SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS Tables
Page 1 TOP OF DOCLEGISLATION CONCERNING IMMIGRANT ISSUES
TUESDAY, MAY 13, 1997
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:10 a.m., in room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Lamar Smith (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Lamar Smith, Elton Gallegly, Edward A. Pease, William L. Jenkins, Melvin L. Watt, and Zoe Lofgren.
Also present: George Fishman, counsel; Cindy Blackston, clerk; and Martina Hone, minority counsel.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SMITH
Mr. SMITH. Good morning. The Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims will come to order. Today's hearing will be on four bills, one introduced by our colleague, Owen Pickett, two introduced by our subcommittee colleague, Elton Gallegly, and one introduced by Judiciary Committee member, Bill McCollum. All four bills deal with important issues. And since the author of each bill will be present today, members of the subcommittee may offer negative commentary at their own risk.
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The first bill to be considered will be Mr. Pickett's H.R. 429. This bill was included in H.R. 2202 as reported by the Judiciary Committee in the last Congress. It would allow aliens who are civilian employees of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and have worked for many years in the United States to retire here with their families as special immigrants. The number of special immigrant visas available each year, currently about 10,000, would not be increased.
Currently, aliens who have been longtime employees of several international organizations in the United States are eligible to retire here as special immigrants. I believe Mr. Pickett is saying that employees of NATO, who helped us keep the peace in Europe and win the cold war, are just as deserving.
The second bill to be considered is Mr. Gallegly's H.R. 471. This bill would provide that aliens seeking employer-sponsored immigrant and nonimmigrant visas cannot qualify on the basis of experience gained working illegally in the United States.
The third bill is Mr. Gallegly's H.R. 1493. This bill springs from the pilot project that the INS operated in the Anaheim City Jail whereby an INS agent checked arrested individuals to see if they were illegally in the United States. The Anaheim pilot differed from the Institutional Hearing Program in which INS employees are stationed at State and Federal penal institutions to identify aliens convicted of deportable crimes so that they can be put through deportation proceedings while incarcerated.
At Anaheim, INS sent employees to a city jail to interview arrested individuals before their arraignments. Mr. Gallegly's bill would make available this prearraignment interviewing to at least a hundred localities around the country with high numbers of illegal and deportable aliens. Supporters of prearraignment interviewing argue that it is the only way to catch illegal aliens and aliens previously convicted of deportable crimes whom the State decides not to try for their current offense or fails to convict.
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The fourth bill is Mr. McCollum's H.R. 231. This bill requires the Social Security Administration to make such improvements to the Social Security card as are necessary to ensure it is a genuine official document and that it offers the best possible security against counterfeiting, forgery, alteration and misuse.
Jobs are clearly a major magnet for illegal immigration to the United States. Increasing the security of government documents is essential if we are to be successful in working with employers to keep work forces legal. Enough said on all four bills. I look forward to enlightening testimony from our witnesses.
[The bills, H.R. 231, H.R. 429, H.R. 471, and H.R. 1493, follows:]
INSERT OFFSET RING FOLIOS 1 TO 20 HERE
Mr. SMITH. The gentleman from North Carolina is recognized for an opening statement.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and after going through a number of oversight hearings, I am pleased the Immigration and Claims Committee is holding a hearing on some substantive legislation, and I look forward to the testimony of all of the panelists who will be testifying today. I pledge to the chairman that I wouldand his children, who are here with him today over in the right corner, that I would be gentle with him today, since he brought his children with him, so I think I will refrain from making an opening statement so that his children won't hear all of the partisan bickering kinds of things we normally do.
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Mr. SMITH. Without objection, so ordered, but I am going to always have my children come to particularly controversial markups.
Mr. WATT. You get that benefit only once.
Mr. SMITH. OK.
Mr. WATT. I think at least two of the four bills that we are considering here today appear to be fairly noncontroversial. One seems pretty political and one seems very controversial substantively on its merits and it is an issue we have been debating for the last two sessions of Congress now, so I will be delighted to hear the testimony and I will reserve further comment until further in the hearings.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
If there are no further opening statements, we will go to the first panel. Our first panel consists of Owen Pickett, our colleague from Virginia Beach; Paul Virtue, Acting Executive Associate Commissioner for Programs, Immigration and Naturalization Service; and Colin Wright, from the NATO Civilian Coalition, accompanied by Peter Davis, Senior Administrator, Civilian Personnel, Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, NATO. We welcome you all and we look forward to our colleagues' testimony.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF HON. OWEN B. PICKETT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
Mr. PICKETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning to you and members of your subcommittee. I would ask my statement be made part of the record, if I may.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection.
Mr. PICKETT. Let me say, Mr. Chairman, in Norfolk, VA, we have one of the two headquarters for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. There is one in Brussels and one in Norfolk, VA. The Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic is in Norfolk, VA. We are very proud of this.
For some unknown reason, the employees of NATO don't have the same privileges with regard to immigration as do, for example, employees of other international organizations like the United Nations. And the purpose of my bill, H.R. 429, is to correct this.
As you noted in your remarks, Mr. Chairman, this issue came up in the last Congress. We had the hearing before the subcommittee and you did include the text of the bill in the larger bill that was passed out on immigration issues by your subcommittee. I am not going to say more than to state that this legislation would give the non-U.S. NATO civilian employees the same kind of rights with regard to immigration as all other international organizations. It isn't a complex issue.
I have got two members here from NATO in Norfolk who wish to make a statement. So that our remarks won't just duplicate each other, I am going to defer to them for the more broad explanation of the bill. And I thank you very much for this opportunity to come here and present the bill.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Pickett.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pickett follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. OWEN B. PICKETT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
Mr. Chairman, H.R. 429 was produced so that non-U.S. NATO civilian employees would be treated the same as civilian employees of all other international organizations located in the United States.
There are approximately 60 non-U.S. civilians employed by NATO in my district in Virginia. These civilians are divided between the Allied Command Atlantic Communications Logistic Depot (ACLANT CLD) in Yorktown and the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) in Norfolk.
The civilians and their dependents (a total of approximately 132 persons) are from eight NATO nations (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom). They are issued a NATO6 visa and most are employed on contracts of indefinite duration. Under the terms of their visa they are considered non-resident aliens and can only remain in the United States as long as they continue to be employed at ACLANT or SACLANT. The dependent children of these civilians are not allowed to retain the NATO6 visa after attaining the age of 21. However, children who are full time students, may retain their visa until age 23.
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The dilemma facing a number of these families is that their children come to the United States at elementary school age and never experience the lifestyle of their country of origin. They acquire educational qualifications and experiences unique to the United States. Under present legislation, when these children graduate from high school of college, the family is forced to break apart, because the children must leave the United States.
A similar situation faces the NATO employee upon retirement. The civilian and his or her spouse are unable to retire into a community that has become their home after their years of service to NATO in the United States.
Until 1990, this program confronted employees of all international organizations located in the United States. Amendments to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act passed in 1990 and 1994 resolved this situation to a large decree for G4 visa employees of international organizations and their dependents.
These amendments provide G4 visa holders with the opportunity to obtain special immigrant status for adults if they have lived in the United States for 15 years, and for children if they have lived in this country for 7 years, based upon certain conditions. The provisions of these amendments apply to non-U.S. civilians employed by all international organizations located in the United States except NATO.
Presently, there is no Executive order that defines NATO as an international organization in the United States, and due to their NATO status, additional legislation is required to enable NATO civilians to benefit from the privilege accorded to G4 visa holders, such as employees of the United Nations.
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The SACLANT administration has consulted the Assistant Secretary of DefenseForeign Military Rights Affairs, the State Department, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and it has been concluded by them that this issue can best be resolved by legislation to further amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for special immigrant status for NATO civilian employees in the same manner as for employees of other international organizations.
H.R. 429 has been introduced for this purpose. This initiative is fully endorsed by NATO Headquarters, and is urgently needed to redress what is regarded as a distressing situation for employees working for the collective security of all NATO organizations.
I request that you give favorable consideration to the provisions contained in H.R. 429 to allow non-U.S. civilians employed by NATO and their dependents the privilege of special immigrant status, which is enjoyed by those employed by all other international organizations in the United States.
I might add. Mr. Chairman, that this is a very small group of people we are speaking of. All of them are highly educated and highly trained. They work in very sensitive positions at NATO. Their present status is, I believe, an oversight.
Your Attention to this matter is appreciated.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Virtue.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF PAUL W. VIRTUE, ACTING EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER FOR PROGRAMS, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
Mr. VIRTUE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the proposals that you have noted to amend the immigration laws. We appreciate the subcommittee's interest in the views of the INS. H.R. 429 would add a new subparagraph to section 101(a)(27) of the act, which provides for special immigrant status for certain categories of persons. The bill would include immigrants who are or were NATO officers or employees within the existing subparagraph.
It would include those in the existing subparagraph (I) of that provision in 101(a)(27), and that would mean the group of persons who would be eligible would also include the unmarried sons and daughters, spouses, and surviving spouses of retired NATO employees.
In effect, then, H.R. 429 provides for special immigrant status for retired NATO civilian employees and their families in the same manner as employees of other international organizations. And treating NATO personnel akin to those personnel of other international organizations has been an evolutionary pattern over time. It is one that is consistent with other provisions of the act. We would not oppose this proposal and we do not see any budgetary or resource impact on the service should this provision be enacted.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Virtue.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Virtue follows:]
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF PAUL W. VIRTUE, ACTING EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER FOR PROGRAMS, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss proposals to amend our immigration laws. We are appreciative of the Subcommittee's interest in the views of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
You have requested the views of the INS regarding the following legislation:
H.R. 429, introduced by Congressman Pickett. This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (hereafter referred to as ''the Act'') to provide for special immigrant status for NATO civilian employees in the same manner as for employees of international organizations;
H.R. 471, introduced by Congressman Gallegly. This bill would amend the Act to prohibit the counting of work experience of an unauthorized alien for purposes of admission as an employment-based immigrant or an H1B nonimmigrant; and,
H.R. 1493, also introduced by Congressman Gallegly. This bill would require the Attorney General to establish a program in local prisons to identify, prior to arraignment, criminal aliens and aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCH.R. 429: THE ''NATO SPECIAL IMMIGRANT AMENDMENTS OF 1997''
H.R. 429 would add a new subparagraph to section 101(a)(27) of the Act, which defines special immigrants. The bill would include immigrants who are or were NATO officers or employees within the existing subparagraph (I) of section 101(a)(27) which would mean that the group of persons eligible would also include unmarried sons and daughters, spouses, and surviving spouses.
In effect, H.R. 429 provides for special immigrant status for retired NATO civilian employees and their families in the same manner as for employees of other international organizations. Treating NATO personnel more akin to personnel employed by international organizations has been an evolutionary pattern, and one which is not inconsistent with the Act. We do not oppose this proposal and do not foresee any budgetary or resource impact on the Service if this bill should be enacted.
H.R. 471: THE ''ILLEGAL ALIEN EMPLOYMENT DISINCENTIVE ACT OF 1997''
H.R. 471 would add a new paragraph ''(7)'' to section 203(b) of the Act and a new subsection ''(l)'' to section 214. The new paragraph 203(b)(7) will disallow work experience obtained by an alien when the alien was not authorized to work in the United States as qualifying work experience for an employment-based visa. The new subsection 214(l) would have the same effect regarding H1B nonimmigrant visas.
Pursuant to H.R. 471, unauthorized work experience would not count for purposes of admission as an employment-based immigrant or an H1B nonimmigrant. The basic premise of this legislation is consistent with the intent of provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) that preclude aliens from obtaining credit or status based on violations of the Act. It would also foster compliance with existing employment authorization requirements. The Administration supports the general intent of this proposal.
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However, we see two administrative problems with this bill as drafted. First, as written, the bill could be read as requiring INS to go through a verification process for all periods of U.S. employment claimed by the beneficiary to determine if each employment experience in the U.S. was authorized. This would be very labor intensive, and would add substantially to the cost of processing a visa petition. The effect of this bill on the administrative process and costs would be mitigated by amending the provision to require a petitioning employer to demonstrate that the past employment of a worker was authorized. This could be accomplished by the submission of copies of employment authorization documents or I9 forms. For employment that was authorized incident to a nonimmigrant status, a copy of the annotated I94 document should be sufficient in most cases. However, some cases, for example non-immigrants from Canada, are not currently documented with an I94. This will present problems of proof, but should be able to be addressed by regulation.
Second, we suggest that the restriction be limited to the proposed immigrant categories. The problem the bill seeks to redress would appear to be more prevalent with respect to immigrant visa petitions. Alternatively, we would recommend that any restriction on nonimmigrant visas be applied to all employment related non-immigrant categories, not just the H1B category, which relates to fashion models and persons in specialty occupations.
H.R. 1493: ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM FOR THE IDENTIFICATION OF DEPORTABLE ALIENS AWAITING ARRAIGNMENT
The third bill under consideration, H.R. 1493, would require, within six months of enactment, the detail of at least one INS officer to each of no fewer than 100 local detention facilities on a full-time basis. Under the bill, identification of an alien as deportable must be completed prior to arraignment so the INS can advise the judge of its intentions with respect to deportation at the time of the arraignment hearing. The bill contemplates that an INS officer would be on duty during peak booking periods including those which occur during the night and presumably on weekends.
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The INS supports the idea of identifying aliens who are deportable during the period of criminal incarceration. We have long adhered to the importance of and worked towards identifying and removing criminal aliens and other deportable aliens, particularly in our nation's prisons. Our objective is to permit a timely adjudication of deportability while the person remains in corrective custody so that he or she may be deported promptly upon release. This is the basis for the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP) and our active presence in county and local prisons across the country. In our efforts to develop these programs, we have carefully considered how to use most effectively our limited resources as a component of the Administration's overall enforcement strategy to identify and remove deportable criminal aliens from penal institutions. Efforts such as these, and the dedication of unprecedented resources in recent years, have resulted in a record number of removals of criminal and other deportable aliens both in FY 1996 and thus far in FY 1997. In FY 1996, the INS removed a record 68,000 criminal and other deportable aliensup 36 percent over results achieved in FY 1995, itself a record year. The momentum has carried over in FY 1997. In the first half of FY 1997, removals have increased by 28 percent for the same period in FY 1996. This percentage will increase after we have reviewed all field reports.
The IHP is a cooperative effort among INS, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and various correctional agencies designed to identify criminal aliens within state and federal correctional institutions, to complete deportation proceedings for convicted aliens while they are still serving their prison sentences, and to remove expeditiously all deportable criminal aliens upon completion of their sentences. IHP hearings are conducted at 74 sites in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Of the 74 sites, 59 are in state facilities, 11 are in U.S. Bureau of Prison facilities, and 4 are in county jails. Our vigorous efforts have resulted in a greater number of adjudications, completions of criminal cases, and removals of criminal aliens. As part of the IHP in FY 1996, we interviewed almost 40,000 foreign-born inmates and removed 10,325 criminal aliens. Our goal for FY 1997 is to remove 14,000 aliens through the IHP program. At the midyear point in this FY, the Service had removed 6,738.
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Under our county and local jail program, the INS maintains a regular presence in prisons across the country. As FY 1997 resources for county jail projects are fully deployed, INS will have a permanent presence in the seven largest county jails in the country and a regular presence in many other county and local facilities. For example, we maintain an active presence in seven county jails in Southern California serving Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernadino, Santa Barbara, and San Diego counties. The latest county jail initiative was launched two weeks ago in Riverside. We will continue this expansion into FY 1998 and beyond, as resources allow.
The Service believes that our county and local jail program and the IHP are evidence of partnerships that work effectively to identify criminal aliens and continue to promote the efficient use of INS resources. We appreciate Congress' support for these programs.
In addition, IIRIRA contains several provisions for the identification of criminal aliens and aliens unlawfully present in the United States, upon the request of State and local entities. These provisions provide the INS with authority to expand our efforts to identify these individuals. We have already put in place some of these new enforcement requirements and are in the process of developing the plans for others. For example, under section 329 of IIRIRA, the INS has been conducting projects at jails in Anaheim, California and Ventura County, California to identify, prior to arraignment on criminal charges, aliens unlawfully present in the United States. We are in the process of evaluating these projects.
