delighted to have you with us. We're still trying to follow your good example up here.
Would the second panel please come forward, take their seats, and then I'll introduce them.
Our second panel consists of Alan Bersin, U.S. attorney, Southern District of California. He is the Attorney General's Representative to the Southwest Border. Mr. Bersin is accompanied by Donnie Marshall, Chief of Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Thomas Kneir, Deputy Assistant Director of Criminal Investigative Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation; also, George Regan, Acting Associate Commissioner for Enforcement, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service; accompanied by Joseph R. Greene, District Director for Denver, CO; James M. Bailey, Assistant Regional Director for Intelligence for the Central Region in Dallas, TX; José E. Garza, Chief Border Patrol Agent, McAllen, TX, Sector; Louis F. Nardi, Director, Smuggling/Criminal Organization Branch, and Anne Veysey, Employer Sanctions Specialist.
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Also a member of the panel is Samuel H. Banks, Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs Service, Department of the Treasury, and Jonathan M. Winer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, International Narcotics Matters and Law Enforcement Affairs.
We welcome you all, and we will begin with Mr. Bersin.
STATEMENT OF ALAN D. BERSIN, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE SOUTHWEST BORDER ISSUES, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. BERSIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members. How do you wish to proceed, Mr. Chairman? In terms of the formal statement that has been prepared and will be submitted, I am prepared to do that. How much time will I have for the statement?
Mr. SMITH. All statements by all panelists will be made a part of the record, and we would ask you to summarize that statement in 5 minutes. We have something like 10 or 12 witnesses today. So we want to try to finish up before too late. Thank you.
Mr. BERSIN. Let me then proceed to the summary, Mr. Chairman. I want to start, cover one concept, and then a number of observations, followed by the indication in the manner of Congressman Reyes of recommendation as to the next stage of the border.
But I want to put squarely before the committee a concept of what we mean, and what the committee means, by a border security, which is the subject of the hearing. Mr. Chairman, our border, 1,950 miles on the south, the land border with Mexico, exclusive of the water borders and our land border with Canada, is a shock absorber. The suggestion often made in the Congress and the media in the agencies, and by the public, is that the border is the place where a problem, be it illegal immigration or illegal drug trafficking, can be solvedsolved. I suggest to you that our duty and responsibility is to manage the border satisfactorily, to manage it away from the epic of lawlessness that has characterized that border for the 150 years that the American Southwest has been a part of the United States, as contrasted with the northern half of Mexico.
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The variables that dictate the flow of illegal immigration into the United States are variables having to do with the economic situation in Mexico, the problems confronted by people in the interior of that country, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the condition of the labor market here in the United States in terms of the willingness and ability of employers to hire undocumented illegal entrants into this country.
You have, on the one hand, the push out of Mexico, as a function of economic conditions there in the villages and in the poor urban areas, and you have the pull into the United States by the labor market's willingness to employ people, often at substandard wages, in the United States. As a consequence, with regard to the issue of illegal immigration, finding myself and my colleagues in San Diego, CA, for much of the last 40 years, the principal corridor for illegal immigration into the United States, as people leave the villages in Mexico, come north on the highways, and increasingly through the air, to the city of Tijuana and then in the past moving through San Diego on their way for the most part to Los Angeles, although to other cities on the west coast and further east in the United States.
We sit there and we are a shock absorber of these factors over which we on the border as citizens, as well as law enforcement persons, have no control, but we can, and it is our responsibility with the resources provided by the administration and the Congress to manage that flow. And as indicated in my statement, I think you will see that in terms of illegal immigration in the San Diego sector and the Arizona sector, and in fact from El Paso to the Pacific, those who say there is no difference in the feel of the border with regard to illegal immigration since Silvestre Reyes started to hold the line and the Border Patrol/INS implemented Operation Gatekeeper in my home and Safeguard in Arizona, those who say there is no difference simply have not been to the border.
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And I'd be prepared to address these questions as to the next steps with regard to illegal immigration as we look to Texas, but those who say that the crisis has shifted to Texas, I understand that the problems in Texas have become accented, but that's precisely because, as a shock absorber on the border, for the first time we are having an impact; we are having smugglers react to what we are doing, as opposed to the vacuum and the doormat that places like San Diego, Nogales, and El Paso had been in the past.
So I want to leave you with that concept on illegal immigrationthat we manage the problem, and for those who say that, well, you're simply pushing the problem, I submit to you that in terms of border law enforcement, that is the concept. We cannot control the number of people who are leaving the villages in Mexico, nor can we control, with the tools presently available on the books and in the statutes, can we control successfully or adequately the employer here, the U.S. employer who is giving work to those people and continuing to draw them out of the villages of central Mexico.
Second issue: the same can be said with regard to the management of illegal narcotics trafficking. The supply from the source countries of South America coming overland, be shipped through the ports-of-entry and across the line on the Southwest border is in response to a demand for the consumption of narcotics in the United States. We on the border have a responsibility, and with the resources that we are getting for the first time in American history, are starting to have an impact in terms of managing that situation. But those who believe that the flow of drugs can be stopped 100 percent at the border are not realistic, given the fact, as it has been said before, perhaps not to this committee, that all of the cocaine consumed in the United States can be brought into this country in one 747 or nine large tractor-trailers, and given the number of tractor-trailers that pass through this border, along with the 280 million people indicated by Congressman Reyes, we are talking about a management problem until we get to the point where we can attack the cartels where they operate in Mexico or we can reduce the consumption of narcotics among our population.
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Mr. SMITH. OK, Mr. Bersin, we're going to need to go on, and I thank you for your comments, and we'll have questions for you; you can follow up then, if that's all right.
Mr. BERSIN. Let me just, if I may
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. BERSIN [continuing]. Give you the two areas for recommendation that you may want to follow up in questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. OK.
Mr. BERSIN. First, we need additional resources that the Congress is providing. The second is we need to have more ability to leverage our resources with local law enforcement, and I'd be prepared to discuss that in greater depth. And, third, we need to continue to refine the statutes in the way that the 1996 act has started, to permit prosecutors and enforcement agents to continue to introduce the rule of law by having a system of sanctions and deterrents in operation at the border that works and functions better.
Mr. SMITH. OK.
Mr. BERSIN. And, lastly, in response to Mr. Watt, I would say that I was the prosecutor identified by Mr. Wallace on ''60 Minutes,'' and I stand prepared and eager to respond to any questions that you may have with regard to that segment.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Bersin follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ALAN D. BERSIN, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SOUTHWEST BORDER ISSUES, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to be here today to testify about the continuing challenges we face and the efforts we have taken in the area of border law enforcement. In October 1995 when the Attorney General designated me to be her Special Representative for Southwest Border issues, she expressed her desire to develop a coordinated but not monolithic Border Strategy. She emphasized the need to be respectful of, and take into account, the particular and varied conditions along the border. I believe we have made significant progress toward that goal, though much remains to be done.
I know you have areas of particular concern and I want to address those directly and immediately.
1. Smuggling. As you know, the Administration has undertaken a series of operations at various points along the Border designed to deter or apprehend persons who seek to enter this country illegally. The most well-known of these operations have been Hold the Line in El Paso and Gatekeeper in San Diego. There have been others however such as Operation Safeguard in Nogales and Douglas which has served the same purpose.
Each of these operations has been tailored to meet the specific geographical and topographical demands of the regions involved. Thus, for example, Operation Hold the Line took advantage of the flat terrain in El Paso to place visible agents at quarter or half mile intervals along a 20-mile stretch of the border formed by the Rio Grande River. In San Diego however, where the topography is much more rugged and laced with canyons and hills, the placement of agents was more strategically designed. In addition, the San Diego operation combined immediate border visibility with an expanded support infrastructure including stadium-style lighting, portable lights, fencing, night vision scopes and sensors.
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These operations were designed to stem the flow of illegal immigration in a systematic and organized fashion. However, it is not enough to make certain areas more difficult for smugglers to penetrate; we must also be prepared to meet the flow of aliens who may be diverted to alternate routes. This controlled approach has been the key to our strategy border-wide.
One of the things we learned from these Operations is that improved control between the ports of entry (including the movement of foot traffic into less hospitable terrain) intensifies pressures at the ports themselves. Both illegal entrants and narcotics smugglers tend to react to more effective line control by attempted entry through the ports, utilizing both vehicular and pedestrian lanes. The lag time may be 120 days or less.
Armed with this knowledge, U.S. Customs Commissioner Weise and former National Drug Control Policy Director Brown in early 1995 announced ''Operation Hard Line,'' a strategy intended to strengthen efforts to combat drug smuggling all along the Southwest Border.
Under Operation Hard Line, additional funding was provided to increase the number of special agents along the Southwest Border and to make capital improvements in port facilities (including the installation of concrete barriers, fixed and hydraulic bollards, permanent lighting and video cameras, and a cargo X-ray system at the El Paso port of entry similar to the one in place at Otay Mesa, California). Operation Hard Line calls for more frequent and intensive roving inspections by Customs Officers in pre-primary areas at ports of entry, more extensive checks by INS officers, an increased number of examinations at port secondary inspection areas, and checks of all commercial vehicles through the use of the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). Operation Hard Line also involves increased participation of the Department of Defense and state and local law enforcement, and cooperation with Mexican law enforcement.
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In addition to its impact on alien traffic, Operation Hard Line produced the following results within its first year:
An overall 76% increase in the number of narcotics seizures along the California-Mexico border over the previous year;
Seizure of approximately 459,000 pounds of illegal drugs at Southwest ports of entry (including 51,000 pounds of cocaine), a 24% increase in Customs drug seizures over the previous year;
An increase in drug seizures by Border Patrol and Customs between the ports, including 49% more cocaine and 24% more marijuana over the previous year;
A 125% increase in narcotics seizures in commercial cargo areas at ports of entries;
Seizure of over $6.6 million in currency along the Southwest Border, including San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso, San Antonio and Harlingen.
A 104% increase in arrests related to narcotics smuggling in the Southern District of California alone.
These statistics show the dramatic intertwinement of drug and alien smuggling law enforcement efforts. That is, as we work to resolve the problem of illegal entrants, we also have a significant impact on the smuggling of controlled substances.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The intersection of drugs and alien cases has been enhanced by a Memorandum of Understanding entered into approximately one year ago between INS and DEA. Under the terms of the agreement, the agencies are to share intelligence information and DEA must be contacted on all INS drug seizures. INS has the specific authority to conduct warrantless probable cause searches for drugs at Border Patrol checkpoints and to process the cases. Although INS is not authorized to work proactively on drug investigations, INS officers are cross-designated with limited Title 21 authority to handle reactive drug cases. A small number of INS officers, given plenary Title 21 authority, have been detailed to DEA to assist with drug seizures. The agreement calls for specific asset and forfeiture sharing between the agencies.
The significance of this MOU will be enhanced even further if new checkpoints are added. Currently, Border Patrol is in the process of enhancing its existing operations and is analyzing trends and intelligence to place strategically new checkpoints as the need arises.
There is yet a third way in which the realms of immigration and drug enforcement overlap; it is a sad and ironical interconnection. As a result of the various Operations, and indeed as a measure of their success, persons seeking illegal entry into the United States have had to shift their pattern of migration from areas of easy access to highways and major cities, to areas of rugged and difficult terrain. While this has no doubt deterred many (and rerouted some through the ports of entry as discussed above), others have been willing to take the additional risks involved in a lengthier and more dangerous route of passage. A trip which previously could have been completed in a matter of hours (e.g., from Tijuana to downtown San Diego and then along Interstate 5 to the sweatshops in Los Angeles) now may take 3 or 4 days and involve crossing a rugged mountain range with temperature extremes. Not surprisingly, the cost of passage has as much as trebled in many cases, from approximately $300 to almost $900 per person. Because this increase presents an insurmountable economic barrier to many, some are willing to cover the cost by acquiescing in requests by their smugglers to transport drugs into the United States when they attempt to enter. Thus, especially in the Southern District of California, we have seen a dramatic increase in ''backpacking'' cases, where illegal entrants carry in their backpacks relatively small (2030 pounds) packages of marijuana or other drugs in an effort to work off the cost of being smuggled into this country. The smuggler is often nowhere to be found, and the courier is left to face alone all criminal liability.
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This ruthless and cynical exploitation and manipulation of economic migrants desperate to enter the United States highlights the need to pursue vigorously those who operate alien smuggling operations. As I will discuss further on, our emphasis on these prosecutions has been steadily increasing.
2. Violence and Drugs. Although I understand the Subcommittee has expressed a particular interest in the correlation of violence and drugs in Texas, the problem of course is systemic across the entire border. Just last week at the Calexico Port of Entry in California, two Customs agents were shot, one of them critically, by the driver of a marijuana-laden vehicle who had been ordered to secondary for further investigation. In the exchange of gunfire, the driver was killed.
The regions having the highest rates of violent crime on a per capita basis have been identified at the following locations along the border: McAllen (Texas), San Luis (Arizona), Las Cruces (New Mexico), Calexico (California) and Brownsville (Texas). Tucson, El Paso, Las Cruces, Phoenix and Los Angeles are identified as having the most significant gang-related activity in the southwest region based on the number of armed encounters, assaults on agents, border bandit and drug trafficking activity, and organized gang activity.
We are committed to coordinating our efforts in this area so that the FBI, INS and DEA, in concert with the relevant U.S. Attorney Offices, will confer with local law enforcement agencies in each of the identified sites. The nature of the particular crime problem and the federal resources (FBI Safe Streets Task Forces, DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams, INS Deportation Units) available to assist local police and sheriff departments needs to be examined. Enforcement and prosecution protocols should be negotiated and agreed. A Task Force is already in place in Tucson and another is being worked out in Calexico, California. I am hopeful that this concept can be expanded across the border. On May 15 of this year, an unprecedented meeting will take place in San Diego with the 5 Southwest Border U.S. Attorneys and 16 county and state attorneys. This item is on the agenda.
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Because the Subcommittee has expressed particular interest in Texas, I do not want to conclude this portion of my testimony without focusing on that area. Much of the violence there, as elsewhere, is the subject of ongoing investigations which cannot be discussed. I can say, however, that in Texas, as well as other areas along the border, individuals suspected of cooperating with federal drug investigators have been murdered. And there are outstanding threats against individuals and agents involved in drug investigations and prosecutions. We are taking every precaution to protect individuals who may be in danger.
To use the Del Rio Border Patrol Sector as an example, and unfortunately not an atypical one, there was a 191% increase in assaults or armed encounters between FY 95 and FY 96. In FY 96 the Sector reported 32 such incidents.
3. Border Patrol Allocation. The allocation of Border Patrol agents is the product of a complex process which takes into account multiple factors. No single factor is determinative, no matter how important. Thus, although the rising number of apprehensions in Texas is a major concern, it must be viewed in the context of our overall strategy.
In the past, unfortunately, allocation decisions were at times based on political concerns rather than strategic ones. We now, for the first time in recent memory, have a comprehensive near-term and mid-term strategy for controlling the border. We understand that there are six or seven corridors of entrance most used by the drug and alien smugglers.
San Diego has always been the largest of these corridors. Almost 50% of all apprehensions of undocumented aliens nationwide were in this region. In raw numbers this translated into the arrest of over 10,000 undocumented aliens per week, 80% of whom entered in one 14-mile stretch east from Imperial Beach.
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In 1994, when we began to review deployment and strategy, we started with this region, believing it vital to deal first with our most difficult problems. We have had notable success. The immediate effect of Gatekeeper was to alter dramatically the entry pattern of undocumented aliens and force them into a much more inhospitable and rugged terrain. We then had to deploy agents to the new area of entry, while not neglecting to keep our reinforcements in Imperial County.
One of the lessons we have learned from studying past strategies is that it is not sufficient to make progress in one area and then move on. The smugglers simply return to their old ways. What made the original route so popular e.g., ready access to highways and the opportunity quickly to reach big cities, will again be a draw. Therefore we cannot simply move agents wholesale from California to Texas in order to deal with the problems in Texas. Instead, we have to reassess strategically and carefully manpower needs so that we do not backslide in one area as we work to handle another.
Although the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 authorizes INS to hire an additional 1,000 Border Patrol agents in Fiscal Year 1998, our overall goal of a better controlled border is reached more effectively by hiring and deploying 500 additional Border Patrol agents, the number for which INS now seeks funding for Fiscal Year 1998.
I am confident both that the distribution of agents across the border has been appropriate to the regional needs and that the limited, but still large, number of new hires is proper. On the latter point, we must be able to ensure that the ratios of trainees to journeymen, agents to first-line supervisors, and first- to second-line supervisors remain reasonable. Without that, we run the risk of exacerbating, rather than ameliorating, problems at the border.
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As to the distribution of agents between California and Texas, we have, and we continue, to study the numbers very carefully. First, it is impossible to make one-on-one comparisons. Most obviously, differences in terrain affect manpower needs of an area. Therefore, to the extent that Operation Gatekeeper has forced the migrants to enter over a mountain range which is rugged and steep, the number of agents assigned to that range must be high. While the distances to be covered in Texas are enormous, much of the terrain is more easily traversed by agents (and aliens) than in the California mountains.
Second, beyond the issue of terrain, the number of apprehensions in general supports the agent allocation to date. Comparing the first six months of FY 1996 to the first six months of FY 1997, apprehensions in El Centro were up 77%, from 32,459 to 57,438. At the same time apprehensions in McAllen increased by 34%, from 97,937 to 131,641. These statistics need to be viewed with consideration given to the traditional ebb and flow among the regions.
Between fiscal years 1993 and 1997, 634 additional Border Patrol agents were assigned to Texas. As of March 15, 1997, the following placements had been made: 117 in El Paso, 145 in Del Rio, 98 in Laredo and 274 in McAllen. At the same time, 1,176 additional agents were assigned to San Diego and 27 to El Centro, California. The aggregation of agents in San Diego was necessitated by the overall strategy I have already described, as well as the extreme level of violence and border banditry.
The needs of Texas are, I understand pressing. After the success of Hold the Line, followed up by Operation Gatekeeper' it always has been the plan that we would systematically move across the border. At this point, without ceding ground on the progress to date, our attention will turn increasingly more toward El Paso and the rest of Texas.
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4. Impact of New Statutes. We greatly appreciate the work of this Subcommittee and your Senate counterpart on many of the enhanced penalty provisions initially recommended by the Administration. It is impossible at this point to give a full assessment on the impact of the new statutes since key provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) went into effect only three weeks ago. However, I can offer some predictions about which I feel confident.
First, to the extent that the new laws increase criminal penalties for alien smuggling and authorize wiretaps to investigate not only alien smuggling but document, citizenship and passport fraud, they provide much needed weapons in our law enforcement arsenal. Before enactment of IIRIRA, the penalties for alien smuggling and document fraud were negligible, and the profits so enormous that traffickers could risk a few months in jail as an acceptable cost of doing business. No more.
The increased statutory penalties, which have been reflected in new Sentencing Guidelines effective May 1, 1997, are dramatic. Previously, an individual who smuggled for commercial gain was in a 4 to 10 month guideline range without any additional adjustments. Under the new amendments, the smuggler will face between 10 and 16 months' incarceration. This could increase even more dramatically if the number of aliens smuggled is 25 or morea not uncommon occurrence. Under the old guidelines the range in such circumstances was 1218 months; it will now be 2733 months. In short, the cost of doing business has increased substantially and should have a deterrent effect.
The Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys has disseminated to all offices the pertinent information about these new statutes. We are planning a workshop in San Diego to train Assistant U.S. Attorneys across the border on how best to use the increased prosecutorial weapons now available to us.
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While I cannot discuss details of ongoing investigations, I can assure this Subcommittee that already we have under way along the Border major alien smuggling investigations utilizing all the resources provided by the new statutes.
The recognition by Congress of the significance of these immigration violations has elevated their priority throughout the law enforcement community. With alien smuggling now a predicate act for RICO, the FBI has become involved in our smuggling investigations. In San Diego alone, we have one squad (10 fulltime agents) working on alien smuggling, and the Bureau has requested authorization from its Resource Management Allocating Board for an analogous squad in Los Angeles. For the first time in recent memory the investigations in San Diego and Los Angeles are being coordinated at the outset. These cases, much more complex and significant than those which we were traditionally able to bring, are attributable directly to the new authority given prosecutors by both the Anti-Terrorism and IIRIRA laws.
A second impact attributable directly to IIRIRA is in the authority to exclude, without a hearing, those who present themselves at ports of entry with false documents. In July 1995 we had established in San Diego a ''Port Court'', that is, an immigration court at the border staffed by Immigration judges, to handle these exclusion hearings. Whereas previously these cases involved transporting aliens inland for hearings, and continuances which often stretched for months, the Port Court gave us the ability to process the cases quickly and efficiently. Aliens so excluded could be prosecuted for felony reentry after deportation if they attempted again to enter the country illegally.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Since July 1995, 13,830 entrants with false documents were brought before the Port Court and order excluded and deported. Only 201 have been prosecuted for felony reentry, suggesting that recidivism is extremely low.
With the enactment of IIRIRA however, there is no longer a need to hold such administrative hearings; the aliens can be excluded immediately, and if they reenter (or attempt to do so) they still face felony reentry prosecution. This has freed up the Immigration Judges at the Port Court to handle removal hearings for other categories of illegal entrants which the Port Court previously had not had the resources to handle.
5. Prosecutorial Impact. Both the statutes and the increased resources provided by Congress have had a profound impact on prosecutions along the Southwest Border. To take one example, in New Mexico, increased manpower at the I25 northbound checkpoint has resulted in almost triple the amount of marijuana and twice the amount of cocaine seized in the first six months of FY 1997 as compared with the first six months of FY 1996.
Another powerful example of how resources have enabled us to prosecute more and better cases is traceable to the ''IDENT'' system, developed as part of Operation Gatekeeper. IDENT is an advanced identification system which registers fingerprints and takes photographs of the offender. 169 IDENT terminals have been installed at 83 locations along the Southwest Border. This has enhanced enormously our ability to identify criminal aliens who have reentered the country.
In large part because of IDENT, the number of criminal alien prosecutions along the Southwest Border has increased dramatically. These prosecutions target those with significant criminal histories who have been deported and have reentered, or attempted to reenter, again illegally. Between FY 1993 and FY 1996, the prosecutions went from 287 to 1,169 in San Diego, 24 to 75 in New Mexico, 15 to 204 in the Southern District of Texas, 135 to 388 in Arizona, and 173 to 358 in the Western District of Texas.
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IDENT has also strengthened our ability to prosecute alien smugglers. Traditionally, smugglers often hide among the groups of people being brought in. They do not necessarily drive the vehicles (preferring to let an economic migrant take this risk in return for a reduced charge for passage into the country). Now, with IDENT, we have easy electronic access to the fingerprints of all people apprehended. Therefore, when we see multiple reentries of persons (along with some other criteria established in our prosecutorial guidelines), we can often identify a smuggler who heretofore would have escaped detection. Approximately 80 of our alien smuggling cases in San Diego over the past year fit within this category. And alien smuggling prosecutions across the board are up dramatically. In San Diego, we have gone from 30 in FY 1993 to 209 in FY 1996; New Mexico went from 50 to 82 during the same period; the Southern District of Texas from 104 to 288; Arizona from 36 to 48; and the Western District of Texas from 50 to 190.
The new wiretapping authority assures that the investigation of these cases will be on a grander scale than had previously been possible, and the ability to charge a RICO violation gives us the means to punish severely those who have repeatedly violated our laws. While RICO investigations are ongoing, the statutory authority is too new to have filings yet in place. I can assure the Subcommittee, however, that prosecutors are aware of their enhanced options and are using the tools, both legislative and resource-wise, now available to them to pursue aggressively those who have violated our laws. On behalf of all those prosecutors, I want to thank the Congress for its attention and support in this crucial area.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Bersin. I wish this committee could say we had coordinated with ''60 Minutes'' on their program, but I can't take that credit.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Regan.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE REGAN, ACTING ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER, FOR ENFORCEMENT, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
Mr. REGAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. My colleagues, who, as you've identified, are first-line supervisors in the field and can bring to the committee today day-to-day knowledge of what we face in the way of a challenge, and I welcome this opportunity to give you a firsthand look at the many day-to-day challenges we face in meeting the threat of illegal immigration.
Control of the Southwest border, as you know, remains a top priority for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The border we share with Mexico continues as the No. 1 choice for illegal entry into the United States. Our experience, nonetheless, makes it clear to us that we must continue to develop and refine a multifaceted, integrated enforcement strategya strategy that addresses worksite enforcement, document fraud and alien smuggling, as well as border management.
The Border Patrol has undergone unprecedented growth nationwide over the past 3 years. We will have increased the number of agents from 3,965 in 1993 to 6,878 by the end of this fiscal year. Our goal is to have almost 7,400 agents by the end of 1998.
Ongoing operations, including the McAllen Border Patrol Sector's increased antismuggling efforts, demonstrate continuing progress at the Southwest border. Apprehensions in the McAllen sector were up 34 percent from January 1996 to January 1997. Local law enforcement officials attribute a decrease in crimeat least in partto this Border Patrol initiative.
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Added resources and personnel provided by the Congress have enabled us to further tighten border enforcement. But, while we continue to apply this strategy, those who intend to cross our borders illegally are also hard at work finding new means and methods to get in.
As increasing numbers of intending illegal migrants are forced away from traditional, and more accessible border crossing points, they increasingly are relying on alien smugglers for passage into the United States. Alien smuggling reaches far beyond our borders with Mexico and Canadato all regions of the globe and deep within the United States itself.
The INS is giving high priority to locating, arresting, and prosecuting these traffickers in human cargo here and abroad. Our reasons are both simple and compelling. These smuggling organizations will use any means whatsoever to produce enormous profits while protecting themselves, including murder, rape, torture, forgery, extortion, and forcing their often unwitting customers into prostitution and virtual bondage.
Alien smuggling is a growing multibillion-dollar global business. Smugglers daily are moving thousands of illegal migrantsfrom source countries through transit countries to the North American continent and within the United States. Their fees range as high as $50,000 for a Chinese illegal migrant.
Assault on Border Patrol agents in general on the Southwest border are on the increase, along with the alien smuggling and narcotics smuggling. The Tucson Sector, for example, has experienced a 400 percent increase in assaults on agents in 1996. We had 76 assaults in 1996 compared to 19 in 1995.
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The overwhelming majority of illegal aliens apprehended on the Southwest border are from Mexico. Illegal migrants from other countries which transit Mexico, known as otherthanMexican nationals, constitute less than 2 percent of the total. The Mexican economy, coupled with the longstanding drought in several regions of Mexico, has forced mass migration to cities along the Southwest border and into the United States. Intelligence reports from INS field personnel, as well as from other highly-reliable sources, indicate growth in alien smuggling and increasing demand for their services by illegal migrants.
Apprehension figures shown on the chart to my right are an indication of increased smuggling activity on the Southwest bordera 24-percent increase in the last 2 years. INS enforcement efforts are beginning to pay off in a number of alien smuggler prosecutions: criminal cases filed in Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico against alien smugglers apprehended at the Southwest border totaled 817 in 1996, more than double the 349 cases filed in 1995; the number of defendants prosecuted in these cases totaled 1,186 in 1996 compared to 563 in 1995; defendants found guilty in 1996 totaled 790 versus 340 in 1995.
Arrests and prosecutions of smugglers nationwide included: 1,998 smugglers arrested and 1,325 defendants prosecuted in fiscal year 1995; and, in fiscal year 1996, 2,215 smugglers arrested and 1,975 prosecuted, with 1,568 convictions.
Transnational criminal organized smuggling organizations now have footholds in a number of our largest cities and are operating in the interior of the United States.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The map of the United States displayed on the easel to my right illustrates the alien smuggling routes as they increasingly rely on our interstate highways for the movement of illegal aliens to worksites across the countryto North Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, New York, Florida, Texas, Indiana, Nebraska, and to virtually every region in the country. Over-the-road smuggling is increasing as the demand for workers intensifies and as INS border strategy continues to divert illegal crossers from traditional crossing points.
Houston is a major staging point for the routing of groups of illegal workers crossing at McAllen and Laredo, TX. From Houston they are moved eastward along Interstate Highways 10 and 20. Chandler Heights, AZ, is a major staging point for routing along Interstates 70, 76, and 80.
This interstate, cross-country alien smuggling is a threat to public safety. The smugglers use stripped-down vans, small trucks, and even tractor-trailers, many of which are in poor mechanical condition and often overcrowded. Inexperienced drivers are traveling long distances without sleep and often at excessive speeds. Accidents, including fatalities and injuries, are on the rise.
Small transportation companies. operated by smugglers and known as camionetas, are springing up in Texas. These camionetas operate under Federal transportation regulations as ''common carriers'' and, therefore, are not required to check the documentation or the status of their passengers. Consequently, these smuggler-operated camioneta buses are able to transport illegal migrants anywhere in the United States with little or no fear of prosecution. Unlike legitimate bus companies, large and small, camionetas have no scheduled routes or stops, and deliberately plan their trips to avoid detection. Smuggler operated camioneta operations are based primarily in the Houston and Dallas areas.
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The challenges in meeting this multifaceted alien smuggling threat are large. It requires constant reassessment and adjustment of our enforcement strategy.
Operation Camioneta, a New Orleans Border Patrol Sector intercept effort, resulted in the apprehensions of more than 1,200 illegal aliens over a 4-day period in February and March of this year alone. Assembled by smugglers in the Houston area, these aliens were headed for illegal work, but were apprehended on Interstates 10 and 20 in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Examples of antismuggling efforts beyond our borders include Operation Disrupt, which was a joint operation conducted in the Dominican Republican last fall. It involved INS and other Federal agencies, and the Dominican Republic Government and immigration officials. As a result of this operation, five alien smugglers and four counterfeit document manufacturers were arrested. More than 400 would-be illegal migrants carrying fraudulent documents were intercepted at Dominican Republican airports prior to boarding planes to four major U.S. airports.
A joint United States-Canada-Hong Kong operation last fall resulted in the arrests of 17 alien smugglers in Ontario and British Columbia, Canada. These smugglers were responsible for illegal entry into Canada and the United States of more than 600 Chinese illegal aliens over the past 3 years. Smugglers had moved these Chinese nationals from Canada into the United States across a narrow stretch of the St. Lawrence River through the Native American Indian reservation on the U.S. side of the border. The 17 smugglers are being tried in Canada on 33 separate counts of organized alien smuggling and one count of global conspiracy.
We are also hard at work implementing the recently-enacted enforcement provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act. These provisions complement the administration's comprehensive efforts to combat illegal immigration and provide us with much-needed tools to continue moving forward.
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Mr. Chairman, my colleagues and I will do our best to respond to any questions you may have regarding this endeavor so important to us all. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Regan follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF GEORGE REGAN, ACTING ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER FOR ENFORCEMENT, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
COMBATING ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: A PROGRESS REPORT
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I am accompanied by Joseph Greene, Director of the INS Denver District Office, James Bailey, Assistant Regional Director for Intelligence, INS Central Region, Jose Garza, Chief Border Patrol Agent, the McAllen Sector, Louis F. Nardi, Director, Smuggling and Criminal Organizations Branch, INS Headquarters Investigations, and Anne Veysey, Employer Sanctions Specialist.
We appreciate this opportunity to share with you and the American public information on INS initiatives and progress in stemming the flow of illegal immigration.
Control of the Southwest border, as you know, remains the top enforcement priority for the INS. The border we share with Mexico is the number-one choice for illegal entry to the United States.
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Congress and the Administration continue to work in providing INS with the resources necessary to support an enforcement strategy that is making a difference now and will continue to do so in the future. This strategy restores the rule of law to the Southwest border.
Our goals are clear: deter illegal immigration, alien smuggling and drug trafficking, and facilitate legal border crossings through the ports of entry. The INS plan for maximizing efficient and effective border management has several objectives:
To provide the Border Patrol and other INS enforcement divisions with the personnel, equipment, and technology to deter, detect and apprehend unauthorized aliens, and to disrupt and dismantle alien and drug smuggling organizations;
To gain control of major entry corridors along the border that have been controlled by illegal migrants and smugglers;
To close off the routes most frequently used by smugglers and illegal aliens and to shift traffic to areas that are more remote and difficult to cross, giving us the tactical advantage; and
To continue an ongoing initiative toward maximizing cooperative efforts with the Mexican Government and immigration and law enforcement authorities.
The Border Patrol has undergone unprecedented growth nationwide over the past three years. We will have increased the number of agents from 3,965 in 1993 to 6,878 by the end of this fiscal year. Our goal is to have almost 7,400 agents by the end of 1998.
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Operation Hold the Line, begun in September 1993 in El Paso, was the first example of our deterrent strategy. A strategy to gain control of specific geographic area of the border. Hold the Line was designed to:
Maximize the visibility of Border Patrol agents along a 20-mile stretch of the border formed by the Rio Grande River.
Preclude unauthorized entries into the city and lower crime in the environs of El Paso and make it more difficult for aliens to obtain unauthorized work or move further into the interior of Texas, New Mexico and the rest of the United States.
Operation Gatekeeper applied a similar deterrent strategy, beginning in October 1994 in San Diego. Given the different terrain and makeup of the border-crossers, this operation combines immediate border visibility with an expanded support infrastructure, including stadium-style lighting, portable lighting, fencing, night vision scopes, and sensors. It also involves applying pressure on smugglers at their drophouses, and at checkpoints on the major roads leading north to Los Angeles and the interior of California. When Operation Gatekeeper was initiated, we utilized the lessons learned from ''Hold the Line'' by correcting weaknesses at the ports-of-entry (POEs) at the same time as we were building Border Patrol effectiveness between the POEs.
Operation Safeguard was begun in February 1995 in Arizona at Nogales and later at Douglas. Safeguard combines the presence and visibility of the agent patrols in the most populated areas, with additional strategically located traffic checkpoints on roads leading away from the border.
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The McAllen Border Patrol Sector, beginning last fall, increased its anti-smuggling efforts by targeting staging areas, drophouses and citizen complaints. McAllen is also intensifying enforcement activities at the immediate border by conducting joint operations with the U.S. Customs Service, Department of Defense, and state and local law enforcement agencies.
We've seen dramatic success in each of these areas:
The daily migration from Juarez to El Paso was cut by approximately 75 percent in the first months of Operation Hold the Line and, even with the effect of peso devaluation, apprehensions in El Paso have remained low.
Since Operation Gatekeeper began, illegal entries into San Diego's Imperial Beach area, historically the most heavily trafficked illegal corridor, have dropped approximately 60 percent (186,894 in fiscal year 1994 to 74,979 in fiscal year 1996). Operation Safeguard in Arizona has had similar results.
Consistent with the beginning of a new tactical strategy, apprehensions in the McAllen sector were up 34 percent from January 1996 to January 1997. Local law enforcement officials attribute a decrease in crime in those communities at least in part to Border Patrol initiatives.
Mexican law enforcement is working with the Border Patrol to target and apprehend border robbers preying on migrants, alien and drug smuggling, and other criminal activity along the border.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Added resources and personnel provided by the Congress have enabled us to further tighten border enforcement. But, while we continue to apply this strategy, those who intend to cross our borders illegally also are hard at work finding new means and methods to get in.
As increasing numbers of intending illegal immigrants are forced away from traditional and more accessible border crossing points, they increasingly are relying on alien smugglers for passage to the United States.
INS, with the help of Canadian Immigration and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is keeping a close watch on our border to the north, where illegal entries are believed to be increasing.
Apprehension figures on attempted illegal entries at the Canadian border are minuscule compared to the Southwest border. Nonetheless, for some, the Canadian border is an alternative gateway for illegal entry to the United States. Illegal immigrants attempting entry to the United States from Canada in 1996 represented 118 countries.
As INS enforcement makes it tougher to enter the United States illegally, increasing numbers of border-crossers are relying on alien smugglers. Smuggling fees range from several hundred dollars for a border crossing to thousands of dollars for transportation to the interior of the United States.
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Alien smuggling reaches far beyond our borders with Mexico and Canada to all regions of the globe and deep within the United States itself.
Second only to border enforcement, the INS is giving top priority to locating, arresting and prosecuting these traffickers in human cargo, here and abroad. Our reasons are both simple and compelling.
These smuggling organizations will use any means whatsoever to produce enormous profits while protecting themselvescommitting murder, rape, torture, forgery, extortion, and forcing their often unwitting customers into prostitution and virtual bondage.
Alien smuggling is a growing multi-billion-dollar global business. Smugglers daily are moving thousands of illegal immigrants from source countries, through transit countries to the North American Continent, and within the United States. Their fees for a single illegal immigrant range as high as $50,000 for a Chinese illegal immigrant.
Intelligence reports and actual experience indicate that drug smuggling and alien smuggling often are linked. Many smuggling rings are involved in both alien and drug smuggling. Illegal migrants seeking assistance from alien smugglers sometimes called coyotes often become mules carrying narcotics as part of the price of passage to interior points in the United States. A number of investigations into criminal organizations involved in both alien and drug smuggling are proceeding.
Assaults on Border Patrol agents and violence in general at the Southwest border are on the increase, along with alien and narcotics smuggling and criminal gang activity:
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The Tucson Sector experienced a 400 percent increase in assaults on agents in 1996 76 assaults in 1996, compared to 19 in 1995.
Seven assaults on El Centro Sector agents in 1996, compared to two assaults in 1995 a 250 percent increase.
Assaults against agents in El Paso Sector jumped 50 percent, from 14 in 1995 to 21 in 1996.
Alien Smuggling at the Southwest Border
Intelligence reports from INS field personnel, as well as from other highly reliable sources, indicate growth in alien smuggling and an increasing demand for their services by intending illegal immigrants.
Alien Smuggling: A Multi-faceted Operation. The smuggling of illegal aliens to the interior of the United States has evolved into a multifaceted operation:
Phase I involves the illegal alien traveling to the Southern side of the Southwest border, either on his/her own, with a group and/or with the help of a guide;
Phase II requires the illegal alien to cross the border, either on his/her own, or with the help of a local smuggler;
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPhase III involves use of short-haul smugglers for transportation of illegal aliens to staging/transiting points for a price (phase III and phase II could be handled by the same smuggler); and
Phase IV may involve use of for-hire smuggler-provided overland conveyances (in vans, buses, tractor-trailers, rental trucks, automobiles and other vehicles) for transportation to final destinations in the interior.
Smugglers involved in Phase IV generally believe that the risks of arrest and prosecution diminish, the farther they travel away from INS border enforcement resources.
The overwhelming majority of illegal aliens apprehended on the Southwest border are from Mexico. Illegal migrants from other countries which transit Mexico, known as ''Other than Mexican'' (OTMs) constitute less than two percent of the total. The Mexican economic situation, coupled with the long-standing drought in several regions in Mexico, has forced mass migration to cities along the Southwest Border and into the United States.
Mexican cities along the Southwest Border identified as major staging areas for alien smuggling include from west to east: Tijuana, Mexicali, San Luis Rio Colorado, Naco, Nogales, Agua Prieta, Ciudad Juarez, Ciudad Acuna, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros. Alien smugglers operating in these Mexican cities have developed a sophisticated infrastructure to successfully counteract U.S. Border Patrol operations along the Southwest Border.
OTMs transit Mexico by a variety of means including various combinations of private vehicles, commercial buses, rail and domestic air carriers. Once the OTMs reach these locations, they blend into the much larger volume of Mexican traffic, crossing by similar means. Accurate figures for OTMs are sometimes difficult to gauge, as Central and South Americans will often falsely claim Mexican citizenship to avoid repatriation to their true country of origin. OTMs are more likely than Mexicans to transit under the control of smuggling organizations, due to their illegal status in Mexico and lack of familiarity with Mexican transportation options. Generally, they also pay higher fees for the same smuggling services.
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More than half of OTM illegal aliens apprehended at the Southwest border come from Central America, primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Peaceful resolution of regional conflicts culminating in the recent Guatemalan peace accords may result in a long term reduction in the migrant flow. Currently, economic factors appear to play a greater role and will continue to spur migration at current levels (more than 20,000 apprehensions annually).
Central America is also increasingly serving as a transit zone for aliens from other areas. Transit through the region is facilitated by smuggling rings as well as by hundreds of independent traffickers.
The next largest category of OTM migrants originate from South America, primarily from the Andean nations of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. South Americans transit to Central America primarily by air, but also by maritime vessel.
"The Official Committee record contains additional material here."
Apprehension figures, shown on the chart above, are an indication of increased smuggling activity at the Southwest border a 24 percent increase in the last two years.
Prosecutions of Alien Smugglers at the Southwest Border. INS enforcement efforts are beginning to pay off in the number of prosecutions:
Criminal cases filed in Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico against alien smugglers apprehended at the Southwest border totaled 817 in 1996 more than double the 349 cases file in 1995.
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The number of defendants prosecuted in these cases totaled 1,186 in 1996, compared to 563 in 1995.
Defendants found guilty in 1996 totaled 790, and 340 in 1995.
Arrests and Prosecutions of Smugglers Nationwide:
In FY 1995, 1,998 smugglers were arrested and 1,325 defendants prosecuted.
In FY 1996, 2,215 smugglers were arrested and 1,975 defendants prosecuted.
Alien Smuggling at the U.S.-Canadian Border
Both Canadian and U.S. immigration authorities believe that alien smuggling is intensifying and becoming increasingly more organized at key points along the U.S.-Canadian border.
The number of aliens seeking illegal entry to the United States from Canada is minuscule compared to illegal traffic crossing the Southwest border. Nonetheless, as Southwest border enforcement continues to stiffen and the price charged for smuggling escalates, many choose the alternative of illegally entering the United States from Canada.
According to the INS Canadian Border Intelligence Center (CBIC), major Canadian cities with large ethnic communities, including Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, serve as transiting points for smuggled aliens who enter Canada as visitors prior to attempting illegal entry into the United States. Canada has waived visitor visa requirements for both Mexico and Costa Rica. Smugglers appear to be taking advantage of these visitor visa waivers and are using Canada as a stepping stone to the United States for their illegal clients from Mexico and Costa Rica. The CBIC reports that, during FY 1996 and the first quarter of FY 1997, approximately 90 percent of all Costa Ricans attempting to enter the United States from Canada relied on a smuggler.
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The cost of an airline ticket from Mexico City to any of the major cities in Canada is less than $500, a price highly competitive with current smuggling fees for crossing the Southwest border. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) recently reported a significant increase in Mexican applicants for refugee status since 1994. Mexican refugee claimants more than tripled from 256 in 1994 to 975 in 1996. According to the CIC, the vast majority of Mexican refugee claimants undergo six to eight weeks of English language training. Following completion of the English course, half of the claimants withdraw their applications and apparently attempt to cross the border illegally into the United States.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) estimates that the majority of smuggled illegal aliens arriving in Canada are moved south, across the border into the United States. Most of the alien smuggling across the U.S./Canadian border emanates from Canada's population centers located in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor to the east and the lower mainland of British Columbia to the west. In Toronto alone, the RCMP has identified 50 alien smugglers.
Statistics reveal a substantial increase in alien smuggling through the Akwesasne Native American (ANA) Reservation which straddles Ontario, Quebec, and New York State on a narrow stretch of the St. Lawrence River. The Border Patrol Sector, Swanton, Vermont, has registered a four-fold increase in arrests of smugglers and illegal migrants in this area over the past three years from 67 arrests in FY 94 to 299 in FY 96. The reservation has become a favored passage for smuggling illegal migrants across a narrow stretch of the St. Lawrence River less than five miles from Massena, New York.
Alien Smuggling Inside the United States a Threat to Public Safety
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Transnational criminal alien smuggling organizations now have footholds in a number of our larger cities and are operating in the interior of the United States.
Alien smugglers increasingly are using our interstate highways for movement of illegal aliens to worksites across the country.
Like visa overstayers who enter the United States legally, but overstay their visas, illegal border crossers are lured by jobs, not only in border states, but increasingly at interior locations around the country. Increasing numbers of illegal aliens are headed for jobs in every region of the country: poultry processing in North Carolina, Tennessee and Maryland; garment manufacturing in New York; agriculture and service industries in Florida, Texas and California; meat packing in Indiana, Nebraska and the Dakotas; and construction and service industries in metropolitan Washington, D.C.
"The Official Committee record contains additional material here."
Over-the-road smuggling is increasing as the demand for seasonal workers intensifies and as INS border control strategy continues to divert illegal crossers from traditional crossing points.
The continued tightening of enforcement along the Southwest border has forced smugglers to move their assembly, or staging, points for illegal immigrants farther north and away from the Southwest border. The Houston area, for example, is the major staging point for routing groups of illegal workers crossing at McAllen and Laredo, Texas. From Houston, they are moved eastward, along Interstate Highways 10 and 20.
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Chandler Heights, Arizona, is a major staging point for routing along Interstates 70, 76 and 80.
This interstate, cross-country alien smuggling is a threat to public safety. The smugglers use stripped-down vans, small trucks and even tractor-trailers many of which are in poor mechanical condition and often overcrowded. Inexperienced drivers are traveling long distances without sleep and often at excessive speeds. Accidents, involving fatalities and injuries, are mounting. Earlier this month, four major accidents involving alien smuggling in the Denver area occurred during a 12-day period.
Small transportation companies, operated by smugglers and known as camionetas, are springing up in Texas. These camionetas operate under federal transportation regulations as common carriers and, therefore, are not required to check the documentation or status of their passengers. Consequently, these smuggler-operated camioneta buses are able to transport illegal immigrants anywhere in the United States, with little or no fear of prosecution. Unlike legitimate bus companies, both small and large, smuggler-operated camionetas have no scheduled routes or stops and deliberately plan their trips to avoid detection. Smuggler-controlled Camioneta operations are based primarily in the Houston and Dallas areas.
The challenges in meeting this multi-faceted alien smuggling threat are large. It requires constant reassessment and adjustment of our enforcement strategy. INS is attacking smuggling organizations at all levels in source and transit countries, at our borders and in the interior, maximizing use of all of the INS enforcement divisions and resources.
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The INS is building a comprehensive strategy. It addresses smuggling at the local, regional, national and international levels. It must include a wide range of investigative, intelligence and deterrence-related tactics designed to deter, disrupt and dismantle these organizations and related criminal activity.
Priority is given to targeting major smuggling organizations that transport illegal aliens and narcotics across our international borders. Operations also target use of fraudulent and counterfeit travel documents. These bogus documents are the hallmarks of smugglers. Several recent operations illustrate adjustments to enforcement activity and the need for more focus on what is happening past our borders inside the United States.
Operation ''Camioneta.'' A New Orleans Border Patrol Sector intercept effort, resulted in the apprehensions of more than 1,200 illegal aliens over a period of four days in February and March of this year alone. Assembled by smugglers in the Houston area, these aliens were headed for illegal work, but were apprehended on Interstates 10 and 20 in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Operation Mountain Passes. This was a joint operation involving the INS Denver District Office and Colorado State and local police that ran for one month in 1996. This operation resulted in the apprehensions of 1,300 illegal aliens on Colorado highways and revealed that Colorado is a major transit point for long-haul organized alien smuggling. While 20 percent of the arrested aliens were headed for Denver, 80 percent were traveling to Chicago, New York and Florida.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAnti-Smuggling Operations Beyond U.S. Borders
Examples of anti-smuggling efforts beyond our borders include:
Operations Disrupt I, II and III were conducted by the INS District Office in Mexico City over the past two years. These operations were designed to gather intelligence and disrupt alien smuggling activity in the Caribbean.
Operation Disrupt III was a joint operation conducted in the Dominican Republic last fall. It involved INS, other federal agencies and the Dominican Republic Government and immigration officials.
Five alien smugglers were arrested.
More than 400 would-be illegal migrants carrying fraudulent documents were intercepted at Dominican Republic airports prior to boarding planes for four major U.S. airports.
Four major counterfeit travel document manufacturers were arrested.
More than 70 corrupt employees and officials within the Dominican Republic government were arrested for involvement with alien smugglers.
A Joint U.S.-Canada-Hong Kong operation last fall resulted in the arrests of 13 alien smugglers. These smugglers were responsible for illegal entry to Canada and the United States of more than 600 Chinese illegal aliens over the past three years. Smugglers had moved these Chinese nationals from Canada into the United States across a narrow stretch of the St. Lawrence River and through the Akwesasne Native American Reservation on the U.S. side of the border. The Border Patrol arrested a number of these aliens in nearby Massena, New York.
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The Costa Rica-based Gloria Canales smuggling organization was crippled in December 1995, with the arrest of the ring leader, Canales, in Quito, Ecuador, as part of a joint U.S.-Honduran-Costa Rican operation to combat alien smuggling through Central America.
The Canales pipeline was in operation for a decade and had smuggled thousands of illegal aliens through Central America and Mexico to the United States including Indian, Chinese, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Cuban, Dominican, Colombian and Pakistani nationals.
Canales was charged with alien smuggling and was extradited to Honduras where she is being held for trial. If convicted, she faces a possible maximum prison sentence of 30 years. Following the Canales arrest, Costa Rican authorities raided 14 locations in Costa Rica, including the Canales residence in San Jose, the basis of her operation.
Top 10 Illegal Entrants, Other Than Mexican/Canadian
The chart below provides statistics on apprehensions of the top ten nationalities, other than Mexican and Canadian, seeking illegal entry to the United States in 1995 and 1996. These totals represent apprehensions at the borders and ports of entry.
Central America historically ranks second only to Mexico as the primary source of foreign nationals entering the United States illegally. Nationalities elsewhere in the world, such as migrants from the People's Republic of China, require major logistical support to reach the United States and rely heavily on organized alien smuggling.
"The Official Committee record contains additional material here."
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Smuggling Involvement in Illegal Worker Pipelines
Reducing unauthorized employment and increasing the effectiveness of worksite enforcement is also high among INS priorities. But the potential for alien smuggling involvement with employers requires dedication of more time and resources toward determining the extent and inner workings of smuggling pipelines.
The extent of direct employer involvement is an unknown factor in the alien smuggling equation. Anecdotal evidence indicates that some employers put out a request for specific numbers of illegal workers to alien smuggling organizations, drawing a link between alien home communities, primarily in Mexico, to worksites in the United States. Intelligence collection and enforcement operations have yet to establish these links.
Additional intelligence resources will be necessary to identify the interrelationships between smugglers, document vendors and employers in targeted industries. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that there likely are informal, unwritten arrangements between middle and lower management at worksites and alien smugglers for recruiting and transportation of illegal workers. Anecdotal evidence further suggests that subcontractors providing services to larger businesses and industries often have similar arrangements with alien smugglers.
As most illegal immigrants are drawn to the United States by the magnets of high wages and plentiful job opportunities, the INS strategy for combating illegal immigration combines border controls with enforcement operations at worksites.
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The objectives of worksite enforcement initiatives include: 1) to reduce illegal employment opportunities; 2) to reduce the use and marketability of fraudulent documents; and 3) to protect the rights of citizens and lawful permanent residents with employment authorization. Unauthorized workers often are employed in low-paying and semi-skilled jobs.
INS is targeting 15 industries in its worksite enforcement strategy. They include: farm labor and management; miscellaneous food preparation; nursing and personal care facilities; general farm and field crops; heavy construction (excluding buildings); services to dwellings and other buildings; forestry; eating and drinking establishments; hotels and motels; meat products; masonry, stonework, tile and plaster; landscaping and gardening services; apparel and garment manufacturing; and roofing, siding and sheet metal work.
INS continues to expand efforts toward deterring illegal employment. INS is increasing its investigation and prosecution of employers who intentionally violate immigration and labor laws. Efforts are being expanded to: increase apprehensions of unauthorized workers; facilitate the hiring of legal workers; and to provide additional assistance to employers seeking to comply with the law.
Worksite Enforcement Strategy
The INS has adopted a strategy designed to bring about change in the workplace. This strategy involves investigating and prosecuting employers in industries and locations with a history of reliance on unauthorized labor, who intentionally employ unauthorized aliens and violate criminal statutes, violate other regulatory requirements, and/or who are repeat offenders. Additionally, the Service is pursuing case-development strategies that renew the Service's commitment to apprehending unauthorized workers from the workplace and removing them from the workforce.
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INS began to modify its worksite strategy in 1995 in an effort to promote a stronger, more effective law enforcement presence in the U.S. workplace. Beginning in 1995, the INS drastically reduced the number of random compliance inspections assignments from 3,000 to 500 per year. This allowed criminal investigators to focus the majority of their efforts on lead-driven cases. This change, however, resulted in fewer completed cases, since lead-driven cases are more complex and time-consuming. For example, the average compliance inspection takes approximately 25 hours to complete, while lead-driven cases take 70 hours or more.
Coupled with the above changes to the worksite enforcement tactics, the INS began to re-deploy Border Patrol resources to border control activities in 1995. This sharply reduced the Border Patrol involvement in worksite enforcement from approximately 30 percent of the total worksite program to less than 5 percent.
With these new strategies, the INS sought to identify and work those cases which, by their nature, were more complex and time-consuming. The result was that, while INS was focusing its resources on identifying and prosecuting the serious offenders, the number of completed cases continued to decline.
The worksite enforcement strategy appears to be working. Employer sanctions criminal cases completed, prosecutions, and convictions substantially increased in 1996:
Criminal cases completed in 1996 totaled 50, compared to 32 in 1995;
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Prosecutions increased from 10 in 1995 to 15 in 1996; and
Convictions jumped from 2 in 1995 to 24 in 1996.
An important part of the INS worksite enforcement program is Operation Jobs, begun in Dallas in 1995 and now underway in 18 states. Operation Jobs recognizes that most employers want to comply with immigration hiring laws and do not want illegal workers in their workforce. Once information is obtained by INS on possible illegal workers at a business, INS officers conduct an audit of I9 documents at the business to determine if illegal workers have used counterfeit documents to obtain employment. If found to have unknowingly hired illegal workers, the business is linked with both public and private entities who can enough legal workers to replace the identified illegal workers.
When INS removes the illegal workers, the business suffers no disruption in it productivity, and legal workers gain employment. Operation Jobs has resulted in the removal of more than 5,000 illegal workers from worksites, freeing up jobs for legal workers. The innovative and cooperative approach of Operation Jobs has been honored with the Hammer Award, established by Vice President Gore to recognize excellence, initiative and creativity in government, as well as the Ford Foundation's prestigious Innovations in American Government Award.
Organized Crime and Illegal Immigration
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Organized crime syndicates are known to use alien smuggling operations to support and further their criminal objectives. Alien smuggling operations run by organized crime provide a source of funds and money laundering. These operations also facilitate movement of criminals and other operatives into the United States, as well as illegal entry of undocumented aliens. Intelligence and enforcement programs are addressing directly the following areas of organized crime: Asian organized crime, Russian organized crime, and Nigerian criminal enterprises.
Former Soviet Union
Migrants arriving illegally in the United States from the Former Soviet Union (FSU), although low in number (FY 1996336 apprehended; Russians comprised 56 percent of this total), are of concern because of the organized crime element and former intelligence agency background of some of these migrants. Russia and the new republics have eased travel restrictions for citizens.
These criminals, most of whom are members of Russian organized crime (ROC), pose as impostors using high-quality lost and stolen passports with fraudulently-obtained B1/2 (visitor), H (temporary employment) or L (intra-company transferees) visas. Travel agencies easily serve as intermediaries for Russian travelers by obtaining a passport, as well as a visa, for fees ranging from $120 to $200. Russians seldom resort to altering passports, when they can easily obtain a made-to-order passport from travel agencies or document facilitators. Blank Russian passports are easily obtained from document vendors.
The rise in travel to the United States by FSU migrants has paralleled an expansion in organized criminal activity by ethnic Russian organized crime groups operating within the United States, to include organized alien smuggling through air, sea and land ports of entry. Historically adept at counterfeiting and altering sophisticated travel documents, ROC crime groups became more deeply involved in immigration fraud for two reasons:
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To continue illegally inserting its members into the United States in furtherance of criminal activity;
To exploit alien smuggling and fraudulent document vending as money-making ventures.
For example, smuggled aliens who are unable to pay their way to the United States become indebted to ROC syndicates. In order to repay this debt, men usually become low-level extortionists or drug couriers, while the women are forced into prostitution. ROC members traveling with FSU alien groups are attempting to illegally cross the Southwest Border from points in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. These illegal migrants usually make their travel arrangements prior to leaving Russia and are known to pay from $800 to $3,000 for their flights to Mexico. Upon arriving in Mexico, these migrants hire local smugglers who charge at least $50 for a border crossing into the United States.
People's Republic of China
Organized alien smuggling organizations based in the People's Republic of China (PRC) are highly active and heavily entrenched in the United States, Central America, and Asia.
PRC alien smuggling has long been dominated by the Fuk Ching Gang based in New York City. While principal members of the gang have been arrested in the past, the gang has expanded to the West Coast. Reports are that other Asian organized crime groups also are becoming involved in alien smuggling. One triad that has participated in this effort is the Wo Hop To based in San Francisco, California.
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Asian organized crime factions are involved in extorting money from PRC aliens after their illegal arrival in the United States. Kidnapping is a popular means of extortion. Family members fear calling authorities due to the victim's illegal immigration status and a general distrust of the police.
Many PRC nationals are using various forms of document fraud to illegally enter the United States. Alien smugglers obtain travel documents from vendors for use by aliens to transit other countries. Most PRC nationals who enter the United States through an international airport arrive, either with fraudulent documents, including photo-substituted or stolen PRC passports with ADIT (Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication System) stamps, genuine documents fraudulently obtained, or no documents at all (destroyed along the route).
Non-immigrant visa (NIV) fraud is also becoming the popular means of illegal entry. The NIV most often used in China is the intra-company transfer (L1) visa. When State Department and INS officials are able to investigate the L1 visa petitions, they sometimes find that the company is just a storefront, either too small to warrant a L1 visa applicant, or nonexistent.
The primary route for illegal entry into the United States from Nigeria is JFK International Airport, New York. Organized alien smuggling and fraud efforts are dependent upon fraudulent documents. The Nigerian organized alien smuggling structures range from freelance entrepreneurs to organized criminal syndicates.
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Immigration fraud involves two basic elements:
Counterfeit documents: Use of counterfeit Nigerian and U.S. passports, valid passports with altered visas, photo-substituted or altered passports, valid passports with fraudulent alien registration cards, fraudulent Nigerian passports with genuine INS documents obtained under a false name, visa fraud, false claims to United States citizenship through false birth certificates, fraud relating to state identification cards and drivers license, fraud related to Social Security cards and INS documents, and fraud related to private business identification cards.
Immigration benefit fraud: marriage fraud, student fraud, registry fraud, temporary protected status claims as Liberians, political asylum fraud (or representing themselves as nationalities of protected or asylum based countries), legalization (including extended amnesty) and special agricultural worker fraud, INS identity document impostor fraud (request for replacement cards), naturalization fraud, and other relationship fraud.
Many utilize the services of a Nigerian ''facilitator'' who assists them in procuring the necessary documents and submitting a fraudulent application to the INS for a sizable fee. A facilitator may have access to an immigration attorney, an immigration consulting agency, or other person(s) or entities. Facilitators may charge from $2,500 to $5,000 per application.
Implementation of New IIRIRA Enforcement Provisions
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are hard at work in implementing the recently enacted enforcement provisions in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).
These provisions complement the Administration's comprehensive efforts to combat illegal immigration and provide us with much needed tools. IIRIRA authorizes increases in enforcement personnel, including investigators. Our FY 1998 budget reflects our commitment to increase the number of personnel, along the border, at our ports-of-entry and in the interiorincluding $21 million to support 156 new positions for worksite enforcement.
In addition, IIRIRA creates a new expedited removal proceeding for aliens attempting to gain admission to the United States by fraud, misrepresentation or without valid travel documents. As you know, regulations covering this new process were promulgated February 28 and became effective April 1. This new process will enable INS to quickly remove certain arriving aliens without compromising legitimate asylum claims.
The new law also increases penalties for alien smuggling and document fraud and grants INS with wiretap authority to investigate alien smuggling, document fraud, citizenship fraud and passport fraud. We are working on implementing these provisions in the context of existing resources.
Also, there are three provisions in IIRIRA which allow INS to work in cooperation with State and local law enforcement authorities to enforce immigration law. This allows us to expand upon our cooperative efforts with these agencies and we are currently working on regulations to put in place the framework for implementation of these provisions.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These and other major provisions in the new law will greatly help in the battle against illegal immigration.
Mr. Chairman, my colleagues and I will do our best in responding to any questions you may have regarding this endeavor so important to us all. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
INSERT OFFSET RING FOLIOS 1 TO 12 HERE
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Regan. We were just commenting on the extent of the drug corridors. Folks in the Midwest or even the north part of the country may not realize how adversely impacted they are.
STATEMENT OF SAMUEL H. BANKS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE
Mr. BANKS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I'm very pleased to be here before you and the members of the subcommittee to talk about Customs and what Customs is doing to try to stop the flow of illegal drugs.
As a beginning point, I'd like to point out that we are very proud and pleased with the partnership that we have with the Immigration Service at our ports-of-entry, and with the Border Patrol between the ports-of-entry. We find it a very productive, useful relationship.
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Customs has a very distinct mission. We're a law enforcement agency. We're a law enforcement agency that administers all the trade laws for goods coming into this country and exiting this country and checks the people entering and exiting this Nation. We represent 40 different agencies, 40-plus agencies, at our borders and enforce over 400 other agency laws at the borders.
In particularand I think the issue of concern to this subcommitteeis we're a drug interdiction agency. 1996 was really a landmark year for the U.S. Customs Service. We seized over one million pounds of illicit narcotics and dangerous drugs: cocaine seizures up 15 percent; heroin seizures up 29 percent; marijuana and hash seizures up 23 percent. I'd like to caveat this to say seizures aren't the only measure, aren't the only answer. I'd also like to say that interdiction is not the solution to the U.S. narcotics or drug problem. It may be a part of a solution. We've done this, that is seized a million pounds of illicit narcotics with a flat budget, virtually flat budget, and flat personnel levels.
We began focusing over a decade ago particularly on the Southwest border and the problems of narcotics, and in particular cocaine moving across the Southwest border. In the last 2 years, we announced Operation Hard Line, which launched a major initiative to try to deal with this problem.
The first thing that we tried to tackle under Operation Hard Line were what we call the port runners, those people that would come up to the lines, have their trunks loaded with narcotics, and as soon as you tried to ask them to pop their trunk, they would ram through. We started ending up with our officers being injured, innocent people that are in and around the ports being hurt, high-speed chases. We started ending up with tremendous amounts of violence on that border. Even a shooting a month a couple of years ago is what we were at. With Operation Hard Line, we put in technology; we changed our processes; we changed the way we did business, and we have severely impacted their ability to run those ports. Port-running has dropped 60 percent over the last 2 years.
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I don't want to convey that border violence is not a problem. Last week we had two officers gunned down in Calexico, CA, at point-blank range. They're both alive, but this just happened by a narcotics smuggler.
The successes that we've had with Operation Hard Line: one, the seizures. Two, we've impacted the port-running. Three, we've really hardened those ports. We've gone from port-runners to focusing on the cargo arena because, as you block the narcotics traffickers from using cars, then they shift their patterns, and they've gone into commercial cargo.
We've seen a significant increase in the number of seizures in southeast Florida and the Caribbean. We have also built tremendous partnerships, as I mentioned before, with INS, with the other agencies and Department of Justice, and with industry, in order to try to stop their conveyances, their merchandise from being used to smuggle narcotics.
I would like to say that over the last 5 years within Customs, under the leadership of George Weise, we've added hundreds of new officers to that Southwest border; we've added millions of dollars in new technology to focus in on drugs. We've done this despite tremendous increases in workloads, all kinds of workloads. The volume of traffic across that border is just escalating every year. Over the last 5 yearsbetween 1994 and 1998 our budget has increased 2 percent over that 5-year period, and we have 200 less FTE in 1998 than we had in 1994. We've done it by flattening management layers. We've done it by reengineering the way we do business. We've invested in technology. We've reduced the size of our Washington office by one-thirdall under the leadership of Commissioner Weise.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Banks follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SAMUEL H. BANKS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, it is a pleasure to appear before you today to discuss border security. Customs continues to employ and improve upon techniques and tools necessary to combat drug smuggling and to secure our nation's border.
In an effort to lock arms against international drug traffickers, the U.S. Customs Service participates with other Federal agencies in coordinated enforcement and interdiction efforts to prevent marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin, and similar illicit substances from entering the country. Customs is proud of its partnership with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, including the U.S. Border Patrol. Many of our successes can be attributed to the cooperation and open communications between Customs and these organizations. We intend to continue fostering interagency cooperation.
At the same time, it is important to remember that the mission of the U.S. Customs Service is distinct and separate from the mission of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Protecting 9,600 miles of U.S. land, air, and sea borders and more than 300 ports-of-entry, some 19,000 dedicated employees of the U.S. Customs Service perform many functions aimed at controlling carriers, persons, and articles entering and leaving the United States. The interdiction of illegal narcotics remains our greatest priority. It is this commitment to eliminating drug smuggling, as well as the companion and often violent crimes that drug smuggling engenders, that drives the efforts and shapes the initiatives I am here to discuss today.