The purpose of H.R. 1493the early identification of deportable aliens in the criminal justice processis consistent with the agency's goals, and we strongly support the idea. However, because H.R. 1493 raises serious resource and other concerns, we cannot support the bill. Nothing in H.R. 1493 adds to the Attorney General's existing authority to station INS officers at local facilities for the purpose of early identification of deportable aliens. It simply re-directs the allocation of existing resources without authorizing additional resources. The bill assumes that funding for the required full-time details will be drawn from the existing base. In a preliminary assessment, INS estimates that this legislation would cost 900 positions, 447 FTEs, and $90,717,000.
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This legislation could mean the forced diversion of INS resources away from priority enforcement programs which produce greater enforcement results. INS enforcement resources are assigned in a manner consistent with the agency's enforcement priorities. Those include border control, the removal of criminal and other aliens, antismuggling, worksite enforcement, national and local multiagency crime task forces, anti-fraud enforcement, and asset forfeiture. As an example, approximately 20% of our investigative resources are assigned to crime task forces, including those to combat drug smuggling, terrorism, organized crime, and violent gangs.
We must first assure adequate coverage of the larger Federal, State and local facilities before focusing on smaller facilities in scattered locations. In our experience, this approach has proven to be the most effective use of resources to identify and help remove deportable criminal aliens. In the end, this legislation, however unintentionally, may hinder our efforts to target our worst and most serious offendersaliens incarcerated for criminal convictions. Instead, we would be required to refocus limited resources on individuals who are not arraigned and may not be deportable.
We appreciate the support of the concept of INS assisting local law enforcement agencies in this manner. As drafted, the bill jeopardizes progress we have made to remove more serious and dangerous convicted criminals for the sake of attempting to remove individuals who have not yet been arraigned. While that may be the appropriate law enforcement step to take in some or most instances, there are equal, if not more compelling, public safety and criminal justice needs for civil immigration violations to take a back seat to local, state, and federal prosecutions of crimes. Before requiring the expansion of INS local jail presence to 100 jurisdictions around the country, we urge the subcommittee to review the outcome of INS' current work in county and local jails and to assess these results. This will provide the proper framework and analytical support to justify a request for additional resources so as not to take away from INS removals of more serious and dangerous convicted criminals.
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Again we appreciate the invitation by the subcommittee for the views of INS on these bills. I will be pleased to answer any questions.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Wright.
STATEMENT OF COLIN WRIGHT, NATO CIVILIAN COALITION
Mr. WRIGHT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I have a 5-minute statement, if that is OK with you, and I will try and keep to that.
Mr. SMITH. That would be appreciated, thank you.
Mr. WRIGHT. My name is Colin Wright. I am an employee of NATO and I have been for the last 28 years, most of that time in the United States, and I am appearing here today on behalf of the non-U.S. civilians employed by NATO here in the United States.
There are approximately 60 such non-U.S. civilians employed in Virginia at two locations; one in Yorktown and one in Norfolk, both administered by the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic. These civilians and their dependents come from eight NATO nations, and the total number of people concerned is about 130. These people, the employees, are mostly on indefinite contracts, so there is no cutoff, or no expiration to their employment, until they reach 65 and they are issued a NATO6 visa.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Under current U.S. legislation, each civilian and his or her dependents are considered to be nonresident aliens and can only remain in the United States as long as the civilian continues to be employed by NATO.
Furthermore, their dependent children are not allowed to retain the NATO6 visa after they reach the age of 21, or if in full-time education, 23. Consequently, these children must leave the United States even if their parent remains in NATO employment.
This dilemma is faced by a number of NATO families and is particularly severe for those children who came to the United States when they were very young, at elementary school age, and never experienced a lifestyle in their own country of origin. They now possess educational qualifications and experience that are unique to the United States, but under the present U.S. legislation, when these children cease full-time education, the family must break up and these children must move to another country.
In that country, these children are effectively strangers. They do not have the necessary qualifications required to allow them to seek a career or indeed any form of professional employment. A similar, less catastrophic situation faces the NATO civilian employee when he or she retires.
In this case, neither the civilian nor the accompanying spouse are able to retire into the community that they now regard as home after 15 to 25 years of service in the United States. Until 1986 this problem confronted employees of all international organizations located in the United States, including, among others, the United Nations, the International Halibut Commission and the International Cotton Advisory Committee, among others.
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However, in 1986 and 1994, amendments to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act were passed which resolved the situation for individuals holding the G4 visa. These amendments provide these individuals with special immigration status, providing they have resided continuously in the United States for a certain period of time.
As a consequence, due to the separate visa status of the NATO staff, this special immigration privilege now applies in all international organizations located in the United States, with a singular exception of NATO. Over the past few years, our local NATO administration has consulted with various U.S. agencies on this matter, including the Assistant Secretary for Defense, the Foreign Military Rights Affairs, the State Department and INS.
As a result, it was concluded by these bodies that this issue could best be resolved by the introduction of a private members bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to extend special immigration status to qualified NATO6 visa holders. This process commenced in the last session of Congress when Congressman Pickett agreed to sponsor legislation that was supposed to be implemented in that session of Congress. Unfortunately, legal immigration issues were not resolved in the 104th Congress and the matter was put on hold until today.
The bill under consideration, H.R. 429, sponsored by Congressman Pickett, again seeks to bring NATO employees on to an equal footing with those of other international organizations located in the United States. This initiative is fully endorsed by the Secretary General of NATO and the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic. Legislation is urgently needed to address what they also regard as a distressing situation for their employees who are working diligently for the collective security of all NATO nations. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Wright follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF COLIN WRIGHT, NATO CIVILIAN COALITION
There are approximately 60 non-U.S. civilians employed by NATO in Virginia. These civilians are divided between the Allied Command Atlantic Communications Depot (ACLANT CLD) and the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) in Norfolk.
These civilians and their dependents are from eight NATO Nations (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and total approximately 132 persons. These individuals are issued a NATO6 Visa and most are employed on contracts of indefinite duration. Under current legislation, a non-U.S. NATO civilians and his/her dependents are considered to be non-resident aliens and can remain in the United States only as long as the non-U.S. civilians continues to be employed by NATO. The dependent children of these civilians are not allowed to retain the NATO6 Visa after the age of 21 (extendable to age 23 if the child is in full-time education.)
The dilemma facing a number of these families is that their children came to the United States at Elementary School age and have never experienced a lifestyle in their country of origin. They thus possess educational qualifications and experience that are unique to the United States. Under present legislation when these children graduate from High School and/or College, the family is forced to break up and the children must move to another country as strangers, without the necessary qualifications required by that country to allow them to seek a career or indeed any form of professional employment. A similar, if less catastrophic, situation faces the NATO civilian on retirement as the civilian and his or her spouse are unable to retire into a community that has become their home after 1525 years of service to NATO in the United States.
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Until 1990, this problem confronted non-U.S. employee of all International Organizations located in the United States, (including the United Nations, the International Halibut Commission and the International Cotton Advisory Committee, among others). However, amendments to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act were passed in 1990 and 1994 which resolved the situation for those individuals and their dependents having G4 Visa status. The language of these amendments provides these individuals and their dependents with Special Immigration Status when they meet certain time constraints.
At this time this Special Immigration privilege applies to qualified employees of all International Organizations with Headquarters located in the United States with the singular exception of NATO.
Over the past few years the SACLANT administration consulted with the Assistant Secretary for Defense Foreign Military Rights Affairs (OASDFMRA), the State Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service and it has been concluded by these bodies that this issue could best be resolved by the introduction of a Private Members Bill by a Congressional sponsor to institute a ''technical correction'' to the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to extend Special Immigration Status to NATO6 Visa holders. This process commenced when Congressman Pickett agreed to sponsor legislation early in January 1995 for implementation during the 104th Congress.
Unfortunately Legal Immigration Issues were not resolved in the 104th Congress and the matter was put on hold until the present Congress.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This Bill, H.R. 429, sponsored once more by Congress Pickett, is now before this legislative authority for consideration during this session of Congress. This initiative is fully endorsed by the Secretary General of NATO and the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic and is urgently needed to redress what they regard as a distressing situation for the dedicated employees of an organization that is working diligently for the collective security of all NATO nations.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Wright.
Mr. Pickett, I thank you not only for introducing what I think is a worthy bill, but for your persistence in doing so. As you mentioned, you thought you had it passed and implemented last year, and at the last moment it wasn't in the final product. Not for lack of your efforts and not for lack of my desire, but because part of the bill was taken out. I have to say to you, I think this is a fair bill and I think on the basis of equity alone, it is easily justified.
I won't read all the other international organizations that receive the same treatment that you are seeking for these NATO employees, but clearly if we are going to have equal application of the law or the immigration law, as it were, these folks need to be considered. I am just curious, you mentioned your district was one of two locations for these types of NATO employees.
Mr. PICKETT. I just mentioned that NATO, Mr. Chairman, has only two locations where they consider it headquarters. One in Brussels, Belgium, and the other in Norfolk, in the United States.
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Mr. SMITH. In your district.
Mr. PICKETT. I mentioned we are very proud of this fact in the community, and I personally would like to do what I can to make their stay in our country as hospitable as possible and extending them the same benefits we extend to other international organizations, I believe, is consistent with that kind of action.
Mr. SMITH. We hope to help you do just that. Mr. Virtue, as I understand it, the INS is not opposed to this bill; is that correct?
Mr. VIRTUE. That is correct.
Mr. SMITH. Are you supportive of the bill?
Mr. VIRTUE. I don't believe we have an official position. If requested, I believe we would just send a bill report up on that, but at least upon our review of the bill, we have been able to accomplish thus far, we are certainly not opposed to it. It would not have a negative resource impact. As Mr. Wright pointed out, it is a handful of people on an annual basis who would be affected by it.
Mr. SMITH. That was my next question, which I will address to you and Mr. Wright. I have read two different figures as far as the total universe of individuals who would be affected. What is the number, as you understand it?
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WRIGHT. Do you want to respond to that Peter?
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Davis, do you have the figure?
Mr. DAVIS. Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. At the moment we have 45 staff members that could eventually take advantage of this.
Mr. SMITH. How many, again.
Mr. DAVIS. Forty-five.
Mr. SMITH. Forty-five.
Mr. DAVIS. Forty-five staff members who have, collectively 36 spouses and a total of 39 children. The staff members themselves could take advantage after they serve 15 years. The children, of course, come into a different category because they can apply separately.
Mr. SMITH. Where does the figure 132 come from. I understand there are 132 civilians and their dependents who I believe live in Mr. Pickett's district.
Mr. DAVIS. The total number, of course, includes U.S. citizens. They would not require any special treatment; in addition, some non-U.S. staff would otherwise qualify for residency status because for example, they married U.S. personnel. That is the difference between the two figures, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. SMITH. As far as this bill specifically goes, it applies to just those individuals because other individuals have different avenues by which to do this.
Mr. DAVIS. That is correct, and of course, that applies to the future as well. But I should say that because we can directly hire U.S. citizens into NATO service, the number of non-U.S. people I expect to recruit will, in fact, become far less to fill the vacancies than it was in the past. And incidentally, because of our budgetary restraints in NATO, there is very little chance of us increasing our overall establishment so we are a dying breed, as it were.
Mr. SMITH. That is a fairly morbid term, but I know what you are saying.
Mr. Pickett, I don't have any other questions unless you want to add anything.
Mr. PICKETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your courtesy in allowing us to present the bill today. I appreciate it.
Mr. SMITH. You are welcome, and we will move forward with it, I hope, in the near future.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me ask a few questions, not because I oppose the bill, I want to start off by saying that, but there are a couple of things I want to clarify.
First of all, I guess I start with the presumption that anybody that comes here from another country to a position of this kind will always want to go home. I don't always start with the cavalier notion that everybody has that everybody wants to become an American citizen. And I think I understand the rationale for this bill more with reference to children who have been here their entire lives than I do for adults who came here, I presume, thinking that at some point they would go home.
Would either of you all care to address that issue briefly, Mr. Davis or Mr. Wright in particular.
Mr. WRIGHT. I could respond to that if you would like. I came to the United States on a 3-year contract, and most people come with the intention of staying a fairly short period of time, depending upon the situation. Unfortunately, circumstances change in the job market and also in NATO, which, because of recent changes in the organization, actually needs some continuity. And the headquarters, which is predominantly military, of course, requires civilians for continuity, so that is why many of the fixed-term civilian contracts were converted to indefinite ones, so that the headquarters could maintain people for a longer period of time to maintain that kind of continuity.
And obviously this is an environment where people feel comfortable and also it has become increasingly difficult in the defense business to find jobs back in Europe. So there has always been increasing pressure on the civilians who are working here, who see their children doing well in school and see very little opportunity back home, to stay longer, and the organization has effectively promoted the situation by asking people to stay longer and by offering them indefinite contracts.
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On retirement, clearly, a lot of people will want to go home, because that is where they come from, but there are a number who, because their children have settled down here, would want to stay in this country for that reason.
Mr. WATT. So this bill kind of creates a presumption. I mean, it doesn't make it automatic. It just says if somebody applies, and if somebody wants to stay
Mr. WRIGHT. That is correct.
Mr. WATT. Would it in effect create a dual citizenship situation?
Mr. WRIGHT. Not to my knowledge.
Mr. DAVIS. No.
Mr. WATT. All right. Let me turn the question around.
I presume there are some U.S. citizens working in the NATO office in Berlin. We just got a invitation from Amo Houghton to go over there and meet during one of the breaks coming up.
What is the situation with reference to their citizenship? Does Germany have a provision that would be reciprocal to this provision if United States citizens decided they wanted tothey had been over there 15, 20 years and their children have, in effect, gotten comfortable in Germany, what is the situation?
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Mr. WRIGHT. I understand. This is rather difficult to research because there aren't many examples. Mr. Davis and I have tried to find some examples in order to give you some information, but it is not complete, I am afraid.
Mr. WATT. Examples being those who work there or those who want to stay there?
Mr. WRIGHT. No, in terms of how many Americans that are currently working for NATO, in Europe, are actually eligible to stay in the country where they work, and how many Americans who worked for NATO previously were able to stay in Europe. For example, in the United Kingdom, we know of no Americans working for NATO, so it is very hard to determine what would happen if an American working in the U.K. for NATO wanted to stay, because we have not been through the process. In Belgium, as far as we know
Mr. WATT. I thought there were just two offices.
Mr. WRIGHT. No, I am sorry, there are two major NATO commands, one in Norfolk, VA, and one in Brussels, but there are a lot of subordinate commands throughout all the NATO countries and there are also a number of civil agencies, research centers, etc. employing, a total of approximately 5,000 NATO civilian employees throughout Europe and the United States. So most of the NATO countries have a NATO establishment in them, but not all of them have Americans working at them.
Mr. WATT. But isn't it true that most of them also have laws that don't allow U.S. citizens to stay there after their service.
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Mr. WRIGHT. It is hard to find out because the system hasn't fully been tested. As far as we know, in Belgium, where some Americans have obtained residency, they did it by pursuing dual citizenship, and were able to obtain Belgium citizenship and still retain their U.S. citizenship.
Mr. WATT. What about Germany, do we have any U.S. citizens working in Germany?
Mr. DAVIS. I am sure we do.
Mr. WATT. For long periods of time that would be similar to the situation we have here?
Mr. DAVIS. I think it is a little bit different because most of the Americans working in Continental Europe are seconded from either the military or the U.S. Civil Service.
Mr. WATT. I am sorry, I missed that series of words you used there. Either I missed it or I didn't understand it, one or the other.
Mr. DAVIS. What I was saying is most of the Americans working for NATO on Continental Europe, and there would certainly be some in Germany, are seconded from either their militaryactually there are officers in the military working for NATO for a period of time, usually 3 years, or they are U.S. civil servants working on again secondment to NATO; NATO reimburses the United States for their services. So these people have reemployment rights, of course, back in their own service and generally speaking would not wish to stay.
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I know of nobody, although we haven't done complete research on this, I know of nobody that has wished to stay under these circumstances. In Belgium and in the Netherlands, I know of two or three people, U.S. civil servants, that were not seconded from their national administrations, who have been allowed to stay and integrate into society. Their status, I am unsure of, but there seems to be a facility allowing them to do that.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that.
Mr. SMITH. The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Pease.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Virtue, I am also sympathetic to the bill, but I have a question. When one looks at the list of international agencies that are already approved, it is extensive, 70 or 75 organizations probably, so the logical question for me is if there were that many included, there must have been some reason why NATO wasn't, and looking at the list, they are all trade, economic, social, sorts of organizations.