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Drug smuggling is particularly pernicious along our Southwest border and the Southern tier of the United States, in the same areas targeted as entry points for illegal aliens. The question, however, is whether this correlation between points of entry for illegal drugs and illegal aliens translates into a correlation between illegal drug smuggling and illegal alien smuggling. Large-scale, port-of-entry drug smuggling operations rarely ''mix'' illegal drugs and illegal aliens. Our intelligence, investigation and interdiction activities indicate that in some instances when illegal aliens do attempt to smuggle illegal drugs into the United States, they generally do so on their own initiative. They seek to sell the illegal drugs in the United States and use the proceeds to off set the fee they must pay for their illegal entry. In other instances, the illegal drugs are used as the stake the illegal alien needs to begin his or her new life in the United States. For example, illegal aliens carrying as much as 200 to 300 pounds of marijuana are sometimes discovered traveling on railroad ''hopper cars.'' In these cases aliens who have gained illegal entry into the country are usually carrying illegal drugs in the hope that the proceeds from the sale of these drugs can be used to underwrite their personal and traveling expenses.
Special geographic circumstances foster smuggling between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where smugglers mostly utilize maritime vessels to carry illegal drugs. In this area, some drug transportation organizations also function as alien smuggling organizations. The incentive to mix the illegal loads by transporting both drugs and aliens comes from the transporter's desire to maximize profits from a single smuggling venture or run.
The anti-drug initiatives we are implementing on our Southwest border and across the Southern tier of the United States are part of a strategic arsenal developed to counter the efforts of large-scale organized drug smuggling operations. The aim of these anti-drug initiatives includes but is not limited to the apprehension of individual drug smugglers. These initiatives have been designed to allow Customs access to the operational heart of the international drug industries, i.e., the Colombian and the Mexican Cartels. Our goal is to disrupt and dismantle these large-scale operations through a variety of strategic responses designed to meet a wide range of criminal activities associated with international drug smuggling, such as money-laundering, commercial fraud, homicide, blackmail, and violent crime at our ports-of-entry.
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Customs has a primary role in executing the Administration's narcotics strategy. In FY 1996, Customs cocaine seizures increased approximately 15 percent from the previous year, heroin seizures increased approximately 29 percent and marijuana and hashish seizures increased approximately 23 percent. Overall, Customs seized approximately one million pounds of narcoticsmore than all other Federal law enforcement agencies combined.
Even with our successes, Customs will have to address increasing workload requirements as the number of passengers and conveyances crossing our land borders or entering through our airports and seaports grows. In FY 1997, it is estimated that there will be 372 million land border passenger arrivals, 71 million air passenger arrivals, and 8 million sea passenger arrivals. Customs also estimates that 125 million vehicles, including 10 million trucks and containers, 713,000 aircraft, and 110,000 vessels will enter our ports.
With this increase in trade and traffic, Customs must remain ever vigilant against drug smuggling attempts because illegal narcotics and other contraband continue to find new avenues into the United States.
The U.S. Customs Service is accountable for the screening of all commercial movement of cargo across our borders. Last year, the Customs Service collected about $22 billion in revenue for the United States in the form of duties, taxes, and fees. The Customs Service applied hundreds of laws and regulations concerning tariff and trade to over 16 million entry summaries which involved nearly $800 billion of trade. Additionally, Customs performs the initial checks, processes, and enforcement functions for over 40 federal agencies.
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IMPACT OF NAFTA
NAFTA, itself as a trade agreement, has not affected Customs ability to carry out its border security mandate. Rather, it is the increase in the volume of trade that is challenging the capacity of Customs to inspect all commercial and vehicular traffic crossing our border.
PROCESSES AND STRATEGIES
The Customs Service reorganized in FY 1995 with the principles outlined in our report, People, Processes and Partnerships: A Report on the 21st Century. This effort, which was recognized by the General Accounting Office (GAO) as a model in their guide ''Effectively Implementing the Government Performance and Results Act,'' provided the framework for Customs to develop the processes and strategies it will need to adapt to the changing demands of its mission.
Customs has three core operational processes: Trade Compliance, Passenger Processing, and Outbound. The goal of the Trade Compliance process is to maximize compliance with Customs trade laws while decreasing the cycle time for releasing legitimate cargo in an environment in which our workload is expected to balloon, and in which we must address effective interdiction objectives which I will discuss shortly. Customs expects to achieve this through a balance of informed compliance and targeted enforcement that will allow us to focus resources on violators of import laws and regulations. The goal of Passenger Processing is to ensure compliance with Federal laws and regulations by targeting, identifying, and examining high-risk travelers, while expediting low-risk travelers. The Outbound Process is responsible for the enforcement of laws concerning the export of undeclared currency, and the illegal export of stolen vehicles, munitions, dual use materials with military applications, and precursor materials. Outbound is also charged with the high profile responsibility to enforce embargoes against countries sanctioned for supporting terrorism. Other responsibilities of Outbound include the maintenance of the Office of Defense Trade Control (ODTC) munitions license program, and the collection of outbound trade statistics and harbor maintenance fees on exports. Inherent in Customs processes are the Narcotics and Money Laundering strategies which deal with those who willfully violate the law.
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Customs Narcotics Strategy
Customs goal is to prevent the smuggling of narcotics into the U.S. by creating an effective interdiction, intelligence, and investigation capability which also helps to disrupt and dismantle smuggling organizations. Proactively, Customs developed four objectives as part of its overall narcotics strategy. The purpose of these objectives is to provide to Customs enforcement officers the tools and systems they need to improve their ability to interdict narcotics. Through the various initiatives and programs which I will highlight, it is clear that Customs is making progress in our efforts to combat the illegal flow of drugs.
Customs first objective is the development, collection, analysis and dissemination of actionable intelligence throughout all levels of federal, state, and local narcotics enforcement agencies. Customs has been at the forefront in developing more useful intelligence, especially as it relates to the Southwest border.
A second objective of our narcotics strategy is the development and dissemination of information to trade and carrier communities to prevent the use of cargo containers and conveyances by smuggling organizations. One program which is helping Customs meet this objective is the Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition (BASC). In March 1996, BASC, a business-led, Customs-supported alliance, was created to eliminate the use of legitimate business shipments by narcotics traffickers to smuggle illicit drugs. BASC is currently being prototyped at the ports of San Diego, Miami, and Laredo. The Border Trade Alliance, Mattel and 32 other companies in San Diego, as well as Sara Lee and other businesses in Miami, have been working with Customs in developing the program. Mattel, setting an example for others, has already developed a comprehensive anti-drug program that has been incorporated into its daily business practices. BASC was recognized in the Vice President's report to the President on the National Performance Review as a shining example of how government and industry can work together.
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Two other programs which Customs has employed are the Carrier Initiative Program and the Land Border Carrier Initiative Program which enhance the movement of legitimate cargo while bolstering Customs enforcement posture. These programs encourage air, sea, and land border carriers to improve their security practices to prevent narcotics from getting onboard their conveyances. Participation in both programs is encouraging. As of January 1997, 105 air carriers, 2,870 sea carriers, and 800 land border carriers have agreed to participate. Over the last two fiscal years, participants in the Carrier Initiative Program have provided Customs with information that led to seizures totaling 18,437 pounds of narcotics, as well as initiating their own foreign interceptions totaling 59,181 pounds of narcotics.
Customs third narcotics strategy objective is the development and introduction of technologies to identify smuggled narcotics and to force smuggling organizations to resort to higher risk methods. Customs recognizes that technology plays a significant role in our ability to remain effective while thwarting smuggling efforts between some of the ports by aircraft and boats. Customs employs a wide range of technological tools to protect our borders.
This year, we look forward to further enhancing the effectiveness and quality of support provided by our Air Program through a variety of initiatives. By the end of FY 1997, Customs will have integrated seven maritime search and surveillance-configured C12 aircraft into our fleet. These aircraft will be deployed to our Aviation Branches in Puerto Rico, Miami, and San Diego.
Consistent with direction set forth in our FY 1997 appropriations, Customs assumed the air support requirements of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Three new Customs Air Units have been established in Sacramento, California; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Kansas City, Missouri; to ensure our support is comprehensive and timely. Also this year, funding was made available to retrofit two Navy P3 aircraft to Airborne Early Warning (AEW) configuration for incorporation into our fleet during FY 1999.
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New and emerging land border technologies, such as truck x-ray systems and License Plate Readers (LPRs), coupled with layered inspections by skilled inspectors and National Guard personnel, provide effective enforcement systems for identifying and isolating the smuggler or contraband, while expediting the flow of legitimate trade and travelers. The LPRs will enable our inspectors to accomplish their work without being distracted by entering license plate numbers into our automated law enforcement system. The first truck x-ray system continues to be successful at Otay Mesa, California. This prototype has contributed to the seizure of 17,765 pounds of drugs, most of which were concealed in false compartments and other hiding places in the vehicles, not in the cargo. The second system in Calexico, California, became operational in March of this year and we expect to bring two additional systems on line later this year.
In support of examination technology, Customs has developed the Automated Targeting System (ATS). ATS is an expert, rule-based system with artificial intelligence principles. Commercial transactions will be run against approximately 300 rules developed by field personnel, inspectors, and analysts in order to separate high-risk shipments from legitimate ones.
Customs involvement in various multi-agency operations has helped us maximize our narcotics interdiction results and meet the fourth objective of our narcotics strategythe implementation of various proactive, reactive, and multi-agency covert and overt narcotics investigative programs. In addition to fortifying and enhancing our efforts along the Southern Tier of the United States under Operation Hard Line, Customs is increasing its investigative emphasis in staging and distribution cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Chicago, and New York. These efforts will do even more to disrupt the highly complex and sophisticated smuggling organizations that challenge our borders.
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Drug smuggling organizations continue to use the Southwest Border, Puerto Rico and South Florida as primary conduits for the introduction of narcotics into the United States, and on to the ultimate recipients in the major staging areas. Customs will focus investigative resources in those areas where it is estimated the majority of the illegal drugs enter the United States, and on those areas that intelligence, developed as a result of investigative efforts exploiting narcotic seizures, indicate that major Drug smuggling organizations' ''command and control'' structures are centered. These ''command and control'' locations are the logistic centers for smuggling, transportation and bulk money export operations for the cartels. We plan to enhance both internal and external cooperation and intelligence sharing, while maximizing the unique investigative and interdiction capabilities of the U.S. Customs Service. We realize that drug smugglers and their support systems do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries and often operate across multiple geographic areas. For the Customs Service to be successful in stopping the flow of narcotics across our borders, Customs must maximize and exploit the inspection/seizure process and then build an ''investigative bridge'' between the interdiction of the narcotics and the ultimate recipient. This full circle approach goes beyond border interdiction and capitalizes on the intelligence and information developed through investigations of smuggling organizations. This information feeds our border interdiction efforts resulting in additional seizures and the cycle begins again.
With the increased enforcement emphasis along the Southwest Border, Customs is extending its efforts to enhance our marine enforcement programs on the shoulders of the Southwest Border at San Diego, California and Brownsville, Texas. These enhanced programs will counteract the smugglers secondary threat of circumventing the land border and ports-of-entry.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Two other effective vehicles for accomplishing this forth objective are the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) sponsored by the ONDCP and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) sponsored by the Department of Justice. Customs plays a major role in both of these programs. The HIDTA program identifies those geographic areas in the U.S. that are responsible for the majority of importation and/or distribution of much of the Nation's drug supply. OCDETF investigations also target major narcotics organizations. Frequently, these investigations link organization cells that span across the entire United States as well as source and transit countries.
In an effort to increase international cooperation, the United States and Mexico signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) in September 1976. This agreement provides for mutual assistance to: prevent, investigate, and, repress any offense against the customs laws of either country.
As a major source and transit point for narcotics destined to the United States, we give priority attention to Mexico when developing our annual international training and assistance plan. Since FY 1995, we have conducted international counterdrug training to over 300 Mexican Customs officers in these areas: Carrier Initiative Program, Money Laundering, Cargo Container Inspection, and, Train-the-Trainer.
Operation HARD LINE
Over the course of several months during 1994, our Nation's Southwest Border ports of entry experienced a dramatic escalation of violence associated with narcotics smuggling attempts. Drug traffickers known as ''port runners'' were recklessly crashing narcotics-laden vehicles through Customs ports-of-entry along the entire land border with Mexico. These incidents of port running were often successful, and always posed great danger to border officers and innocent civilians. In February 1995, Customs began Operation HARD LINE in an attempt to permanently harden our ports of entry against border violence and to deny smugglers the use of commercial cargo as a means of introducing narcotics into the United States.
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Since the inception of Operation HARD LINE, we have fortified our port infrastructure, expanded our investigative activities, and enhanced our intelligence gathering and analysis efforts. As a result, our personnel are safer, better equipped, and in greater number at the ports of entry along the Southwest Border. Additionally, the highest threat areas have benefited from the acquisition of sophisticated detection technologies.
HARD LINE has proven to be successful thus far. Port running is down over 59 percent from 1994 levels. In FY 1996, narcotics seizures on the Southwest Border increased 29 percent by total number of incidents (6,956 seizures) and 24 percent by total weight (545,922 pounds of marijuana, 33,308 pounds of cocaine, and 459 pounds of heroin) when compared to FY 1995 totals. The total weight of narcotics seized in commercial cargo on the U.S.-Mexico border in FY 1996 increased 153 percent (56 seizures totaling 39,741 pounds) over FY 1995.
Despite these successes and the decrease in port-running, it is impossible to eliminate all of the violence associated with the aggressive, determined campaign of the drug cartels and other criminal organizations involved in drug smuggling. Just last week two Customs inspectors were seriously wounded by a gunman at the Calexico port-of-entry who was attempting to smuggle 100 pounds of marijuana into the country. Both of our inspectors have undergone surgery for facial and abdominal wounds and are recovering in the hospital. The gunman was killed by return gunfire by one of the two wounded Customs inspectors.
The Caribbean area, specifically Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, has emerged as a vital strategic location for the introduction and transshipment of narcotics into the U.S. and Europe. The Puerto Rico area, according to Customs intelligence reports, has the highest rate of non-commercial maritime and airdrop smuggling activity of any Customs area.
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On March 1, 1996, Customs initiated Operation GATEWAY. The mission of Operation GATEWAY is to achieve a complete and unified securing of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and their surrounding waters and airspace from narcotics smugglers. It is a cooperative plan that commits a sizable investment of funds, personnel, and equipment by Customs, with support from the Government of Puerto Rico. It is part of Customs overall plan to secure the Southern Tier of the U.S., from San Juan to San Diego.
Under GATEWAY, Customs narcotic enforcement activities in Puerto Rico have increased dramatically as well. There has been a 131 percent increase in the examination of full inbound containers and an additional 242 outbound containers have been examined. GATEWAY has also resulted in the increase of examinations for the illegal exportation of currency from the island of Puerto Rico. Since the start of GATEWAY, there has been a 21% increase in the number of flights targeted for examination.
Another means of measuring effectiveness is by narcotic seizures. In comparing the first year of GATEWAY to the same period the previous year (March 1996 through February 1997 versus March 1995 through February 1996), cocaine seizures have risen 30 percentfrom 23,340 pounds in the pre-GATEWAY period as compared to 30,230 pounds since GATEWAY began.
CHALLENGES FOR CUSTOMS
While Customs has experienced much success in its drug interdiction efforts, challenges will continue to surface. As long as drug smugglers are flexible, greedy, and have almost unlimited resources to draw upon, we must be prepared to meet all challenges.
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Although drug interdiction remains our highest priority, it is by no means the only challenge facing Customs at our borders. Customs also focuses on the most significant international criminal organizations whose corrupt influence impacts global trade, economic and financial systems. Our efforts are not limited to drug-related money laundering but the financial proceeds of all crime.
Customs has implemented an aggressive strategy to combat money laundering. Customs money laundering investigations yielded $258 million in currency seizures in FY 1996. Customs also made the largest cash seizure to date at the U.S. border$15 million in Miami, Florida.
Through our strategy, we will continue to enhance our asset identification and forfeiture capabilities with advanced training and the use of more sophisticated computer software for analytical purposes. Customs will also continue to develop information through interaction and training with foreign law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, judges, and legislators through domestic and international anti-money laundering awareness seminars. Finally, Customs will proceed to develop information on international money laundering organizations by participating in long-term advisor programs and cross-border reporting and information exchange programs pertaining to the movement of monetary instruments. Again, the focus will be on detecting the movement of all illicit proceeds, not just narcotic proceeds.
In addition, Customs is currently working with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network on a regulatory initiative to make foreign bank drafts reportable. This would curtail a frequently used money laundering technique and help investigators trace criminal proceeds that have been reinvested or repatriated back to the U.S.
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Customs knows all too well that the agency is vulnerable to the threat of corruption by the very nature of its work. Customs is dealing with an enemy that has vast resources at its disposalorganized drug cartels.
Fortunately, Customs has been able to effectively counteract criminal threats by two means: first, the vast majority of dedicated Customs employees are honest and hard working, and second, through the commitment of the Office of Internal Affairs (IA) to effectively pursue all allegations of corruption in a timely, professional and responsible manner.
Incidents of corruption are isolated situations and represent a very small percentage of Customs employeesapproximately 0.3%. But Customs will never be complacent about the threat of corruption. The Office of Internal Affairs assesses all allegations that are received and conducts investigations based on analysis and the content of the allegation. The Customs Service is proud of its ability to detect and ferret out corruption within its ranks, yet in balance, a number of high profile investigations and special projects have consistently shown that widespread corruption does not exist in Customs.
In one significant investigation on the Southwest border, both Customs IA and the Treasury Inspector General found the reported corruption allegations to be unsubstantiated. In breaking new ground, the Customs Service requested the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as an independent entity, to conduct an objective outside investigation of existing information, reports and intelligence regarding alleged Customs corruption in the San Diego area of Southern California. The Customs Service provided complete support throughout the 17-month investigation. On August 22, 1996, the U.S. Attorney formally cleared Customs officials of allegations that they collaborated with drug traffickers at the Mexican border. A public announcement was made at the end of the investigation because of continuing media reporting of widespread corruption in Customs. The result of the FBI investigation revealed there was no basis for criminal prosecution.
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The Office of Internal Affairs training staff prepared an integrity/ethics course for approximately 60 train-the-trainer personnel. These 60 employees then provided the ethics course to approximately 5,800 Customs employees along the Southwest border, South Florida, and Puerto Rico.
The Office of Internal Affairs is continuously reevaluating security controls, has initiated proactive integrity programs, and conducts operational investigations to minimize risks and to decisively deal with corruption issues. IA is also in the process of data base enhancements which will allow for more precise trend analysis, and adoption of an early assessment system to detect potential corruption indicators. Joint office integrity initiatives also include: the proper recruitment and selection of highly qualified individuals as Customs officers; full field investigative screening; rigorous training which includes integrity training and agency expectations of stringent standards of conduct, supported by a clearly defined table of offenses and penalties; and in-service ethics/integrity/bribery awareness training.
We understand the American people expect all of its public officials and law enforcement personnel to have integrity and be deserving of their complete trust and confidence. Customs will continue to do everything it can to assure that this trust and confidence are not shaken. The Customs Service places the highest value on integrity, and no amount of corruption, when detected, is tolerated.
FY 1998 BUDGET REQUEST
Customs proposed appropriation for FY 1998 totals $1,690,602,000 and 17,193 Full Time Equivalents (FTE) and reflects our highest budget priority for FY 1998ensuring adequate funding for effective operation of our programs within a constrained budget environment. Customs ability to perform its enforcement functions and collect revenue depends on a well-equipped, reliable infrastructure. The resources identified below are necessary to meet the broad and diverse mission requirements of the Customs Service and accept the realities of a growing workload.
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Our Anti-Smuggling Initiative will provide the necessary resources for Customs to counter the increasing threat of narcotics smuggling in cargo shipments through South Florida and other high-risk ports of entry. The $23.4 million ($8.4 million and 119 FTE in Salaries and Expenses and $15 million from the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund) requested will provide us with the human and technological resources vitally necessary to continue the successes seen in Operation HARD LINE on the Southwest Border and Operation GATEWAY in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Caribbean.
The Land Border Passenger Automation Initiative of $11.5 million requested for FY 1998 is a joint undertaking between Customs and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to provide both agencies with the technological tools to increase inspector effectiveness and safety, and expand the use of automated data capturing for query against enforcement databases. It will also provide valuable intelligence to federal law enforcement agencies on the movement of vehicles across our borders, and provide expanded service at low-risk ports through remote processing, offering the potential for a redirection of resources to higher risk activities.
This year's budget request also includes $5.5 million for a hangar to house the two new P3 aircraft in Corpus Christi, Texas. We are also requesting $2.5 million to fund 27 additional FTE for the aircrew and related support personnel that will be needed to support these new aircraft.
To assist in the apprehension of individuals involved with the removal of unreported currency, weapons of mass destruction, and precursor chemicals, Customs requests $1.1 million from the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund to construct canopies for detailed inspection of suspect outbound vehicles at selected crossings. This enhancement will also provide our inspectors with some measure of safety from traffic flow while they concentrate on this important effort.
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Our Operational Support Initiative is comprised of three components: Laboratory Modernization, Vehicle Replacement, and Agent Relocation. We are requesting an additional $5.7 million to enable Customs to upgrade its laboratories with state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation based on contemporary scientific approaches, required to adequately support the Customs mission; to develop analytical methods for the determination of country of origin of agricultural, petroleum, and textile products; and to maintain a continuous and intensive laboratory research program. Customs must successfully meet the new examination requirements of expanded international trade (textile transhipment, trade and narcotic enforcement, criminal investigations, forensic work, anti-dumping violations and compliance measurements). Laboratories, with modern, sophisticated analytical instrumentation, are especially important for protecting our Nation's trade interests.
Additional resources requested for Operational Support will also benefit our enforcement activities by replacing severely worn-out vehicles. By FY 1998, approximately 83 percent of Customs vehicles will be eligible for replacement in accordance with General Services Administration replacement criteria. Without adequate funding, our vehicles will be potentially unsafe, inefficient, and very costly to maintain. We are requesting $10 million for this portion of the Operational Support Initiative.
Lastly, the Operational Support Initiative includes funding for agent relocation. This funding is requested to allow Customs to relocate agents to high-threat drug zones. Customs is currently only able to fund relocations at the expense of other priorities and has not been able to implement a comprehensive relocation program like other enforcement agencies. If this continues, Customs ability to respond to changing threats will be hindered, the morale and effectiveness of our agents will likely deteriorate, and the public's and Congress perception of Customs ability to perform its mission will likely be damaged. Funding for this portion of the initiative, $4 million, is requested from the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund.
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Thank you again for this opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee to address border security issues. As America has changed and grown, the U.S. Customs Service has kept pace assuming broader and more complex responsibilities, constantly changing and modernizing our activities, our tools, and our approaches to the enormous and important tasks assigned to us. The role Customs plays in protecting, securing, and defending our border is one of the most important of any Federal law enforcement agency. This is the U.S. Customs Service legacy and its future. This concludes my statement.
INSERT OFFSET RING FOLIOS 13 TO 15 HERE
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Banks.
STATEMENT OF JONATHAN M. WINER, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, BUREAU OF INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AFFAIRS
Mr. WINER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Earlier you stated that we needed coordinated, integrated approaches at the border. Certainly we subscribe to that point of view. But at least from the point of view of the State Department, I think from the administration as a whole, we need coordinated, integrated approaches well beyond the border. Indeed, the very title of your hearing, ''What is border security?'' raises some interesting questions. When trade is globalized and goods and people move around the world almost at will, legitimate goods and legitimate people, there is a dark side, and alien smuggling is one of the aspects of the dark side, as is drug trafficking.
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In fact, from our point of view, the border resides in many locations simultaneously. It is not merely our border, the moment of interception, the last moment of interception, for these illegals that we have to worry about; it's the location when those goods and those people first begin to move. The border is, the initial border and the additional borders that they must cross on the way to get to the United Statesoften many borders involving many countries. So we need to be able to deal with this aspect of globalization by looking beyond our border and not requiring our law enforcement agencies to do all of the work precisely at that last line. We need, in effect, a thickened defense, rather than merely a Maginot Line at the edge.
There is something globally of a migrant archipelago; that is, there is a pipeline of illegals all over the world, as we speak today, consisting of literally hundreds of thousands of persons located literally all over the world. They're in West Africa; they're in Southeast Asia; they're in Latin America; they're in Central Europe. There are 25,000 people right now in Prague awaiting to be moved to Western Europe and the United States, at least 50,000 in Moscow, tens of thousands in the Dominican Republic. They exist; they're in motion, and for many of them their ultimate goal is to get to the United States.
Who are the illicit migrants? Well, principally, once you move beyond our border issuesthat is to say, our Southwest border issues involving our nearest neighborwe're talking about Chinese and South Asians. There's about a $6 to $8 billion trade globally a year in Chinese and South Asian migrants who pay about $35,000 each to the snakeheads, the illegal traffickers who move them. There are also victims of instability and war, people in places like Albania, Bosnia, Central Africa, which right now is a greater problem for Europe than it is for us, but they're also in motion. Then there are the economic migrants, which are our greatest problem, border migrants, who frequently will pay as little as $200 each to move.
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There's also a fourth category which is also very important: woman and children. The exploitation of women and children, particularly from Central Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Southeast Asia, is a global aspect of migrant smuggling. It's a particularly ugly one, and it's something which nations have got to join together to deal with as well.
Who are the smugglers? Well, the smugglers begin with collectors. You can call them travel agents for the illegals. Essentially, they promise their passengers the world. They say, ''We'll get you from beginning to end.'' They start them on their way, take the money; sometimes they don't bother to finish the job. There are document forgers and document procurers, who are very critical to the trade. There are transport agents who typically put together the first legs, boat captains, safe house managers. Some are transnational organizations operating simultaneously in a number of countries; others are just the local stop.
The smugglers are also government officials in a number of countries. The issue of government corruption in both the source countries and the transit countries is a critical element of the illegal migrant business around the world, and it should never be forgotten.
What the migrant traffickers are doing is they are selling, among other things, relationships, not just travel, but relationships. They have a service industry and they have created a perverse kind of underground railroad in which what is being sold is not freedom, but people for profit. And sometimes the migrants get cheated in the process. They don't get to their location, but the traffickers don't care because they have been paid.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What are we doing about it? In February 1995, President Clinton said we have got to have a global U.S. strategy, not just inside our borders, but outside our borders. He directed that the diplomat types like me, the law enforcement types, and the intel types get together with the military types and try and come up with a comprehensive strategy, looking beyond our borders, not just inside our borders, our national borders.
We determined in the course of that review, which the White House later endorsed and directed all agencies to carry out, that we had to go after both the source countries and the transit countries; that while there are some differences of approach between the approach we take to source countries and the approach we take to transit countries, there are a lot of similarities. You have to criminalize alien smuggling. It is not illegal in a large number of countries yet. You have to go after corruption and make it very difficult for officials to sell their jobs. You have to engage in public education. If you're going to be a migrant who gets trafficked, you're not going to go to the land where the streets are paved with gold. In fact, you may get thrown overboard to the sharks. It's happened. It continues to happen.
You have to develop law enforcement relationships in which you have targeted law enforcement operations; you share information on a controlled basis and use that to disrupt organizations. You have to go after the biggest gangs.
You have to intensify your port controls. You have to be prepared to use the tool of visa denial and visa revocation to back up the complaints of the United States against foreign officials and foreign traffickers, with the reality that they will never come back to the United States, if we get information that they're engaged in criminal activity. And we have been revoking visas for alien smuggling, including to some prominent officials in some other countries. It's been a very important aspect of the strategy.
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Enhanced intelligence for law enforcement operations domestically and abroad is important. The forward deployment of U.S. personnel to begin to create an international network of law enforcement officials and consular officials dedicated to taking on the transnational networks of the criminals. You have to create regional approaches to dealing with these problems because most of the trafficking networks are regionally-based and only operate within a region. You have to get the officials in the different countries together. Most of them don't get together, absent U.S. leadership; they operate in their country. That is not enough. They must have regional linkages.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Winer, we're going to need to get to the questions.
Mr. WINER. Fair enough.
Mr. SMITH. Do you want to quickly summarize the next couple of sentences?
Mr. WINER. Finally, you have to be prepared to put pressure on foreign governments, when necessary, to clean up corruption and to work with the United States. Some foreign governments are ready to work with us positively; others need to be encouraged.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Winer follows:]
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF JONATHAN M. WINER, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, BUREAU OF INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AFFAIRS
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the world-wide phenomenon of migrant trafficking. Viewed globally, migrant trafficking is an enormous problem. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants are being moved by international criminal smuggling syndicates from their countries of origin to Western Europe and the United States. This floating population is at various stages in a pipeline which stretches from Asia, across Europe and through Central America and the Caribbean to the United States. It involves large numbers of Chinese, South Asians, Latin Americans and persons from countries disrupted by natural disasters, political turmoil and wars. It is under the control of smugglers who vary by geographic area and national identity, and by individual operators to sophisticated international smuggling rings. Migrants are passed along a chain which often involves a number of smugglers, safe houses, transit points and varied means of travel. For some, the trip can be accomplished quickly by commercial air. For those with limited funds, the journey can take years of hardship and danger.
This growing trade in human cargo earns smugglers billions of dollars in annual profits. Nearly standard fees for various nationalities range from a few hundred dollars for Central Americans to $35,000 for Chinese. A down payment is normally made before departure with the remainder due to smugglers upon completion of the journey. Funds come primarily from persons in developed countrieseither relatives or prospective employersand repayment is made by the migrant from working, often in sweat shop conditions, from criminal activities, or on some occasions the migrants may be held for ransom by the criminal gangs. The same criminal organizations may traffic in migrants and narcotics. Trafficking organizations operate with near impunity, as migrant trafficking is a crime in only a few countries and penalties are minimal. In Central America until recently, only Honduras had an anti-smuggling law. Today, through the efforts of the United States working with governments who recognize the malevolent nature of the traffickers, Panama and Nicaragua have criminalized migrant smuggling. Using as a guide a model law we have written, these countries now have the legal authority to effectively combat smuggling.
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Migrant trafficking is made possible by staggering levels of official corruption. Poorly trained and paid immigration inspectors and border guards are easily bribed to assist the migrants who are ''only passing through.'' As migrant trafficking organizations are ethnically based, migrants ''disappear'' into ethnic communities. Some law enforcement authorities are reluctant to dedicate resources to migrant trafficking cases because they have been persuaded that it is a victimless crime. Unfortunately, the reality is that migrants are often subjected to inhumane or physically abusive treatment and, in the case of Chinese, to extreme forms of violence. Migrants die from suffocation, abandonment, accidents or brutality by smugglers.
Of importance is the marked increase in Chinese migrant smuggling during the past yearsfrom persons arriving on commercial airlines, to undocumented migrants arriving in fishing boats and rusting ocean freighters. Since January 1993, the United States Coast Guard has intercepted 13 ships carrying over 2,300 undocumented Chinese migrants. Frequently we are discovering deplorable and inhumane conditions on these smuggling vessels. Additionally, we have experienced a more confrontational and, at times, hostile disposition of the crews and migrants. During the recent interdiction of the M/V Xing Da, when the U.S. Coast Guard vessel boarded the ship, which was carrying in excess of one hundred undocumented migrants, the crew began a mutiny, setting the vessel on fire and attempting to overpower the U.S. officers with physical force. Fortunately the Coast Guard personnel were able to quickly quell the mutineers and extinguish the fire.
Anti-smuggling efforts by the United States and Western European countries have begun to have some impact on the problem, but a great deal more remains to be done. Fortunately, governments in transit countries are beginning to recognize the destructive impact of official corruption, that some illegal migrants commit crimes while in transit, and that not all migrants continue their journey.
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On February 7, 1995, the President instructed the Departments of State and Justice, in cooperation with other relevant agencies, to establish a new structure to coordinate the Administration's action to deter migrant trafficking. In response, the Department of State's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, representing Justice, convened an inter-agency working group to study the problem and provide recommendations. The working group determined that migrant trafficking must be addressed at its source as well as in those transit countries through which migrants are moved to the United States.
The working group recommended programs to disrupt global smuggling by increasing the awareness of foreign governments and the public of trafficking in humans and its dangers. The adoption of laws by all countries to make migrant trafficking a crime was identified as the basis for effective international action. The United States should take action against foreign officials known to be implicated in trafficking through criminal prosecution, and by revoking or denying their visas.
The working group recommended that additional human resources be devoted to combating migrant trafficking by expanding our overseas enforcement capability. The handling of information regarding frequently used alien smuggling travel routes, known or suspected smugglers, and fraudulent documents vendors must be improved. This information should be shared with affected governments on a controlled basis. Training should be increased to reduce corruption and professionalize border guards and inspections officers, coupled with the expanded distribution of U.S. printed materials on fraudulent documents to law enforcement officials.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Department continues to implement these recommendations. For example, working with the Immigration and Naturalization Service training office, State has funded the creation of two courses specifically geared toward immigration and border guards. The first course for mid-level managers has been given at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary, and at the National Academy of Public Security in El Salvador. Immigration officers from seven countries attended these sessions. The train-the-trainers course, geared toward senior-level immigration and border guards, will be given in May of this year. It is our desire to conduct both of these courses on a quarterly basis in Budapest and Central America. It is the objective of this training to enhance the level of professionalism, deter corruption, develop a shared approach to combating migrant trafficking, and promote closer ''cop-to-cop'' relationships.
As stated earlier, the Department of State developed model anti-smuggling legislation to be used as a guide by countries desiring to enact a law against migrant traffickers. We will continue to work with governments in source and transit countries to impress upon them the importance of criminalizing migrant trafficking. A law against migrant smuggling combined with serious penalties is an essential element of combating the trade in human misery. As governments and societies recognize the high social and economic costs of migrant trafficking, and the challenges it presents to nascent democracies, countries are increasingly willing to adopt the necessary legislation and work with the United States to combat the migrant traffickers.
The U.S. is actively engaged with countries throughout this hemisphere, Europe and Asia in bilateral and multilateral discussions to address migration and migrant trafficking. The Department of State funded and participated in a number of conferences with officials from Central American countries, Mexico and Canada regarding migrant trafficking, most recently in Panama. These conferences have been invaluable in mobilizing the countries to initiate efforts to combat migrant trafficking. Communications between the various immigration and border guard officials and U.S. delegations have been very successful in establishing law enforcement cooperation. The Regional Conference on Migration held at Puebla, Mexico in 1995 was a premiere venue for discussing and formulating a comprehensive, objective and long-term approach to the phenomenon of migration in the region. Governments of North and Central America committed to work together to coordinate efforts to protect the human rights of migrants and to combat the increasing trafficking of migrants.
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Recent initiatives have focused on trafficking of women and children for criminal and sexual exploitation. This dark and seedy world of organized crime preys on those persons unable to break out of the endless cycle of physical abuse and violence. Entrapped in a web of crime encompassing pornography and prostitution these migrants are ''shopped'' from location to location by their handlers to maximize the victim's ''earnings.'' The servitude, violence and exploitation endured by these victims goes well beyond the exploitation suffered by other trafficked migrants.
For many years, trafficking in women for criminal and sexual exploitation involved mainly women from developing countries, but now trafficking of women from Central and Eastern European countries is steadily increasing. Many of the victims of trafficking from Central and Eastern Europe are youngunder the age of 25. Some women are offered legitimate jobs or marriage and are tricked into prostitution, while others know in advance they will work as prostitutes. Regardless of the women's motivation, trafficking is a crime of exploitation, often involving the recruitment of women who have been previously victimized.
The Department of State is funding a project on ''Assessing the Adequacy of Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation.'' This project will provide a comprehensive database of national legislation protecting children from sexual exploitation. The final document will present child prostitution and child pornography laws on a country-by-country basis and provide a comparative legal analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of various laws and their effects on both inter- and intra-national trafficking patterns.
The United States must continue to gather information through law enforcement and intelligence methods identifying the modus operandi of migrant trafficking organizations. The transnational nature of migrant trafficking requires law enforcement operations to expand beyond the traditional national boundaries. This requires gathering intelligence and disrupting the organizations through law enforcement and interdiction operations and, when appropriate, through diplomatic demarche and public stigmatization of those who refuse to cooperate. The information should be shared with affected governments on a controlled basis.
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The United States alone cannot stop the flow of illegal migration. The criminal networks need to be combated by networks of government agencies, similarly linked in an open architecture that enables them to come together as quickly and efficiently as the criminals. That means an unprecedented degree of international cooperation, extending multilaterally from government to government, in a series of inter-operating links. The United States cannot protect its citizens and its territory without simultaneously changing the environments in the source and transit countries.
The above is not exhaustive, but representative of the efforts the United States Government has taken to deter migrant trafficking. In developing a comprehensive plan for disrupting global smuggling, the United States will build upon the recommendations of the inter-agency working group. We will also encourage and support governments to initiate efforts to combat migrant trafficking.
I thank the Committee and the Congress for its continued interest and support.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Winer.
I would like to begin by asking all the panelists the same question, and if you would, try to summarize it in two or three sentences, so that everybody will be able to answer in the 5-minute period.
But my question is this: from your own perspective, what can the American people expect in the way of resultsin other words, not actions, but what can we expect in the way of results over the next 6 months when it comes to doing a better job of securing our border? All the numbers are in the wrong direction. The number of apprehensions is up across the board, the amount of drug trafficking is up, and so forth. What resultsnot what initiatives, not what actionswhat results can we expect, as I say, over the next 6 months? And we'll go left to right on this. Mr. Winer.
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Mr. WINER. In the countries where we have sufficient personnel devoted to dealing with consular fraud and alien smuggling you'll continue to see specific organizations that are shut down, specific aliens that do not get to the United States as a result of specific work done by consular officers and Immigration officials and Customs officials. You will see a continued high rejection rate in countries like Nigeria and Russia, where we have very effective programs. You'll see further intensification of specific disruption activities aimed at criminal organizations operating in Latin America and the Caribbean. You will see continued pressure in certain Caribbean countries, not limited to, but certainly including the Dominican Republic, to reduce the level of aliens being smuggled by yolas, and out of the ports from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. I can tell you that you will see this because we have seen this within the past 6 months, and those trends will continue.
However, what you will not see is that kind of effective activity everywhere around the world, because of resource constraints which force us to limit the number of targets we can select at one time.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Winer.
Mr. BANKS. What you're going to see from us is the completion of what we're doing currently on Operation Hard Line, and our objective is to prevent the narcotics from coming in at that border.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Give me the resultsnot actionsresults.
Mr. BANKS. We anticipate having about another 80 companies sign up on our border antismuggling cooperation program. We want these companies to go in and improve their security in their plants, and we can give you tangible results in terms of the amount of money that they invest in improving their security to stop the narcotics from being put on their trucks and conveyances. I mean that's one of the efforts that is underwayour best results will be if we could actually deter the narcotics from coming across that border. That's what we would want to achieve.
Mr. SMITH. That's the goal, I realize.
Mr. REGAN. Mr. Chairman, you're going to see an increase in apprehensions. You're going to see more and more people being driven to using the services of alien smugglers as we become more effective, and, again, taking away the easy access that they once had in crossing the Southwest border.
Our focus on interior enforcement is to apply pressure on those worksites that knowingly violate the law in employing undocumented aliens, and we should begin to see increased compliance from some of these employers.
Mr. SMITH. OK, be specific, if you would. How much of an increase? How much of an increase in compliance, and so forth?
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Mr. REGAN. I couldn't put a figure on it, Congressman.
Mr. SMITH. There's got to be some kind of projection as far as results go over the next 6 months or it would be the first time I've ever heard of management not being results-oriented.
Mr. REGAN. I can only say that there will be an increase in compliance. I don't have the exact figure for the question.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Bersin.
Mr. BERSIN. In terms of drugs, illegal immigration, and reduction in crime, prior to illegal immigration you will see a decrease in the apprehensions in places like San Diego, where the enforcement presence is heightened. They were down last month by a factor of over 35 percent. You will see an increase approaching the 100 percent, although the absolute numbers are far down in a place like El Centro, immediately to the east in the Imperial Valley. You will see continued decreases in apprehension rates in Arizona, given the increased enforcement presence in Arizona, and you will see a slight increase in New Mexico, and continued slight increase in El Paso. You will see more substantial increases in Brownin the McAllen Sector, as I think Chief Garza will confirm, as the number of Border Patrol agents increase.
With regard to drugs, what we see in the Southern District of California you will see to a lesser extent elsewhere along the border, because the number of agents are fewer. We've seen
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Mr. SMITH. Mr. Bersin, let me interrupt you real quickly. Will there be a decrease in the amount of drugs coming into the country over the next 6 months, and will there be a decrease in the number of illegal aliens coming into the country in the next 6 months?
Mr. BERSIN. I would not project a decrease in the absolute amounts of either, because of the factors that I indicated controlling the variables in terms of where they enter. There will be more drugs seized. We've tripled the seizure rate in California, and there have been similar increases along the Southwest border.
The first quarter of 1997, in our office alone there was a 220-percent increase in drug prosecutions, and we are moving toward tripling drug prosecutions and seizures in California, and you will see increases, although less so, across the board.
Mr. SMITH. Let me go to Mr. Marshall. Mr. Bersin, that's an amazing statement because the implication of what you just said is that we're going to continue to have an increase in drugs and an increase in illegal aliens coming into the country; is that right?
Mr. BERSIN. We will see apprehensionswe will have theI think you asked whether there would be a decrease.
Mr. SMITH. Right.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BERSIN. And I said that I would be surprised if you saw a large absolute decrease
Mr. SMITH. OK, but the converse of a decrease is an increase, is it not?
Mr. BERSIN. No, I don't believe that's the case, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. If you don't have a decrease, what do you have?
Mr. BERSIN. You can have a stable situation with more or less different locations where drugs and aliens are attempting to enter. So I think what I'm saying is that I don't think anyone sitting here can give you an exact or anything approaching an exact projection. The question is: how is the problem being managed? Will we seize more aliens? Will we apprehend more aliens and seize more drugs? There's no question about it, but in different places.
Mr. SMITH. To me, the problem's notit should be managed to reduce it, not just to try to maintain a steady level, if that's the best we can do.
Mr. MARSHALL. Congressman, I also couldn't tell you whether we're going to see a
Mr. SMITH. OK, be brief, if you will; my time is almost up.
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Mr. MARSHALL [continuing]. OKwhether I see a decrease in the drugs, because virtually the drugs are produced in virtually unlimited quantities. What you will see out of DEA and the FBI, in cooperation with Customs Service and some of the other agencies sitting here, is a continued focus on the command-and-control structures of the primarily Mexican-controlled organizations, and I cannot project numbers because those are active, ongoing investigations.
But to give you an example of what we've done in the past, we conducted Operation Zorro II, which resulted in 156 high-level, command-and-control-type arrests, $17 million in asset seizures, 5,600 kilograms of cocaine seized. We are continually conducting these types of investigations and operations and over the next 6 months to a year, you will see some more such results come out of those investigations.
Mr. SMITH. OK. Thank you, Mr. Marshall.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt.
Mr. WATT. Thank you.
Mr. Regan, the maps that you put up with the corridors, those corridors seem to suggest with increasing emphasis that beefing up at the borders as opposed to internally may not necessarily be the best policy, not that you don't need to beef up our border security. Sounds to me this might suggest, if we're going to really get to this problem, we're going to have to do a lot more internally as well as at the border. I'm not suggesting doing away with border activity. Would you comment on that observation or tell me what your opinion is on that?
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Mr. REGAN. Yes, sir, you're absolutely right. What we do need is a balanced strategy. No. 1, the reason that these people come to the United States is to seek employment. So one of our first strategies should be targeting those employers who hire the undocumented aliensknowingly, willfully, and in violation of the law. We then have the challenge to develop the strategy for determining how these illegal aliens get to that job, via the alien smuggling route. This represents the second part of the interior enforcement strategy that is being developed and is in the process of being developed.
In addition to all this, in many places, once the aliens do arrive, they are provided fraudulent documentation that they may present to an unknowing employer who accepts it at its face value and hires him. So we need to have a strategy that, yes, is focused on all aspects associated with the flow of aliens. In addition to border management, we must also have the complementing and integrating strategies for worksite enforcement in addressing the magnet that attracts these unauthorized workers along with an effort against fraudulent documentation and alien smuggling.
Mr. WATT. I take it, then, that you might have, had you been setting the policy, supported an amendment that I offered to last year's immigration reform bill that would have given the INS a lot more discretion in shifting resources around, as opposed to trying to hamstring all of the resources to the border?
Mr. REGAN. If we follow the strategy that I just described, yes, but I think what we did is we went
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WATT. I couldn't resist getting that shot in at my colleagues here, since I had the floor. [Laughter.]
I just wanted to remind them of that as we go along. These things don't happen in a vacuum. I appreciate it.
Mr. Bersin, you wanted to make some comments about the ''60 Minutes'' show on this past Sunday night. I wanted to tell you at the outset that I don't assume the accuracy of what ''60 Minutes.'' I mean there are allegations and then there's news reporting, and I practiced law for 22 years, so I know that you can't prosecute somebody based on a news report and you can't prosecute somebody based on even the same criteria that you can terminate somebody. So I hope nothing I said indicated any support necessarily for the conclusions that ''60 Minutes'' was drawing, but I did want to hear some discussion about that issue today, and I'll actually yield the rest of my time, if it takes that long, for you to make whatever comments you want to make about that.
Mr. BERSIN. Thank you, Congressman Watt.
Mr. WATT. Pull the microphone up there so everybodyso the people at ''60 Minutes'' can hear you, too. [Laughter.]
Mr. BERSIN. Let me start simply by quoting, since I don'tas you say, as a prosecutor, I'm not engaged in a debate with Mike Wallace or anyone at ''60 Minutes,'' but let me quote from an editorial appearing in the Union Tribune of April 22, 1997, a Copley newspaper in San Diego. This is a partial quote:
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That said the ''60 Minutes'' report was about as skewed as they come. Nowhere did it mention that the central piece of this story, a dog sniffing out seven tons of cocaine, was 7 years old and had been reported up, down, and sideways by the media.
Nowhere did it mention that a Federal grand jury in San Diego looking into allegations brought by local Customs whistleblower, Michael Horner, about the 1990 incident and several others, had heard 80 witnesses over many months on the allegations and discovered no criminal acts.
Nowhere did it mention that the '60 Minutes' program itself was actually 14 months old and hadn't run before because it was based on unsubstantiated evidence or that the Customs officer mentioned in the report and now being fired by the agency was being fired for reasons unrelated to the 1990 incident.
Nowhere did it mention that drug seizures by Customs at the border have been increasing and were up 25 percent over the previous year.
Mr. WATT. It sounds like we might be in the ratings season for ''60 Minutes,'' if you listen to that. But let me get to a bottom line. Is there any indicationmaybe I should ask this question of everybody on the panelis there any indication of a growing tendency toward any of our own administrative personnel, bureaucrats, whatever you call them out there, to be more inclined to being on the take themselves, as we've heard so much about in Mexico?
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BERSIN. Mr. Watt, there is no question that corruption at our borders is a significant problem. Whether it is growing or what the absolute level is is a question that is difficult to respond to because you can't get your hands on a problem that is underground and hidden with the kind of precision that we'd like to say.
Having said that, programs like ''60 Minutes'' that suggest that the 14,500 members of our official inspection force or patrol force, on whom the American public relies to police this border, are corrupt is simply wrong and a disservice to these people.
There are a relatively few bad apples. I will tell you in the last four years there have been 57 cases of official corruption discovered along the Southwest border57 cases and 47 convictions from south Texas to the Pacific Ocean in the Southern District of California.
We have problems. The amounts of money involved, as indicated by Mr. Winer and others, involved in alien smuggling and drug smuggling are enormous. But it would be a grave disservice to suggest that we are dealing with anything more than a handful of rotten apples.
Mr. WATT. I appreciate it. I won't ask for comments. I'll come back to this with some of the subsequent panels, if that's all right. I think my time has long since run out, unfortunately.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
The gentleman from California, Mr. Bono, is recognized.
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Mr. BONO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Each of you gentlemen spoke about your improving statistics. I guess my first question, starting with Mr. Winer, does that mean: Do you need an increase of finances to improve these statistics?
Mr. WINER. Mr. Congressman, the bottom line I can't address. Those issues are determined at a very high level in the administration in terms of the proper level of resources. Let me say specifically, however, in order to have additional impact in keeping people from coming to the United States through fraudulent means, you would need to have more consular affairs officials, for example, whose job it was to ferret out fraud. Where the Department of State has had the resources and the opportunity to do that, they have had higher refusal rates, have got more information, have been able to disrupt some organizations and prevent some people from coming in.
Mr. BONO. Time being as it is, do you need an increase of resources to give us the stats that
Mr. WINER. The answer is that if the Congress feels this issue is important and chooses to devote additional resources to it, there will be more effective operations, yes
Mr. BONO. The answer's yes? Thank you.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WINER. But we have overall constraints that we all have to live within.
Mr. BONO. Mr. Banks, I'd like to ask you the same question. Do you need an increase of resources?
Mr. BANKS. Congressman, what I would say to you is that the way we've dealt with this problem so far is by internal reallocations of resources, flat budgets for 5 years. We are stretched at this point. What it will come down to is, if Congress wants more trucks checked, if you want us to do more x rays of some of these tankers and things like that, it would take more resources to do that.
Mr. BONO. Increase. Thank you.
Mr. REGAN. Mr. Bono, the answer would be yes. We need to build an infrastructure.
Mr. BONO. Thank you.
Mr. BERSIN. There is no question about that, Mr. Bono.
Mr. BONO. So, again, we need an increase of resources, which seems to be very consistent whenever we have hearings, Mr. Chairman, that we need an increase in resources and, for the most part, we always give them. What baffles me somewhat isI come from the street, basically. I'm really not a politician. I spent most of my life in private enterprise. It just seems like, in private enterprise when you have a problem, you confront the problem and then determine what you need to actually solve that problem. What kind of baffles me for the 3 years that I've been hearing testimony is that we hear an increase in stats here and there, but really never a solution to the problemsaying, OK, we can cap this or cap that or cap this or cap that.
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I just got back yesterday from Aviano, Italy, from Bosnia, from the USS Nashville, and from Albania. What was staggeringly impressive was that each of the generals or the admirals or the captains could say, ''Here was our problem. It is solved. Here was the problem here. It is solved. Here's the problem here. It is solved.'' Each problem is solved. They are there doing their job. They have confronted and found solutions to the problem. I understand that you're not the military, but it was very, very impressive to see how on top of everyand their problems pop up dailyand they're different. It was nice to hear that and pleasant to see. When you saw the 19-year-old soldier, he knew exactly what his job was and it was done. I found it rather refreshing, because it didn't have that kind of bureaucratic structure that we seem to run into here. And, again, I understand it's the military and it's a different situation, but just the fact that these situations are solved.
I owned a restaurant, or a few restaurants, and it seems like when we get reports from the INS and other agencies connected, it's always ''The stats will improve if we get more resources, but we're doing great. But we're losing a lot of money.'' In a restaurant, you'd shut it down.
I would like to ask, is there a number that we could get to that would say, ''we could solve this; if we had this, we could solve this problem or end it''? Do you think that day will ever come?
Mr. BERSIN. Mr. Bono, my initial comment was directed to that vision of solution. I don't believe there is a final solution unless we are prepared to seal the border with the use of the military or with so many Border Patrol and Customs agents that they are standing arm-to-arm or within sight of each other along a 2,000-mile border. I believe that number could be mounted by this Congress, but it would not be a prudent use of resources, in my judgment.
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Mr. BONO. Could it be mounted by the agency? Could the agency ever come to us and say, ''Look, we could handle this deal, all these problems, if we had these resources and did this?'' I have never heard that yet in 3 years, which in civilian life is how we deal with everything. But here we deal with ''Well, stats are better.'' When youMr. Chairman, can I have an additional 2 minutes?
Mr. SMITH. Please, continue.
Mr. BONO. Thank you, sir.
When we have problems in civilian life, they have to be confronted and handled, but ongoing and to deal with percentages here and therenow you talk about drugs, and then in California we've heard some nice statistics here, but they're horrible. They're beyond description in California due to NAFTA. I, frankly, don't know how you're going to get on top of the drug-running that is going on freehandedly in California at the present time because with NAFTA now it's sort of come and go as you please, bring in drugs as you please, and that problem has increased severely. So when you tell me ''we're doing so well with the drug issue''not in my State.
Anyway, I would hope that we could come to the day when we could stop dealing with these stats and simply describe the issue and say here's what it requires to solve the issue.
Let me ask whoever is responsible one more question. How are we doing with the fingerprinting technology on the border?
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Mr. BERSIN. Since 1994 when the IDENT system was introduced in San Diego, as one example, on the California-Mexico border, that has permitted us to do two things that were not possible before. We went from 240 prosecutions of criminal alienspeople identified as having committed felonies in the pastto more than 1,400.
Mr. BONO. Are you telling me that technology is a good technology and top-grade?
Mr. BERSIN. Properly integrated with the enforcement resources, it has made a huge difference. The technology itself has permitted us to do something that was never before done on this border. It could be improved, as any technology
Mr. BONO. Aren't we in fact implementing pilot programs to improve it because of its inefficiency?
Mr. BERSIN. You'd have to refer toI can tell you as a prosecutor that uses the output of the IDENT system that it has revolutionized enforcement possibilities on our border because for the first time in history we can identify who it is that's being apprehendedas opposed to take phony names, phony addresses, and phony documentsa fingerprint, a biometric measurement of that person, so that we know who it is we're dealing with.
Mr. BONO. I can respond and tell you that the INS in fact is looking at pilot programs because they don't feel the technology that they're using right now is effective. They're going to spend several million dollars with some organizations that don't even do that, but will invent that. Again, when I hear these contradictions, they confuse me. I'm just not sophisticated enough to understand these answers. But you, or the INS right now is in the process of trying to find an effective system at the border for fingerprinting because the current system, as it has been reported to me, is totally ineffective.
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I have a hard time with this parlay of conversation. My hope is that someday we can all sit down and say, ''These are the real problems; these are what we will do for the solutions,'' and we all know we're talking the same language or we're getting the real data. Until that day comes, I must tell you, gentlemen, I'm utterly and totally discouraged by the agency.
Furthermore, being very honest with you and very frank, I get the feeling that whenever we get these reports, they're fluffed-up as nicely as they could possibly be. But I have a tremendous difficulty believing any of it at this point. And I go back to the Congressman's suggestion. I wish you would insist that we start bringing in some of the guys that deal with all of these issues on a daily basis and let us talk to them. No disrespect to you, but I'd like to hear it from the guys who do it every day and have them tell us what the problems are. Frankly, I think until that day comes, these problems we have with this issue will increase.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Bono.
The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Reyes, is recognized.
Mr. REYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
To answer my colleague's question, ''Can the border be managed?''absolutely. It can be managed and that's part of what I hope we can do together.
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To kind of put things in perspective, I'd like to ask Mr. Regan a questionif he would tell this committee the impact of the Immigration and Reform and Control Act immediately after its passage in 1986. What did that passage do to attempted illegal entries into this country along the southern border?
Mr. REGAN. Initially, it caused a reduction. There were rumors out that, I believe the terms that we heard were ''mass deportations,'' but then the numbers have started to come back up again.
Mr. REYES. If you can give us an opinion, why
Mr. REGAN. I'm sorry, Congressman. Do you mean 1986 or 1996?
Mr. REYES. 1986.
Mr. REGAN. Oh, 1986. The numbers went up, initially, in a mass effort for people to come into the United States before the effective date, so that they could be present in the United States and try and attempt to file for legal permanent residence status.
Mr. REYES. What was the intent of the Immigration Reform and Control Act? What was the central piece of legislation that had never been done before.
Mr. REGAN. Could you be more specific, Congressman.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. REYES. Well, basically, it was thatit was for the first time it would make it illegal to hire an undocumented person. The responsibility would be on the employer.
Mr. REGAN. The Employer Sanctions Act.
Mr. REYES. The Employer Sanctions Act. It was my experience that for the next 3 years or so it dramatically decreased the attempted illegal entries into this country. The reason for that was the widespread publicity that it was given that, even if you were successful in entering this country illegally, you could not find a job because for the first time there would be no jobs available.
In reality, did we get the resources or did INS put forth the effort to monitor the workplaces, in your opinion, to actually make sure that that change inor that legislation had its desired effect?
Mr. REGAN. We did receive resources to monitor what that impact was. What it did, was to create a whole new cottage industry for fraudulent documentation which opened up other areas for people to gain employment illegally, though they were here
Mr. REYES. You're talking about fraudulent documents?
Mr. REGAN. That's correct, Congressman.
Mr. REYES. Can you tell us today what area of the country still continues to enjoy, if that word can be used appropriately, results that are beneficial in terms of that Employer Sanctions Act? Are there any parts of the country?
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Mr. REGAN. Are there any parts of the country where there
Mr. REYES. In other words, does INS have the resources that have been dedicated to make the worksite checks to enforce that law anywhere in this country?
Mr. REGAN. We've received resources in the 1996 budget. Three hundred positions were dedicated to worksite enforcement efforts. Those positions are in the process of being hired and are being put in place. Will they be sufficient? Only time will tell.
Mr. REYES. How about immediately after the 1986 law?
Mr. REGAN. We did receive some investigative resources to go out and do worksite enforcement. I think, based on the amount of fraud that we discovered I don't think the resources at the time were sufficient to handle the problem.
Mr. REYES. Would it be fair to say that the only area of the country that continues to effectively implement the 1986 revision, the 1986 revision as it pertains to employer sanctions, is along the border where we have the resources dedicated where district inspectors can routinely monitor and do site visits as far as businesses? Would it be fair to say that?
Mr. REGAN. Are you saying that there's more control on the Southwest border in the way of worksite enforcement versus what we have going on in the interior?
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Mr. REYES. Yes.
Mr. REGAN. I'm not familiar enough with this issue where I can say definitively yes or no.
Mr. REYES. I can safely tell this committee that there is. And I appreciate your position, Mr. Regan. But I can tell you that we can pass laws forever, and unless we have a systematic manner in which they can be enforced, their effectiveness will be moot. But in the context of what we need to doand that's exactly why I made the recommendations that I madewe need to do a better job.
I think we've got the resources, if we will integrate them and use them appropriately. I think it's part of our dilemma, and I can speak to it in terms of my own experience because prior to Operation Hold the Line, there was a general consensus both in the United States and in Mexico that that border could never be controlled. In fact, I was told specifically that it was foolish to even try, that we should just do what we've always done.
But my point there, Mr. Chairman, is that we need to look at our border. We need to look at the way we do things. And we need to get out of those traditional lines and do more of what has been done in other areas in respect to being able to work together, being able to integrate resources and even agencies, so that the taxes that are paid by all of us can be better utilized.
I think, historicallyand I will obviously document all of this in my paper to you, Mr. Chairmanbut I think that historically we have shown that laws that are passed here that initially have an impact on our operations in the field subsequently getsubsequently, when we don't do a good enough job to enforce them, actually become detrimental to the morale of the very people that are enforcing our laws. I think that's something that we need to watch out for. I think also that, in the context of some of the things that have been covered here by the panel, I'd like to just ask a couple of questions, if I have the time?
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Mr. SMITH. Please.
Mr. REYES. I'd like to ask
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Reyes, let me say to you we're going to have another round of questions in a minute, so don't feel like you have to ask everything right now.
Mr. REYES. OK. I just want to ask Mr. Banks one question. Do you think that it would be more effective for us to have a policy on the Southern border to separate cargo from regular traffic on those bridges? Would it not make better sense to have bridges specifically dedicated to cargo where we could put in the technology that exists today to look at the cargo, understanding that there should not be any life present in those particular instances, so that we can do a much better job, a more effective job, and a much quicker job in commercial activity between the United States and Mexico? Would you say that that would be a good idea?
Mr. BANKS. Yes.
Mr. REYES. OK. Would you also answer for this committee, are there any areas along the border where that is currently being done?
Mr. BANKS. Yes. And we're trying to move more in that direction.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. REYES. OK. Good.
Mr. BANKS. And part of the reason is safety for the people. Part of the reason is the delays thatif the trucks back up, then the cars get congested along with it. It's part of traffic management. And, yes, absolutely it's a much better idea. Where it does fall apart is, we have technology that we're putting in to handle commercial merchandise that we can use on vehicles, especially the large x-rays. It's going to be very expensive if we have to replicate that technology in more crossings.
Mr. REYES. Regarding the comment by my colleague, Mr. Watt, in terms of giving INS the flexibility, Mr. Regan, to, I guessfor Congress to give them the resources and then slot them into the areas where it felt would be more appropriate or more effective, would you say that the utilization of resources wereto give those resources without any specific instructions or requirements, would you say that that would depend on what the priority of the moment would be in terms of being able to distribute those resources for the agency?
Mr. REGAN. The agency distributes the resources based on the priorities of the agency, if that's the question you're asking, Congressman.
Mr. REYES. So your answer is yes?
Mr. REGAN. Yes.
Mr. REYES. In other words, if the priority of the day or the priority of the moment would be interior enforcement, all the resources would go to the interior?
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Mr. REGAN. Well, I think as an agency we've recognized the fact that we can't have a single focus on enforcement. We must have a multifaceted, balanced approach to be successful.
Again, if I can use the analogy, it's like the Pillsbury doughboy: you push it in one place; it's going to pop out in another. You need to be prepared to have a balanced resource deployment to handle the enforcement.
Mr. REYES. Would that also apply to both sides of the issue, in terms of service versus enforcement?
Mr. REGAN. I can only speak from an enforcement perspective.
Mr. REYES. Well, how about giving us an opinion as ano, I won't ask him to do that. [Laughter.]
Mr. REGAN. Thank you, Congressman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Reyes. Let me attempt here to reconstitute the panel in this way, and after we do so, we're going to recognize Mr. Marshall from the DEA. He has a couple minutes to make a general statement. But I'd like to ask that the individuals from State and Customs be excused, and ask to come forward Mr. Greene and Mr. Garza, Mr. Greene being from the Colorado Sector and Mr. Garza being from the McAllen, TX, Sector.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BANKS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, all.
And, Mr. Marshall, you'll be up next, if you'll just take a couple minutes to summarize.
STATEMENT OF DONNIE R. MARSHALL, CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION
Mr. MARSHALL. Mr. Chairman, thank you. Mr. Watt, members. I appreciate the opportunity and I hope that I can contribute somewhat to your inquiry today.
DEA is a single-mission agency focusing on drug investigations only and, for that reason, my comments will be related to drugs and drug-related issues. However, there is a lot of interrelation between that and some of the other issues that you are looking at.
The cocaine traffic right now in the United States is dominated primarily by organized criminal groups in Mexico. These are powerful, wealthy organizations that use their power and wealth to corrupt citizens and law enforcement in Mexico, and we hope that that does not spill over in to the United States.
The Mexican-based organizations are involved in all major drugsheroin, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine. Our information in DEA is that they use primarily as smuggling methods private vehicles, trucks, and containers. The highest level of command-and-control structure of these organizations operate with impunity in Mexico and out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement. There are four major organizationsthe Amado Carillo-Fuentes, Migel Caro-Quinteros, Arellano-Felix, and the Amezcua-Contreras brothers' organizations. And while their top command-and-control structure is outside the United States, they do send operatives into the United States. These are always trusted organization members, sometimes family members. The Mexican organizations are particularly strong in the Western United States. There are signs, however, that they're moving into other traditional Colombian-controlled areas in the United States.
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Some of these operatives who come inwith the Mexican organizationssome use legal visas to come in; others pass through ports-of-entry on illegal documents and that sort of thing. We have very little evidence in DEA right now that the four or five major drug organizations use, actively use, illegal aliens to smuggle drugs. There is some evidence that the aliens themselves are smuggling small amounts of drugs to offset the cost of their passage. And there is some evidence that second-tier organizations take advantage of these illegal aliens to smuggle drugs, primarily marijuana, backpacking, that sort of stuff.
I would just close out by saying that, out of our approximately 24,000 arrests by DEA in 1995, about 1,800 of those were illegal aliens. And, then, of our combined arrests in 1995 and 1996, about 2,600 of those arrests were a result of INS or Border Patrol referrals. So while the drug problem is not a direct cause-and-effect relationship or a direct one-for-one relationship with the illegal immigration problem, you can see that there is some relation here, and the illegal alien problem is not a significant factor in our command-and-control investigations; that is DEA's primary responsibility. However, you can see from the numbers that it does have a significant impact on the resources not only of DEA, but also the FBI, U.S. attorneys, and that sort of thing.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Marshall follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DONNIE R. MARSHALL, CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee today on the subject of border security along the Southwest border of the United States. My comments today will be limited to an objective assessment of the law enforcement issues involving drug trafficking along the Southwest border, our cooperative efforts with other Federal, State and local law enforcement in the border region, and provide you with a detailed picture of the organized crime groups that currently operate with impunity in Mexico.
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Cocaine trafficking in the United States is now dominated by organized criminal groups from Mexico who operate on both sides of the 2000 mile border that links the U.S. with Mexico. The leaders of these drug syndicates send their surrogates to the cities and towns of the United States to control the distribution of tons of cocaine. These criminal syndicates are far more sophisticated and wealthy than their predecessors, using their wealth to corrupt and intimidate citizens and law enforcement officials in Mexico, and to a lesser extent, in the United States, to assist them in their criminal enterprises. Serious border security issues have arisen as a result of the threat presented by these powerful groups as well as independent groups who traffic in cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine.