I am curious whether a policy decision was made because NATO is a military entity and all the remainder of these are social or trade or economic, that there was a distinction made. If there was, why, and if there wasn't, should there be and does it still pertain?
Mr. VIRTUE. I am not sure originally why there is in the statute a distinction between the international organizations. I believe that was also an evolutionary process where international organizations had civilian employees in the United States for lengthy periods of time so the ties would be gained, perhaps, persons born in the U.S., you know, with U.S. citizenship, that type of an issue, ties being gained to the United States, so over time, that provision for those people to either adjust status or to immigrate to the United States was developed into the law.
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I think the NATO situation probably was one more of the fact that it was a military organization. This particular provision would apply in the civilian context and not in the military context. I think both were practical in other reasons, typically the military members of the NATO organization are not in the United States for periods of time, exceeding 15 years, which would be the period of time for this provision. And, also, I think just the status of forces of agreements that the NATO member countries have signed focus not on permanent status in the member countries, but facilitation of travel to those countries on a temporary basis, either under personal or group movement orders, so the status of forces agreements themselves are typically looking at the temporary period.
So as I mentioned, it has been an evolutionary process with the organizations. I think it is also one with the NATO situation as well that now we have a larger number of civilian employees who have been here for a lengthy period of time and perhaps the NATO folks could speak to that as well.
Mr. PEASE. Before they do, I understand what you are saying in that this applies to civilian employees, but it is the organizations that are listed, and this would be the first military organization list in this list of this 75 or so and I am wondering if there was a policy decision made at some point that military organizations would not be brought under this umbrella.
Mr. VIRTUE. Not that I am aware. I think it was more a situation that NATO, being new to this venture, was not considered to have, you know, large numbers of people in member countries for a lengthy period of time, whereas now the situation is that, you know, those ties have grown.
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Mr. WRIGHT. Could I add a couple of thoughts to that? When the G4 coalition was lobbying for this legislation, we were not aware of that fact at the time, otherwise we probably would have entered a dialog with them to be included in their legislation.
At that time, their legislation would then have applied to G4 and NATO6 visa holders. So we came to the issue late, after the G4 coalition had succeeded, so that was one of the reasons there has been a distinction. And, secondly, the definition of international organizations in the current legislation, as far as I can understand it, does not include NATO and would require an Executive order of some kind to do so. This would create some legal problems for our organization so it was an easier route to simply say that the legislation should treat NATO6 visa holders in the same way as G4 visa holders without changing the status of the NATO Headquarters in the United States at the same time. There was some reluctance to do that by our legal people.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Pease. Let me see if any of the Members that just arrived have any questions for this panelMs. Lofgren. No. OK. And we will assume Mr. Gallegly doesn't have any questions.
Mr. GALLEGLY. No, I don't have any questions.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you. We appreciate your testimony Mr. Pickett, and we will be getting back to you on the subject as well.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PICKETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. We will go to our second panel, which consists of our colleague on the subcommittee, Mr. Gallegly, Paul Virtue from INS, who just testified in the previous panel, and Mark Krikorian, executive director for the Center for Immigration Studies. We welcome you all and Mr. Gallegly has the option of remaining up here or joining the panelists. It is up to you.
Mr. GALLEGLY. If the chairman doesn't mind, I will just sit here. My statement is relatively brief.
Mr. SMITH. In that case, the gentleman from California, Mr. Gallegly, is recognized.
STATEMENT OF HON. ELTON GALLEGLY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to testify on behalf of H.R. 471, the Illegal Alien Employment Disincentive Act of 1997. I introduced this bill in January of this year. However, this is not the first time that most members of this subcommittee have considered this legislation.
As you know, last year, during the Judiciary Committee markup of the major immigration reform bill, H.R. 2202, I offered an amendment which is almost the same as H.R. 471. Following debate on the amendment, it passed unanimously by voice vote.
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The purpose of legislation is very straightforward. It simply prohibits work experience gained while a person was illegally employed in this country to count as valid work experience when the person applies for an employment-based immigrant visa or what is more commonly known as an H1B visa.
Let me briefly provide some background regarding current immigration law and how it exactly encourages illegal immigration. When an individual seeks to immigrate to the United States, he or she generally has two options. First, the person can apply for permanent residency, also known as a green card, based on a family relationship to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
The other way to obtain permanent residency is through a job offer with an employer. At the time that perspective immigrant petitions the permanent residency based on a job offer, the individual must demonstrate to the INS and in some cases to the Department of Labor that he or she possesses the qualifications required for the job opening.
The reason for the Department of Labor screening is to ensure that no qualified, willing U.S. citizens or legal immigrants are available for the job being filled. Depending on the type of visa sought, INS and the Department of Labor require a minimum level of work experience. For example, in the skilled work category, which includes jobs such as restaurant manager, auto mechanic, the Department of Labor requires at least 2 years of prior employment. However, neither INS nor the Department of Labor disqualifies the petition if they find that the prior employment was illegal.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In fact, both agencies actually credit prior illegal work experience in deciding whether the applicant is qualified to become a permanent resident. The same situation holds true for H1B visas, which is the primary visa used by highly skilled aliens who seek to work in this country on a temporary basis.
In May of last year, the Inspector General's Office of the Department of Labor issued a report on the Department's two major labor programs. Their finding confirmed that the persons who were working in this country illegally were legalizing their status through the employment-based visa. In their audit, the Inspector General found that close to 20 percent of the applicants for permanent residency were not authorized to work in this country.
The Congressional Research Service has also confirmed that illegal immigrants are obtaining employment-based green cards. CRS found that over 30,000 job-based immigrant visas were issued to persons under section 245 of the immigration statute.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, section 245 allows illegals to adjust their status without leaving the United States if they pay a slightly higher fee to the INS, an issue we discussed at great length last year. Even more alarming is the visa category that includes skilled workers, professionals and other workers. CRS found that 38 percent of the green cards issued by the INS went to those who were already illegally in this country. This loophole in the current law flies in the face of both common sense and the stated policy of INS of discouraging the employment of illegal immigrants while encouraging legal employment to legal immigrants.
As the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform stated in a 1994 report to Congress, reducing the employment magnet is the linchpin of a comprehensive strategy to reduce illegal immigration. I wholeheartedly agree with the Jordan Commission and believe it is time to hold accountable persons who violate our immigration laws and take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Gallegly.
STATEMENT OF PAUL VIRTUE, ACTING EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER FOR PROGRAMS, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
Mr. VIRTUE. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee today to comment on H.R. 471. As Mr. Gallegly indicated, the new provision in this bill would disallow work experience obtained by an alien when the alien was not authorized to work in the United States, as qualifying experience both for employment-based immigrant visa, as well as for the nonimmigrant visa under the H1B category.
Pursuant to H.R. 471, unauthorized work would not count for purposes of admission as an employment-based immigrant or an H1B nonimmigrant. The basic premise of the immigration is consistent with the intent of the provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act to preclude aliens from obtaining credit or status based on violations of the act. It would also foster compliance with existing employment authorization requirements. The administration supports the general intent of this proposal. However, we do have a couple of administrative concerns about the bill as it is drafted.
First, as written, the bill could be read as requiring INS to go through a verification process for all periods of U.S. employment claimed by the beneficiary to determine if each employment experience in the United States was authorized, that would be very labor intensive and add substantially to the process of the cost of these petitions. That effect on the administrative process and the costs associated could be mitigated, however, by amending the provision to clearly require a petitioning employer to supply the evidence necessary to demonstrate that the past employment of the worker beneficiary was, in fact, authorized. The evidence that would be supplied could be accomplished by the submission of copies of employment authorization documents or I9 forms. For employment that was authorized incident, however, to a nonimmigrant status, a copy of the annotated I94 document could be sufficient in most of those cases.
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For some cases, for example, nonimmigrants from Canada not currently documented with an I94, there may be problems with proof with respect to the past employment, but we should be able to deal with that issue by regulation.
Secondly, we suggest the restriction be limited to the proposed immigrant categories. The problem that the bill seeks to address would appear to be more prevalent with respect to immigrant visa petitions, as opposed to nonimmigrant visa petitions in most of those cases. The employment experience that we see submitted in terms of nonimmigrant petitions is experience that has been gained outside of the United States. But alternatively, we would recommend that any restriction on nonimmigrant visas, if, in fact, that were the way the subcommittee were intending to go, would be applied to all employment-based nonimmigrant categories, not just the H1B, which affects the fashion model and persons in specialty occupations categories, so that it would apply across the board and we wouldn't have two different standards for employment-based nonimmigrant petitions. I will be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Virtue.
STATEMENT OF MARK KRIKORIAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES
Mr. KRIKORIAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee. My name is Mark Krikorian. I am executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. We are a nonprofit research organization which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.
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I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this provision, a little more generally, maybe, than Mr. Virtue. When we are looking at the impact of immigration, the matter of illegal immigration, of course, is important, and although most immigrants are legal and even most low-skilled immigrants are legal, illegal immigrants, of course, present a special problem, not only because of their illegality, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation, but also because their average level of educational attainment is significantly lower than immigrants in general, making them more likely competitors for the most vulnerable members of our society.
There are many facets to a sound policy against illegal immigration: a strong border patrol, vigorous antismuggling efforts, quick deportation, et cetera. But since jobs are one of the main reasons foreigners come to the United States illegally, turning off the magnet of jobs is a necessary part of any strategy to curtail illegal immigration.
Congress and the administration have taken a number of important, if not overdue steps in this direction, most important of which probably in the long term being the pilot programs intended to lead to an employment eligibility verification system.
There is a loophole in the current law, however, which undermines these efforts to turn off the magnet of jobs. This loophole, as Representative Gallegly and Mr. Virtue have already explained, gives credit to an alien applying for permanent or temporary employment-based visa for that alien's work experience gained while living here illegally, or while here legally, but without work authorization.
The subcommittee is well aware of the loophole and passed a measure last year to close it, though the provision didn't survive in the final legislation, due to circumstances unrelated to its merits. This loophole is a problem in the first place because it violates basic fairness. It rewards those who break the law, while mocking those who play by the rules.
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This basic dishonesty underlines the findings of a broader report on labor certification released last year by the Labor Department's Inspector General's Office, which concluded the entire process of certifying labor certifications for foreign workers was a sham, in their words, involving little more than rubber stamping and a paper shuffle. But the loopholes are also a problem in a practical sense, serving as an incentive for aliens to come here and work illegally, since the work experience thus acquired may help them in future labor certification applications.
In fact, last year's Labor Department Inspector General's report found that almost one out of five, more than 19 percent of those who received labor certification for green cards were illegal aliens at the time of application. And of the total number of green cards distributed in fiscal year 1996, under the third employment-based preference category, which is the largest category under the employment preferences, 38 percent, almost two out of five, were illegal aliens getting their green cards under section 245(i) of the INA. The Labor Department report that I referred to contained a number of examples which illustrated the benefits of working illegally, while applying for legal status.
In one example, an employer petitioned for an alien's labor certification so he could hire the alien as general manager of a tailoring supply operation. The employer hired the alien illegally shortly after the application was filed. In accordance with the requirements for labor certification, the employer advertised the job to determine if any American workers were available, but not only had the alien already been hired for this job, but the employer assigned the alien to actually interview the applicants for the job he already held. In the understated words of the report, quote, ''not surprisingly all 11 applicants were found to be disqualified,'' unquote.
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Another benefit of closing the loophole in question is that such an action would remove the current incentive for employers to invest time and money in training illegal aliens in the hope that the training would eventually pay off in legal status. The Labor Department report describes such a case. A Peruvian illegal alien was hired as a machine operator in a machine shop, and more than 3 years later his employer filed an application for labor certification as part of getting a green card. Going through the motions, the employer advertised the job and in turn received 101 responses. Many of these applicants had more experience than the alien when he was originally hired, but the employer objected indicating he was not willing to train another machine operator since he had already trained the illegal alien. Thus, both the alien and his employer benefited from the experience gained during illegal employment.
The exclusion of illegal work experience for the purposes of labor certification and the resulting waste of an employer's time and money in training an illegal worker would serve as yet another deterrent to hiring illegal workers in the first place.
To wrap up, there are many aspects to the struggle to control illegal immigration. Some of the needed measures arouse controversy and argument, as we saw in last year's debates, but closing this loophole which rewards illegal employment should not be controversial. It seems to me the action would target both illegal workers as well as their employers and would remove some of the dishonesty and unfairness from the process. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I would be happy to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Krikorian follows:]
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENT OF MARK KRIKORIAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. My name is Mark Krikorian and I am executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a non-profit research organization, founded in 1985, which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.
When looking at the impact of immigration, the matter of illegal immigration is, of course, important. Although most immigrants are legal, and even most low-skilled immigrants are legal, illegal immigrants present a special problem. This is not only because of their illegality, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation, but also because their average level of educational attainment is significantly lower than immigrants in general, making them more likely competitors for the most vulnerable members of our society.
Combatting illegal immigration is particularly important now, as our nation implements wide-ranging welfare reform. Over the next year or two, we will try to move roughly 2 million welfare recipients into the workforce, and yet our lackluster efforts to control illegal immigration have resulted in the addition of an estimated 1.4 million high-school dropouts to the workforce, where they are occupying the very jobs former welfare recipients will need to take.
There are many facets to a sound policy against illegal immigrationa strong Border Patrol, vigorous anti-smuggling efforts, quick deportation, etc. But since jobs are one of the main reasons foreigners come to the United States illegally, turning off the magnet of jobs is a necessary part of any strategy to curtail illegal immigration.
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Congress and the administration have taken a number of important, if overdue, steps in this direction, the most important of which in the long term being the pilot programs intended to lead to an employment-eligibility verification system. The Immigration and Naturalization Service now has more than 1,000 employers participating in its Employment Verification Pilot, and plans to start the next part of the pilot planwhich will involve verification of all new hires' identity and work authorization, not just non-citizens'this summer. Congress required further pilots in last year's Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.
There is a loophole in current law, however, which undermines these efforts to turn off the magnet of jobs attracting illegal immigrants. This loophole, as Representative Gallegly has already explained, gives credit to an alien applying for a permanent or temporary employment-based visa for the alien's work experience gained while living here illegally, or while here legally but without work authorization. The subcommittee is well aware of this loophole, and passed a measure last year to close it, though the provision did not survive in the final legislation due to circumstances unrelated to its merits.
This loophole is a problem, in the first place, because it violates basic fairness. It rewards those who break the law, while mocking those who play by the rules. This basic dishonesty underlines the findings of a broader report on labor certification released last year by the Labor Department Inspector General's Office (subtitled ''The System Is Broken and Needs To Be Fixed''), which concluded that the entire process of certifying employer applications for foreign workers was a ''sham,'' involving little more than ''rubber stamping'' and a ''paper shuffle.''
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But the loophole is also a problem in a practical sense, serving as an incentive for aliens to come here and work illegally, since the work experience thus acquired may help them in future labor certification applications.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich testified about the corruption of the system before this subcommittee about a year and half ago: ''[O]f the current employment-based immigrants who are subject to the Department of Labor-administered permanent labor certification process, we estimate that over 90 percent are already in the U.S. and about two-thirds are already workingsometimes illegallyfor the employer which files the petition on his behalf.''
Last year's Labor Department Inspector General's report found that one out of fivemore than 19%of those who received labor certification for green cards were illegal aliens at the time of application, and that one out of six16 percentof applicants already working for the employers petitioning for their immigration were working illegally.
And of the green cards distributed in Fiscal Year 1996 under the third employment-based preference category (the largest category of employment-based permanent immigration), 38%almost two out of fivewere illegal aliens, getting green cards under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows illegal aliens paying an extra fee to get green cards without returning to their home countries.
The Labor Department report contained a number of examples which illustrated the benefits of working illegally while applying for legal status. In one example, an employer petitioned for an alien's labor certification, so he could hire the alien as general manager of a tailoring supply operation. The employer hired the alien illegally shortly after the application was filed. In accordance with the requirements for labor certification, the employer advertised the job to determine if any American workers were availablebut not only had the alien already been hired, but the employer assigned the alien to interview the applicants for the job the alien already held. In the understated words of the report, ''Not surprisingly, all 11 applicants were found to be unqualified.''