THE MAJOR TRAFFICKERS FROM MEXICO
The majority of the cocaine entering the United States continues to come from Colombia through Mexico and across the Southern border in privately owned vehicles, commercial trucks, and containers. A number of major trafficking organizations represent the highest echelons of organized crime in Mexico. These leaders are living freely and operating with impunity in Mexico, so far escaping apprehension by Mexican law enforcement. In order to fully expose these leaders, it is more beneficial to refer to them by their personal names than by the names of their organizations.
The most powerful drug trafficker in Mexico at the current time is Amado Carrillo-Fuentes, who, as recently reported, has ties to the former Commissioner of the INCD, Gutierrez-Rebollo. His organized crime group, based in Juarez, is associated with both the Rodriguez-Orjuela organization in Cali, and the Ochoas from Medellin. This organization, which is also involved in heroin and marijuana trafficking, handles large shipments of cocaine from Colombia. They have regional bases of operation in Guadalajara, Hermosillo and Torreon which serve as storage locations for cocaine which is inevitably shipped to the United States.
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The scope of the Carrillo-Fuentes' organization is staggering; he reportedly forwards $20$30 million to the Colombian traffickers for each major cocaine shipment he receives. Up to one half of his profits are reportedly used to bribe law enforcement officials in Mexico. Carrillo-Fuentes is sophisticated in the use of technology and counter-surveillance methodology and his network employs state of the art communication devices to conduct his business. He is aggressively attempting to consolidate all trafficking activities along the entire northern Mexico border and will continue to pay enormous amounts in bribe money to border officials to ensure that these attempts are successful.
Miguel Caro-Quintero's organization is based in Sonora and focuses on marijuana and cocaine trafficking. Rafael, Miguel Caro-Quintero's brother, remains in prison for his role in the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena in 1985. Other brothersJorge and Genaroare responsible for the overall operation of the organization. Miguel was arrested in 1992 and a bi-lateral prosection was orchestrated by the United States and the Government of Mexico. Unfortunately, our attempts were thwarted when, through intimidation and threats, Miguel was able to secure a dismissal of all charges by a Federal judge in Hermosillo.
The Caro-Quintero organization specializes in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. They are believed to own a number of ranches along the northern border of Sonora where their drugs are stored for the staging of smuggling operations into the United States. In addition, like many of the other trafficking groups in Mexico, they are poly-drug in nature and have concentrated efforts on cocaine and methamphetamine operations as well.
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The Arellano-Felix Brothers
The Arellano-Felix organization is based in Tijuana and is known as one of the most powerful and aggressive drug trafficking organizations operating from Mexico. Undeniably, the Arrellano-Felix's are the most violent. More than any of the other major traffickers from Mexico, this organization extends its tentacles directly from the highest echelon of the law enforcement and judicial communities, to the street level traffickers located in the United States. They are responsible for the importation and distribution of massive quantities of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine into the United States from Mexico.
The Arellano-Felix family could not operate without the collusion of officials in Mexican law enforcement. The Arellano-Felix's reportedly return an estimated million dollars a week in bribe money to law enforcement officials at the Federal, State and local levels. Ramon Eduardo Arrellano-Felix is considered the most violent of seven brothers and four sisters. He is responsible for the organization and coordination of protection details for drug shipments, over which he exerts absolute control; as well as, the planning and murders of rival drug traffickers, Mexican law enforcement officials, and organization members who fall out of favor or are suspected of cooperating with law enforcement. Members of the Arellano-Felix organization are well-trained and well-armed and their ranks include international mercenaries as advisors and trainers.
The Amezcua-Contreras brothers operate out of Guadalajara and currently run the largest known methamphetamine production and trafficking organization. This organization has global proportions as probably the world's largest smuggler of ephedrine which is used in the manufacture of clandestine methamphetamine. This organization uses well-placed associates in the United States to move ephedrine to Mexican traffickers involved in the production of methamphetamine in the United States. A force of Mexican nationals, both legal and illegal aliens, are rotated in and out of the United States to conduct production and distribution activities.
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Joaquin Guzman-Loera initially made a name for himself as an air-logistics expert for Miguel Felix-Gallardo. Although currently incarcerated in Mexico, he rose to patron level among the significant trafficking groups and is still considered a major international player. His brother, Arturo, has assumed the leadership role and the organization continues to function successfully. Notably, their organization controlled the tunnel between Agua Prieta, Sonora, and Douglas, Arizona thorough which tons of cocaine were smuggled. The Guzman-Loera organization smuggles cocaine from Colombia through Mexico to the U.S. for the Colombian traffickers as well as transports, stores and distributes marijuana, Mexican and Southeast Asian heroin.
The Drug Trade and Illegal Immigration
Organized criminal syndicates are dependent upon a trusted infrastructure to ensure the efficacy of their operations. These groups in Mexico accomplish this by sending trusted family members and long-time associates to the United States to control distribution cells. These individuals sometimes arrive in the U.S. on visas legally obtained through the United States Embassy or Consulate in Mexico City, while others pass through the ports of entry from San Ysidro to Brownsville on illegal documents purchased with a portion of the billions of narco-dollars at the disposal of these traffickers.
There is little evidence of any effort on the part of the major Mexican trafficking groups to use aliens or alien smuggling groups for drug transshipment. Although there is evidence of illegal aliens transporting small amounts of drugs into the United States in an attempt to pay for the increasingly expensive fee necessary for passage into the U.S. In 1995, DEA arrested 24,402 individuals, of this number, 1,795 of them claimed to be illegal at the time of arrest.
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The cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine trade, and to a somewhat lesser degree, the marijuana trade, are dominated by the major syndicates in Mexico. However, there exists a substantial number of second tier independent organizations that smuggle heroin and marijuana across the Southwest border. These independent groups take advantage of the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States by paying a fee for each 5070 pound bale of marijuana, or kilo of cocaine or heroin, that is back-packed into the U.S. For the combined calender years of 1995 and 1996, approximately 2,560 of DEA's arrests were INS referrals. This army of smugglers creates an enormous strain on both the law enforcement and legal system. U.S. Attorneys and State and local prosecutors are diligent in their prosecution, but these smugglers are generally mules being taken advantage of because of their desire to live and work in the United States. Their arrest does little to seriously impact the hierarchy of an organization, and boggs down our judicial system and strains precious investigative resources of the INS and DEA.
The Amezcua-Contreas brothers that I described earlier, exploit the large Mexican legal and illegal immigrant populations centered around the meat packing, produce and other service oriented industries, in the Midwest. With high concentrations of Mexican nationals in these areas, it is easy for the traffickers to assimilate themselves into these communities to conceal their drug trafficking activities.
Violence that is attendant to the drug trade in Mexico is spilling over the border which separates the United States from Mexico. The threats and intimidation escalated to nearly unmanageable levels last summer when trafficking and alien smuggling groups along the Texas-Mexico border began terrorizing land owners and ranchers by cutting fences, killing livestock and establishing trafficking routes on private lands. Instances of violence directed at U.S. law enforcement have also escalated on and around the border area. Just last week, two Inspectors of the United States Customs Service assigned to the Calexico Port of Entry, were shot after directing a marijuana-laden vehicle to secondary. United States Border Patrol Agents in Douglas, Arizona, report receiving fire from snipers concealed in houses on the other side of the border.
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Blurring of the United States-Mexico Border
Murder and violence are common methods used by organized crime to silence witnesses or rivals. Since 1993, twenty-three major drug-related assassinations have taken place in Mexico. Virtually all of these murders remain unsolved. In the last year, 12 law enforcement officials or former officials have been gunned down in Tijuana and the vast majority of the 200 murders in that city are believed to have been drug-related.
The Arellano-Felix organization relies on a San Diego, California gang known as ''Logan Heights Calle 30'' to carry out executions and conduct security for their distribution operations. Six members of the ''Calle 30'' were arrested by DEA's violent crime task force and the San Diego Police Department for the murder of a man and his son in San Diego. Since that time, 49 members of ''Calle 30'' have been arrested by the Narcotics Task Force in San Diego on a variety of charges from trafficking to violent crimes.
Amado Carrillo-Fuentes, and the other syndicates in Mexico continually seek to take advantage of the strong cross-border family ties that exist in the Southwest. A border that is clearly defined on maps and in several locations in California and Arizona by fences, bright lights and United States Border Patrol Agents, begins to blur in many small towns in Texas and New Mexico. Steady legal migration from Mexico, in this century, to the United States and the exponential increase in commerce between the two countries, has resulted in families and businesses living and functioning on both sides of the border much the same as we operate and live across town from our families and business associates in cities throughout the U.S.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Mexican syndicates use proven organized crime tactics of bribery, intimidation and sometimes murder, to take advantage of the dissolution of the loosely defined border area in many of these locations. Family ties and close relationships are exploited, large sums of cash are offered as pay offs for ''doing nothing,'' and threats of violence and murder are made against family members in Mexico if the orders are not carried out as directed.
The Southwest Border Initiative (SWBI) is Federal law enforcement's response to the substantial threat posed by Mexican groups operating along the U.S.-Mexico border. This integrated, coordinated strategy focuses the resources of DEA, FBI, the United States Attorney's Office, the Criminal Division, the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Customs Service and State and local authorities on the sophisticated trafficking groups I have described today.
Through the SWBI, we have identified these groups and uncovered the interworkings of highly compartmentalized organizations which use numerous workers to accomplish specific tasks. Through this compartmentalization process, each worker for the organization performs specific duties with no knowledge of how other portions of the organization perform. This insulates the day-to-day operation of the organization which enhances the trafficker's ability to maintain control and allows them to seek out businesses or trafficking groups that can provide some type of speciality service to the organization. These syndicates have contracted transportation specialists to move multi-ton quantities of cocaine from South America to Mexico and across the U.S. border.
Through the joint SWBI, we are attacking these organizations by targeting their communications command and control functions and the U.S.-based infrastructure. Through this strategy, we have been able to identify the U.S.-based portions of these organizations which allows us to track the seamless continuum of the cocaine trade as it flows from the jungles of Bolivia and Peru, to Colombia, through Mexico, and on to its eventual destination on the streets in the U.S. The SWBI is anchored in our belief that to successfully attack any organized criminal group, we must concentrate on the leadership and the command and control functions of the organization. Long-term incarceration of key members will cause a steady degradation of their ability to conduct business in the United States.
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Working joint investigations which target these major Mexican trafficking groups has been successful as evidenced by Operation Zorro II, which enabled U.S. law enforcement to dismantle the entire infrastructure of a Colombian-based distribution organization and the Mexican transportation organization responsible for the distribution of multi-thousand kilograms of cocaine.
Interdiction efforts are most effective when they are driven by intelligence. The SWBI can best support the efforts of the United States Customs Service and the Border Patrol through the sharing of information on smuggling methods and routes, transportation groups using front companies to smuggle drugs into the U.S., and identifying the traffickers responsible for this movement of drugs, which is gathered during our investigations. We are in a position to share information that will enhance border interdiction efforts as well as significantly impact investigations being conducted in the interior of the United States.
Organized criminal syndicates continue to act with arrogance and impunity in Mexico, bribing and murdering police and government officials, to further their unquenchable thirst for illegal profits. There is every indication that this arrogance will intensify and bleed across the U.S. border if not met with a firm response both at the border and in Mexico. We cannot let a situation exist that permits hired killers to cross the border and fulfill their contracts, then slip back to Mexico out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement. These murders started with rival drug traffickers and police informers in Mexico, but will surely end with U.S. law enforcement officials, prosecutors or judges who will not accept the bribe, or choose not to ''do nothing,'' but instead work diligently to ensure the long-term incarceration of these syndicate leaders and their subordinates.
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Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and I will be happy to answer any questions that you might have.
1 FY 1996 figures are preliminary and subject to updating.
The Federal-wide Drug Seizure System (FDSS) contains information about drug seizures made within the jurisdiction of the United States by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Customs Service, as well as maritime seizures made by the U.S. Coast Guard. Drug seizures made by other Federal Agencies are included in the FDSS data base when custody of the drug evidence was transferred to one of the four agencies identified above. Hence, FDSS statistics reflect the combined Federal drug seizure effort.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Marshall.
Mr. Garza, let me address my first comment and question to you, and say that you may or may not be aware that in the last couple of months I've visited two of your checkpoints in south Texas that are within the McAllen Sector. And let me be straightforward with you. The individuals with whom I spoke, including the head of the office and a number of Border Patrol agents, could not have been more professional, could not have been more competent, and also, thankfully, could not have been more candid. You are really fortunate, and we are all fortunate, to have the caliber of people that I have met in those south Texas checkpointsjust outstanding individuals in every way. I couldn't be more impressed, to tell you the truth.
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As you knowand we're pointing it out on this chart right herethe number of apprehensions in your sector has doubled in the last 2 years, a 100-percent increase. My simple question to you is: what should we do about it? We need to be doing more. What would you like to see done?
STATEMENT OF JOSÉ E. GARZA, CHIEF BORDER PATROL AGENT, McALLEN, TX, SECTOR, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
Mr. GARZA. Mr. Chairman, thank you for your comments and thank you for the opportunity to be here to testify before this committee. Yes, the McAllen Sector has been experiencing an unprecedented influx of illegal immigration in the last 2 years. I reported there in 1995, after having served as Chief of the Border Patrol Sector in Laredo for 9 years. The Immigration Service, the Commissioner of the Immigration Service, directed us to form a national strategy back in 1994 that was to feed off the success of Operation Hold the Line that Chief Reyesor Congressman Reyes nowimplemented in El Paso.
The aliens are desperate; they are going to find a way to get in and we felt that by controlling the border at places like El Pasothere would be a shift, and the agreement was to strengthen San Diego and then Tucson, and in 1997 south Texas. And that is the Border Patrol strategy that was implemented.
I felt all along that in 1997 I would receive additional resources. And this year the McAllen Sector has received 135 officers. They are in training right now. I remain at the same levels as last year. Although we have increased our manpower resources by 38 percent since 1994, my on-duty force on the ground right now at McAllen for Border Patrol agents is around 535 and I have 131 at the Border Patrol Academy. It takes time to go out and recruit the type of people that you're wanting to hire to run the background checks, interview them, and then train them. And then once they get back to the sector, their training continues for about a year. I will start getting the people out of the Academy in May and later throughout the summer.
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Mr. SMITH. OK, thank you.
Mr. Greene, let me ask a question of you and then ask Mr. Garza to respond as well. When you get calls from local law-enforcement officials that they are aware of the presence of a number of illegal aliens, what percentage of those calls are you able to respond to?
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH R. GREENE, DISTRICT DIRECTOR, DENVER, CO, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
Mr. GREENE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Again, I join my colleague in expressing our appreciation for being here today. Right now and in the last month, not excluding the operation that we're doing in southwestern Utah over the last 2 weeks, it's about one in four.
Mr. SMITH. Excuse me?
Mr. GREENE. About one in four.
Mr. SMITH. You're only able to respond to one in four calls?
Mr. GREENE. That's correct, sir. And that's based on a variety of reasons, not the least of which, as you appreciate, coming from Texas, is the distances involved. It would take me about as long to drive from here to New York as it does for me to drive from Denver to where some of these loads are located in my district.
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It also depends on availability of detention space; on where my buses are to transport these people; on the availability of local support; on the condition of the vehicle itself; on the composition of the load; and on the possibility that that load can be encountered and picked up further down in the pipeline, as that map which we put up earlier demonstrates. So there's a lot of different reasons that go into the decision to respond to a call from the local police.
Mr. SMITH. Right. Thank you. It all comes down to one word and that's ''resources,'' whatever it may be.
Mr. Regan, let me go back to you for a minute, to the question of employer sanctions. As I understand it, both the number and amount of total fines are down as far as the enforcement of employer sanctions go, as well as the number of employers who are visited and checked to see whether they employ illegal aliens or not. What's the explanation for that? The appearance is that now employers have less to worry about, that's it's going to be easier for illegal aliens to get jobs as a result.
Mr. REGAN. That's not quite correct, Mr. Chairman. There are two factors that enter into this. Last year, one of the things that impacted on our resources was the significant number of agents we had to detail to the Olympics for security purposes. That did have a direct impact on our ability to do some of our worksite enforcement. But, also, we changed our tactics or our strategy in doing worksite enforcement. We have a high number of highlyof companies who are in high compliance. To continue to go back to the people that are already complying defeats the purpose. So what we've done is redirected our efforts at those employers who knowingly and willingly violate the law and hire undocumented aliens. Hence, while site visits have gone down, our numbers of aliens apprehended as a result of these actions and the amounts of our fines have gone up.
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Mr. SMITH. OK. The overall amount of fines? The total amount of fines levied has gone up in the past years?
Mr. REGAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. SMITH. OK. I was told that the total amount had done. I'm not talking as far as the average goes; I'm talking about the total amount of fines.
Mr. GREENE. The amount of fine per visit has gone up.
Mr. SMITH. Yes. OK. Now that's exactly what I'm talking about. I want you to tell me againanswer this question: has the total amount of fines levied on everyone gone up or down in the last year?
Mr. REGAN. In 1995 the total amount of fines was $10,438,0000. In 1996 it was $13,179,000.
Mr. SMITH. It was how much?
Mr. GREENE. $13,179,000.
Mr. SMITH. And how many employers were visited in 1995 and how many employers were visited in 1996?
Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. REGAN. In 1995, we had a total of 5,963 visits. In 1996, we had a total of 5,211 visits.
Mr. SMITH. OK. One up, one down. That answers my question. I'll yield now to the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt.
Mr. WATT. I'm having a little trouble following my chairman here.
Mr. SMITH. I'll be happy to explain.
Mr. WATT. Maybe I should be asking him questions. Is your theory that if we apply more pressure in another sector and there are more arrests in Texas then that is a failure? I mean it seems to me that when you asked the question, you went from 51,000 up to 116,000 arrests between 1995 and 1997, what are we doing to do about itit seems to me that that's what we did about it. We arrested more people and that was the whole theory of applying, using additional resources and trying to get on top of the problem.
Now you seem to be suggesting that somehow that is a failed policy and we ought to be doing something about it. I am having a little trouble understanding. It seems to me the same series of questions with Mr. Regan. He is damned if he do and damned if he don't under your theory.
Mr. SMITH. Let me respond. That's certainly not the case. I'll take them in reverse chronological order that you have mentioned them. In the case of Mr. Regan, in asking him about employer sanctions, it is my understanding that the administration has sort of a new philosophy, a new theory whereby they are targeting individual employers but fewer of them. Whether that's good or bad I was asking him to explain, but the overall consequence of that is that more employers have less to fear if you are not getting as many employers. That's sort of
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Mr. WATT. Well, but if those who are being held up as examples are getting fined higher, then that could possibly be a
Mr. SMITH. A deterrent?
Mr. WATT. A deterrent also. I mean you know, you can argue both sides of this is what I'm saying. It just seems to me that sometimes you all get preoccupied with criticizing whatever the policy is and not understanding as somebody said, if you punch the doughboy here, something is going to move somewhere else. These things don't operate in a vacuum like Republican theory seems to operate.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Watt, let me ask you a question in return. You pointed to this chart a while ago. The point there that I am trying to make is that by shifting the problem or seeing the problem shifted doesn't solve it.
Mr. WATT. Oh, yes. I agree with that.
Mr. SMITH. To use your own analogy of the doughboy, that is not solving the problem when you decrease slightly the number of apprehensions in California and double the number of apprehensions in Texas. I am trying to reduce the overall problem, not see it shift.
Mr. WATT. It seems to me that part of that is that we have got to give more flexibility to the people out there, rather than trying to micromanage our policies here. The point in fact is hey, we put all of this emphasis on increasing personnel at the borders last year. I am not opposed to that, but in the same time, when I tried to offer an amendment that gave more flexibility so that when you punch the doughboy in the belly his chest bulged, then they could go up to the chest and deal with that and get some kind of balance in the process.
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Micromanagement has its benefits on a short-term basis to deal with short-term problems, but this is a long-term problem. You need flexibility to deal with long-term problems. You can't just you know, and then come back 2 years later and criticize the result of what you are getting.
Mr. REYES. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Reyes, if you will just hold on for a minuteI just want to say that I think the gentleman from North Carolina makes the point that I am trying to make. It has nothing to do with micromanaging or not micromanaging. It has to do again with solving the problem. You can have both. We need both border enforcement and interior enforcement. The great disappointment I have is that when it comes to the interior enforcement, which is what I think you are addressing, the administration has only funded about 20 percent of what Congress has asked for. It's not a question of either or.
Mr. WATT. But wait a minute now. My figures say that we asked for 600 agents. Our Appropriations Committee right here in the House appropriated money for not one single one. So how can we then turn around and blame the administration for this?
Mr. SMITH. I think if you look at the figures, you are confusing that type, that one figure with the overall figure. When it comes to investigators and inspectors, is what I am talking about, which is part of the whole. As far as that goes, there are folks here who can tell me. I think the administration has yet to hire something like over 200 inspectors and investigators for which we have appropriated.
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Mr. WATT. Well, I mean, I hope we don't want to go out and just pick up anybody on the street to be filling these jobs. These people have to have some qualifications and there has to be some leadtime.
I think the one thing that we do agree on that I'm not sure that we can play out to the rest of the Congress because we're in this real fiscal crisis leading to balancing the budget, is that we need more resources in these agencies and they need to be more efficient. I am not arguing that point. But you know, I just get a little frustrated when we just constantly complain about whatever somebody does.
Mr. SMITH. You just heard wonderful compliments going to Mr. Garza and Mr. Greene. But, anyway, let me recognize Mr. Reyes.
Mr. WATT. Then you ask him how can we solve the problem. You know, he's doing a good job and he's making a problem. All of a sudden you are saying hey, somehow this is your fault. Let's solve it.
Mr. SMITH. No. I didn't say it was his fault. I said let's solve it.
Mr. Reyes is recognized.
Mr. REYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, one of the things that I fear is that we have got as far as the border strategy, we have got a similar strategy that I would compare to Vietnam. The interesting issue here is that it's not a problem that I see. It shouldn't be couched in terms of Democrats or Republicans. I think what we need to do is we need to look at the border as a situation where it's a problem that needs to be solved.
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From that viewpoint, we need to require solutions. One of the things that comes to my mind is the very point that you two gentlemen have been discussing. That is, what kind of an effect or an impact does the law have when it doesn't get enforced. Let me just say one thing that has me not perplexed, but concerned. That's the fact that INS is expected to hire 1,000 border patrol agents per year until I believe it's the year 2001. Yet we come in with a request for 500 next year. I would just like to ask my former colleague from McAllen, could you use 500 agents in McAllen to help with the problem?
Mr. GARZA. I am supposed to get
Mr. REYES. No, answer the question. Could you use 500 agents? Would that help?
Mr. GARZA. Definitely.
Mr. REYES. Let me ask you another question because in part of the rationale that has been given to Congress as to why we can only accommodate 500 agents, is the fact that INS needs time, border patrol needs time to integrate them into the system and all of the things that are associated. One of the aspects here is the fact that they don't want to put out of kilter the supervisory to agent ratio, and also the experience to nonexperienced ratio. Given that explanation, does that apply to your sector?
Mr. GARZA. Back in 1995 when I reported to McAllen Sector, the Brownsville Station was doubled in force. My predecessor had assigned 75 officers to the Brownsville Station. It does create a problem, but it is not an insurmountable problem. You want to have the people well-trained and well-supervised. At least for the first year, they require training and they are not as effective as an experienced officer. But I believe the field managers can work with this problem and try to alleviate it as much as possible.
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I have had instances where I have had three trainees at a checkpoint working with a journeyman agent. He is overseeing all their actions and making the decisions for them. Of course the people that are doing the interviews and so forth are not as skilled or as experienced as the journeyman agent.
Mr. REYES. That's been in McAllen, in your tenure in McAllen?
Mr. GARZA. No. That was during my tenure at Laredo, but we did double the size of the Brownsville Station, as you know, Chief or Congressman.
Mr. REYES. Yes. Let me ask you this question. Given the fact that there are a number of sectors in Texas, five to be exact, and those sectors have not received the attention that California has received, would you say that it would be feasible, practical to integrate 500 agents into the five Texas sectors without the problems that you expressed?
Mr. GARZA. Among the five sectors we could integrate the 500.
Mr. REYES. OK. That's all, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Reyes. Let me thank all the panelists who have been here today for their contributions. We'll look to see you again sometime in the near future. Thank you.
Will the third panel come forward and take their seats as well? Our third panel consists of Richard J. Gallo, Senior Special Agent, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Roy Godson, professor of government, Georgetown University, president of the National Strategy Information Center, Robert G. Heiserman, Denver, CO, and Elisa Massimino, director, Washington, DC, office, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
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We welcome all four of you all. We will begin with the testimony of Mr. Gallo.
STATEMENT OF RICHARD J. GALLO, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ASSOCIATION
Mr. GALLO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, it is a privilege for me to come before the subcommittee on behalf of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. I am honored to appear in front of you today on such an important hearing. My name is Richard Gallo. I am the national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. We are a voluntary, nonpartisan, professional association representing approximately 12,500 Federal law enforcement officers and special agents from over 51 agencies of the Federal Government. I am a Senior Special Agent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General, working out of the USDA OIG's North Atlantic region.
The Federal law enforcement agents I represent include agents from the U.S. Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Internal Revenue Services, Criminal Investigations Division, and Office of Inspection, the U.S. Customs Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, Postal Inspection, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in the State Department, the U.S. Park Police, Bureau of Land Management Special Agents and Rangers, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Offices of Inspector General at the following agencies: Agency of International Development, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Environmental Protection Administration, the FAA, FDIC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, General Accounting Office, GSA, HHS, SSA, HUD, Interior, Justice, Labor and Treasury.
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On behalf of the men and women of FLEOA, I want to express our concerns regarding the legislative issues that affect immigration. I first want to commend this body as well as your counterparts in the U.S. Senate for what we believe is the most dramatic piece of immigration enforcement legislation in the 20th century, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
FLEOA, along with the Law Enforcement Steering Committee, which is a coalition of national police, labor, management and research organizations that together represent over 500,000 law enforcement officers on the street, are now calling out for Congress to fully fund the 1,200 criminal investigators, special agents positions which were authorized in that act.
While FLEOA's INS rank and file have asked me today to tell you that while your past efforts have indeed restored credibility to the Immigration and Nationality Act, it is unfortunately not enough. The recent official estimate of a current illegal population totaling 5 million reminds us that Congress's dynamic efforts must continue. While the legislative changes brought about last year are far-reaching, conservative growth rate of the illegal population numbers 275,000 per year.
I must state for the record with a firm knowledge that this Congress is attentive to the issue, that we must establish a new perspective. For far too long, the issue of illegal immigration has been viewed as merely one dimensional. While border patrol is certainly an important piece of the puzzle and the solution, it alone can not take us where we need to be. A minimum of 41 percent of the aforementioned 5 million current illegals entered legally with a visa and simply overstayed that visa. I would submit to you that certain Members outside of this subcommittee are not even aware of interior INS enforcement components, namely, investigations and detention and deportation.
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Over the years, there have been a host of front page stories confirming the fact that INS interior enforcement challenge is growing, from suspected terrorist Basheer Nafi in northern Virginia, to antismuggling operations in Georgia, Maryland, Utah, Colorado, and California. In addition, there are many stories that go unnoticed. As such, they increase interior agent frustration.
A sample of such untold stories are on at least four occasions in the last several months, the Campbell County, Tennessee sheriff's deputies pulled over loads of smuggled aliens only to be told by the nearest INS office in Memphis there was insufficient detention money and/or agent personnel to respond. In California, the latest Census Bureau figures list 1,875,000 illegals in the State of California, or in other words, 4,630 illegals per INS agent. In the State of Texas, there are 1,741 illegals per INS agent for the San Antonio district.
In addition, there is combined State of Texas total of 13,441 convicted Federal and State criminal alien inmates, all of which must be placed under deportation proceedings. Recently within the San Antonio district, INS special agents have conducted the following operations: Arrest of 24 criminal aliens who have been convicted of offenses ranging from first degree murder, assault, and distribution of heroin; 2 of the 24 had outstanding murder warrants from Mexico. Also in San Antonio, 103 aliens arrested and placed into deportation proceedings, all of which were previously convicted of sexual assault charges, including sexual assault on a child. Also in San Antonio, operations targeting employers which results in the arrest and removal of 1,354 illegal aliens.
With all the focus on the extremely important border control mission, it is understandable how the remainder of INS roles and responsibilities in interior enforcement tend to be far less visible, but they are also of critical importance to the mission and the public. Make no mistake about it: Border control and interior enforcement are complementary functions. Therefore, it is critical that both are enhanced.
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However, there is another problem which is just as important. As Congressman Rogers, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary, stated just the other day there seems to be confusion in the Immigration and Naturalization Service. FLEOA invites this subcommittee to pass legislation calling for the INS to implement a system to separate its service components from its enforcement components at the field level, with separate reporting to headquarters. Such a system will allow the INS district directors to continue their focus on providing services, and will allow law enforcement agents to focus solely on enforcement activities in accordance with the standard Federal law enforcement chain of command.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Gallo, can you summarize the rest of your testimony?
Mr. GALLO. Yes. One sentence here. FLEOA wants to state for the record that without a dynamic change in enforcement structure of INS, it is extremely unlikely that the legislative innovations of the 104th and 105th Congresses will realize their full potential.
Mr. Chairman, I ask you and your other members of the subcommittee to do everything within your power to change this obsolete and confused organizational structure. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gallo follows:]
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENT OF RICHARD J. GALLO, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ASSOCIATION
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Subcommittee, I am honored to submit this written statement in support of my oral testimony for such an important Hearing. FLEOA, is a voluntary, non-partisan professional association.
As National President of FLEOA, I represent many of the outstanding men and women who enforce our nation's immigration laws. I would point out that that INS representation in FLEOA derives primarily from three distinct organizational divisions: the Border Patrol, Investigations and Detention and Deportation. I would ask you to keep the bureaucratic framework in mind because ultimately, that will be the essence today of what I believe to be both the problem and the solution.
FLEOA, as you know, currently represents over 12,500 federal law enforcement officers and is the largest association for federal officers of its kind. Several years ago, FLEOA joined with all of the major state and local police national associations to form the Law Enforcement Steering Committee (Fraternal Order of Police, National Troopers Coalition, Major Cities Chiefs of Police, Police Executive Research Foundation, National Association of Police Organizations, National Organization of Blacks in Law Enforcement, International Brotherhood of Police Organizations and the Police Foundation). In so doing, federal agents were able to add the voices of over half a million state and local officers to the issues that our Association considers to be of greatest importance.
I can tell you today, as I have told my membership in the recent past, that immigration law enforcement and in particular, enhanced interior immigration law enforcement, is currently one of our highest priorities. The Law Enforcement Steering Committee in Washington has recently joined FLEOA in appealing to the Full Judiciary Committees in the House and the Senate as well as the appropriating Committees in both Chambers to fully fund some 1200 criminal investigator or special agent positions which were authorized in your masterful legislative accomplishment of the last Congressthe Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA).
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I know I speak for the INS enforcement agent when I commend this Body as well as your counterparts in the United States Senate for what my members tell me is the most dramatic piece of immigration enforcement legislation in the 20th Century. However, as this Century rapidly comes to a close, I must point, out that the Subcommittee's work must continue not in just one direction but several directions.
The recent official estimate of a current illegal population totalling 5 million reminds us that your dynamic efforts must continue. While the legislative changes brought about last year through the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act as well as the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 are far reaching, a conservative estimate of the average growth rate of the illegal resident population numbers 275,000 per year. Obviously, legislative changes alone are not sufficient.
While the INS rank and file have asked me to tell you today that your past efforts have indeed restored credibility to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), it is unfortunately, not enough.
My purpose in testifying today is not, Mr. Chairman, to simply echo my fellow witnesses as to the magnitude of the problem at hand. Clearly, the yeoman efforts of the Congress, in concert with the Administration through the Department of Justice in the 104th Session, evidenced that immigration law enforcement was sorely neglected in the years prior to the Clinton Administration.
I want to state for the Record, with a firm knowledge that this Congress is attentive to the issue, that we must establish a new perspective. For far too long, the issue of illegal immigration has been viewed as merely one dimensional.
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While Border Control is certainly an integral piece of the puzzle and the solution, it alone cannot take us where we need to be. A minimum of 41% of the aforementioned 5 million current illegals entered legally with a visa and simply overstayed that visa. This number is compounded by the INS estimate that for every one apprehension by the Border Patrol, two illegal aliens get throughoften with the assistance of a smuggler.
Clearly, the Border Patrol was understaffed for far too many years. However, I would submit to you that many of your Congressional colleagues outside of this Subcommittee are not even aware of those interior enforcement components I mentioned; namely Investigations and Detention and Deportation.