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Another benefit of closing the loophole in question is that such art would remove the current incentive for employers to invest time and money in training illegal aliens, in the hope that the training will eventually pay off ire legal status. The Labor Department report described such a case. A Peruvian illegal alien was hired as a machine operator in a machine shop, and more than three years later, his employer filed an application for labor certification as part of the process of getting a green card. Going through the motions, the employer advertised the job, and received 101 responses. Many of the applicants had more experience than the alien when he was originally hired, but the employer indicated he was not willing to train another machine operator since he had already trained the illegal alien. Thus, both the alien and his employer benefitted from the experience gained during illegal employment. The exclusion of illegal work experience for purposes of labor certificationand the resulting waste of an employer's time and money in training an illegal workerwould serve as a further deterrent to hiring illegal workers in the first place.
There are many aspects to the struggle to control illegal immigration. Some of the needed measures arouse controversy and argument, as we saw in last year's debates. But closing this loophole which rewards illegal employment should not be controversial. Such action would target both illegal workers and their employers, and would remove some of the dishonesty and unfairness of the process.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your indulgence, I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Krikorian.
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I have a couple of brief questions and then I will yield to Mr. Gallegly. Really, just a statement that I completely agree with your analysis that this is a loophole that needs to be closed for all the reasons you and Mr. Gallegly have stated.
Mr. Virtue, you mentioned that you had two administrative concerns. You thought they both could be addressed by regulations or by a language change; is that correct.
Mr. VIRTUE. Yes. Probably on the first, a language, maybe with respect to both, I guess a language change. One is that it should be made clear in the statute, consistent with the fact a petitioning employer has the burden of proving that the eligibilityor the experience necessary for the position, that the petitioner carries that burden with respect to this particular evidence as well and perhaps it would help to have that set out in the statute.
And I think Mr. Krikorian's remarks, as well, focus more on the permanent immigration visa, at least the example seemed to be directed at the permanent immigration. That is where this is perceived to be more of a problem than with the nonimmigrant visas and the added burden on the nonimmigrant category. We are not quite certain it would be worth the effort in terms of the nonimmigrant visas, but if the subcommittee wants to continue to take the approach on nonimmigrants it should be applied across the board to other categories.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you.
I yield the balance of my time to Mr. Gallegly.
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Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am going to be relatively brief.
I appreciate the comments of both Mr. Virtue and Mr. Krikorian. Unfortunately, this kind of fell through the cracks in last year's legislation.
As you know, we have very few issues on immigration particularly as controversial as the issue of immigration reform can be on this committee, to get pretty much unanimous support on any provision, and there were no dissenters on this provision as we marked up this bill last year. But during the legislative process as we moved to the floor, because of the dynamics of the way the legislation moves, unfortunately, this kind of fell through the cracks.
I appreciate your comments, Mr. Krikorian. It is well documented what takes place every day across this country. We need to do everything we can to eliminate incentives to encourage people to illegally come here and then reward them once they do.
Mr. Virtue, as it relates to the administration, I am pleased to hear that they are on record as supporting this as it relates to the dynamics of how it would be implemented. I would be very happy to work with the administration on verbiage if we can accomplish this goal in the effective way I believe we can.
I certainly do not believe that it should be so work-intensive that it is more of a negative in eliminating almost 40 percent of those that are coming here illegally and being rewarded. So I think we can work together and remedy that if we work in good faith together.
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Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Gallegly.
At the suggestion of Mr. Watt, we will go to Ms. Lofgren.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I understand the intent behind Mr. Gallegly's bill, and I share the goal of shutting off the magnet for illegal employment. I see this as a possibility to enhance that. However, I am hopeful that as this moves forward and we get into a markup that we might have the opportunity to work together dealing with potential quirks.
I will talk particularly about H1B's and the high-tech industry.
For example, in the real world, there is illegal and there is minor error, which is also illegal. But a very typical example, and one that I personally know, you have a Ph.D. student in physics, for example. At the end of their course of study, under current law, they are permitted to do practical training; and now, because of the administrative burden, oftentimes that has been delegated to universities to pursue. It is a certain number of weeks, and I don't think anyone objects to it.
It is possible that errors can be made. It is not that someone has entered to violate the law, but minor errors in the processing of paperwork can occur and often do occur at the university level.
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As written, this would prohibit that Ph.D. student from going to an industry that desperately needs him; and I don't think that is the intent of the author. There are ways to deal with that.
Mr. GALLEGLY. If the gentlewoman would yield, I don't see this as a problem at all.
Because while that Ph.D. student is in this country on a student visa, their technical status in this country is a legal status during the course of them being here. However, if they overstay that visa beyond the limits of what they had the right to be here as a student, then they would be illegal, if you are saying during the course of their studies as a student on a student visa that time could be used as a credit against work experience. But if they do not return and they stay here illegally, doggone it, they shouldn't be.
Ms. LOFGREN. Reclaiming my time, if I can point out a real-life example of someone I dealt with, it was someone with high skills, very much desired in Silicon Valley, whose paperwork, they were legally here with a student visa. They legally had a right to do I think it was 20 hours of practical training.
Their student advisor at the university they were attending had done they thought the correct work. But, in fact, the student advisor messed up, and the person actually was out of status for about 2 weeks and didn't even know it. Under this bill, they would be precluded from going into an industry that desperately needs their skills, as opposed to somebody who flagrantly violates the requirements of their visa.
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All I am suggesting is we, I am sure, can sit down and work through a process that will not punish American industry as this would, although not intended.
Mr. GALLEGLY. If the gentlewoman will yield, even in that very rare 1 in 10 million exception, I would say that the only part that student would have been potentially harmed would have been for a 2-week period, not for all the other experience and time that they had prior to that 2-week glitch.
If you fall down and skin your knee, sometimes you can't go to work for a week. So I don't really see that as a real problem.
Ms. LOFGREN. From the draft, I don't think that is clear, which is why I think we can work through this in a very productive way.
I would also like to explore with the author, and it may not be possible to resolve this, but we know, for example, there are cases of abuse, for example, that Mr. Virtue outlined, that had we taken an enforcement action the law already prohibits it. It may be we need to change the law, because enforcement has not been effective, frankly. I am game to look at that.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I would be very happy to work with the gentlewoman.
Ms. LOFGREN. The one thing I would like to pursue further is whether there is a way for those cases that are not abusive, and I am thinking particularly in the high-tech industry right now, and I am not talking data entry operators, I am talking about people paid $200,000 to $300,000, the software programmers have agents now, if there is a way to streamline them.
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We wanted Americans to fill the jobs, but we are not producing the raw, educated talent to meet the demand, and whether there is a way to cut off, while we enforce against the abuses, to make it easier in those cases where it is not abuses, where it is not for the alien's benefit but our economy's benefit that we streamline processes at the upper educational level and whether the gentleman would be interested in discussing that.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I would be very pleased to.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you.
The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Pease, is recognized.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have some background similar to Ms. Lofgren's experience. I think her point particularly in the higher education community is valid, but I also think it can be addressed where the error was not due to the fault of the immigrant. But that is for another time.
My only question is this: I agree with your suggested change in the language, Mr. Virtue, to make certain that the burden is on the employer who would hire a person, particularly given the other demands already on the agency to shift as much of that responsibility elsewhere as possible.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It seems to me strange the example that you give for how an employer would do is that is to produce documents that are already in the possession of the INS. The I9, for instance. Why the request or the suggestion that the language be changed to require an employer to produce something you already have?
Mr. VIRTUE. The I9 is a document maintained by the employer. The INS doesn't maintain it.
Mr. PEASE. You don't keep any copies of that, even though the employer has to provide it?
Mr. VIRTUE. The employer doesn't have to provide it to INS. The employer maintains that with the personnel records. If we were to do an investigation or audit, then we would go in and the employer would have to make those records available to us. But we continue maintain copies.
Mr. PEASE. They are not filed in advance of the employment.
Mr. GALLEGLY. If the gentleman would yield, I have some basic fundamental problems with the whole I9 process anyway. It takes a 39-page brochure to explain to an employer how to fill it out, first of all, and it is held just in the employer's file, and the INS doesn't see it unless there is an audit or the INS comes in to verify on a random situation.
I think that issue, in and of itself, is another major concern for another day. I would agree with the gentleman.
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Mr. PEASE. That is my only question. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Chairman, may I inquire, is this the only hearing we will have on this item on this bill?
Mr. SMITH. I would say that is my intention, is to have this be the only hearing on these bills.
Ms. LOFGREN. That is sufficient. I am just wondering, I would love to have some input, and it doesn't have to be in a formal setting, we can make it available publicly as well, from some of the high-tech industries that are so very interested in this issue to Members on both sides of the aisle. I think that would be very helpful. I will take the responsibility to line up some of that.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Lofgren.
Mr. Pease, are you finished?
Mr. PEASE. I am finished. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Watt is recognized.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Again, I have no problem with the concept of this bill. I think the intended purpose is worthy, and I think maybe at some point we, outside the context of a bill, may need to have some hearings about B1 status, H1B status, whatever it is called. Because when I hear people say that some of these certifications are just shams, that is what I keep hearing quite often, too.
So any effort we can make, any reasonable effort that doesn't go overboard, in deference to what Ms. Lofgren is saying, to close the loophole, I think we need to close. But we also need to take a closer look at the totality of the program to make sure that the certifications have some validity to them.
Let me just ask one question that comes to mind by virtue of what Mr. Virtue said as a solution to the problem, which was to require employees to produce the documentation required, which I don't have any particular problem with. But then I thought I heard Mr. Krikorian say that the education levels of people who are in this H1B category are substantially lower than in most other categories? I had thought that the exact opposite of that was the case.
Mr. KRIKORIAN. No, I was referring to illegal immigrants as a group. In other words, I was trying to set the context for illegal immigration as such.
No, almost certainly, with regard to H1B nonimmigrants, their level of education is likely to be higher than the average immigrant.
Mr. WATT. OK. Then what implication then would it have if we took that standard of putting a more aggressive burden of proof on H1B applicants and transferred that more aggressive H1B proof requirement to other categories, as Mr. Virtue is suggesting? I think that was his second point, was it not, Mr. Virtue?
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Mr. VIRTUE. That is right. If we were going to have a requirement in this respect, the first point was, we don't believe this is a real problem with nonimmigrant visas. It would appear to be more of a problem with the immigrant visa. But if the legislation were to include nonimmigrant visas, then we should have one rule for all of those categories that require either an education or experience equivalent for that education. That would include not only H's, but L's, O's and P's, basically.
Mr. WATT. I think I understand that better now. That is fine.
Did you have a comment to make on that?
Mr. KRIKORIAN. No.
Mr. WATT. I yield the balance of time.
Ms. LOFGREN. I wonder if I might, just thinking how we get information out in the public arena, ask unanimous consent to insert in the record materials secured from the high-tech community so that it will be available to the public as well as Members.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, we will be happy to include that.
[The information follows:]
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Representative ZOE LOFGREN,
|American Immigration Lawyers Association,|
|Washington, DC., May 23, 1997.|
Member of Congress,
Cannon House Office Building,
DEAR REPRESENTATIVE LOFGREN: Thank you for allowing us to provide you with additional information regarding the impact of H.R. 471, the ''Alien Unauthorized Employment Disincentive Act.'' As a bar organization representing almost 5,000 attorneys and law professors, many of whom specialize in the field of business immigration, we are in a unique position to attest to the impact of this proposed legislation.
We view this legislation as a well-meaning attempt to curb the affirmative practice of unauthorized employment, which has not diminished in the more than ten years that employer sanctions have been in the law. However, we have several concerns with the bill we believe the Subcommittee should address.
First, the bill's retrospective nature is unnecessarily harsh and goes too far. By attempting to reach back to experience obtained before the bill's passage, it will cause significant administrative burdens on those agencies charged with implementation. We already have seen the problems that occurs within INS as it is attempting to deal with retrospective aspects of IIRAIRA, where the application of the law has been uneven and disparately applied.
Second, this bill will have an adverse impact on thousands of persons who have engaged in unauthorized employment through no fault of their own, but for technical reasons or through misunderstandings. Although Representative Gallegly referred to the situation you raised in the hearing (the Ph.D. student who fell out of status) as a ''one in a million'' chance, such situations are more common than that. Gaps in status, some for only a few days, some for months' or even years' duration, occur for a variety of reasons. Students stop carrying a full course load, are misinformed by their advisors, and even engaged in unauthorized campus or other employment without being aware of any violation. These lapses in status will impact future status, and will cause gaps of several months in a person's work experience. Particularly in the high-tech field, with competition fierce for certain types of knowledge and expertise, a gap of even a few months in a person's experience can have significant adverse impact in obtaining temporary or permanent residence. These gaps, moreover, are not discemable until later, usually when the individual applies for permanent residence.
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Third, we agree with the INS's position that the bill should not apply in the nonimmigrant context. As a practical matter, experience is generally not an issue for most nonimmigrant visas. Requiring any sort of proof for nonimmigrants would unduly burden employers and strain already-reduced INS resources.
Finally, we are concerned about the INS' statement that it would place the burden of proof on the employer for work-authorized status. Placing the burden on the employers would cause administrative problems out to balance with the intent of the legislation. Requiring the employer to prove that the employee gained experience while in lawful status will be, in many cases, difficult if not impossible. For an employer seeking to obtain permanent residence for an employee through the filing of a labor certification, the burden will vary; It will be more difficult for any experience not gained with that employer. Such proof will be in the control of, not the employer, but the employee he seeks to hire. While an employee may keep some proof of his or her legal status, it may be insufficient to prove legal status for the entire time under scrutiny. For example, an employee may have as proof of valid status a copy of an approval notice from INS. However, there will be no subsequent record that demonstrates he or she actually worked subject to that approval. Ironically, the more senior the employee, the more difficult it will be for the employer to demonstrate the status under which the employee gained the experience, as it will require pulling together documents from many sources and may not be under the employee's control. We suggest that the Subcommittee consider implementing some type of pilot program to test various methods of demonstrating the authorization of work status.
We are grateful for the opportunity to present these comments and sincerely hope that they assist the Subcommittee's consideration of this legislation.
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|American Immigration Lawyers Association.|
Mr. WATT. I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I would just like to ask one question, just for clarification, because I was a little distracted.
Mr. Virtue mentioned that you saw the problem only on immigrant visas, is that correct?
Mr. VIRTUE. It would appear to us to be more of a problem on the immigrant visas, where the person has gained experience in the United States. Either some of that experience may be being as a nonimmigrant, and then typically the experience has been the person stays around after that nonimmigrant visa has expired.
Mr. GALLEGLY. You don't disagree with CRS's numbers that 38 percent of the green cards issued in the skilled areas are issued to those illegally in the country?
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. VIRTUE. I am not sure whether we disagree with that figure. Those are for the green cards, and those would be for the permanent visas, that is right.
Mr. SMITH. We appreciate your testimony today.
That will conclude this panel. Thank you.
We will go to the third panel, which will also include our colleague on the subcommittee, Mr. Elton Gallegly. Paul Virtue from the INS will remain in place. And we welcome Randall Gaston, chief of police, City of Anaheim, CA, and Richard Bryce, undersheriff, Ventura County, CA, Sheriff's Department.
I don't know if it is obvious or not, but Ventura County is the home county of our colleague, Mr. Gallegly. So we offer a special welcome to you all.
We will start with Mr. Gallegly.
STATEMENT OF HON. ELTON GALLEGLY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIARESUMED
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
In fact, it was only a few hours ago that I was in Ventura County. As the chairman knows, I just flew in on the red eye and got in an hour and a half ago, so if I am not quite as coherent as you think I should be, you can halfway understand why.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to testify on H.R. 1493, a bill to make permanent and expand a very successful pilot program which identifies deportable criminal aliens awaiting arraignment.
Since the program began in November, 65 percent of those interviewed at the Ventura County Jail have been found to be deportable criminal aliens, and this legislation will have the same dramatic impact on other communities that are affected by illegal immigration.
Mr. Chairman, H.R. 1493 will make permanent and expand the highly successful pilot program already in place in Anaheim and Ventura County Jails. Expanded, the program will also include every jail in the 100 counties with the highest concentration of illegal immigrants.
Like the current pilot program, this legislation would require the INS to screen for deportable criminal and illegal aliens prior to arraignment, thus preventing the release of these individuals back onto our streets and into our communities.
The bill goes further to require that at least 1 INS employee be posted at each facility on a full-time basis, including the portions of the day and night when the greatest number of individuals are jailed.
The bill also calls for a GAO study on expanding the program by allowing INS agents to conduct offsite verification of prisoners using computers or electronic means such as the more commonly referred to IDENT system.
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One of the reasons this program has been so successful, Mr. Chairman, is the fact that it is at point of entry. It identifies 100 percent of the criminal deportable aliens that are booked, not just those serving prison sentences. After being booked or serving their sentence, deportable criminal aliens are turned over to the INS for detention and deportation, eliminating the possibility of release back into our communities.
There are many instances where, had the pilot program been in place, tragedy would have been averted. One such case, and perhaps Mr. Bryce will identify with this in a few minutes, a criminal alien was sentenced to from 25 years to life in prison for murdering in broad daylight a defenseless Santa Paula restaurant owner, Isabela Guzman.
The man convicted of this cold-blooded murder had been arrested not once but three times for assault with a deadly weapon. If this program had been in place at the time of any of these previous arrests, the killer would have been identified and deported, and Isabela Guzman would most likely be with us today.
This legislation is an efficient and effective means by which the administration can uphold its commitment to making detention and deportation of criminal aliens the top priority. Moreover, the measure dovetails with the stated policy of the INS of greatly improving the country's capacity to remove aliens who have broken our laws, especially criminal aliens.
With more than 26,000 employees and a requested budget of $3.6 billion for fiscal year 1998, the INS is fully capable of staffing needs of this legislation. In fact, the detention and deportation budget of the INS has more than tripled, from $193 million in 1993 to an expected $756 million in 1998.
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Likewise, personnel working in the detention and deportation areas has increased dramatically, from 1,623 employees in 1993 to 3,323 in fiscal year 1998.
I believe the INS has the funds and personnel to implement this authorization bill. The pilot program has been one of the few instances where a Federal program has been tested at the local level and found to be a resounding success. This is the way it is supposed to operate, start at the local level and see what works best in our communities.
Local law enforcement officials are very supportive of this program. To date, H.R. 1493 has received endorsements of the Ventura County's Sheriff's Department, Riverside Sheriffs Association, and the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, as well as many local government officials.
Mr. Chairman, through the presence of INS inside the jail facilities, we are finally able to identify and deport criminal aliens at the time they are arrested and before they are back on the streets committing more violent crimes and destroying the lives of countless victims.
I urge the committee's support of this very important tool, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Gallegly.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gallegly follows:]
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. ELTON GALLEGLY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to testify on behalf of H.R. 1493A bill to make permanent and expand a very successful pilot program which identifies deportable, criminal aliens awaiting arraignment.
Since the program began in November, 65% of those interviewed at the Ventura County Jail have been found to be deportable criminal aliens. And, this legislation will have the same dramatic impact on other communities that are affected by illegal immigration.
Mr. Chairman, H.R. 1493 will make permanent and expand the highly successful pilot programs already in place in the Anaheim and Ventura County jails. Expanded, the program will also include every jail in 100 counties with the highest concentration of illegal immigrants.
Like the current pilot program, this legislation would require the INS to screen for deportable criminal and illegal aliens prior to arraignment, thus preventing the release of these individuals back onto our streets and into our communities. The bill goes further to require at least one INS employee be posted at each facility on a full-time basis, including the portions of the day and night when the greatest number of individuals are jailed.
The bill also calls for a GAO study on expanding the program by allowing INS agents to conduct off-site verification of prisoners using computers or electronic means such as the IDENT system.
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One of the reasons this program has been so successful, Mr. Chairman, is the fact that it is a point of entry system. It identifies 100% of the criminal, deportable aliens that are booked, not just those serving prison sentences. After being booked, or serving their sentence, deportable criminal aliens are turned over to the INS for detention and deportation, eliminating the possibility of release into the community.
There are many instances where, had the pilot program been in place, tragedy would have been averted. One such case recently occurred in my district. A criminal alien was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for murdering in broad daylight, a defenseless Santa Paula restaurant owner, Isabela Guzman. The man convicted of this cold-blooded murder had been arrested not once, but three times for assault with a deadly weapon. If this program had been in place at the time of any of his previous arrests, this killer would have been identified and deported and Isabela Guzman would most likely be alive today.
This legislation is an efficient and effective means by which the Administration can uphold its commitment to making detention and deportation of criminal aliens a top priority. Moreover, the measure dovetails with the stated policy of the INS of ''Greatly improving this country's capacity to remove aliens who have broken our laws, especially criminal aliens . . .'' With more than 26,000 employees and a requested budget of $3.6 billion for fiscal year 98, the INS is fully capable of the staffing needs of this legislation.
In fact, the detention and deportation budget of the INS has more than tripled from $193 million in 1993 to an expected $756 million in 1998. Likewise, personnel working in the detention and deportation area has increased dramatically, from 1623 employees in 1993 to 3323 in fiscal year 1998. I believe the INS has the funds and personnel to implement this authorization bill.
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The pilot program has been one of the few instances where a federal program has been tested at the local level and found to be a resounding success. This is the way government is supposed to operatestart at the local level and see what works best for our communities. Local law enforcement officials are very supportive of the program. To date, H.R. 1493 has received the endorsements of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, Riverside Sheriff's Association and the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, as well as many local government officials.
Mr. Chairman, through the presence of the INS inside the jail facilities, we are finally able to identify and deport criminal aliens at the time they are arrested and before they are back on our streets committing more violent crimes and destroying the lives of countless victims.
I urge the Committee's support of this important tool to combat crime in our communities. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Virtue.
STATEMENT OF PAUL VIRTUE, ACTING EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER FOR PROGRAMS, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICERESUMED
Mr. VIRTUE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate the opportunity for the Immigration Service to appear before this subcommittee and to comment on H.R. 1493.
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This bill, H.R. 1493, would require within 6 months of enactment the detail of at least one INS officer on a full-time basis to each of at least 100 local detention facilities.
Under the bill, the identification of an alien as deportable must be completed prior to the arraignment so the INS can advise the judge at the time of the arraignment of its plans with respect to deportation. The bill contemplates that an INS officer would be on duty during peak booking hours, including those which occur during the night and presumably on weekends.
The INS supports the idea of identifying deportable aliens while they are in jail on criminal charges. For years we have believed in and worked to identify and remove detained criminal and other deportable aliens. A timely adjudication of deportability while the person remains in corrective custody permits deportation promptly upon their release.
This is the basis for our institutional hearing program and our active presence in county and local prisons across the country. In developing these programs, we carefully consider how we can use most effectively our limited resources.
Under our current county and local jail program, the INS maintains a regular presence in prisons across the country. As fiscal year 1997 resources for the county jail projects are fully deployed, INS will have a permanent presence in the seven largest county jails in the country and a regular presence in many other county and local facilities.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For example, we maintain an active presence in seven county jails in southern California serving Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties.
The latest county jail initiative was launched just 2 weeks ago in Riverside. We will continue this expansion into fiscal year 1998 and beyond as our resources allow.
Our county and local jail program and the IHP, our Institutional Hearing Program, are evidences of partnerships that work effectively to identify criminal aliens and continue to promote the efficient use of INS resources. We appreciate Congress' support for these programs.
Efforts such as these and the dedication of unprecedented resources in recent years have resulted in a record number of removals of criminal and other deportable aliens, both in fiscal year 1996 and thus far in fiscal year 1997. In fiscal year 1996, the INS removed a record 68,000 criminal and other deportable aliens. That was up 36 percent over the result achieved in fiscal year 1995, which itself is a record year.
The momentum has carried over into fiscal year 1997. In fact, later today we will be announcing our removal numbers for the first half of fiscal year 1997.
INS returned 22,595 illegal aliens and criminal aliens to their home countries during the second three months of this fiscal year, that is January 1 through March 31. That is an increase of 28 percent over that period last year.
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In the first half of fiscal year 1997, therefore, INS has removed a total of 42,426 illegal and criminal aliens. That puts us right on track to accomplish our goal of removing a record 93,000 illegal aliens this year.
The number of criminal aliens removed was especially important. It represents a 34-percent increase over last year. Of the 23,290 criminal aliens who were removed, 59 percent of those were aggravated felons, convicted of such crimes as murder, rape and armed robbery.
The purpose of H.R. 1493, the early identification of deportable aliens in the criminal justice process, is consistent with the agency's goals, and we strongly support the idea of early identification.
However, because H.R. 1493 raises serious resource and other concerns, we could not support the bill. Nothing in H.R. 1493 adds to the Attorney General's authority or the existing number of INS officers available to work at local facilities to identify deportable aliens. It simply redirects the allocation of existing resources without authorizing additional resources and assumes that funding for the required full-time details would be drawn from the existing base.
In a preliminary assessment, INS estimates that this legislation could require as many as 900 positions and $90 million to fully implement. The legislation would divert INS resources away from priority enforcement programs which produce greater enforcement results. Those include Border Patrol, the removal of criminal and other aliens who have been convicted, antismuggling, worksite enforcement, national and local multiagency crime task forces, our antifraud enforcement program, and asset forfeiture.
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As an example, approximately 20 percent of our investigative resources are currently assigned to crime task forces, including those that combat drug smuggling, terrorism, organized crime and violent gangs.
We must first assure adequate coverage of larger Federal, State and local facilities before focusing on smaller facilities in scattered locations. This, we believe, is the most effective use of resources, because we can identify and help remove deportable criminal aliens from jails and communities that need us the most.
In the end, this legislation could actually hurt our efforts to target those facilities. Instead, we would be required to refocus resources on individuals who are not arraigned and may not even be deportable or on jails with fewer foreign-born inmates.
We appreciate the support of the concept of INS assisting local law enforcement agencies in this manner. As drafted, however, the bill jeopardizes the progress we have made to remove more serious and dangerous convicted criminals for the sake of attempting to remove individuals who have not yet been arraigned. While that may be an appropriate law enforcement step to be taken in some or perhaps even most instances, there are equal if not more compelling public safety and criminal justice reasons for local, State and Federal prosecution of crimes to take precedence over civil immigration violations.
Before requiring the expansion of the INS local jail presence to 100 jurisdictions around the country, we would urge the subcommittee to review the outcome of INS's current work in county and local jails to assess these results. This would provide a proper framework and an analytical support to justify the request for additional resources so as to not draw away from INS removals of more serious and convicted dangerous criminals.
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Again, we appreciate the opportunity for the invitation of the subcommittee for the views of INS. I am pleased to answer any questions.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF RANDALL GASTON, CHIEF OF POLICE, CITY OF ANAHEIM, CA
Chief GASTON. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, honorable subcommittee members, on behalf of the City of Anaheim, we appreciate the attention of this subcommittee for a critical law enforcement issue we face in California. It is evident that you have seen an opportunity to enable intergovernmental cooperation where the Immigration and Naturalization Service executes one of its basic missions, that of conveying Federal information and resources to local law enforcement who are on the front line in southern California.
The program I am about to summarize has very bedrock benefits and provides essential assistance for local law enforcement. In sum, this program is actually working and working well.
To briefly summarize the beginnings of this program, in 1995, one of Anaheim's police officers was shot and seriously wounded by a twice-deported felon. Investigation of this incident led to the discovery that a number of arrests were increasing in Anaheim, particularly for offenses involving illegal aliens. Without the training and knowledge or Federal information available to our local law enforcement personnel, identification of illegal aliens was not being accomplished. Without INS presence at our detention facility, there was no way to substantiate who the suspected criminal was or if they had been arrested previously for other crimes.
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Simply put, we suspected we were arresting the same individual, often using an assumed name, many times over, in essence creating a revolving door phenomenon.
Meanwhile, victims and law-abiding citizens in our community were fed up. It became our responsibility to come up with the solution to a problem that is now becoming too familiar throughout the Nation. This revolving door phenomenon and the quality of life for our citizens led to our plea with the administration and Congress.
I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Mr. Gallegly and Mr. Cox who authored language in last year's immigration reform legislation that authorized and allowed us to implement a pilot program that is truly making a difference in Anaheim.
In addition, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Rohrabacher, Mr. Kim, Mr. Royce, and Senator Feinstein for their enthusiastic support of this program.
It is important to illustrate what has occurred prior to the pilot program implementation. A suspected criminal illegal alien is taken into custody and provides false identification. This false identity allows the individual to be treated as a first-time offender. Under our current criminal justice system, most first-time offenders are set free on their own recognizance to await arraignment or sentencing by a judge. Not surprisingly, most illegal aliens never return for arraignment because they fear deportation.
The processing costs that occur at this point-of-entry level involves officer time, communications time, record investigations, city attorney investigation, transportation costs, bailiff costs, meals and medical costs. Without INS presence at this point, the criminal justice costs to a municipality escalate.
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The suspect subsequently appears before a judge who does not have the benefit of knowing the true identity of this individual and is either ordered to appear in court at a specific time or released. If the suspect fails to appear in court, a bench warrant is issued, adding further to the processing costs borne by the local agency. If the suspect is released, the revolving door occurs and the recycling of repeat offenders through the criminal justice system continues.
Under the Criminal Alien Prearraignment Identification Pilot Program, as we have experienced for the last 6 months, a different set of circumstances has prevailed. Here is how it works:
An INS agent is stationed at the local jail with an INS computer link to the Federal data base. The agent screens each and every arrestee booked into the jail. If the INS agent determines that the suspect is indeed in this country illegally, thus having committed a Federal offense, a hold is placed by the Federal officer prior to their arraignment hearing. This hold is the crucial point or cornerstone of prearraignment screening. The flagged suspect appears before the magistrate, who now knows the true identity of this individual, and if the individual is a criminal illegal alien, instead of being released, he or she is transferred to the INS for deportation proceedings.
I would like to reiterate that this point-of-entry program differs substantially from a regional or county system in three ways:
First, the Criminal Alien Prearraignment Program screens everyone. Each and every suspect that enters the criminal justice system at the local level is identified. Civil rights are not compromised. At the county level, identity is not determined until after arraignment.
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Second, the city level program identifies individuals prior to their first appearance before a judge, providing the magistrate with the true identity of this suspect and criminal record information. As an example, one suspect had 22 arrests, used 57 different names, and 23 different dates of birth. Another offender had been arrested 34 times, including 13 for burglary and used 51 different names and 13 different dates of birth.
The third reason a city program differs from a county program is the fact that identification at the release line level is not always successful. An example: In October of last year, a suspect was arrested in Anaheim for assaulting his wife with a pair of scissors. This individual went to his estranged wife's workplace in violation of a domestic violence restraining order, physically assaulted her and threatened further violence.
The suspect had recently been released from the Orange County Jail for beating his estranged wife and was on probation for that offense. This suspect had served a jail sentence and had received 3 years of probation. This suspect had previously been arrested for drunk driving and later for spousal abuse and assault with a deadly weapon, also receiving jail time for these convictions. He was released from the Orange County Jail and transferred to the Los Angeles County Jail for an outstanding warrant on another offense.
The irony of this case is this convicted criminal admitted to being in the country illegally. However, the only record of INS involvement in any of this individual's arrests was due to the prearraignment INS identification when he was finally booked into the Anaheim City Jail.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It should be noted the illegal alien that is involved in criminal activity often victimizes other immigrants who are law abiding, hard working, and trying to support their families.
Although we suspected that the INS presence at the city or point-of-entry level would assist local police in accurately identifying all arrestees through the system, our conservative expectations on the effectiveness of such a presence was underrated. This Federal-local partnership has resulted in an astonishing success.
Again, I would like to commend Congressman Gallegly for introducing the legislation to extend the implementation and benefits of this program nationwide. I can attest that this is an innovative program, and it is an efficient and measurable crimefighting tool that can be equally effective in other communities confronting the criminal illegal alien problem.
Thank you for this opportunity to express our support, and I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Chief Gaston.
[The prepared statement of Chief Gaston follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF RANDY GASTON, CHIEF OF POLICE, CITY OF ANAHEIM, CA
Mr. Chairman, Honorable Committee Members, On behalf of the City of Anaheim, we appreciate the attention of this committee for a critical law enforcement issue we face in California. It is evident that you have seen an opportunity to enable intergovernmental cooperation where the Immigration and Naturalization Service executes one of its basic missionsthat of conveying federal information and resources to local law enforcement who are on the front-line in Southern California. The program I am about to summarize has very bedrock benefits and provides essential assistance for local law enforcement. In sum, this program is actually working, and working well.