While arrest numbers by the Border Patrol are once again up, so are the factors that push these aliens from Central and South America and many other third world nations and pull them into the United States.
We must revise our way of thinking and change that traditional mindset that the first line of defense or the Border Patrol is a panacea.
Today's Hearing gives formal recognition to the ease with which one can violate our sovereign border, even at a time of significantly expanded border resources.
It is worth noting that the determination of Congress on this issue of illegal immigration seems almost unending. Session after Session, going back to the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, hammered away at this social crisis and its many costs to our democratic society.
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Some of those legislative changes were embodied in legislation that was ostensibly a Drug Bill; i.e. the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. Some law required a substantial quid pro quo in order to gain political acceptance in these Halls; such as the 1986 amnesty program. Yet, we are still left with 5 million illegals!
Mr. Chairman, you recently told The New York Times that these massive legislative efforts on immigration would be somewhat suspended in favor of oversight of the institution charged with administering and enforcing these laws. This is precisely what is required to make a difference.
For years, Congress put the teeth back into the Immigration and Nationality Act, first and foremost in the area of criminal aliens and most recently regarding the deportation process for illegal aliens as a whole. No longer can the defense bar exploit any one of a dozen discretionary loopholes to delay proceedings indefinitely in hope of the alien eventually acquiring immigration equity or simply getting lost in the system.
We are all in agreement that in order to protect and preserve legal immigration, illegal immigration must be curtailed. The border states have gone into Court time and time again to demonstrate that this is a federal responsibility.
Failure to adequately carry out our responsibility to protect our borders has far reaching consequences for all the States in the Union.
In 1996, a host of front page stories confirmed the fact that the INS interior enforcement challenge was continuing to grow:
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INS and FBI agents arrested Basheer Nafi in Northern Virginia. Nafi is a 43-year-old Palestinian with alleged ties to the leadership of the Islamic Jihadterrorist organization. Nafi was promptly removed from the U.S. under a provision of the immigration law.
In February, the crash of a rental truck crammed with Mexican and Guatemalan aliens, in Maryland, led to the discovery of an alien smuggling operation that had also delivered human cargo to Atlanta. Required detention of the smuggled aliens, in anticipation of prosecuting the smugglers, cost the Baltimore District of the INS roughly $120,000.00. Several such smuggling loads in any given fiscal year would literally deplete all current detention funds and inevitably lead to the automatic release of arrested aliens.
In March, an INS crackdown, ''Operation Mountain Passes,'' intercepted more than 1200 illegal aliens who were being smuggled through Colorado. Many of these aliens were denied basic human rights by the smugglers who controlled their every movement.
In May, INS agents found 34 illegal Mexicans locked in a horse trailer in a motel parking lot near Atlanta and arrested the American driver. The Mexicans packed shoulder to shoulder, in the 8 x 20-foot trailer for three days without food or water, were being smuggled to jobs in North Georgia by an Arizona-based ring.
Throughout 1996, INS special agents and the Prince Georges County Police Department, conducted enforcement operations at that County's largest open air drug market in Langley Park, Maryland. Those operations resulted in the arrests and mandatory detention of dozens of aggravated felon criminal aliens. That open air market, in the shadow of our Capitol, was staffed almost exclusively by illegal Central and South Americans.
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As is often the case with organized criminal activity, patterns of crime shift to avoid intensified enforcement efforts. As the Border Patrol intensified its efforts on the Southwest border, alien smuggling operations have grown more sophisticated, and unprecedented numbers of smuggling loads are now being intercepted each week in the nation's interior.
Smuggling of human beings into the nation's heartland has become so widespread, in fact, that the Mayor of Sioux City, Iowa recently demanded that the federal government take full responsibility for controlling illegal immigration. Despite this, a field office like the Atlanta office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service has only 52 agents to cover Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina.
With this influx has come immigrant-based, gang-related violence. This, too, has penetrated the heartland and the fabric of American society
Illegal alien Armando Perez was sentenced in Sioux City for the premeditated fatal shooting of a fellow foreigner, Manuel Vellegas, despite his defense that he was intoxicated on drugs and alcohol at the time. Most of the trial witnesses were illegal aliens.
Sioux City immigrant Wilfredo Diaz was convicted in the murder of Iowan Terry Ogden, as part of a drug deal gone sour. Although charged with murder, Diaz plea-bargained the charge down to manslaughter.
Jose Rodrigo Hernandez was shot to death in apparent retaliation for two earlier incidentsthe stabbing of Clemente Reyna and a drive-by shooting in South Sioux City. All nine of those arrested in the case were members of ethnic street gangs.
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On at least four occasions in the last several months, Campbell County, Tennessee Sheriffs deputies pulled over loads of smuggled aliens, only to be told by the nearest INS office in Memphis that there was insufficient detention money and/or agent personnel to respond.
And even with a 25% personnel increase which brought the number of special agents in the INS Omaha District up to 14, that staff has been unable to respond to calls from Nebraska State Patrol officers who stop illegal immigrants along the interstate. When asked about this, the District Director admitted to the Wall Street Journal that the State Patrol has stopped calling out of frustration. INS' figures indicate that only about one-third of the illegal aliens stopped by Nebraska police since February of 1996 have been taken into custody. Similarly, INS was unable to respond to reports of 367 smuggled aliens carried in 20 truck loads over a 2 month time period in Colorado.
In June of last year, the Wall Street Journal wrote that ''... immigration is becoming an issue deep in America's heartland, as legal and illegal immigrants are pulled well beyond the border areas in search of employment.'' The article illustrated one of the most frequently traveled routes used by alien smugglersI80 from the California coast through the Mid-West and on to Chicago. An analysis of that route reveals the shortage of INS criminal investigators in the interior states through which that route passes: Nevadaeleven (11) special agents; Utahsix (6) special agents; Wyomingone (1) special agent; Nebraskafourteen (14) special agents; and Indianafour (4) special agents.
While it is true that California and Illinois have relatively large contingents of INS special agents, even those numbers are insufficient to cope with a problem of this magnitude. The latest Census Bureau figures list 1,875,000 illegals in California or 4,630 per agent. As evidenced by the above, once you get away from the major metropolitan areas, the agent numbers dwindle to a token few.
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Mr. Chairman, in your own home State in 1996, there were 1,741 illegal aliens per INS special agent for the San Antonio District to contend with. In addition, there was a combined State total of 13,441 convicted federal and state criminal alien inmatesall of whom must be placed under deportation proceedings.
Recently, INS special agents from the San Antonio District conducted intensive operations against aggravated felon criminal aliens as well as notorious employers, to include:
the arrests of 24 criminal aliens who had been convicted of a variety of heinous offenses but continued to walk the streets of Texas. Those offenses ranged from first degree murder to distribution of heroin to assault causing bodily injury. Two of the 24 had confirmed outstanding murder warrants from Mexico.
103 foreign nationals were arrested and placed into deportation proceedings during a one month operation. All subjects arrested had been convicted of sexual assault charges, i.e. sexual assault of a child.
seven special operations targeting employers resulted in the arrest and removal of 1,354 illegal aliens.
With all the recent focus on the extremely important Border Control mission, it is understandable how the remainder of INS roles and responsibilities in interior enforcement tend to be far less visiblebut are also of critical importance to the mission and to the public.
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INS Commissioner Meissner noted in her October 5, 1994 testimony before this Subcommittee that: ''Contrary to public opinion, only about half of the unlawful residents entered unlawfully across the borders. The remainder entered the United States with visas but did not leave. More than traditional border enforcement efforts, therefore, are required to deter the undocumented flow.''
With only 1,741 special agents at the end of fiscal year 1996, the Investigations Division is the only INS law enforcement presence in large interior, non-border, urban areas such as New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, St. Louis and Chicago. These agents are tasked with such demanding and diverse missions as criminal alien investigations; anti-smuggling activities; status violator/visa overstayer apprehensions; maintenance of the INS Violent Gang Task Force; participation in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and enforcement of employer sanctions.
By way of comparison, the FBI employs 1,061 special agents in the greater New York City area alone, and the Capitol Police employ 1,200 officers to patrol an area of Washington, D.C. that is measured in city blocks.
In order to be effective, it is necessary that immigration law enforcement be comprehensive and balanced. Border control and interior enforcement are complimentary functions; therefore, it is critical that both are enhanced.
Without a sufficient immigration law enforcement presence in the interior, there really cannot be any effective deterrent. If one circumvents the Border Patrol after repeated attempts, if necessary, or disembarks from the plane with an easily obtainable nonimmigrant visa in hand and knows with a fair degree of certainty that absent a serious criminal act, he or she is home free, then what have we accomplished?
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In turn, that message of token interior enforcement rapidly passes from the successful illegal entrant back to an all too eager audience in the native country. Obviously, the pull then grows stronger (as evidenced by increased Border Patrol apprehensions), despite our mistaken belief that it was merely the weakness of the border, itself, that enabled such large scale illegal immigration.
I respectfully submit that it was not simply the dam or borderline that broke years ago, but rather the entire immigration process. Your efforts have repaired the law and revitalized the first line of defense. Now, we must turn attention, energy and resources to the interior.
FLEOA urges this Subcommittee to do everything within its power to obtain full funding for the 1200 special agents authorized at the end of the 104th Congress.
DYNAMIC ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE ESSENTIAL
In addition, Mr. Chairman, just as you have revitalized the Immigration and Nationality Act, so must you revitalize the INS.
Once one begins to view immigration enforcement in terms of the ''big picture'' or a blending of all components, it makes sense to attack the problem not just from an equally focused resource plan but also an organizational framework or structure to manage those resources.
Page 164 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC INS needs to implement a plan to consolidate its currently bifuricated enforcement components and then separate out its service components from its enforcement components at the field level, with separate reporting to the Headquarters. Service and enforcement components would continue to report to an Executive Associate Commissioner for Operations. INS enforcement divisions should then be integrated within a single set of geographic boundaries, eliminating overlap and establishing a clear and efficient national law enforcement chain of command.
This plan would allow the INS District Directors to focus their attention on providing services, and would create a new position, Chief of Enforcement Operations, to oversee field enforcement activities. Both enforcement and service programs will benefit from the proposed field structure.
District Directors face severe pressure to provide services for aliens, and when confronted with inadequate resources, will use agents as a generic labor pool to perform nonenforcement duties. This practice has continued for over twenty years and shows no signs of diminishing. It damages the professional image of the special agent and fosters an attitude that special agents serve as jacks of all trades/masters of none.
Overlapping jurisdictions between the Border Patrol and Investigations have not been resolved by the past reorganization plans. The INS Border Patrol functions semi-independently as a separate agency (commonly referred to as the U.S. Border Patrol), instead of the Patrol and Investigations complementing one another and working hand in hand. Several studies have recommended that the INS be split into two separate agencies or that INS components be broken apart and functions placed into agencies with related missions, such as the Inspections function being combined with the Customs Service.
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FLEOA supports one agency with separate enforcement and service functions instead of separate agencies, because the service and enforcement functions of the INS are closely related. This would allow for the requisite specialization and yet ensure coordination at the highest level of the Agency.
The Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy in their 1981 report, U.S. Immigration Policy and the National Interest, discussed several organizational alternatives, including the separation of INS into two different agencies, and the consolidation of the border activities. They rejected both concepts based upon the realization that service and enforcement, and border and interior functions of the INS are logically linked together. We concur with that finding.
The Commission recognized that the contradiction between the service and enforcement components of INS led to inefficiencies, and inequities in carrying out the agency mission(s). The recommendation of the Commission with respect to service and enforcement functions appears as follows:
The Select Commission recommends that all major domestic immigration and nationality operations be retained within the Immigration and Naturalization Service with clear budgetary and organization separation of service and enforcement functions.
A 1991 General Accounting Office (GAO) General Management Report entitled Immigration Management: Strong Leadership and Management Reforms Needed to Address Serious Problems, identified changes in the INS enforcement mission: ''During this period, INS saw its enforcement mission evolve from one aimed primarily at interdicting aliens at or near the border to one with increased emphasis on investigative work and drug interdiction.''
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GAO recommended the consolidation of ''... all field enforcement functions, including Border Patrol and District enforcement organizations, under a revised field structure that would centralize all INS enforcement functions under a single official within a geographic area.''
The consolidation of enforcement functions will not only alleviate the problem of overlapping enforcement programs, but will enhance INS' ability to maintain consistent service and enforcement postures throughout the United States. The variances in District Office policies relating to service functions should be greatly reduced when District Directors are relieved of the responsibility of carrying out simultaneous enforcement efforts.
Enforcement efforts will be more uniform in application, and the overlapping functions of the Border Patrol and Investigations can be substantiality reduced or eliminated altogether. This can be accomplished through development of Enforcement Sectors and the integration of enforcement components within that structure.
FLEOA recommends that enforcement operations be consolidated at the field level under a Chief of Enforcement Operations, who would have management/supervisory responsibility for the patrol, investigative and detention functions of the INS. The Chief of Enforcement Operations would report to the Associate Commissioner for Enforcement, with the Executive Associate for Operations as the second line supervisor.
It is recommended that the Headquarters Enforcement elements of the INS remain as they are presently configured. The principal operating divisionsBorder Patrol and Investigationswould continue to be supported by the Intelligence and the Detention/Deportation divisions. The Headquarters Enforcement Divisions would continue to report to the Executive Associate Commissioner for Operations through the Associate Commissioner for Enforcement.
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There are only two basic operational enforcement functions in the INS: patrol/interdiction operations and investigative operations. While these two functions are complementary in nature, there are fundamental distinctions between them. These distinctions are derived from universally accepted definitions of law enforcement functions. Patrol work is generally uniformed, and concentrates on preventative patrol and specific tactical operations.
Conversely, investigative work is more complex, and often involves protracted long-term operations requiring other specialized skills and abilities. Virtually all municipal, county and state law enforcement organizations of significant size are composed of distinct investigative and patrol divisionsand even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), although operating in a different national and enforcement environment, is structured similarly at the national and field level.
Where INS patrol and investigative functions exist at the field level, neither function should be allowed to operate independently. The establishment of a Director of Enforcement Operations, supervising both functions (and the Detention/Deportation function) at the field office level, would facilitate a cooperative and balanced approach.
The Chief of Enforcement Operations would supervise a Chief Patrol Agent (CPA) to oversee patrol/interdiction operations, a Special Agent in Charge (SAC) to oversee investigative operations, and a Deportation Officer in Charge (DOC). In addition, the Chief of Enforcement Operations would report to the Associate Commissioner for Enforcement or an Executive Associate Commissioner for Operations. In locations where no patrol function exists, the Chief of Enforcement Operations would have oversight of two functionsInvestigations and Detention/Deportation.
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The establishment of integrated sub-units at the field level would ensure an appropriate level of specialization without jeopardizing flexibility. Like the professional selection of U.S. Marshals, this is an idea whose time has come and which must receive Congressional attention in order to overcome vested interests of the status quo.
Without such a corresponding change in the enforcement structure of the INS, it is extremely unlikely that the legislative innovations of the 104th Congress will realize their full potential. We must have the vision to see that only through streamlining the bureaucracy and overcoming institutional inertia, can modern day immigration law enforcement be successful.
Such tools at the Title III intercept for alien smuggling, expanded asset forfeiture for extensive immigration fraud and notorious employer cases and the Congressionally mandated Law Enforcement Support Center to identify and track aggravated felon criminal aliens, are the shape of things to come in the next millennium.
Mr. Chairman, INS struggles under an obsolete and confused organizational structure. I ask you and the other members of the Subcommittee to do everything within your power to change this, for the good of our nation and the preservation of the world's most generous system of legal immigration. The separation of service from enforcement within the INS, would allow law enforcement agents to focus solely on enforcement activities in accordance with a standard federal law enforcement chain of command.
In closing, I have attached part of an INS study dealing with their involvement in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). I think you will find that this study presents a very cost effective step by step process for reinventing the administration of immigration law enforcement.
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On behalf of FLEOA, and the many dedicated men and women who enforce our immigration laws and often risk their lives in so doing, I sincerely appreciate your time and attention.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Pilot Project is a statutorily authorized test of an alternative organizational structure for interior enforcement of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.(see footnote 1) Under the Pilot Project, field Investigations units are supervised directly by Headquarters Investigations, as opposed to being supervised by District Directors.
Section 6151 of the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act required that an evaluation, including an assessment by Federal, State, and local prosecutors and enforcement agencies, occur after the Pilot Project's first year of operation. The goal of the Pilot Project is to bring a consistent and uniform high quality service to law enforcement agencies participating in OCDETF investigations. This report focuses on that goal and does not compare District vs. Pilot performance in the OCDETF Program.
As the only enforcement agency in the United States having the statutory authority to expel aliens who commit deportable offenses, INS plays a critical and irreplaceable part in criminal law enforcement in the criminal justice system of the United States. The INS has a Congressional mandate to identify, locate, and apprehend aliens involved in criminal activities.
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The United States witnessed a dramatic rise in serious crime during the 1980's. Arrests of foreign born individuals for commission of ''aggravated felonies''(see footnote 2) skyrocketed. Law enforcement agencies sought help from the INS to combat violent crimes by aliens. Frequently, INS failed to respond, by citing resource or priority constraints. At the same time, substantial numbers of INS special agents were being assigned to non-investigative duties as adjudicators, inspectors, contact representatives, detention guards, etc.
The emergence of ethnic crime, especially drug trafficking and gang violence led to public knowledge and examination of INS' law enforcement priorities. This exposed a system which often acted to inhibit rather than support and guide enforcement of the criminal and administrative provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The review of the OCDETF Pilot Project established that: (1) the direct line structure is more effective for carrying out a uniform national enforcement program; (2) the Pilot Offices were more effective than the District Offices in meeting the needs of other law enforcement agencies; (3) Headquarters control insures that Investigations personnel, equipment, and funding are properly allocated; and (4) employee morale is significantly enhanced when agents are given a clear mission, and knowledge that their superiors support their efforts and accomplishments.
The practice by District Directors of using special agents in non-investigative functions continues today.(see footnote 3)
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INS needs to implement a plan to separate the service and enforcement components at the field level, with separate reporting to Headquarters. Service and enforcement components would continue to report to the Executive Associate Commissioner for Operations.
INS enforcement divisions should then be integrated within a single set of geographic boundaries, eliminating overlap and establishing a clear and efficient enforcement chain of command. This plan will allow the District Directors to focus their attention on providing services, and will create a new position, Chief of Enforcement Operations, to oversee field enforcement activities. Both enforcement and service programs will benefit from the proposed field structure.
District Directors face severe pressure to provide services for aliens, and when confronted with inadequate resources will use agents as a generic labor pool. This practice has continued for over twenty years and shows no signs of diminishing. Overlapping jurisdictions between the Border Patrol and Investigations have not been resolved by the current reorganization plan.
Several studies have recommended that the INS be split into two separate agencies or that INS components be broken apart and functions placed into agencies with related missions, such as the Inspections function being combined with the Customs Service. We advocate one agency with separate enforcement and service functions instead of separate agencies, because the service and enforcement functions of the INS are closely related.
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The Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy in their 1981 report, U.S. Immigration Policy and the National Interest, discussed several organizational alternatives, including the separation of INS into two different agencies, and the consolidation of border activities. They stated that service and enforcement should be ''... separated to the greatest extent possible ...'' while remaining within a single agency. We concur with that finding.
The Commission recognized that the contradiction between the service and enforcement components of INS led to inefficiencies, and inequities in carrying out the agency mission(s). The recommendation of the Commission with respect to service and enforcement functions appears as follows; ''The Select Commission recommends that all major domestic immigration and nationality operations be retained within the Immigration and Naturalization Service, with clear budgetary and organizational separation of service and enforcement functions.''
The separation of enforcement and service functions based upon the plan described in this report will not only alleviate the problem of overlapping enforcement programs, but will enhance INS' ability to maintain consistent service and enforcement postures throughout the United States. The variances in District Office policies relating to service functions should be greatly reduced when District Directors are relieved of the responsibility of carrying out simultaneous enforcement efforts. Enforcement efforts will be more uniform in application, and the overlapping functions of the Border Patrol and Investigations can be substantially reduced or eliminated altogether. This can be accomplished through development of the Enforcement Sectors and the integration of enforcement components within that structure.
Page 173 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This proposal to consolidate and integrate INS enforcement components is classified as a major reorganization by the Department of Justice. In addition to requiring Department review and approval, major reorganizations require OMB and Congressional notification. [see A Manual for Organization and Function Changes in the Department of Justice, dated April 1989.
THE INS REORGANIZATION DOES NOT ADEQUATELY ADDRESS THE SERIOUS GEOGRAPHIC AND PROGRAMMATIC FRAGMENTATION IN ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES
The results of the OCDETF Pilot Project Office reviews expose both the organizational problems impacting field Investigations, and offer a starting point towards solving those problems. The GAO report examined conflicts and inefficiencies within INS enforcement. This proposal for organizational change will effectively resolve those concerns through separation of enforcement and service functions, and consolidation and integration of all enforcement components.
Instead of operating under several local, intra-agency MOUs, we recommend that enforcement operations be consolidated at the field level under a Chief of Enforcement Operations who would have management/supervisory responsibility for the patrol, investigative and detention functions of the INS. The Chief of Enforcement Operations would report to the Associate Commissioner for Enforcement, with the Executive Associate for Operations as the second line supervisor.
Page 174 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is recommended that the Headquarters enforcement elements of the INS remain as they are presently configured. The principal operating divisionsBorder Patrol and Investigationswould continue to be supported by the Intelligence and the Detention/Deportation divisions.
The Headquarters enforcement divisions would continue to report to the Executive Associate Commissioner for Operations through the Associate Commissioner for Enforcement.
As mentioned above, there are only two basic operational enforcement functions in the INS: patrol/interdiction operations and investigative operations. While these two functions are complementary in nature, there are fundamental distinctions between them. These distinctions are derived from universally accepted definitions of law enforcement functions. Patrol work is generally uniformed, and concentrates on preventive patrol and specific tactical operations. Conversely, investigative work is more complex, and often involves protracted long-term operations requiring other specialized skills and abilities.
Virtually all municipal, county, and state law enforcement organizations of significant size are composed of distinct investigative and patrol divisionsand even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (ROMP), although operating in a different national and enforcement environment, is structured similarly at the national and field level.
Where INS patrol and investigative functions exist at the field level, neither function should be allowed to operate independently. The establishment of a Chief of Enforcement Operations, supervising both functions (and the Detention/Deportation function) at the field office level, would facilitate a cooperative and balanced approach.
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The Chief of Enforcement Operations (CEO) would supervise a Chief Patrol Agent (CPA) to oversee patrol/interdiction operations, a Special Agent in Charge (SAC) to oversee investigative operations, and a Deportation Officer in Charge (DOC). In addition, the Chief of Enforcement Operations would report to the Associate Commissioner for Enforcement. In locations where no patrol function exists, the Chief of Enforcement Operations would have oversight of two functionsInvestigations and Detention/Deportation.
Phase I, Implement 10/01/92: Remove field Investigations from the control of the District Directors.
Phase II, Develop Plan 10/01/92: Implement 10/01/93: Develop new enforcement organizational jurisdictions called Enforcement Sectors (ES).
Phase III, Implement 10/01/94: Consolidate field Investigations and Border Patrol into the Enforcement Sector under a Chief Enforcement Officer.
Phase IV, Implement 10/01/95: Consolidate the Deportation Division into the Enforcement Sectors.
Phase IField Investigations Components Placed Directly Under Headquarters Investigations Control
Page 176 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCDescription of Plan
The ADDI positions are re-classified as SAC positions. The SACs are supervised by the Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Investigations.
All Investigations field positions will be supervised by the SACs, except the four OCDETF Pilot Offices. They will remain under the supervision of Headquarters until Phase III.
Investigations components will not need to relocate office space.
District Directors will provide administrative support and detention support for Investigations.
1. Memorandum from the Attorney General to INS delegating authority for enforcement of the INA and criminal code to the SACs, see 8 CFR 100.2(e).
2. Memorandum from Commissioner to the District Directors directing that they continue to provide administrative support services, detention space, and access to records at the District.
3. Headquarters Investigations prepares regulations, operating instructions, and policy relating to delegation of authority to enforce the provisions of the INA and criminal code to the SACs.
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Phase I can be implemented at little or no cost. The only costs would be to purchase a very limited amount of office equipment.
Phase IIDevelopment and Implementation of INS Enforcement Sectors (ES)
Description of Plan
Establish a single set of boundaries (enforcement sectors) for all INS enforcement.
Use Border Patrol Sectors as the basis for reconfiguring INS enforcement. The Enforcement Sectors will not conform to current district office jurisdictional lines.
Enforcement components will be gradually integrated into the enforcement sector structure
1. Establish a team to develop one uniform set of geographical boundaries for all INS enforcement. The areas identified will be known as Enforcement Sectors (ES).
2. Reconfigure Investigations to conform to the ES. Establish SAC and RAC offices within the ES. Finalize plans for establishment of resident agents.
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3. Reclassify Investigations field supervisors based upon ES structure.
4. Identify the numbers and grades of Chief Enforcement Officer positions needed to oversee field enforcement.
Phase II is primarily a planning stage. Development of cost estimates and position needs will be a primary objective. Projected costs will need to be finalized for inclusion in the FY 1995 budget.
Phase IIIIntegration of the Investigations and Border Patrol Into the Enforcement Sectors (ES)
Border Patrol and Investigations are placed in the ES framework. The Chief Patrol Agent controls all patrol activities. The SAC controls all investigative activities.
The Chief Enforcement Officer oversees both Border Patrol and Investigations activities within the ES.
Page 179 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC 1. The Chief Enforcement Officer (CEO) positions identified in Phase II will be filled, and a small administrative and support staff brought on board.
2. The CEO will insure coordination between and among enforcement components and the District Offices.
3. Plans for the assimilation of the Deportation Division into the ES will be finalized.
4. CEO becomes 1st line supervisor to CPA and SAC positions. Assoc. Commr. Enf. is 2nd line supervisor.
Phase III has substantial cost implications relating to the establishment of the Chief Enforcement Officer (CEO) and administrative and clerical support positions. These costs will need to be addressed in the FY 1995 budget submission. Border Patrol and Investigations may require funding for reassignment of personnel in support of the enforcement consolidation.
Phase IVIntegration of the Deportation and Detention Division into the Enforcement Sectors (ES)
Description of Plan
The Detention and Deportation (D&D) Division is integrated into the ES along with Border Patrol and Investigations as a stand alone Division.
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D&D will continue to support detention of exclusion cases from the Districts.
1. The transfer of the D&D from the District to the ES is authorized by the Commissioner.
2. D&D will reclassify positions within the ES structure to establish Deportation Officer in Charge (DOC) positions.
3. The Assistant District Director for D&D becomes the Deportation Officer in Charge (DOC) and assumes equal status with the SACs, and CPAs within the ES.
4. Prior to the transfer of the D&D function from the districts, The District Directors and Deputy District Directors must be insured that their covered status will not be impacted. This should not apply to positions filled after the enforcement consolidation is completed.
Phase IV costs are projected to be minimal. Some additional costs for equipment can be anticipated.
Page 181 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSummary of Plan
The challenge of any reconfiguration involves:
Minimizing duplication and competition among and between functions as well as headquarters and field operational levels;
Maintain Traditional Enforcement Roles
Maintaining the traditional roles inherent in logical work divisions, while integrating project management's ability to adapt to new and substantive matters; and, most importantly,
Enhance Management Structure
Developing a management structure Enhance Management which not only permits, but Structure actually enhances, the mechanisms for translating the long-term strategies of project management into the priorities of internal operations.
In order to facilitate the objectives of this proposal to consolidate enforcement operations, the following recommendations are presented for consideration.
1. The Headquarters Enforcement Divisions, as they now exist, would report to the Associate Commissioner for Enforcement.
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2. The current overlapping boundaries for district and sector enforcement would be eliminated. Enforcement sectors would be established integrating the patrol and investigative functions within a common geographical area.
3. Establish the position of Chief of Enforcement Operations to supervise all field enforcement functions within one set of geographical boundaries.
The establishment of integrated sub-units at the field level would ensure an appropriate level of specialization without jeopardizing flexibility.
In order to facilitate the objectives of this proposal a four phase approach was developed. This approach will allow the INS to attain an integrated enforcement structure within three years of implementation of this plan, with no loss of productivity during the transition.
This proposal takes into account the budget cycles and establishes time frames for planning and action.
Upon adoption of this proposal, it is absolutely critical that planning for the implementation begin immediately. The numbers and boundaries of the Enforcement Sectors need to be substantially completed by February 1, 1993 to permit funding requirements to be included in the FY 1995 Spring Plan. A delay of just two or three months could prevent full implementation of the plan until FY 1996.
Page 183 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We recommend that Investigations should be the first District enforcement function to be removed from District Control for three reasons.
(1) Investigations can be removed with little or no costs, and no loss of function.
(2) The success of the OCDETF Pilot Project has established that District Offices can provide administrative services while operational control and supervision is held by Headquarters.
(3) Additional detailed planning is required to consolidate the detention and deportation functions within the Enforcement Sectors, while insuring continued support for District exclusion and deportation cases.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Gallo.
STATEMENT OF DR. ROY GODSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, AND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL STRATEGY INFORMATION CENTER
Dr. GODSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much for this opportunity if I may, just summarize my remarks.
Page 184 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Please do.
Dr. GODSON. And include the statement for the record. The border area I think you know very well, and other Members of this committee and Mr. Reyes, know very well is a very difficult area to control. Unfortunately the situation has been getting worse, although in some areas as was pointed out, it's better.
Let me talk briefly about some of the reasons why this may be happening and then try to look at some possible approaches to improving the situation.
I think you heard Mr. Bersin this morning suggest some variables to explain why the situation is getting worse. He talked about the push from outside the United States of drugs and aliens and the pull of the U.S. labor market. He emphasized those two. Then he introduced a third variable actually, which was amount of U.S. law enforcement. In other words, law enforcement can control some of these variables.
I don't disagree with what he said. I do, however, think he underestimates or doesn't raise other issues and concerns which I think may explain some of the peculiar conditions on the border which I think very few Americans who are unfamiliar with the border area are aware of. The border area has a particular cultural identity. It is a particular zone 50 miles south, 50 miles north, and nearly 2,000 miles wide.
With respect to the many good citizens on both sides of that border, this has a special culture and one which does not always lend itself to security and enforcement. Let me allude to some of these qualities which present us with a problem. I am not going to talk about the good qualities of the citizens of that region, but for many years, families have moved and lived and crossed that border for many generations and are intermarried in that region. Many of these people, not all by any means, but many of these people have been involved in illicit activities for a number of decades. We can go back quite a way in discussing this.
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There has been in recent years an increase in family involvement in the border zone. We can discuss some of the reasons why this has happened and why this increase has taken place. I think actually Mr. Marshall, who didn't have really time to discuss some of the points in his own testimony, points also to the kinds of considerations I would raise as well. That is to say there has been a growth of organized criminal activity taking advantage of intermarriage and relationships on both sides of that border that has facilitated drug smuggling, and other kinds of activity, and the resulting dramatic rise of illegal activity and insecurity for people on both sides of the border. I am talking about cross-border kidnapping, alien smuggling, and other activities.
The NAFTA arrangement and other globalizing activity, such as the GATT Agreement, have some benefits but also have increased the opportunity for what I call the seamy side of globalization. That is, the illegal and criminal activities.
We also would have to say that the border area has for many decades been more or less ignored by people in Washington, and I think people in Mexico City as well. That with the exception of course the local representatives, who were concerned about this trend, there's been far too little attention paid to the border which now of course is coming to our attention as with the increase in problems in this region. So my argument is that we need an analysis of the kinds of conditions that are lending themselves to the insecurity.
Let me address now some of the ways in which I think we can try to deal with this problem. Congressman Bono before talked about his frustration. I am sure many of you and I share this frustration. I would be really happy if over the next couple of years we could hold the problem to the level it has been, to reduce it and manage it, rather than see the increase which we have seen in recent years.
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Let me briefly address what I would call both a regulatory law enforcement approach and what I would call a nonregulatory approach which gets usually very little attention. I think neither approach alone will do the job. But together, we stand a chance of managing, and ultimately reversing the deleterious trends of the past few years.
I don't think, however, we are really doing both well at this time. I think the President and some in this administration recognize that they need a combination of regulatory and nonregulatory approaches, but are not really doing either well.
The first thing I would suggest is an assessment, a really serious study and a diagnosis of the problems. Mr. Bersin raised some questions, I am raising others. I know of no such study that is available to the Federal Government or to the private sector that does an indepth analysis of why there's a growing problem in the border region.
Second, I would argue that we need policy. PDD 42, the president announced in October 1995, I think is a very welcome addition, but I do not know of any specific policy that has been directed toward the border problem. Mr. Winer correctly talked about the innovations in countering alien smuggling, but he also pointed out that we have a long way to go even just on that one problem.
Finally, if I may just introduce a couple of points which I would be happy to respond to at greater length. I think there is a role for Congress to play which I would respectfully submit Congress has not been playing in this regard. This hearing is very much to be welcomed. The attention you are focusing on this problem is to be welcomed, but I have had many discussions with Mexican congressmen and officials in the border region, as well as with Americans on both sides and in Washington and in the area, who maintain that although the executive branch officials locally meet and discuss problems, and executive branch officials meet in Washington, and Congressmen meet in Washington, and Congressmen meet locally, but we rarely see a combination of Congressmen from Washington meeting with local officials and meeting with their Mexican counterparts to discuss obvious matters of mutual concern. In this era of increasing distrust between Americans and Mexicans on this issue, I think Congress could have something to say in this regard.
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Finally, I would broach the question of the role of the civil society, of the nongovernmental sector, and of government-private sector partnerships. I think much more could be done to mobilize civil society, civic organizations on both sides of that border. Very little attention has been paid to this subject. In fact, in this hearing I barely heard a word mentioned about education, and the role of the private sector. The people of this region have got to participate in this. We cannot leave this exclusively to the Government. It's not desirable to leave this whole problem to the Government alone. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Godson follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. ROY GODSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, AND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL STRATEGY INFORMATION CENTER
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to present my views on the threats to United States-Mexican border security.
My name is Roy Godson. I am a professor at Georgetown University, where for more than twenty-five years, I have offered courses on governance, security, intelligence, and law enforcement. I am also President of the National Strategy Information Center, Inc. (NSIC), a non-partisan public policy institute here in Washington, created in 1962. I have served as a consultant to the National Security Council, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and agencies of the United States government concerned with intelligence and law enforcement. This work has enabled me to observe and, in a small way, contribute to the work of these organizations. My testimony today, however, reflects my own views, and I am here in my personal capacity.
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In recent years, I have consulted extensively with police, intelligence, and security services in many countries. I have also traveled to the region that is the focus of these hearings, as well as to other regions relevant to that focus, spending many weeks talking with and observing representatives of non-governmental sectors of the societies of those regions. My research also benefited from the many scholars, journalists, and government officials who participate in NSIC programs and projects, such as the Project on Global Ungovernability and the Working Group on Organized Crime.
My focus today is on both a diagnosis of the problem and on prescriptions to address it. That is not to say that we fully understand the problem, or that we now have the solution. Unfortunately, however, we cannot wait to take actionas we have done oftenuntil we know the full dimensions of the problem. Let me sketch its general contours, and suggest some elements, or ingredients, for managing the problem, if not solving it.
I will first describe the nature or characteristics of the border region and why it is likely to remain of particular concern to us. Then, I will address what I call ''regulatory'' and ''non-regulatory'' approaches to confronting this particular regional challenge of organized crime and insecurity.
As you know, the United States and Mexico share a common border of almost 2000 miles from the Pacific Ocean at Imperial Beach, California to Brownsville, Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. Much of this border consists of uninhabitable desert areas, where sometimes, the line of demarcation is not known, particularly in the Arizona and Texas. This porous area allows for the smuggling of drugs, aliens, and other contraband, often with little law enforcement ability to curtail these activities. Ports of entry (poe) on either side of the border are in major cities like Tijuana/San Diego; Ciudad Juarez/El Paso; Nuevo Laredo/Laredo, and Reynosa/McAllen. There are smaller poes along the border, such as Agua Prieta/Douglas, Arizona, which are manned only during the day; and others, where only one US Immigration and Naturalization Service official, acts as both the immigration and customs inspector.
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In some ways, the border can be referred to as ''a third country.'' It is a region where the good and the bad of both countries, have become intertwined, neither purely Mexican nor purely American, but a variegated blend of both cultures and identities. Indeed there is a unique border culture. For generations, families have inter-married on both sides, moved from one side to the other for business purposes and for convenience, to the point where sometimes they have difficulty identifying themselves as Mexican or American. The language has become ''Spanglish,'' customs and traditions are a mixture, and where convenient, the border is used as a refuge from the reaches of the law. Since the 19th century, the Mexican side of the border has been utilized as an escape valve for fugitives, much as the US side is used as an escape valve for economic depravation and illegal migration. During the prohibition days of the 1920s, the border was used to smuggle in liquor, much as it is used today to smuggle drugs and illegal aliens to the north, while going south, are illegal weapons, stolen vehicles, and other contraband.
Payoffs are almost institutionalized along the border. Despite the frequent transfers of Mexican Customs and Immigration officials along the border area, smuggling continues south at a rampant rate. In the meantime, smuggling of drugs and illegal aliens continue north. President Zedillo once remarked that it was magic how the drugs just seemed to jump the border and appear in the United States.
As indicated above, many of the families have inter-married, creating strong family ties on both sides of the border. They are in frequent contact socially and professionally. ''That blood is thicker than water'' is a true adage for this part of North America. In addition, because of labor-management agreements, it is difficult to transfer US Immigration and Customs officials from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, or from El Paso to Buffalo, New York. Many of these officials have remained in place for so long and, in many instances because of familial ties, have become vulnerable to payoffs or become complacent. A good example of the family ties, is that approximately three years ago, a cousin of Juan Garcia Abrego, a major Mexican drug trafficking cartel leader and former FBI top ten fugitive, was the sheriff of a small county in south Texas. In addition, family-owned properties have been known to extend from one country into the other, thereby, making for the easy passage of contraband. Families also jump from one side to the other for the maximum benefits.
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One must live in the border area to truly appreciate how this area, from approximately Monterrey, Mexico, in the south, to about San Antonio, Texas, to the north, embraces a language, a culture, and a history all its own. For many of these people, there is really no border. To cite an example, Juan Garcia Abrego sent his children to study in the United States; his mother resided in Brownsville, Texas, until she passed away in 1995; and his sisters continue to reside in Brownsville.
For too many years, Washington showed relatively little sustained interest in Mexico or the border country. This began to change in the early 1980s. Then, with the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in January 1994, the poes were opened up for free economic trade between both countries, thereby opening up the flood gates for an increase of criminal activity. When 15,000 trucks cross the MexicoUS border each day, how can the US Customs Service inspect each of them for contraband? When people reside in Tijuana and Juarez, work in San Diego and El Paso during the day, and when people who live on the Mexican side have US addresses so that their children can go to US schools and receive medical care, how can US authorities possibly individually search each car crossing the border? As one perceptive journalist has put it, all along the border, the national lines are getting fuzzier all the time.
Laredo, Nogales, Tijuana, and other towns along the US border had become international citiesmuch like the city-states of Medieval Italyand often had more in common with their counterparts across the border than with their respective capitals ...
Already before NAFTA, sister cities across the border were celebrating the two countries' respective holidays; flags went up on both sides on Mexico's September 16 national holiday and on the Fourth of July. It wasn't an official imposition, but a cultural phenomenon boosted by the escalating cross-border family and business links over the years. Growing numbers of families were split on the two sides of the border. On Thanksgiving Day it was not unusual for those on the Mexican side to prepare a turkey dinner for their relatives on the other side. (Andres Oppenheimer, Bordering on Chaos, 289).
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Organized criminal elements, for decades, have been taking advantage of the porous nature of the border, operating often with impunity on the side that offers the most convenience and escape from the law. Mentioned above were the family members of Garcia Abrego, who resided on the US side. Other examples include the Arellano-Felix Brothers, who enjoy their luxury apartments in Coronado Beach, California; and the most notorious of drug cartels, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who as late as the mid-1990s, frequently traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, in private jets, to take in sporting events.
Or, to take another example, in May 1993, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico was gunned down by machine gun fire, in what is believed to be a gunfight between the Arellano-Felix Brothers gang and the members of the Joaquin El Chapo Guzman drug trafficking organization. Numerous arrests were made in Mexico and California. It was soon established that the gunmen were members of the Logan Street Gang of San Diego, who had been hired by the Arellano-Felix brothers to locate and assassinate El Chapo Guzman.
Juarez, adjacent to El Paso, has grown from ten years ago being a medium-sized border town to the fourth largest city in Mexico. Juarez, categorized as dangerous and of little historical note, now is home to Amado Carrillo Fuentes, currently, the most notorious Mexican drug trafficker. He is very influential in Juarez. Local newspapers write little about him, the police do not attempt to arrest him. Although his family originates in Sinoloa, Carrillo Fuentes associates with some members of a very influential local familythe Zaragoza-Fuentes. Members of this family own over 60 businesses in Juarez, El Paso, and others in the United States, some of which allegedly are used for money laundering and drug trafficking. Businesses include real estate firms, real estate, transport companies, and the propane gas company that was called Hidrogas. In October 1990, the United States and Mexico initiated an investigation of this family after four tons of cocaine were discovered in a Hidrogas propane truck; however, the investigation did not produce results. Again, in 1994, a joint investigation by the United States and Mexico was centered on the money laundering activities of some members of this family. However, Mexico withdrew and the investigation went nowhere. Dozens of this company's propane trucks continue to cross weekly into El Paso and other US border cities; however, because of their participation in the program for border privileges, which was designed to expedite cross border traffic, reportedly their trucks are not inspected routinely.
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If one looks at the real estate boom in the southwest during the past ten years, it is difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that much of southwest expansion is a direct result of Mexican narcodollars that were invested in the United States, particularly in the Tucson, San Antonio, San Diego and Houston areas. Organized crime in the border country is aware that, as of now, it faces little scrutiny from US authorities in the purchase of real estate in the US. Real estate deals are not generally scrutinized by federal authorities.
With the implementation of NAFTA and with the upsurge of drugs and other contraband entering the United States, there also has been an increase in violent cross border crime, such as kidnappings, extortions, and cross border gang rivalries. Cross border kidnapping, considered taboo several years ago, is now almost a weekly occurrence along the border. Mexican drug gangs cross the border at will to kidnap and take back to Mexico a family member of a US resident who has defaulted in a drug payment. One recent case illustrates this: A brother of a drug trafficking individual was kidnapped in McAllen, Texas, and transported to the state of Guerrero. Telephone contacts from Guerrero to McAllen disclosed that the kidnappers wanted the stolen 250 kilos of marijuana or $250,000 that the individual had lost or usurped in the United States. Mexican and US federal authorities working jointly in this matter, soon located the kidnapped victim near Ixtapa, Guerrero, and detained several individuals, including the federal judicial police commander of Ixtapa, who had been working with the kidnappers.
Just as Mexico City has, over the years, tended to ignore its northern border area, so too has Washington ignored the great southwest. Only in the last couple of years, realizing that cross-border insecurity has increased substantially, has Washington devoted more resources to that area. However, placing more law enforcement personnel along the border will not, by itself, solve the problem of cross-border insecurity, particularly, when inefficient and corrupt Mexican, and to a lesser degree, corrupt and complacent US law enforcement, with resources stretched to the limits, are a part of the overall problem.
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What is to be done? First, I think we all realize that there is no quick fix or panacea for this problem. There may be short term measures that can be adopted to ameliorate the situation, but this problem has deep roots in the nature of the border area as well as in recent globalization.
Let me, however, suggest measures that can be taken both in the short and long term. Some of these measures fit into what I call the regulatory or law enforcement approach. Others, however, are part of what can be called the non-regulatory approachthe synchronization of other tools available to governments as well as government-private sector partnerships and the mobilization of the private sector. I do not believe the application of either the regulatory or the non-regulatory approach on its own will be sufficient, but together they can begin to check, reverse, and ultimately reduce border insecurity.
First, we need a better assessment of the problemof the specific causes of the increase in border insecurity, of the variegated regions, of the identification of the vulnerabilities of the criminal elements taking advantage of the border territory, and of opportunities for addressing this threat. I am unaware of any such comprehensive, in-depth study available to the US government, or the private sector.
Second, there is a need for the formulation of policy and strategy for the border area. We have bits and pieces of a policy, particularly a law enforcement approach. I am unaware, however, of an overall US policy and strategy to confront the challenge of border insecurity. Presidential Directive Decision 42 (October 1995) calls for the development of policy to counter the increased security threat to US interests of transnational crime. Has this directive been applied to border security questions? Has Congress had a chance to review it? Have there been requests for the requisite appropriation? Again, I am unaware of such a policy, Congressional review, or requisite appropriation.
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For example, elected and appointed officials from Washington and Mexico City, could meet more often, and, meet with state and local officials from the border. Currently, officials from Mexico City and Washington hold discussions to resolve issues impacting on both countries. However, rarely are border officials invited to these discussions. Border officials hold regular meetingsi.e. Juarez with El Pasohowever, rarely are Washington or Mexico City officials present. (Barry Mcaffrey, ONDCP, hosted such a meeting in July 1996 in El Paso, where almost 300 federal, state, and local officials attended. One of the results of this meeting was to hold future discussions with counterparts on a more frequent basis, with the participation of Washington and Mexico City officials.)
However, as I understand it from local Mexican leaders, few, if any, Mexican or American Congressional officials, monitor, oversee, or contribute to these discussions. I realize, of course, that the problem of poverty and unemployment, in some parts of the border region, will continue to occupy federal officials, but as this hearing demonstrates, growing border insecurity also requires the time, attention and involvement of the elected representatives of both these countries.
There is also mistrust by US and Mexican citizens of Mexican law enforcement authorities, and rightly so. Criminal intelligence information is rarely shared with Mexican counterparts and vice versa. In the past, the Mexicans rarely collected and analyzed criminal intelligence. At the aforementioned July 1996 meeting, local US law enforcement officials complained that there is a black hole south of the border on criminal intelligence. Fortunately, this is changing. But, more dialogue is necessary at all levels of both governments to have a freer-flow of information.
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Greater cooperation between US law enforcement authorities also is needed. This will not be easy, given the diverse and sometimes conflicting missions, cultures, and techniques of US agencies. But, there has to be greater trust among US law enforcement authorities at all levels of government. The DEA and FBI are already working closely together on the ''Southwest Border Project.'' However, within the prudent limits of ''need to know,'' greater attention must be devoted to include Immigration, Customs, State, and local authorities. Washington needs to focus more attention on the border, not just having their representatives in place reporting on the border. Mexico City must do the same. (The adage out of sight, out of mind too often fits the current attitude.)
Because of the massive flow of people and cargo in both directions of the border, a more effective manner must be found to speed up the processes of immigration and customs controls, yet we must remain in a position to properly identify citizens, confiscate contraband, and determine who will or will not enter either country. Currently, there are few outbound checks of people, vehicles, and cargo. Many of the vehicles with secret compartments that transported drugs into the US, upon their return to Mexico, are transporting huge amounts of cash and weapons. Once entering Mexico, they may be searched, but in all likelihood, are not. If outbound/inbound identification checks and searches were coordinated between both countries, many United States fugitives would be apprehended, more stolen vehicles would be recovered, and much more drugs, contraband, and illicit money would be confiscated. To further complicate matters, oftentimes, the US Customs/Immigration officer does not know his/her counterpart across the border.
The problem of the rotation of US Customs and Immigration officials has to be resolved. A method is apparently needed to ensure that regulations do not prevent transfers, thereby allowing a Customs or Immigration inspector to remain in place on the border throughout his/her career. Expertise is to be encouraged and personal considerations are important, but apathy and greed are the two greatest allies of organized crime, and it will take advantage of these opportunities at any given turn.
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More emphasis must be placed on the gathering of criminal intelligence information and taking action to weaken and disrupt criminal organizations. A closer examination of properties/enterprises secured by family members of organized criminal elements can be aimed toward seizure and forfeiture of the assets. A closer examination of cross border companies is needed to preclude known/suspected money launderers, drug trafficking networks, gun runners, stolen vehicle gangs, and alien smugglers from utilizing legitimate enterprises to carry out their unlawful activities on either side.
Denial of visas and border crossing cards may also be an effective tool to hamper organized criminal elements. For the most part, close family members of organized criminals in Mexico and other countries should not be allowed to travel into the United States for purposes of vacation, tourism, schooling, or to enjoy benefits on the US side. Every means should be implemented to prevent and dissuade criminal elements from enjoying the fruits of their criminal activities, and the forfeiture of their assets, the revocation of their visas/border crossing cards, and cancellation of their business licenses/permits that would send a strong message and facilitate law enforcement.
Mexico and the US must learn to work together to combat criminal enterprises. Publicly blaming each other (i.e., certification/decertification process) certainly will not forge a good relationship. Many Mexicans of good will believe that we emphasize certification as a way of avoiding responsibility for US drug demand and poor law enforcement, while Americans increasingly blame corrupt Mexicans. The US can and should insist that Mexico professionalize its institutions, and like a good neighbor, provide a helping hand through thick and thin. The US government also needs to help Mexico keep Mexicans at home to stem the flow of illegal migration and to prevent Mexico from serving as a transit country for alien smuggling from source countries in other regions. In addition, the US must work to develop trust with Mexico in all aspects of daily life, much in the same manner that some Texas and Arizona officials are attempting to work with their Mexican neighboring states. And, this includes the military. While there are good reasons to approach US-Mexican military involvement in border security with caution, there also may be opportunities to utilize military resources to provide security in this vast region. At a minimum, local Mexican and American military commanders should have opportunities to get to know one another, and although many officers literally speak the same language, few of them now have regular opportunities to discuss matters of mutual security concern.
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Finally, let us turn to the role of the nongovernmental sector and to government-private sector partnership on both sides of the border.
Certainly, the vast majority of people in the border zone, in Mexico and in the US, want to live in a secure environment. Democratic governments on both sides of the border can help, but it is neither feasible nor really desirable to expect governments to undertake this task on their own. The people must be willing to join in this effort. There must be consensus, shared by the society at large, that crime and insecurity are a net disadvantage, and that community organization should shoulder some of the burden. It would be tragic to see the better-off elements on both sides of the border withdraw into private, protected enclaves and leave public security exclusively to the government.
There are many ways to mobilize people in this region, but one of the more significant means is to encourage civil organizationswith participation from business, labor, the churches, and the educational sectorto become involved. One of the places to start would be civic education in the schools of the ''border country.'' The United States Information Agency, for example, has begun assisting CIVITAS, a new international non-governmental organization (NGO), to promote education for democratic governability in schools in many parts of the world. Combating crime and corruption are concerns of CIVITAS. CIVITAS also has strong US backing from civic education organizations in the US that are the recipients of both government and private sector support, and Mexicans also have begun to participate in CIVITAS.
I can think of few regions more deserving of attention for civic education and, particularly, programs concerned with educating young people about the dangers of crime and corruption than the border zone. Furthermore, many of the children currently in schools on both sides of the border are of prime age to join in, or be tempted to join in, criminal organization in this region. I would urge the Congress, as it considers short term, immediate measures to improve assessments, policy, law enforcement and trust, to not lose sight of the opportunities to involve itself and its Mexican counterpart in mobilizing the private sector, and particularly civil society on both sides of the border, to help reduce growing insecurity in the region.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Professor Godson.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT G. HEISERMAN, ESQ.
Mr. HEISERMAN. Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to offer some comments. I am going to refer, Congressman, to the prepared statement with regard to my introductory remarks. I have isolated a problem area. I have through presentation of a case for a year and a half attempted to present one of these serious sophisticated alien smuggling programs to law enforcement. At the center of page one of those remarks, you see my comment that they are essentially missing in action. It was comforting to hear all of the policy and the good intentions today, but quite frankly, I have tried for a year and a half to get something investigated and I am sure there are good explanations, but I have gotten no where with it. That is part of my reason for being here.
At the bottom of that first page, I would like to give you a quick bullet on the background. What happens in the scheme that I identified through a client who came to me is that the border has a door in it. The door is secure. It's guarded by mechanisms like biker gangs, native populations, and smugglers. The large syndicates are Russian and Chinese. The one that I encountered was Korean. Because it doesn't show up statistically, and perhaps the Korean community doesn't have enough political clout to get some law enforcement to come to its rescue, these few people who choose a criminal life can secure, can give a golden guarantee that someone recruited from Korea or from United States or Canada or anywhere can be brought in to the United States without incident and without trouble. The area is truly dangerous.
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I mention some of this in the bottom of that first page. The Korean community that asked me to continue with pressing this case to get somebody to prosecute it, this is a public-private concept, is afraid of guilt by association. I make some reference to that. They are offended by the fact that some members of the native population as well as the Korean communities might be engaged in these bad things. They don't want that spread to them.
The second page of my presentation is a little dense. I apologize for it, but this is the best I can do with a sophisticated white collar criminal scheme. Essentially, Congressman, what it really has done according to the people who have told me this, is for 10 to 14 years, depending on how I ask the question, brought 20 to 25 people a month into the United States, principally New York, New Jersey, for the purpose of creating ancillary criminal scheme management. In other words, they bring them in to run criminal organizations.
This group passes through the Akwasasne Reserve. The legal complexities are legendary. It's a native population. It's a separate country between the United States and Canada, and only certain rogue members of those peoples are involved with this. Yet this generates garbage sacks full of cash, leer jets, and million dollar bank accounts, according to local law enforcement. Much of what I am saying has been in the press. I have that much, I have inches of press on this.
Through that area, the mayor on the other side of the river at Cornwall has had his office shot up. His son is a policeman there. He was informed that his son would be assassinated for his resistance to these people. This is a public fight. This is one that I have not seen the U.S. Government weigh in on until recently.
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At the top of page three in my remarks, I do say that there are some commendable exceptions to my unhappiness with the lack of responsiveness I have encountered in the year and a half. That is in the New York State area. However, the point of my presentation is that the RICO enhancements that this Congress and this committee presented last year, these enhancements really haven't found any reality yet as far as I can tell.
The real impact of the structure is that it is a global criminal organization that uses that border because it is a guaranteed entry for them, to bring in people to run criminal schemes and fanning those people out around the United States and organizations which as I describe in the impact section on the bottom of that third page, basically under an other or under world immigration service. That one doesn't lose files. That doesn't forget where people are. It always knows. The people who participate in that are forever blackmailed by it.
The ones who were lucky, as I described in the middle of that page, get to participate in a traditional or secret financing scheme. The payments are between $1,000 and $30,000 a month. I don't know about you, but if somebody has 20 months of $30,000 a month, I think you can expect U.S. law would find a way to let them legally migrate. The reason they don't do it is that they are already involved in criminal activity or they want to be involved in more of it here. False documents are really, as I have discovered in the year and a half I have been doing this, not a problem. The underground city hall occasionally however, is not the place to carry a complaint because if you say you got cheated on the inside, the dime is dropped. Immigration then starts its enforcement mechanism and under our removal policies now, it's even easier to throw people out. So that's what is described in the last part of this.
Page 201 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I heard reference to boat captains and so forth. Quite frankly, that in essence is my chief complaint. If we have a statistical analysis of immigration, you are going to be forever confused by it. I don't have a large statistical problem here. I have a conceptual problem. My remedy is the task forces that I have tried to find in Federal law enforcement or State cooperation simply have not been made known to me. If they are out there, and I sure did try to find them, I don't know what they are doing. So my request is this committee, and I heard many in the opening remarks of the chairman, that's exactly what I am trying to say here.
Until there is some sort of coordinated effort where expertise is accumulated, I am not talking about 50,000 border patrolmen, just some people who understand money laundering, understand documents, understand seizures, understand RICO. Until somebody like that forms a committee to study it, we actually are sitting back and letting these things prosper. We are even protecting them. That's my point.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Heiserman follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROBERT G. HEISERMAN, ESQ.
Thank you for the opportunity to present my personal and professional observations. These comments are entirely my own. Although I am an adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver College of Law, Denver, Colorado, the information presented is derived from my experience as an attorney in private practice for 25 years. Much of that time my work has emphasized immigration law including travel to United States borders with Mexico and Canada for inspections and extensive consular post practice worldwide. Most of the crossings of land borders I have observed have been proper and the conduct of the government employees has often been exemplary.
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During the last year I accepted a case which required me to look beyond the normal process. Both the focus of these hearings and my responsibilities as an attorney limit the extent of these remarks. Nonetheless I respectfully submit that the role of organized alien smuggling operations is as tragically underestimated along the border with Canada through ''Smuggler's Alley'' in upstate New York as the need for competent and coordinated law enforcement. The border is only part of the problem.
THE OTHER PROBLEM
Securing our borders from the threat of sophisticated alien smuggling will require an acknowledgment of the chilling gravity of the problem and a will to confront callous profiteers. While one would comfortably believe that the federal government should be present and accounted for, I have found them, with commendable exceptions, missing in action. Organized crime requires organized, balanced and coordinated enforcement. Anything less than that actually promotes and preserves the evil we all have a right to fear.
For the last year I have reported to law enforcement the existence of a continuing criminal enterprise which recruits aliens for the management and development of criminal activities in the United States. The ancillary criminal schemes generate revenue to support traditional private financing schemes referred to below. Violation of the border and documentation laws are essential components to the creation of its criminal colonies around the country. Skillful evasion of either assumption requires less effort than I dared to imagine.
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This is not the story of millions of border crossings. This is the story of the cunning use of our own legal system to preserve and protect underworld migration. When mature. these communities present themselves as deserving members of our limited participatory democracy. Who then can challenge them?
My presence here is out of respect for members of the Korean-American community who not only fear the criminality and danger this activity represents, and the gangs it creates, but the shame of unjustified guilt by association with a small group of wrongdoers. I also older these remarks with respect for native populations who are likewise angered by the abuse of some of their number by international criminal forces.
The process I reported begins in the Republic of South Korea. Recruits, here and abroad, are chosen for their need or willingness to migrate to the United States illegally. Their entries are based on either false documents or entry without inspection, or both.
Bogus documents are unnecessary during smuggling. No visa is required for a national of the Republic of Korea to enter Canada for a brief pleasure visit. Those who are intending to illegally enter the United States are indeed only briefly in Canada. A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer told me that the travel time from Seoul to the St. Lawrence River at Cornwall, Ontario, is about 30 hours. He answered an advertisement in a publication in order to know more about it.
Page 204 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A few hours by vehicle brings the reck it to the Canadian city of Cornwall. Those who have made the right connections are met and uneventfully escorted to New York without the inconvenience of inspection. The Akwasasne Reserve is situated in the heart of Smuggler's Alley between Cornwall to tile north and Massena, New York, to the south. It is through this region, with is legal and jurisdictional complexity, including nearly 100 miles of river, that the border is crossed illegally. Certainly the threat of Asian and Russian organized crime using this area for its larger scale purposes justifies conventional border enforcement resources. Biker gangs assist the smuggling of people in both directions, as well as the alcohol, tobacco and firearms which include anti-tank weapons and grenade launchers. There are rogue members of native groups in different areas around the Great Lakes who use the water boundaries for similar purposes. It is important to note that at no time has it been suggested that the wrongdoers on any reserve reflect the wishes of their people. There is open conflict on the reserves between those who have amassed fortunes facilitating smuggling and the elected leadership. The Mayor of Cornwall has carried on a dauntless campaign of exposure of the lawlessness of the region, resulting in an archive of news and nationally televised complaints. His office was the target of weapons fire. He has been personally threatened by at least one biker gang member. There is a recent published account of a meeting with a Member of Parliament of Canada and the Department of Justice concerning the situation along that frontier. The increased sensitivity to the issue in Canada seems to follow the death of a 51 year old grandmother on the River during an October, 1996, illegal crossing.
For at least a decade one group in New York has brought 2025 new participants a month to the New York and New Jersey area. From the New York City and Palisades Park, Fort Lee and Leonia areas of New Jersey these shadow people travel to major urban locations in the United States. There they establish enterprises with cash flows less than $500,000 per year to avoid U.S. Department of Labor scrutiny, rely on undocumented labor and significant but difficult to audit incidental cash flow businesses. Typical enterprises include liquor stores, dry cleaners, small restaurants, pea markets and coin operated laundries. While most of these enterprises are unconnected with illegal activity, the few which are find safety in blending into the community. The illegal enterprises have nothing to do with the current focus on border enforcement.
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Their presence easily evades scrutiny at entry as well as the 1996 changes in the law requiring greater presence of INS criminal investigative assets. Until those positions are actually funded, there can be no realistic coordination with other law enforcement efforts, state and federal. The proliferation of uniformed border control agents without concomitant detention resources, coupled with the American tradition of court supervised due process and meaningful access to counsel, makes the U.S. look as remarkably arbitrary and corrupt as the regimes which sent many of them to our shores. Such underworld businesses cannot fail: they are funded by traditional (secret) financing schemes, staffed by undocumented workers, and exist on a magic carpet of untaxed capital and revenue. There is no way local enterprises can compete.
Federal enforcement at the northeastern border is in my opinion a commendable exception to the non-responsiveness I have otherwise experienced. However in the absence of coordinated INS supported enforcement by task force the controlling smuggling false and illegally issued document and money laundering enterprises in New York and New Jersey escape scrutiny. The focus of investigation should follow the pattern of the 1996 enhancements to RICO predicate offenses. It has been my experience that INS has not demonstrated interest in or capability to use these new provisions.
Border related prosecutions concentrate on smuggling related offenses. Modest success there is not without its limits. Even when federal convictions are obtained in this area the sentencing guidelines under Title 8 Section 1324 provide little meaningful deterrence to a first time smuggler with a three to eight month confinement. One United States Attorney told me that the substantially cooperative witnesses actually spent half again as much time in confinement as those who were convicted of the smuggling related offenses. It is too early to say that penalties raised in the 1996 legislation have established a deterrent effect. That debate should be conducted outside the scope of this comment. My points are simpler.
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VICTIMIZATION AND IMPACT
The criminally inclined brought illegally often by false documents through inspected entries or through direct smuggling enter under the control and rules of the other or underworld counterpart ''immigration service.'' This one does not lose files. This one knows where its entrants have gone and what they are doing. This one selects some of its players to invest in schemes contrary to the securities laws.
By my estimate half of those lucky enough to get in the country and this ''game'' are fortunate enough to get their reward. Proceeds to the winners are paid outside of the U.S. If they choose to return home they can begin an immigration process based on the acquisition of a U.S. business. Their unlawful presence in the U.S. for the two previous years is not a matter of record and would not be admitted. Our system would not be capable of distinguishing between legitimate and fraudulent applicants. The illicit ''immigration service'' would not lose tack of the real history.
This means that the other half is not so lucky. If the less fortunate are inconsiderate enough to complain to the underground ''city hall'' they find themselves in real hot water. The hand that lined them from the smuggler's 14 foot aluminum boat on the shore of the St. Lawrence the same hand that took from one to S30 000 per month for up to 20 months as part of the player's experience in the U.S. drops the dime to the local INS. Those players who need to be reminded who is in charge find themselves in virtually indefensible removal proceedings. That same hand which took their money and dropped that thin dime and could well have shaken hands with the law enforcement process the rest of us pay taxes to support. Unremarkably enforcement machinery chugs dutifully into motion to remove the ''undesirable.'' Legal judo.
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It took a case with a client who wouldn't quietly go away to reveal this parallel world to me. Although there was an initial interview by INS the statistically greater threats along the border and much larger organized crime groups left too few resources for investigation. When this story was told time and again to numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies the lack of INS support and a task force ended further inquiry.
INS criminal investigative assets should be funded and authorized to participate meaningfully in organized crime inquiries and investigations in task force approaches to address the underlying means and methods associated with alien smuggling. The statistical emphasis on border crossings is only one approach. There should be oversight to assure coordinated and balanced RICO centered enforcement. Sentencing must be adequate to act as a deterrent. America and its lawful migrants deserve protection.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Heiserman.
STATEMENT OF ELISA MASSIMINO, DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON OFFICE, LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Ms. MASSIMINO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I very much appreciate the opportunity to be part of this hearing and to share with you our perspective on this important and very complicated issue.
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The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights is an independent, nongovernmental organization. Since 1978, the committee has worked to protect and promote human rights, holding all governments, including the United States, accountable to the standards contained in the international bill of human rights and related international human rights instruments. Our work focuses on creating the legal structures and systems that will help guarantee human rights protection in the long term.
During last year's debate on illegal immigration, voices insisting on compliance with U.S. obligations towards those who, though they arrive by illegal means, are entitled to our protection were drowned out by calls for a blanket crack down. I am here to raise that voice again.
You have heard testimony today from a number of witnesses who approach the issue of alien smuggling as a daunting law enforcement problem. It is certainly that. Those who traffic in human cargo are criminals, in some cases of the most brutal sort, and clearly are deserving of punishment. I offer an additional perspective for your consideration, that of the victims, which I hope you will keep before you as you grapple with how best to address this growing problem.
Every day in the course of our work, we hear first hand the painful personal stories of those who have fled rape, torture, and political repression in their home countries in search of a safe haven in ours. Many of those we represent were forced to flee their countries in irregular and sometimes illegal ways. Few of those whose only avenue of escape is by illegal means understand the details of the travel arrangements which resulted in their arrival in the United States. Many had never traveled outside their own countries before and knew only that they would do anything to escape the oppressive situations they faced at home. Those who were desperate enough to resort to smugglers for their passage were completely unprepared for the horror that awaited them.