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To briefly summarize the beginnings of this program, in 1995, one of Anaheim's Police Officers was shot and seriously wounded by a twice-deported felon. Investigation of this incident led to the discovery that the number of arrests were increasing in Anaheim, particularly for offenses involving illegal aliens. Without the training, knowledge or federal information available to our local law enforcement personnel, identification of illegal aliens was not being accomplished. Without INS presence at our detention facility, there was no way to substantiate who the suspected criminal was, or if they had been arrested previously for other crimes. Simply put, we suspected we were arresting the same individual, often using an assumed name, many times overin essence creaking a revolving door phenomenon. Meanwhile, victims and law-abiding citizens in our community were fed up. It became our responsibility to come up with a solution to a problem that is now becoming too familiar throughout the nation. This revolving door phenomenon and the quality of life for our citizens led to our plea with the Administration and Congress. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Mr. Gallegly, who authored the language in last year's Immigration Reform legislation that authorized and allowed us to implement a pilot program that is truly making a difference in Anaheim. In addition, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Cox, Mr. Rohrabacher, Mr. Kim, Mr. Royce, and Senator Feinstein for their enthusiastic support of the program.
It is important to illustrate what has occurred prior to the pilot program implementation. A suspected criminal illegal alien is taken into custody and provides false identification. This false identity allows the individual to be treated as a first-time offender. Under our current criminal justice system, most first time offenders are set free on their own recognizance to await arraignment, or sentencing by a judge. Not surprisingly, most illegal aliens never return for arraignment because they fear deportation. The processing costs that occur at this ''point-of-entry'' level involves officer time, communications time, record investigation, city attorney investigation, transportation costs, bailiff costs, meals, and medical costs. Without INS presence at this point, the criminal justice costs to a municipality escalate. The suspect subsequently appears before a judge, who does not have the benefit of knowing the true identity of this individual, and under post-arraignment proceedings is either ordered to appear in court at a specified time, or released. If the suspect fails to appear in court, a bench warrant is issued, adding further to the processing costs borne by the local agency. If the suspect is released, the ''revolving door'' phenomena occurs and the recycling of repeat offenders through the criminal justice system continues.
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Under the Criminal Alien Pre-arraignment Identification Pilot Program, as we have experienced for the last six months, a different set of circumstances has prevailed. Here's how it works: An INS agent is stationed round-the-clock at the local jail, with an INS computer link to the federal database. The Agent screens each and every arrestee booked into the jail. If the INS Agent determines that the suspect is indeed in this country illegally, having committed a federal offense, a ''hold'' is placed by the Federal Officer prior to their pre-arraignment hearing. This ''hold'' is the crucial point or ''cornerstone'' of a pre-arraignment screening. The ''flagged'' suspect appears before the magistrate, who now knows the true identity of this individual, and if the individual is a criminal illegal alien, he or she is transferred to the INS for deportation proceedings.
I would like to reiterate that this ''point-of-entry'' program differs substantially from a regional or County system in three ways:
(1) The Criminal Alien Pre-arraignment Program screens everyone. Each and every suspect that enters the criminal justice system at the local level is identified. Civil rights are not compromised. At the County level, identity is not determined until after arraignment.
(2) The City-level program identifies individuals prior to their first appearance before a judge, providing the magistrate with the true identity of this suspect and accurate criminal record information. As an example, one suspect with a significant criminal record has used 12 different names and four dates of birth. Another subject used 20 different names, nine dates of birth and had been arrested 30 times between 1981 and 1993. A third individual had 22 arrests and used 57 different names and 23 different dates of birth. Lastly, another offender had been arrested 34 times, including 13 for burglary, and used 51 different names and 13 different dates of birth.
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The third reason a City program differs from a County program is the fact that identification at the ''release line'' level is not always successful. For example: In October last year, a suspect was arrested in Anaheim for assaulting his wife with a pair of scissors. This individual went to his estranged wife's work place, in violation of a domestic violence restraining order, physically assaulted her, and threatened further violence. This suspect had recently been released from Orange County Jail for beating his estranged wife and was on probation for that offense. This suspect was sentenced to 270 days in the Orange County Jail and three years of probation. Interestingly, examination of this individual's record indicated that he was first booked at Orange County Jail in November of 1993 for a drunk driving arrest and subsequently arrested for spousal abuse and assault with a deadly weapon in April 1996. The following month, this individual was convicted for two misdemeanor counts and sentenced to 180 days in Orange County Jail. He was released from Orange County in August, and then transferred to LA County jail for an outstanding warrant for another offense. The irony of this case is that this convicted criminal has admitted to being in the country illegally; however, the only record of the INS involvement in any of this individuals arrests was his Anaheim City Jail arrest.
It should be noted the illegal alien that is involved in criminal activity often victimizes other immigrants who are law abiding, hard working, and striving to support their families.
Although we suspected that INS presence at a city, or ''point-of-entry'' level, would assist local police in accurately identifying all arresters through the system, our conservative expectations on the effectiveness of such a presence were underrated. This federal/local partnership has resulted in an astonishing success.
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Again, I would like to commend Congressman Gallegly for introducing the legislation to extend the implementation and benefits of this program nationwide. I can attest that this innovative program is an efficient and measurable crime fighting tool that can be equally effective in other communities confronting the criminal illegal alien problem.
Thank you for this opportunity to express our support. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Bryce, before going to you, I am not sure mister does you justice with all the stars. You look like at least a four-star general from here. Please proceed. We welcome you.
STATEMENT OF RICHARD BRYCE, UNDERSHERIFF, COUNTY OF VENTURA, CA
Mr. BRYCE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate the opportunity of addressing this committee today.
I am the undersheriff of Ventura County. Ventura County is located just north of Los Angeles County. We have approximately 1,800 square miles of territory to cover, with a population of approximately 700,000 citizens.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department provides police coverage for the entire unincorporated area of the county as well as 5 of the 10 incorporated cities, as well as custodial service for the entire county.
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We have a jail operation that houses approximately 1,354 inmates a day. Approximately 50 percent of them are sentenced, and the other 50 percent are unsentenced.
In November 1996, with the cooperation of Congressman Gallegly, who has an outstanding record of support for public safety, our Department began a pilot program whereby an Immigration and Naturalization Service agent was stationed in our jail. The purpose of the program is to identify criminal illegal aliens prior to their arraignment in court before these individuals can be released back into our communities.
In Ventura County, this program has proven to be extremely successful with the assisting of the early detection and deportation of criminal aliens.
Using the first 5 months of this program for statistical basis, ending in March, a total of 626 interviews were conducted of suspected illegal immigrants. Of those 626 interviews, 405 have holds placed on them by the INS agents. 229 were formally deported. Sixty-five percent of those interviewed were found to be criminal aliens. Many of those interviewed and identified as illegal aliens voluntarily returned to their countries of origin.
To truly understand the benefits of the program, it is important to realize the type of person it identifies. The criminals who the INS agents had determined to be illegal aliens included drug dealers, gang members involved in driveby shootings, rapists and murderers. Many of them have long criminal histories.
A serial rapist who forced women off the road by ramming their cars and then raping them was arrested. This rapist had been in our custody several months prior to his arrest for these rapes. However, there was no INS agent available to identify him as an illegal alien and cause his deportation. Had he been identified earlier, he would have been deported, and in all probability these rapes would not have occurred.
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In another recent example Congressman Gallegly alluded to earlier, a local restaurant owner in the City of Santa Paula, my hometown, was murdered by an illegal alien because he was a disruptive influence in a restaurant and she asked him to leave and he murdered her. He also was identified as an illegal alien and has been convicted of this murder and is awaiting deportation at the conclusion of the completion of his sentence.
Additionally, as I sit here before you today, one of our deputy sheriffs is recovering from gunshot wounds he received from a criminal alien 13 days ago. During the course of a routine traffic stop, he was shot three times by this individual, two of those striking him dead center in the chest. One blew his badge off. The other struck him in the shoulder. If it hadn't been for his body armor and the armor his partner was wearing, I would be here this week mourning the loss along with three widows and their families, instead of one.
The criminal alien that was responsible for this is now in custody, and he is awaiting deportation at the completion of his adjudication.
These are but a few examples of the criminal aliens who are found inside our county jail. The number of these criminal aliens is significant, but the number of their victims is even greater.
The Ventura County Jail pilot program has been a tremendous crimefighting tool. We appreciate the cooperation of the INS in this effort. However, we believe there is still room for improvement in one important aspect.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Throughout the pilot program, INS has placed agents in our facility only on weekdays during normal business hours. The legislation that is proposed by Congressman Gallegly calls for this to be a full-time, around-the-clock, 7-day-a-week program. We know it will work.
I know my time is up, and I want to express in my conclusion support for H.R. 1493 and express also my feelings to you that this is a Federal Government program that works on a local level. All of them don't. This one puts criminals out of our system, out of our country and out of our communities, and I strongly urge your support.
Thank you for your time.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Bryce.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bryce follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF RICHARD BRYCE, UNDERSHERIFF, COUNTY OF VENTURA, CA
My name is Richard Bryce. I am the Undersheriff of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, in Southern California. Ventura County is located just north of Los Angeles County, and contains 1,800 square miles wad a population of over 700,000. The Ventura County Sheriff's Department provides law enforcement services to all unincorporated areas and five of the county's ten incorporated cities. This equates to the direct provision of law enforcement services to approximately 334,000 residents.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department's Jail operation houses an average daily population of 1,354 inmates in four facilities. Approximately 50% of our inmate population is sentenced while the remainder is unsentenced.
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In November of 1996, with the cooperation of Congressman Gallegly, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department began a pilot program whereby an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Agent was stationed in our jail. The purpose of the program is to identity criminal illegal aliens prior to arraignment in court, before these individuals could be released back into our communities.
In Ventura County this program has proven to be extremely effective in assisting with the early detection and deportation of criminal aliens. Using the first five-month period which concluded at the end of March, a total of 626 interviews of suspected illegal immigrants have been conducted in our jail. Of these, 405 holds have been placed and 229 formal deportations have occurred. 65% of those interviewed by INS Agents were found to be criminal aliens.
Many of those interviewed and identified as illegal aliens have been allowed to voluntarily return to their countries of citizenship avoiding formal deportation proceedings.
To truly understand the benefit of such a program, it is important to realize the type of persons it identifies. The criminals who the INS Agent has determined are illegal aliens include drug dealers, gang members involved in drive-by shootings, rapists and murderers. Many of them have a long history of criminal activity.
A serial rapist who had been eluding law enforcement for several weeks was determined to be an illegal alien when he was finally arrested. This rapist had been in our custody several months prior to his arrest for rape, however, adhere was no INS agent to identify and deport this criminal. Had he been identified earlier, he would have been deported and in all probability would not have been able to rape several women.
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In another recent example, a local restaurant owner was murdered at her place of business by a criminal alien simply because she asked him to leave the establishment. He has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing. A senseless crime committed by an individual who is not legally in this country. Before the pilot program existed, this murderer had been arrested on two previous occasions for assault with a deadly weapon. If he had been interviewed and identified as a criminal alien during any one of his previous arrests, this killer would have been deported and a tragic crime would have been averted.
Aditionally, as I sit here and testify before you, one of our Deputy Sheriff's rests at his home recovering from gunshot wounds he received from a criminal illegal alien. On a routine traffic stop 13 days ago two of our deputies were shot by a criminal alien. One of the deputies was hit with three rounds. One of the bullets struck and shattered his right shoulder and the other two bullets struck him in the center of his chest. If he had not been wearing body armor, he most certainly would have been killed. The criminal alien responsible for this violent act is in custody and he will be deported after his case has been adjudicated and his sentence served.
These are but a few examples of the criminal aliens who are found inside our county jail. The number of these criminal aliens is significant, but the number of their victims is even greater.
The Ventura County Jail pilot program has been a tremendous crime-fighting tool and we appreciate the cooperation of INS in this effort, however, we believe there is still room for improvement in one important aspect. Throughout the pilot program, INS has placed agents in our facility only on weekdays, usually between the hours of nine in the morning and the early afternoon. On some days, there has been no coverage at all.
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This has allowed many criminal aliens, especially those arrested during the weekend, to continue to slip through the system without being identified. Criminals don't just operate during business hours, neither should this program.
Therefore, we strongly support the provision included in H.R. 1493 by Congressman Gallegly which requires INS to detail its employees to jails on a full time basis, including the portion of the day or night when the greatest number of criminals are incarcerated. This improvement over the existing pilot program will ensure that all criminal aliens are identified and deported before their release.
The citizens of this country deserve to be protected from those who would victimize them. One of the jobs of our government is to protect our borders. This program protects our borders from within, inside the walls of our jails after criminal aliens have been arrested. This program has proven, in a very short period of time, to be effective in identifying criminal illegal aliens and causing their deportation. I encourage you to support and expand this program by approving H.R. 1493.
SIMPLIFIED STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN, NOVEMBER 1996 THROUGH MARCH 1997
Total interviews 636; holds placed 405; formal deportations 229; voluntary returns 173; and warrants for deportation 2.
INSERT OFFSET RING FOLIOS 21 HERE
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCINS DEFINITIONS
Foreign Born Interviewed
1. Illegals; EWI'sEntry without inspection. OverstaysStaying longer than permitted.
2. LAPR's/Conditional Residents: LAPR'sLawfully Admitted Permanent Residents. Can be deported upon conviction of a CIMT. ConditionalTemporary Resident (example-Foreigner marries a U.S. citizen, it will take 2 years before that person becomes a citizen, insures union is legitimate, not convenience.
3. U.S. Citizen: NaturalizedPrevious immigrant. DerivativeChildren of Military personnel born in foreign duty station.
4. Other: StudentsStudent visa. Parolees. NIVNon-Immigrant Visa, visitation, work permit.
Country of Citizenship
2. OTMOther than Mexico.
Foreign Born Received
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1. Deportable Foreign Born: OSCOrder to Show Cause (Formal Deportation). VRVoluntary Returns (Those who voluntarily return without Formal Deportation). Parole Revocation. B&B's (Bag and Baggage)warrant issued for arrest.
1. CIMTCrimes Involving Moral Turpitude (Most of Penal Code except Battery and involuntary manslaughter).
2. Narcotic Convictionincludes Under the Influence.
3. Aggravated Felonincludes, Sales of Narcotics and any individual sentenced to one year or more.
4. Non-CriminalDriving while Under the Influence.
Jose Zavala was arrested in Thousand Oaks, CA after raping three women. He had been in custody at our jail several months before the rapes occurred and was eventually released into the community. These rapes may never had occurred if Zavala had been identified as a criminal illegal alien and deported prior to his release. He remains in custody pending further proceedings.
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Felix Mendez Magana murdered a restaurant owner/manager in Santa Paula, CA on November 5, 1996 after the owner asked him to leave her establishment. She was killed after Magana shot her at her place of employment. Magana had two previous arrests for assault with a deadly weapon. Magana has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.
Alfonso Farfan, a known gang member, was arrested in September of 1996 for attempt murder in a drive-by shooting in the city of Thousand Oaks. Farfan had been arrested 16 previous times by our agency since 1994for burglary, grand theft, trespassing, armed robbery, loitering about children, and a multitude of other violations. Farfan has used in excess of 35 aliases. He was interviewed 13 days after the commencement of this pilot program and a hold has been placed on him. Criminal proceedings are in progress.
Solorio Cagerio Veronica was arrested in February of 1996, for possession of narcotics for sale. He had been arrested previously for narcotics sales, Alien smuggling, welfare fraud, and possession of stolen property. He has been arrested seven times by our agency alone, and has used eleven alias names. His criminal record dates back to 1969. He was released to the INS for deportation, ten days after the pilot program began.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAttempt murder of peace officer
Emilio Orosco opened fire on two sheriffs deputies on April 29, 1997, during a routine traffic stop in the unincorporated area of Ventura County. Orosco shot one deputy three times and the other deputy was struck by a bullet that grazed her shoulder. Orosco fled ran from the area and was apprehended the next day. He has been arraigned and is awaiting trial.
Mr. SMITH. Chief Gaston and Mr. Bryce, I will say to you both, I think you make very compelling arguments.
I am going to yield my time to Mr. Gallegly, since this is his bill and I know he has some additional comments to make. Mr. Gallegly is recognized.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dick Bryce, thank you for being here today. I can assure the chairman that I know personally that Sheriff Bryce earned every one of those stars.
I would like to maybe get comments from Chief Gaston and Dick Bryce on the percentage of folks that are interviewed. You mentioned that 65 percent of those that were interviewed clearly were identified as criminal aliens, that there was a hold put on these folks.