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During the 1980's, the plight of immigrants coming clandestinely over the southern border became well known. At the mercy of ''coyotes'' who beat, raped, and abused their victim clients, many were locked in railroad cars or vans and abandoned to suffocate and die. But it was in 1993 when a freighter called the Golden Venture, carrying more than 300 Chinese immigrants, ran aground at Breezy Point in Brooklyn, that many of us outside the law enforcement community got our first glimpse into the horror of life aboard a smuggling ship.
In New York and Washington, the Lawyers Committee interviewed dozens of survivors of the Golden Venture accident being held in INS detention centers and local county jail facilities. The stories of misery and degradation that we heard were chilling. Crewmembers were abusive and sexually assaulted the female passengers. Only one bathroom was made available for several hundred passengers, 27 of whom were women. Food was scarce, especially towards the end of the journey. Some passengers had been on the ship for more than 3 months. None were permitted by the crew to disembark at any of the several stops made along the way.
Other reports that we have heard confirm that this experience of aliens who have been smuggled is not uncommon. The abuse suffered by smuggled immigrants frequently continues even after arrival in the United States. Those who are apprehended and placed in INS detention are, in one sense, the lucky ones. Many are held captive upon arrival in so-called ''safe houses'' by an arm of the criminal enterprise which brought them here. Many are beaten daily, handcuffed, hosed down with cold water, made to perform menial labor, and charged hundreds of dollars for phone calls to relatives to arrange for payment of the fee for their passage. Some are severely tortured and threatened with death if they can not secure payment enough quickly enough to satisfy their creditors. One 15-year-old girl was raped by her captors, who kept a telephone line open to her relatives in China during the ordeal, to encourage them to pay more quickly.
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It is particularly important to remember that among those who enter into this devil's bargain by contracting with smugglers to reach the United States, many do so because it is their only means of escape from countries where they suffer profound violations of basic human rights. International law protects the right of all individuals to flee in such situations. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. Those who exercise this right no longer benefit from the protection of their home countries, and thus, are entitled to special protection from the international community.
The U.N. Convention relating to the status of refugees, on which our 1980 Refugee Act was grounded, outlines U.S. obligations toward those who meet the requirements of refugee status, and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which the United States became a full party in 1994, obligates us to refrain without exception from returning any individual to a place where there is a substantial likelihood that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
We must be conscious of these obligations, grounded in fundamental principles of human rights law, when formulating a domestic legal framework for dealing with those who attempt to enter the United States clandestinely. I do not contend that all, or even most, of those who attempt to enter the United States in this manner fall into this category, but a look at many of the countries from which smuggled immigrants are comingChina, Iran, Sudan, Indiashould give us reason for pause.
You heard from the State Department witness today that the United States is working to develop model antismuggling laws for other countries. I would encourage the Government to also ensure that those countries on whose cooperation we must rely to combat smuggling understand and fulfill their obligations toward refugees and others whose protection is our shared responsibility.
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Victims of persecution will flee whenever and however they can. The exact contours of the right to flee are a product of the tension between that right and the prerogative of countries to regulate their borders. International law requires that those who flee persecution, however they accomplish that flight, must not be forcibly returned to a place where their lives or freedom would be threatened or where they would be in danger of being subjected to torture. But regardless of whether the reasons for flight are political, religious, or economic, no human being deserves to suffer the shocking abuses committed by smugglers against their human prey.
By the time many smuggled immigrants reach our country, they have been victimized twice, once by their governments, and once by the smuggler who profits from their fear and misfortune. We urge the subcommittee and the Congress as it considers how best to solve this complex problem, to ensure that the United States does not participate in this cycle of abuse. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Massimino follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ELISA MASSIMINO, DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON OFFICE, LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Chairman Smith and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this hearing and to share with you our perspective on this important and complicated issue. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights is an independent, non-governmental organization. Since 1978, the Committee has worked to protect and promote human rights, holding all governmentsincluding the United Statesaccountable to the standards contained in the International Bill of Human Rights and related international human rights instruments. Our work focuses on creating the legal structures and systems that will help to guarantee human rights protection in the long term.
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You have heard testimony today from a number of witnesses who approach the issue of alien smuggling as a daunting law enforcement problem, and it is certainly that. Those who traffic in human cargo are criminalsin some cases, of the most brutal sortand clearly are deserving of punishment. I am here to offer an additional perspective to your analysisthat of the victimswhich I hope you will keep before you as you grapple with how best to address this growing problem.
II. VICTIMS OF SMUGGLING
As an outgrowth of our human rights work the Lawyers Committee operates one of the largest and most respected pro bono asylum representation programs in the country. Each year, in an extraordinary partnership with the private bar, we assist hundreds of refugees from more than 70 countries who are seeking protection in the United States. Every day, in the course of this work, we hear first-hand the painful personal stories of those who have fled rape, torture and political repression in their home countries in search of a safe haven in ours.
Many of those we represent were forced to flee their countries in irregularand even illegalways. Few of those whose only avenue of escape is by illegal means understand the details of the travel arrangements which resulted in their arrival in the United States. Many had never traveled outside their own countries before and knew only that they would do anything to escape the oppressive situations they faced at home. Those who were desperate enough to resort to smugglers for their passage were completely unprepared for the horror that awaited them.
Page 213 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC During the 1980's, the plight of immigrants coming clandestinely over the southern border became well known. At the mercy of coyotes, who beat, raped and abused their victim/clients, many were locked in railroad cars or vans and abandoned to suffocate and die. But it was in 1993, when a freighter called the Golden Venture carrying more than 300 Chinese immigrants ran aground at Breezy Point in Brooklyn, that many of us outside the law enforcement community got our first glimpse into the horror of life aboard a smuggling ship.
In New York and Washington, the Lawyers Committee interviewed dozens of survivors of the Golden Venture accident being held in INS detention centers and local county jail facilities. The stories of misery and degradation we heard were chilling. Crew members were abusive and sexually assaulted the female passengers. Only one bathroom was made available for several hundred passengers, 27 of whom were women. Food was scarce, especially towards the end of the journey. Some passengers had been on the ship for more than three months; none were permitted by the crew to disembark at any of the several stops made along the way.
Two years later, a study by Professor Ko-Lin Chin, a sociologist at Rutgers University, detailed the plight of 300 smuggled Fujianese immigrants who arrived in New York City during the preceding eight years. The stories confirmed what we had learned from the Golden Venture experience. Many immigrants reported being treated like animals by the crews of the ships which carried them here. Women passengers were particularly vulnerable. One woman reported that male and female passengers were separated to ensure that there could be no resistance when the crew sexually attacked the women, a frequent practice. Women were routinely denied food and water until they were willing to submit to intercourse with the crew.
And the abuse suffered by smuggled immigrants frequently continues even after arrival in the United States. Those who are apprehended and placed in INS detention are, in one sense, the lucky ones. Respondents in Professor Chin's study reported being held captive upon arrival in socalled ''safe houses'' by an arm of the criminal enterprise which brought them here. Many were beaten daily, handcuffed, hosed down with cold water, made to perform menial labor and charged $100 for phone calls to China to arrange for payment of the ''fee'' for their passage. Some were severely tortured and threatened with death if they could not secure payment quickly enough to satisfy their creditors. One 15-year-old girl was raped by her captors, who kept a telephone line open to her relatives in China during the ordeal.
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III. THE INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK
It is particularly important to remember that, among those who enter into this devil's bargain by contracting with smugglers to reach the United States, many do so because it is their only means of escape from countries where they suffer profound violations of basic human rights. International law protects the right of all individuals to flee in such situations. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that ''[e]veryone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.'' Those who exercise this right no longer benefit from the protection of their home countries and, thus, are entitled to special protection by the international community. The United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, on which the 1980 Refugee Act was grounded, outlines U.S. obligations towards those who meet the requirements of refugee status. And the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which the United States became a full party in 1994, obligates the United States to refrainwithout exceptionfrom returning any individual to a place where there is substantial likelihood that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture. We must be conscious of these obligations, grounded in fundamental principles of human rights law, when formulating a domestic legal framework for dealing with those who attempt to enter the United States clandestinely.
I do not contend that all, or even most, of those who attempt to enter the United States in this manner fall into this category. But a look at many of the countries from which smuggled immigrants are comingChina, Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Indiashould give us reason for pause.
Page 215 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCIV. THE UNITED STATES' RESPONSE
The U.S. response to the Golden Venture episode was, in part, to single out Chinese asylum-seekers in order to send a message to would-be immigrants that attempts to enter the United States by illegal means would be dealt with severely. From our perspective, this is the wrong pressure point to solve the problem. The result of the U.S. policy was that many of the passengers of the Golden Venture who had credible claims for asylum were denied meaningful access to counsel and detained, unnecessarily and at great taxpayer expense, some for nearly four years before their situations were finally resolved. The injustice of the prolonged detention of these men and women, who had suffered so much both in China and at the hands of smugglers during their months-long journey to the United States, galvanized a community-based grassroots movement across the country, until President Clinton found the situation intolerable and ordered the prisoners released.
In another high-profile smuggling incident, again involving Chinese immigrants, but this time off the west coast, U.S. policy again was seriously flawed. When ships carrying smuggled Chinese immigrants were located heading for California, they were prevented from reaching the United States. The ships were diverted to Mexico, where, without adequate screening for refugee status and without access to counsel, the immigrants were removed from on board, their heads were spray-painted for identification, and they were promptly repatriated to China. Payment was later made by the United States to the Mexican government to defray the costs of this operation.
Page 216 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Victims of persecution will flee whenever and however they can. That fact is self-evident. The exact contours of the right to flee are a product of the tension between that right and the prerogative of countries to regulate their borders. International law requires that those who flee persecution, however they accomplish that flight, must not be forcibly returned to a place where their lives or freedom would be threatened or where they would be in danger of being subjected to torture. But regardless of whether the reasons for flight are political, religious or economic, no human being deserves to suffer the shocking abuses committed by smugglers against their human prey.
By the time many smuggled immigrants reach our country, they have been victimized twice: once by their governments and once by the smuggler who profits from their fear and misfortune. We urge the Subcommittee, as it considers how best to solve this complex problem, to ensure that the United States does not participate in this cycle of abuse.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Massimino.
Let me address my first question to Mr. Gallo, and say Mr. Gallo, that I appreciate all the supportive statements in your testimony about what we are trying to do in general and what we tried to do with the immigration reform law from last year. I also appreciate not only your saying that we should enforce the law, but that we should fund fully the 1,200 special agents authorized at the end of the last Congress, and about our need to revitalize the INS. I couldn't agree with you more.
Let me ask you to expand though, I don't know what page of your testimony this is on, but where you talk about as you mentioned a while ago that so many officers are unable to respond to calls in regard to an illegal alien population that might be present. Tell me how bad you think the problem is. We already heard some indication today at least in the Denver Sector, that they only respond to one out of four phone calls. I suspect it's even less than that in other parts of the country where there is a greater problem.
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Mr. GALLO. I can give two instances about that, Mr. Chairman. One personal and one that has been brought to my attention from the INS agency representative to the FLEOA National Board.
Agents are now being pulled out of criminal investigations to work on the citizenship naturalization. We are paying them a detective salary to do investigations, yet at the same time, since the District Director needs them in another avenue in another service field, they are being pulled out of that to finish that. On a personal basis, here inI am assigned to the New York City office of the USDA. We investigate food stamp fraud. A lot of the times it is driven by some immigration populations. The INS agents that we worked with in the past spend 1 week out of every month when they have to pull detention duty. Twenty-five percent of the agents, these detectives, every fourth week would have to go into the detention facility because the District Director was short of corrections detention officers. So the District Director gets thethat labor pool, he can switch components and fulfill his service requirements and other requirements which he is tasked with.
So I would say although I can't put a percentage on it, if INS is saying it's one in four, that may be a lowball figure. I mean if they are admitting it's one in four that they can only respond to, that means 75 percent they are not.
Mr. SMITH. That doesn't always mean that the response is going to be successful either as far as apprehending the individuals. Thank you, Mr. Gallo.
Professor Godson, you mentioned in your testimony denial of visas and border crossing cards may also be an effective tool to hamper organized criminal elements. Tell us how we can improve that system.
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Mr. GODSON. To improve it or prove it?
Mr. SMITH. Either way, but I am looking for a way to improve it in the sense or ask you to expand on what you meant by the denial of visas and border crossing cards or how that can be changed.
Mr. GODSON. One of the initiatives of this administration, I think under PDD 42 auspices, has been to use various kinds of incentives and sanctions against individuals and their families. In other words, we may not be always able to arrest someone, convict someone. We may not even be able to find them in our jurisdiction, but that doesn't mean we have to allow them to use our territory for either criminal purposes or to enjoy the fruits of his or the family's criminal activities. It's a relatively new tool in the last couple of years. So we don't have a lot of experience yet with it.
It's not that this one tool by itself is going to make a huge amount of difference, but the principle would be that we will target an individual and his family, and one has to be careful about this because there are obviously various rights that we care about. Not the same necessarily rights as an American would have or a resident alien, but still we would want to be careful about due process here a little bit. But the principle would be that you would identify individuals as being involved in criminal activities and that they use their families. Then prevent them from entering.
Mr. SMITH. Not issue the visas to them. Is that right?
Page 219 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GODSON. Right. Exactly. This is one of a number of instruments we would use where we can not arrest or convict.
Mr. SMITH. Have you gotten any response from the INS as to whether or not they can implement it or not?
Mr. GODSON. I know that we and others are doing it. You may have seen in the newspapers that various criminals who sought to meet even with the President of the United States were denied visas to enter the United States. I find that a very useful salutary message that was sent throughout the world. The administration in this case is to be commended for this.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Professor Godson.
Mr. Heiserman, you mentioned in your testimony, and I really want to get a clarification here. You mentioned in your oral comments a while ago that you didn't think that fraudulent documents were a problem. Yet I thought in your testimony itself, you mentioned that they were a problem.
Mr. HEISERMAN. I should have been more direct. It's too many years as a law professor. What I meant was not a problem to obtain false documents or fraudulently issued. It really is no trouble.
In 25 years of immigration law practice, I am embarrassed to tell you, I didn't know until this last year and a half how easy this stuff is to get. It utterly defeats the primary assumption of a border watchpoint or an interior presentation of documents kind of legal system. The people who have figured this out have merely observed us. It's sort of like pushing a water balloon through a chainlink fence. It's helpful to have somebody on each side, and it's a slow process, but it can be done. What they do is they just make these documents. It is breathtaking.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Heiserman.
Ms. Massimino, I had a couple questions for you, but one, I just want to say a personal observation is that I notice you graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio. That happens to be in my district, just barely. It is the college from which my father retired teaching several years ago. I have actuallyexcuse me, Mr. Watt, for going into all these things, but I actually took a summer school course at Trinity University, in part because it was free because my father taught there, but that's another story. Trinity is a wonderful school. I have been there not dozens, but hundreds of times.
More to the point, I just wanted to ask you maybe again for a clarification here. I understand I think entirely your concerns about the torture which can never be justified, about the mistreatment of individuals. I was going to ask you to distinguish between illegal aliens and those who are leaving home countries where they are being persecuted and can honestly claim asylum. Those are the individuals we need to make sure get a hearing and are safeguarded if that's warranted.
On the other hand, illegal aliens, and you mentioned that both illegal aliens and asylum-seekers entered into a devil's bargain. I think that's a very good description of exactly what it is. In the case of the asylum-seekers, you worry for them, you want to help them. In the case of shall we say illegal aliens who are not worried about persecution back home, they need to assume some of the responsibility for entering into that bargain I think.
Ms. MASSIMINO. Of course.
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Mr. SMITH. But I just was going to ask you to elaborate upon that.
Ms. MASSIMINO. I am glad you asked that because it's a distinction that we sought repeatedly to make in the debates last year, that it's a tricky issue because asylum-seekers who have to use illegal means to get here many of them with extremely strong claims who have already suffered persecution, are under our law presumed to be illegal aliens until they can demonstrate that claim. That's why it can be so tricky, because we have to then build into the system a means of discovery, of sorting out those claims with enough protections that on the other hand, don't slow down unnecessarily the sorting out of those who have no right to protection from those who really do. I'm not satisfied with the balance that got struck last year. I think we're probably going to have to revisit those provisions.
But clearly the people that we're concerned about most are the ones who are entitled to protection under international law. Now that certainly doesn't detract from the sympathy that we feel for people who get trapped in this abusive situation. Of course most of the people who buy into this devil's bargain do so, in a sense, voluntarily, whether they are refugees or not. They take a risk. I think what most of them don't realize when they make that calculation, is what's on the other end.
But for the ones that fulfill the refugee requirements, we need to make sure that, in focusing the spotlight on the problem of smuggling, we don't forget that among this population of people, the vast majority of which may be coming for economic reasons, there are people who we have to ferret out and protect.
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Mr. SMITH. I would agree with that. Thank you very much.
The gentleman from North Carolina, my colleague, Mr. Watt.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I first of all want to commend you for adding or including this panel as part of this overall analysis of the issue, bringing different perspectives to the issue the hearing was convened to address and illustrating that there are dimensions to this problem that go well beyond the well-publicized and more dramatic kinds of issues that some of the earlier panelists may have addressed.
I especially want to thank Professor Godson for his analysis of some of the nonregulatory considerations that we might take into account, such as working with nongovernmental organizations, so-called NGO's, to try to get them more invested in solving some of these problems.
Mr. Heiserman and Mr. Gallo both pointed to some of the consequences of simply not having enough resources to address many of these issues. When there are not enough resources, then the resources tend to get more directed toward the higher profile issues, the sometimeshow can I say this, the more publicly rewarded kinds of things rather than some of the things that Mr. Heiserman addressed that might not have the kind of ''sex appeal'' to them in the public eye. But that's a function of allocating resources, scarce resources and making choices about what you do with those resources.
Interestingly enough, the complaint I hear or I heard in my visit to the INS office in Charlotte, NC, when I went home over the break, more than any other single thing was the one that Mr. Gallo raised in his comments. This is the scenario that the INS representative played out to me. We encounter these people. We know that they are illegal. We know in some cases that even they are here to commit some kind of crime. Yet it costs me $89 a night to put these people in the jail in Mecklenberg County, NC. If I spend that $89 a night, that's draining my resources from something else. I am going to be able to keep them there only one night or two at the most because I don't have any resources to do anything about it on a longer term basis. So I am in a catch-22.
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I mean, you know, I can put somebody up at thethe quote that the gentleman used was, I can put somebody up at the Marriott for $89 a night. So why should I give the Mecklenberg County detention people $89 a night to put somebody when I'm not going to be able to do anything about it the next day anyway because I don't have the resources.
So you are constantly in this catch-22. We still have got to recall that half of the people who are in the country illegally are ones that have overstayed their visas. We keep applying more and more of the resources to folks at the border to keep them from coming in, but we don't have any effective way to deal with those people who are overstaying their visas. So it's really a catch-22 that the life of resources have put our INS officers in. So, Mr. Gallo, I appreciate you pointing up that problem.
Finally, Ms. Massimino, I know I'm not asking you any questions here. I am just kind of rambling on. But I especially want to thank you for bringing a human dimension to this issue. The chairman has made a good effort, and I'm not disagreeing with his effort to distinguish between those people who are refugees and those who are just buying into some scheme to get into the country. There is a difference, but even among those people who we presume to be here for terrible, because of terrible intentions, in a lot of cases they are trying to get away from economic circumstances. They may not be persecuted, but they are trying to get away from economic circumstances that they have made a calculation in their own mind that it's worth taking a risk to get away from.
So even with respect to them, we can't always assume these terrible intentions that we assume for all of these people. They are trying to better their lives. They deserve not to be treated inhumanely and subjected to rape and brutality just because they have tried, they have made a calculation that they can somehow improve their lives. That's a human trait. Everybody wants to improve their life.
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So I am just happy we had this panel to bring some humanity to this. I am glad we didn't spend our whole day just kind of dealing with problems that I acknowledge are important, the first two panels, but these problems are important too. I appreciate you all coming and sharing your testimony with us.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt. I agree with those sentiments, and only wish that our friends in the media recognize the importance of what you said as much as the importance of what the administration might say. But the nature of it is that the administration, whichever administration it might be, tends to get the lion share of the attention.
Just a personal comment, Mr. Watt. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments, whatever they may be. I appreciate especially the thoughtful comments that are complimentary of me. But I have noticed in many of those compliments, when you get to the end of the compliment, you always use the word ''but'' or ''however''. I would hope that or just say that I appreciate them in general. Thank you for that.
Thank you all for being with us.
Mr. WATT. I'm trying to be complimentary, but I'm trying to be balanced too. [Laughter.]
Mr. SMITH. Thank you all for being with us.
Page 225 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The subcommittee is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:47, the subcommittee adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X E S
Appendix 1.LETTER DATED JUNE 18, 1997, TO CHAIRMAN SMITH, FROM DONNIE R. MARSHALL, CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Hon. LAMAR SMITH,
|U.S. Department of Justice,|
|Drug Enforcement Administration,|
Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,
U.S. House of Representatives,
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This correspondence is in response to your letter dated April 29, 1997, requesting additional information from my statement made during the hearing on April 23, 1997, before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims.
Q. 1. How do the Mexican drug cartels and other smuggler. use either illegal migrants, or supposedly legal residents and visitor. in the United States, to further their enterprises? Isn't it true that the cartels use temporary visitors, people with border crossing card-, and lawful permanent residents (''green card'' holders) to further their business?
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A. Organized criminal syndicates are dependent upon a trusted infrastructure to ensure the efficacy of their operations. Trafficking groups based in Mexico accomplish this by sending trusted family members and long-time associates to the United States (U.S.) to control various facets of their organizations. This includes the control of drug smuggling, drug storage, and the controlling of drug distribution cells. These individuals may arrive in the U.S. on visas which are legally obtained through the United States Embassy or Consulate in Mexico City. Other foreign nationals may pass through the various ports of entry from San Ysidro, California to Brownsville, Texas, on documentation that was obtained illegally, or was purchased with a portion of the billions of narco-dollars which are at the disposal of these traffickers.
Currently, the cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine trade, and to a somewhat lesser degree, the marijuana trade, is dominated by trafficking groups that are located and controlled within Mexico. However, a substantial number of second-tier independent organizations are responsible for the smuggling of heroin, cocaine and marijuana across the Southwest border. These independent groups take advantage of the tremendous flow of legal and illegal immigrants that come into the United States by offering courier fees for small amounts of cocaine, heroin and marijuana that is ''back-packed'' into the United States. Mexican nationals crossing the border illegally, will gladly accept the risk this entails for assistance in crossing the border into the United States. These smugglers are generally ''mules'' being taken advantage of because of their desire to live and work in the United States. Their arrest does little to seriously impact the hierarchy of an organization, and serves to further bog down our judicial system.
Q. 2. Would the DEA agree that enhanced enforcement against immigration fraud should be a part of the strategy to combat the drug trade?
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A. In light of the situation described above, it is apparent that immigration fraud has a definite nexus to drug trafficking. This nexus is established through the utilization of trusted family members who are responsible for controlling drug distribution networks in the U.S. that may be here legally, or through couriers who bring quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the U.S. who are in this country through fraudulent means. False documentation and the need to acquire multiple identifications is often essential for drug traffickers to enter, exit and travel throughout the U.S. and their other consumer markets. Enhanced enforcement against this type of fraud would assist in curtailing the number of illegal aliens that enter the United States purely for illegal purposes.
Q. 3. Does the DEA forward to the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Department of State the names of individuals involved in the drug trade, and members of their families, for the purpose of denying visas, border crossing privileges, and other immigration benefits to these persons? To your knowledge, have the INS and/or the State Department acted upon such recommendations?
A. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) does have access to all DEA drug intelligence through the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) located in El Paso, Texas. This access is gained through INS personnel who are permanently assigned to EPIC and the other Federal agencies which conduct this coordinated law enforcement intelligence initiative. The United States Department of State also has access to drug-related intelligence at the Embassy/Consular level that may be searched prior to the issuance of a travel visa. Specifically in the source countries, the Department of State routinely denies visas to individuals based on their suspected or actual involvement in the drug trade.
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Q. 4. Overall Federal seizure. of cocaine have dropped from 308,000 pounds in FY 1994 to an estimated 238,000 pounds in FY 1996. Why is this happening?
A. There are several possible reasons why the cocaine seizures were down in FY 1996. Changes in drug trafficking methods often cause changes in drug removal statistics. DEA cocaine removals fell by more than one-third from FY 1995 to FY 1996 due to a decrease in the amount of cocaine seized along the Southwest Border. Some of the DEA's sources of information are reporting that a number of trafficking organizations are making use of alternative methods of drug smuggling. One could logically conclude that the source of information is accurate by the fact that the number of DEA cocaine seizures remained constant from FY 1995 to FY 1996 but the amount seized along the Southwest Border decreased by more than 70 percent. The decrease was primarily due to the number of seizures of 500 or more kilograms declining from 22 during FY 1995 to only one during FY 1996. This reflects the changing modus operandi of traffickers to counter stepped-up enforcement efforts along the Southwest Border over the past two years. Traffickers are now shipping smaller amounts and varying their smuggling patterns and routes to minimize their losses.
Not only have major drug organizations and independents changed some of their trafficking patters; they have also modified their methods of communication, methods of concealment and the operation of their distribution networks to thwart law enforcement efforts. A recent DEA New York Field Division case revealed that the Mexican traffickers were utilizing encrypted telephones making it virtually impossible for law enforcement to intercept their communications.
The implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in January of 1994 has created an exponential growth in the volume of large commercial carriers crossing the border. Traffickers are concealing drug shipments in commercial containers that travel overland via interstate highway and by rail. This exponential increase in trade has further taxed law enforcement resources at the points of entry along the border. Several additional points of entry into the United States have been opened to assist in the processing of the large number of commercial vehicles that cross into the United States each day. These points of entry for commercial traffic have ready access to major highways leading deep into the interior of the United States.
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Q. 5. The Clinton Administration's drug policy stresses public education and treatment at the expense of interdiction and law enforcement. Spending for drug interdiction, controlled for inflation, has dropped considerably since the end of the Bush Administration. What is the DEA doing within the Administration to change these policies?
A. An effective anti-drug effort requires an appropriate balance between drug education, drug enforcement, and drug treatment. Ultimately, the long term solution to the drug use and abuse problem in the United States is to continue to enforce the laws that protect American citizens from the threat of drug trafficking and to educate our citizens about the harmful nature of drugs, which in turn will diminish the demand for illegal substances in the U.S.
Although drug interdiction is not the primary responsibility of the DEA, we do support interdiction agencies in their efforts to confiscate quantities of drugs before they enter into the United States. DEA works closely with drug interdiction forces, such as the United States Coast Guard, the United States Customs Service, the Department of Justice, and is actively involved in the Interdiction Committee. Many drug investigations and interdiction investigations in particular, are intelligence-driven and the DEA readily shares investigative information and intelligence with other law enforcement agencies whose primary concern is the drug loads that are destined for the United States market.
DEA is working closely with The Interdiction Committee to strengthen U.S. interdiction operations in the Southeastern United States, the Caribbean and along the Southwest border. The Committee's key objectives are to (1) protect sensitive sources, investigations, and operations; (2) satisfy security and operational concerns of U.S. law enforcement; (3) meet the needs of host nations to the best of the U.S. Government's ability; and (4) increase or improve U.S. Government access to host nation interdiction-related information.
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Q. 6. In general, what changes in policy, law enforcement strategies, or resources(s) are needed to make us more successful in stopping drugs at the border?
A. DEA's key program areas entail our Southwest Border Initiative, Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) Program, trafficking through the Caribbean corridor, domestic and international operations.
The Southwest Border Initiative attacks drug syndicates on both sides of the border with a greatly enhanced operational tempo that involves a blend of intelligence and enforcement operations in Mexico and the United States. This strategy is a combined Federal, State and local law enforcement initiative that is designed to target and dismantle major Mexican trafficking organizations, build successful criminal cases against their leaders and membership and to incarcerate these individuals for long-term prison sentences.
The strategy is the result of a collaborative effort with the DEA, the Department of Justice Criminal Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney Offices, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program, the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) and Joint Task Forces. This joint investigative initiative is based in DEA's Special Operations Division, which fuses all intelligence generated by national-level assets which are focused on these Mexican organizations. DEA and our counterparts analyze collected information in order to establish links between ongoing investigations worldwide. This strategy is designed to harness the resources of DEA, FBI and U.S. Customs field offices, as well as coordinate joint investigations of these agencies against drug organizations that operate across multiple enforcement areas of responsibility.
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The belief that those who distribute drugs on the streets of the United States and commit violent activities are not acting independently, but are part of a seamless continuum of drug trafficking organizations headquartered in Mexico, Colombia and other areas is the basis for our Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) initiative all across the United States. In FY 97, DEA added forty-two new MET agents to our Southwest border Division offices to better address this growing street-level violence problem.
DEA has requested enhancements for FY 1998 in our program areas for the Targeting of Sophisticated Traffickers, Identifying and Addressing Emerging Drug Trends, Addressing Critical Infrastructure Needs, and Improving Controls on the Diversion of Licit Drugs. Law enforcement does work, but these global sophisticated targets require sophisticated investigations, significant resources and time. It is critical to react timely to this growing threat.
I hope that this information has adequately addressed your concerns. If I may be of additional help, please feel free to contact me.
Appendix 2.MR. GEORGE REGAN'S RESPONSE TO QUESTION POSED BY CONGRESSMAN REYES
|Donnie R. Marshall,|
|Chief of Operations.|
Q. ... the impact of the Immigrant Reform and Control Act immediately after its passage in 1986. What did the passage do to attempted illegal entries into this country along the southern border?
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The corrected response of Mr. Regan is as follows:
A. The numbers were up in FY 1986, which ended on September 30, 1986, as people made an effort to get to the U.S. in hope of being included in the amnesty. However, apprehensions went down during the first year 119871 that employer sanctions went into effect.
BORDER SECURITY AND DETERRING ILLEGAL ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
Page 233 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFIRST SESSION
APRIL 23, 1997
Serial No. 32
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
SONNY BONO, California
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
Page 234 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRISTOPHER B. CANNON, Utah
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
THOMAS E. MOONEY, Chief of Staff-General Counsel
JULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Staff Director
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Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
LAMAR SMITH, Texas, Chairman
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
SONNY BONO, California
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRISTOPHER B. CANNON, Utah
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
CORDIA A. STROM, Chief Counsel
EDWARD R. GRANT, Counsel
GEORGE FISHMAN, Counsel
MARTINA HONE, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
April 23, 1997
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Smith, Hon. Lamar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
Banks, Samuel H., Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs
Bersin, Alan D., Attorney General's Special Representative for the Southwest Border Issues, U.S. Department of Justice
Gallo, Richard J., national president, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
Garza, José E., Chief Border Patrol Agent, McAllen, TX, Sector, Immigration and Naturalization Service
Godson, Dr. Roy, professor, Georgetown University, and president, National Strategy Information Center
Heiserman, Robert G., Esq.
Greene, Joseph R., District Director, Denver, CO, Immigration and Naturalization Service
Marshall, Donnie R., Chief of Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration
Massimino, Elisa, director, Washington office, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
Regan, George, Acting Associate Commissioner for Enforcement, Immigration and Naturalization Service
Reyes, Hon. Silvestre, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
Page 237 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Winer, Jonathan M., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Banks, Samuel H., Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs Service: Prepared statement
Bersin, Alan D., Attorney General's Special Representative for the Southwest Border Issues, U.S. Department of Justice: Prepared statement
Bono, Hon. Sonny, a Representative in Congress from the State of California: Prepared statement
Gallo, Richard J., national president, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association: Prepared statement
Godson, Dr. Roy, professor, Georgetown University, and president, National Strategy Information Center: Prepared statement
Heiserman, Robert G., Esq.: Prepared statement
Marshall, Donnie R., Chief of Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration: Prepared Statement
Massimino, Elisa, director, Washington office, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights: Prepared statement
Regan, George, Acting Associate Commissioner for Enforcement, Immigration and Naturalization Service: Prepared statement
Reyes, Hon. Silvestre, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas: Prepared statement
Winer, Jonathan M., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs: Prepared statement
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Appendix 1.Letter dated June 18, 1997, to Chairman Smith, from Donnie R. Marshall, Chief of Operations, U.S. Department of Justice
Appendix 2.Mr. George Regan's response to question posed by Representative Reyes
(Footnote 1 return)
Footnote 1 omitted.
(Footnote 2 return)
Footnote 2 omitted.
(Footnote 3 return)
Footnote 3 omitted.