Mr. BRYCE. That is correct.
Mr. GALLEGLY. The key to this program, and I think the secret, is the fact we are doing prearraignment. Prior to this program, could you give us some idea of how many people might have been released because they made bail or whatever on maybe a drunk driving issue or something like that, prior to finding out what their immigration status was?
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Mr. BRYCE. Well, I don't have a statistic to show you because we don't really know, but I can say this: Of all of the over 600 interviews, those were only conducted with individuals that were in our system during normal business hours. Most of our arrests occur on the weekend and in the evening hours. So there is unquestionably a very large number that still slipped through the system. But those statistics are significant all by themselves.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Is it likely then that had the INS agent been there physically during different hours other than the Monday, 8 to 5 or whatever the number was, that the numbers would have increased dramatically?
Mr. BRYCE. I would estimate conservatively that they would double.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Chief, would you concur with that? Keeping in mind for those that are not familiar, both of these facilities are in southern California, approximately 100 miles apart probably. Ventura County to the north of Los Angeles is about 50 miles and Orange County to the south approximately 50 miles.
Chief GASTON. Yes. Prior to the program we were estimating by a survey we were doing that about 35 percent of our total arrestees, and we arrest about 14,000 a year, were either admitting to being in the country illegally or there was very strong evidence to show they were. So of the 14,000 at that particular time, there were about 4,500 people a year in our facility that would have been, in our estimation, subject to INS intervention and deportation.
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An example, in March of this year, the INS agents in our facility, out of 1,100 arrests that were made, 1,142 arrests, they have been able to interview 806 of those, of the 1,100. So they are interviewing about 70 percent at that time. In 145 of those, they had very strong reason to place a hold and a taking for deportation, which the percentage now is holding at about 18 percent.
So of our total arrestees right now, which would be 14,000 a year, we are still seeing a number, even after the deterrent effect of the program, we are still seeing a number right around 20 percent of our arrestees are tagged by the INS for deportation.
Mr. GALLEGLY. But then, in fact, the success of this has caused these folks to maybe go somewhere else by almost 50 percent?
Chief GASTON. We think the success of the program, besides what it stastistically produces, has been the deterrence. We saw the figure fall from about 35 percent down to about 17 or 18 percent. We have no way of attributing that to anything other than the deterrent effect of the program.
It is very well-known if you commit a crime and you are arrested in Anaheim and you are in the country illegally that there is, in fact, an INS agent that will be interviewing you and you have a very strong chance of being deported, in addition to the consequence that you pay for that crime.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you, Chief.
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Mr. Virtue, can you give me an idea of where better you think that you could have a Federal law enforcement person placed than where you have criminals already caught by local agencies, whether it be the sheriff or the police department, have them incarcerated, where it is a manner of just going through a screening and IDENT, where you don't have to go out and catch them again and look for them? Where better can you use the resource than where you already have people incarcerated?
As both Dick Bryce and Chief Gaston have said, that the manpower that they have, one or two people there, physically can't begin to handle half of the people that they arrest as it is. When you get 65 percent in the case of Ventura County, what better resource can you have of that manpower than to use it where you are virtually catching them like shooting fish in a barrel?
Mr. VIRTUE. We are consistently taking a look at that issue and wrestling with that question on a day-to-day basis in terms of where to best apply our resources.
As it relates to Anaheim city, we have extended the period of time for the pilot project another 90 days. We are in the process of evaluating that project.
One important thing that we want to take a look at is how many of those people who were convicted or who are set up for prosecution would be encountered at the Orange County facility where we also have a permanent presence.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our experience, at least prior to the pilot project, was that the majority of the people who were serious offenders that would have been interviewed at Anaheim were then also picked up at the Orange County facility.
We have a number of people in this project who were not set up for formal deportation proceedings because their only offense was a status offense in terms of the deportability. They hadn't been convicted of a crime. So the vast majority of people were actually voluntarily departing from the United States without an order.
So we are consistently looking at it. We think it is important to gain some experience with both.
As indicated, in fiscal year 1997, appropriations provided us 70 positions and $10 million to address city jail projects in the seven largest county facilities, and we are deploying those resources and examining the effects of those efforts.
So, you know, we certainly agree with Chief Gaston and Mr. Bryce that we have a cooperative arrangement in their facilities, we have great cooperation from their departments, and we certainly appreciate that partnership. So we just need to take a close look at where best resources are to be applied.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Gallegly.
The gentlewoman from California, Ms. Lofgren, is recognized.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Of all of the groups who have nobody to advocate for them, who no one is for, I can't think of any group where there is more unanimity than criminal aliens. I can't find anyone who wants to stand up for these folks. Everyone wants to deport them, including myself. So the only discussion we can have here is how best to achieve that that is efficient and that works the very best to accomplish that goal.
I have all kinds of questions about how this has worked, but I guess, before I do, I should take this occasion to thank the undersheriff for all that Ventura County has done to help my county of Santa Clara County.
I know when we built our jail in the mid-1980s, and I was on the board then, your department was very gracious to us, and you had just gone through the same endeavor. And then you let us steal away your county executive, who is still up in our county. So many thanks to you for that as well.
I know that Ventura County is one of the larger urban counties in California. I am wondering, are you under court order right now for overcrowding?
Mr. BRYCE. No, ma'am.
Ms. LOFGREN. Lucky you. Do you still do site release in the field?
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BRYCE. No, Congresswoman. We recently completed the construction of a new jail that has freed up bed space, and we are one of the only major counties in the State that has never been under a court-ordered cap.
Ms. LOFGREN. I am just sort of wondering, in terms of police officers who are out, who find an individual who has committed an offense, a misdemeanor, for example, or even an infraction where you do a field citation, whether it happens in your county, and I assume that still happens, you don't book every person who has got a vehicle moving violation or whatever, what process is in place to screen those individuals?
Because even if it is a minor offense they could be, in fact, here illegally and subject to the deportation provisions. How is it addressed, either in Anaheim or Ventura?
Mr. BRYCE. Well, in our county, Congresswoman, we, unfortunately don't have the authority to arrest for alien status, if you will. The only option we would have is to contact the INS agent and have them investigate the probability. If they are arrested for another offense, of course, that would occur.
Ms. LOFGREN. So there is really no way to do the screening and get INS hooked in?
Mr. BRYCE. No. We did that a number of years ago, but that is no longer a valid option.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. LOFGREN. Could I ask the Chief, most jails in California are county jails. I knew the City of Los Angeles has had a city jail. I wasn't aware until this morning that the City of Anaheim had one as well. My recollection, and this could be wrong, it is a question, not a statement, is that the city jails are used to house misdemeanor as compared to people pending charges on felony matters. Is that true in Anaheim as well or am I mistaken?
Chief GASTON. Our facility is rated as a detention facility, and we hold individuals ranging the full gambit of offenses, from murder down to misdemeanors. Our purpose is to hold them for usually a period of 48 hours until such time as they are arraigned in court.
Once they are arraigned in court, the decision has to be made at that point as to whether they will be remanded to custody and kept in custody. If they are, then they are sent to the Orange County Jail, which holds them pending their trial.
To answer your earlier question, the Orange County Jail is under a court order having to do with overcrowding. The only space there is in the Orange County Jail is the most serious offenders. The other individuals, because of space constrictions, would have to be released.
Ms. LOFGREN. So your facility really is a prearraignment facility pretty much entirely?
Chief GASTON. That is correct.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. LOFGREN. That helps me understand the situation.
One of the questions I have, we have to arraign within 48 hours in California. Has this caused problems in terms of meeting the arraignment deadlines, the system for either one of you gentleman in your system, or has it moved so quickly that that deadline can be met?
Mr. BRYCE. That hasn't had any effect on our booking procedures or arraignment.
Chief GASTON. It actually has assisted us, because the INS has been very good about having the people there at peak times, and we are very quickly able to identify individuals. If we have serious doubt as to who they are, then we can individually run those individuals through an automated fingerprint system. We have enough time then with that early detection to be able to accurately identify the individual.
Ms. LOFGREN. If I could ask unanimous consent to ask two quick additional questions, Mr. Chairman.
The question I had is whether or not this is the most efficient use of our funds. Obviously, we have resources, and I guess we will get more information after the GAO report is in from your facility, I guess the Service feels that maybe there is a better way to do it.
But one question I have is whether we really, if we had our information systems in place so that we had our automated fingerprint system, not just at the local level, as I hear you have, and we certainly do up in my county, but at the Federal level, whether you even need the stationing of an immigration officer at these jails? Because you are taking automated fingerprints for everybody you are booking anyhow.
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If we had our prints at the Federal level automated, you would find that information out without the need to station an officer there.
I guess, Mr. Virtue, the question ought to go to you or to whoever could answer that. Wouldn't we get it done, the job done, with a lot less personnel if we had that system in place?
Mr. VIRTUE. Well, it would certainly result in a savings in personnel costs. Because, as you mention, you could do the checks, at least the identification checks and our record checks, in a more centralized manner and then detail the personnel, to the extent that interviews are required, to determine whether the person is actually the person we have in our system or whether, in fact, that person is deportable, depending on their status.
It could certainly be done more efficiently with broader application of fingerprint technology, yes.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH. The gentleman from Ventura County, Mr. Gallegly, is recognized.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, again, both for yielding your time and giving me a chance on my own time.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Virtue, I am still not really certain that you are able to answer my last question I had about the comparative efficiency of this program versus others. Could you, in as close to a yes-or-no answer as humanly possible, tell me, in your years of experience with the INS, have you ever seen a program that was more effective both from a personnel standpoint and a cost standpoint in snagging as many criminal aliens as this program?
Mr. VIRTUE. I would have to say yes, if I am limited to a yes. I would think that is in the Institutional Hearing Program at the State and Federal level in terms of addressing criminal aliens or identifying criminal aliens. So in terms of success in numbers, yes, I would have to say the Institutional Hearing Program represents that.
But certainly we have been successful in identifying people who are deportable from the United States and perhaps have been involved in a crime or at least are suspected of being involved in a crime at the county and local level.
Now I don't want to suggest that it is not an important thing and not an area that we don't need to focus, because we certainly need to focus on, we believe, the county and local jail facilities, certainly in terms of where the numbers are the greatest.
It really is a resource issue. You talked about the detention and deportation budget, but the resources that we are looking at here are in the investigations program which has remained fairly flat-lined over the last few years while some other areas have grown, and there are competing priorities for those resources, important competing priorities.
And so we are looking at this in terms of where best to focus that, and certainly there is a place for county and local jails.
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Mr. GALLEGLY. I guess the part that frustrates me more than anything else in this whole process is, our administration has gone on record time and time and time again, publicly, with the priority that they have put as it relates to immigration on getting criminal aliens out of our society.
The one thing that is very clear is, when Dick Bryce or Chief Gaston's organizations are processing folks, these people aren't there because they were attending Sunday School too regularly, they are in their facility because they have committed an act against another person or property.
And to hear their testimony, the personnel that had been there physically can't even handle processing, just going through interviewing people that have already been snagged and are not anything but criminals. It is just beyond me that this isn't the top priority to go along with the rhetoric about how important it is.
That is my editorial comment. Do you disagree with that?
Mr. VIRTUE. I don't. I think our top priority is the removal of criminal aliens or aliens that commit crimes in the United States, and that is where we think we need to focus our resources.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Particularly thanks to you, Dick, for making the trip, and to you, Chief Gaston. We appreciate the job you are doing out there. I can attest to the job Dick Bryce is doing in my own county. I have lived there for 30 years. I live in one of the safest counties in the country, and it is because of the effective law enforcement we have.
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And my compliments to you. I have family living in Anaheim as well. Chief Gaston, thanks for a terrific job.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Gallegly.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to add my thanks to Chief Gaston and Mr. Bryce for coming all the way across country to testify at this hearing. I hope you all came with our colleague, Mr. Gallegly, and protected him all the way across the country.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Heaven only knows, I need it.
Mr. WATT. He needs it, right.
I have a whole slew of questions about the specifics of the bill, if we ever get to that, but I will hold those for another day.
It seems to me that the real underlying issue, though, has to do with the one that Mr. Virtue has identified, which is an allocation of scarce resources and micromanaging at this level how scarce resources ought to be used.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And it does seem to me that it would make more sense to pursue this course, as apparently already had started, with two or three pilot programs to test the effectiveness, than to have a study of the cost implications of that, which I understand has been requested. And then if there is justification for expanding it further and further and further, to go to 10 or 25, or I don't know how you pull 100 out of the air at this level and say that is the number that is going to be cost effective, and let's do 100, and let's put it in the law, and let's mandate it at this level, instead of going from the opposite end of the spectrum, which I understand has been suggested, and documenting the need and justification for these kinds of programs on an incremental approach. But that has got to do, I think, with politics that we are talking about rather than anything else when it comes to that.
I take it that what I just summarized is a restatement of what you were saying, Mr. Virtue.
Mr. VIRTUE. That is correct, Mr. Watt.
Mr. WATT. And you have already extended the pilot program, as I understand it.
Mr. VIRTUE. The pilot program in Anaheim City we have extended for another 90 days; that is correct.
Mr. WATT. And I understand also there is in process a mechanism for the General Accounting Office to make some evaluation of the cost effectiveness and cost implications of the Anaheim pilot project.
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Mr. VIRTUE. That is correct, and INS is doing its own evaluation as well. We are looking at the results of that pilot.
Mr. WATT. OK. Is there any rational basis, in your mind, for just kind of picking the number 100 out of the sky and saying let's do 100 of these as opposed to 50 or 25 or 300?
Mr. VIRTUE. I suppose any number we arrive at, it is sort of like trying to pin down the hundred nicest places to live in the United States. That list can change, obviously, from time to time, so today we might know where the hundred is. It can change, depending on populations.
We, you know, in terms of the fiscal year 1997 budget, are taking the resources that are allocated and focusing on the top seven county and local facilities, and we are fully operational in six of those and partially operational in Cook County in Chicago and will be fully operational there by the end of this fiscal year.
So it is that approach that we are taking, which is an incremental approach, focusing on where we think the most serious problems are and where the greatest numbers are.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. WATT. I am happy to yield to you.
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Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank my friend from North Carolina for yielding.
Mr. Watt, we have 3,100 counties in the United States. Of the counties, this would not be automatic, this would only provide access to the law enforcement agencies in that particular county, to petition the INS and make their argument based on their own specific demands. So this isn't a mandate; this would still only be initiated after the request from less than 3 percent of the counties in the Nation.
Mr. WATT. Let me just reclaim my time. I noticed I don't really have any. But I would point the gentleman to section 1, paragraph 3, which does seem to mandate specifically the counties in his congressional district, if it doesn't mandate anything else. He is going to make sure that every incarceration facility within the county of Orange, CA, and the county of Ventura, CA, shall be selected for participation in this program.
I mean, I am facetiously just kind of picking at him about that, but we all try to look out for our own home territory.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Perhaps, if the gentleman has that problem in his home territory in North Carolina, I would be very happy to
Mr. WATT. I just want to make it clear, it is not the concept of the bill that I have problems with. But I mean, clearly we have problems, and clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed. And I agree with Ms. Lofgren, if there is any issue that we want to go at strongly, this is one. I mean, it is probably high up there on everybody's scale.
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But I do not think that this bill gives us the appropriate process for getting there, OK, unless we are going to find a pot of money in addition to what INS already has, and add it to the resources they have, and allow them to use that money. Otherwise, I assure you that every dollar, every dime that they take away from other programs to devote to this mandated purpose, worthy as it may be, is taken away from something of value, and I don't think we ought to be mandating that at the congressional level, we ought to be leaving that in the discretion of other people.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Pease, is recognized.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Virtue, I understood you to say in response to Mr. Gallegly's question that the institutional hearing program was, in your view, more successful, or at least as successful as this program, in identifying immigrants with criminal behavior. Can you summarize for us briefly how the institutional program works, how it identifies who it is going to screen and how that screening works.
Mr. VIRTUE. I believe the question was in identifying criminal aliens and, you know, that, to me, is somebody who has been convicted of a crime, and that was the basis for my answer. The institutional hearing program that is set up in State and Federal locations, as we have officers stationed at those facilities
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Mr. PEASE. What facilities?
Mr. VIRTUE. At the Federal prisons and State prison facilities, to do the identification, conduct interviews, issue charging documents, and then, in addition to that, we have the immigration judges either permanently stationed in some of those facilities or, on a circuit-ride basis, the immigration judge actually goes into a facility so that the order is issued while the person is serving his or her sentencethese are typically more serious crimes, of coursewhile they are serving sentences, and so that when the person is released from corrective custody, the period of time they spend in INS custody is very little if we have a travel document and it is simply for the purpose of making travel arrangements for that person to be deported from the United States. And that is the operation I was talking about.
Mr. PEASE. Well, then, if I understand you correctly, persons that are arrested, I am assuming the practice is similar in other States from my experience in Indiana, which is, those who end up in the State prisons are those with the most serious records, because many of them are deferred, or bargained otherwise, long before they get to the State penal facilities.
Is it not possible then that criminal aliens who have violent records but might be arrested for, say, DUI in a county are never going to show up in your system because they are not going to end up in a State prison or a Federal prison, so a lot of folks with violent behavior are not going to be identified under the institutional hearing program?
Mr. VIRTUE. I think the answer to that is yes, and the question is one that I think we are examining in these pilot programs and trying to identify those locations that our resources will permit us to focus on.
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Certainly, if we are not in every county jail that houses foreignhas a foreign-born population, then some people would not be identified and would not be deported if they are apprehended at the local level.
And so we are focusing our efforts in terms of State and local, and that is why we are there, to try to identify those people who are not going to be prosecuted in some cases for the crime that they are accused, at least, of having been committed or suspected of committing.
Mr. PEASE. I appreciate your answer.
I guess it is just an observation that, while it would appear that obviously your ability at the State and Federal level to identify people would have a pretty high percentage of success, obviously people at that level are going to have a record that is pretty long, usually.
I am concerned about how we factor into the equation of deciding what is the most successful, the intangible sorts of things like the crimes that could have been avoided, the people who could, had we intervened earlier, not been a victim of a crime, and how that factors into a decision as to what is the most effective or efficient use of your resources.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Would the gentleman yield for a second?
Mr. PEASE. Certainly.
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Mr. GALLEGLY. One example of what I think we are talking about here is the case of a criminal alien who may have been previously deported for a felony, after he had served his time and been deported, then reenters the country and is stopped for drunk driving.
Now you go under your drunk driving, and Mr. Bryce or Mr. Gaston's folks, you know, detain him; he makes bail or you give him OR, or whatever, without checking to find out his background is having been deported as an alien before. So here is a case where you are catchingand this isn't a rare exception, this is a very commonplace.
Ms. LOFGREN. Would the gentleman yield for a further question on that point?
And I am struggling to think how we set up the system, put our resources in a system that is going to serve us well for the long term. And in that case in California, you have a foreign person. If they are DUI, they are going to be brought in and booked. They are not cited in the field; they are going to be fingerprinted, interviewed, and they may or may not be OR'ed or bailed or whatever.
If we had a system in place where the fingerprints were connected so there was an automatic check for everyone, you know, all of these people would be caught.
And the question I have for Mr. Virtue is: We are going to spend $90 million on staff; what does it cost to computerize our system if that were an alternative which would get everybody in the country on board?
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Mr. VIRTUE. That is something we are looking at in terms of expanding beyond the three States we cover in the Law Enforcement Support Center. We have established a Law Enforcement Support Center in Burlington, VT, where we do provide State, local, county law enforcement agencies, information from our data bases on persons who are in their custody.
We want to expand that notion as well, so that we can try to get as much effect for the dollars that we do have and the positions that we do have, as we can, and that can only be helped by, as you mentioned earlier, proliferating technology, such as fingerprint scanners and automated fingerprint capabilities as well.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Pease.
Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, before you close out the panel, I just wanted to ask unanimous consent to insert a couple of documents into the record.
I understand we have made an effort to get a representative of the General Accounting Office to come and testify about the process that they go about in evaluating these programs, and I wanted to submit for the record a letter dated May 12, 1997, from the General Accounting Office and also a letter from Representative Sanchez giving her views about the pilot project and the need for a GAO study.
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Mr. SMITH. Without objection, both letters will be made a part of the record.
[The letters follow:]
Hon. MELVIN L. WATT,
|U.S. General Accounting Office,|
|General Government Division,|
|Washington, DC., May 12, 1997.|
Ranking Minority Member,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,
Committee on the judiciary,
House of Representatives.
DEAR MR. WATT: This letter is in response to a request this morning by your staff that we provide information to you on our policies and procedures for responding to congressional requests for GAO reviews.
GAO is required by its authorizing statutes(see footnote 1) to respond to requests from either House of the Congress to review and evaluate the operations or results of government programs and activities. Some requests take the form of legislative mandates. The law also specifies that we are required to respond to requests for reviews or evaluations from congressional committees. As a matter of policy, we assign the same status to requests from Ranking Minority Members as we do to requests from committee chairs.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Within the framework of our overall mission to provide members of Congress and others who make policy with accurate information and unbiased analysis, we also respond to requests for reviews or evaluations from individual Members of Congress to the extent our resources permit. If our resources do not permit an immediate response to a Member's request because of the press of other higher priority work, our procedures require that we acknowledge the request and indicate that we will endeavor to address the Member's concerns as soon as we can. Sometimes we are able to satisfy the request by incorporating the Member's request into other ongoing work, or by referring the concerns to another appropriate source such as an Inspector General.
As a practical matter, our ability to respond to the broad range of requests for work that we receive from the Congress has been significantly challenged in recent years by the reduction in our staff and other resources as a part of the reduction in the legislative branch budget. Since fiscal year 1992, we have reduced our staffing level from 5325 to 3500. Despite this reduction, we find that we are usually able to respond to legislative mandates and to requests from Chairmen and Ranking Minority Members, and in most instances are able to satisfy individual Members' needs. However, such efforts require considerable discussion of alternative approaches to identify the most efficient strategy to respond in each case.
We hope this information is helpful to you.
Hon. MELVIN WATT
|Congress of the United States|
|House of Representatives,|
|Washington, DC., May 13, 1997.|
Immigration and Claims Subcommittee.
DEAR MEL: I appreciate the Immigration and Claims Subcommittee's consideration of the INS pilot program in the Anaheim jail and Orange County jail. The issue of criminal aliens is of significant concern to my constituents in the 46th Congressional District. I support the program and have expressed my support for making it permanent. As you know, the INS granted an extension at my request.
My position is that criminal aliens should be permanently deported. Not only do I support the permanent deportation of criminal aliens, I want them caught as soon as possible. Furthermore, I consider this law enforcement function the primary obligation for the federal government. We should do all we can to avoid burdening state and local police budgets with the cost of identifying, apprehending and deporting criminal aliens.
The pilot program has resulted in a very successful track record of detentions and deportations of criminal aliens. However, there is some question as to whether the INS supports extending the program in city or county facilities. Since both the Orange County Jail and Anaheim City Jail are in my congressional district, I invited the GAO to study the results of the pilot program and offer an independent analysis of where the pilot program would be most cost effective and successful.
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As a fiscal conservative, and in the light of the current budget roadblock, I hope the Subcommittee will consider the merits of a GAO study on the INS pilot program. It would prove helpful to the Congress to know whether GAO would concur with the INS in its judgement on the most efficient deployment of INS enforcement officers. I think you can see that my request to the GAO was a responsible one. I hope the GAO will help us to understand where we should be using INS agents to capture more criminals, earlier and before they have the chance to commit further crimes in this country, and before they end up a being burden to local law enforcement.
Very truly yours,
|Member of Congress.|
Mr. SMITH. Thank you all again for appearing before us. We appreciate your testimony. We appreciate the 3,000-mile journey as well by two of our witnesses.
We will go to our fourth paneland we welcome our colleague from the Judiciary Committee Mr. McCollumSandy Crank, Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning, Social Security Administration; Roy Beck, author and immigration consultant; Rosemary Jenks, senior fellow, Center for Immigration Studies; and Stephen Moore, from the Cato Institute.
We will begin with our colleague, Mr. McCollum.
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Bill, sorry to keep you waiting there.
STATEMENT OF HON. BILL McCOLLUM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. MCCOLLUM. That is OK. I appreciate the chance to come.
First of all, I want to express my unfortunate circumstances because I will only be with you a little while. I won't be able to stay for the full panel discussion, because I am in the middle of a hearing I am at downstairs, and that resumes at 12:30. So I will give my testimony, but I can't stay for the whole panel.
Mr. Chairman, the bill you are hearing about today is a bill I introduced as a result of work we did in the last Congress. H.R., 231, in an effort to try to come up with a way to make employer sanctions work.
As all of us who worked with immigration for many years know, one of the greatest problems we have today in enforcing the laws and trying to find a way to keep illegal aliens from coming here today is, whenever an illegal alien goes to seek employment and presents the documents they are allowed to present, one of the primary documents they use is the Social Security card.
Even there, in the law that you so ably wrote and were so instrumental on in the last Congress, are a number of documents. So the Social Security card is a primary instrument of proof that you are eligible to work, it's who you are and so forth.
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The problem is, Social Security cards are easily counterfeited, they are oftentimes fraudulently produced in one way or another, and the bill I have introduced is an effort to try to get at that problem and to try to make it possible to make employer sanctions work so that an illegal alien who is going to get a job can be weeded out and that the employer will not be held accountable for something that he can't possibly be held for.
The way this problem comes about is two ways. The Social Security card could be something that is not a truthful document because the breeder documents that somebody produces at the Social Security offices across the country are counterfeited or inappropriate or wrong, and therefore the card that is produced is not a good card; it is a card that is, on its face, good, but it is not supported by the reality of the circumstances and the status of the person asking for it.
This bill doesn't go to that issue. I recognize that that problem exists and we do need to address it. This bill goes to a problem that is equally important, and that is the counterfeiting and production of the card that is not itself real. And what it says, it simply would require that the Commissioner of Social Security make such improvements to the Social Security card account number as are necessary to make it as secure against counterfeiting as the $100 bill and as protected against fraudulent uses as the U.S. passport.
In other words, it has performance standards, and these performance standards would have to be put into the Social Security card fully effective by January 1, 2006, so that at that point in time, any Social Security card used for employer sanctions purposes must be one of the new cards that meets this standard.
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It doesn't mean that all new cards have to be issued; it simply means that anybody who goes to get a job after January 1, 2006, with a Social Security card, is going to have to have one of these new cards.
And the estimate of the cost for this, in the last Congress, by CBO, the preliminary estimate, was $51 million a year over 10 years, and declining significantly each year after 2006 as fewer and fewer replacement cards would be issued.
Now let me say up front that there are those who will argue that the current card, that I guess you are seeing a print of up there in that chart, is already counterfeitproof. And it is true there are some threads in the current card; it is improved over the old cards. However, there are two things I would like to say about that.
One is that by no means is that as counterfeitproof as a $100 bill. A $100 bill has lots more threads, colors, and variation than that.
Secondly, not only is it a counterfeiting question, it is also the part I suggested about making it as protected against fraudulent use as the U.S. passport. And I would suggest members of the committee might do, as I have done and perhaps should have done today, and that is look at a passport, examine it, and get the passport people in to talk about it. It is a very finely honed instrument, and it is a combination of the counterfeitproof nature of the new $100 bill and the passport that would make a Social Security card truly, very, very difficult to in any way produce fraudulently or misrepresent who you are when you produce it. And I think that is very, very important to do.
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Secondly, I would suggest that there are over 40 different versions of the Social Security card still in use. So while the most currently issued Social Security cards are somewhat counterfeitproof, not as counterfeitproof as my bill would want them to be or as protected against fraudulent use, there are still many, many other versions out there.
And what the legislation I am suggesting would do would be to say, by January 1, 2006, if you are going to get a job and use the Social Security card, you are going to have to have the kind of Social Security card that meets these performance standards, and that is going to cause people to bang on the door and cause heartburn at the Social Security Administration over that.
But the truth is, CBO gave us the estimate of what they think it is going to cost. I know the Social Security Administration thinks it will cost a whole lot more, but this is so important that I don't think we should quibble over a couple million dollars a year to get this job done. Otherwise, employer sanctions will not work.
We will have things we want to do, but we will never get to the point where we make employer sanctions work and cut off the magnet of jobs if we don't come through with a Social Security card that is much more tamper-resistant and counterfeitproof and capable of being certified as the document that is indeed representative of the person who comes to present it than we have today.
And, again, it may not be that what I am producing is all that needs to be done, but it is an absolutely critical step that must be done in order for us to get to that day.
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And last but not least, I want to make the point, this is not a national ID card. There are no fingerprints, no magnetic strips, or any other parade of horribles that others have been using to inject fear and confusion in this debate.
It is absolutely the opposite of that. It prevents any attempt to make this card a national ID card. The legislation specifies the new cards cannot be required to be carried on one's person, and nothing authorizes the establishment of any new data bases. It is simply to make the card more tamperproof and more counterfeit-resistant.
I would encourage the committee to act favorably on the bill. I think it needs to go forward, and let us have a debate with some of the folks at Ways and Means who may not agree with this, but I think we need to push this issue.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. McCollum follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. BILL MCCOLLUM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. Chairman, thank you for providing me an opportunity to testify on the need for a more secure Social Security card. I am confident that a close examination of this issue will make it clear that it is imperative that we make the Social Security card more tamper-resistant and less susceptible to fraudulent use. Eliminating Social Security document fraud is a vital first step in controlling our borders and stopping illegal immigration. It is simply unacceptable that the one document that is most commonly used to prove eligibility for employmentthe Social Security cardis nothing more than a paper document that is easily counterfeited. As it stands, an illegal alien wanting a Social Security card can go to a street corner and purchase a fake for as little as $30.
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So, let me discuss why we need to improve the Social Security card. This is of the utmost importance for two fundamental reasons: (1) it reduces the incentive for illegal aliens to come to the U. S. by making it more difficult for them to get a job and (2) it makes it easier for employers to comply with existing law by making employment authorization documents more reliable. It is that simple.
The only way to control the crisis of illegal immigration is to eliminate the lure of employment. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act created employer sanctions, making it illegal to knowingly hire an illegal alien. That law requires everyone seeking employment in the U. S. to produce evidence of eligibility to work. The most commonly used form of verification is the combination of a driver's license with the Social Security card. These reforms were well intentioned but a decade later, it is clear that fraudulent documents have weakened the impact.
One of the primary reasons that employer sanctions are not working today is the rampant fraud in the documents used to prove eligibility to work, including the Social Security card. As long as the Social Security card can be easily counterfeited, employer sanctions will not work. The fact that illegal aliens can easily counterfeit authorization documents undermines this important law and the lure of easy jobs continues to pull illegal aliens into this country.
Why should we be concerned if employer sanctions are not working? There are more than 4 million illegal aliens in the U. S. today, with the number increasing each year by the hundreds of thousands. Illegal aliens come to the U. S. for one reasonjobs. Even if the southwest border were sealed, it would not solve the illegal immigration problem. It has been estimated that nearly 50% of illegal aliens are here because they entered on legal temporary visas and did not leave.
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The only way to stop illegal aliens from coming, through the border or otherwise, is to eliminate the magnet of jobs. The only way to do that is to make employer sanctions work. An upgrade in the Social Security card win put teeth back into employer sanctions, reducing the magnet of jobs and therefore the flow of illegal aliens.
An upgrade in the Social Security card should also aid employers who obey the law and play by the rules. The most conscientious employer can still lose employees if the I.N.S. determines documents to be fraudulent. This costs time and money to the employer to rehire and retrain employees. The employer may also be subject to other punishments and fines. My legislation would direct the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Security, to conduct a comprehensive campaign to inform employers about the security features of the new secured Social Security card and the detection of counterfeit or fraudulent cards.
My legislation would require a simple upgrading of the Social Security card. This would replace today's card with one that offers the best possible security against counterfeiting, forgery, alteration and fraudulent use. H.R. 231 would require the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to make such improvements to the Social Security account number card as are necessary to make it as secure against counterfeiting as the 100 dollar bill and as protected against fraudulent use as the United States passport. I chose these performance standards because of the many counterfeit-resistance features that are built into these two documents, including the type of paper, watermarks, background pattern of inks and security threads.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Some opponents argue that the currently-issued Social Security cards are already counterfeit proof. Even if this were true, there is still the problem with the minions of old Social Security cards, which are particularly easy to forge, still being used. SSA itself notes that there are over 40 versions of the Social Security card still in use and still considered valid. It is indisputable that there is a cottage industry in this country which churns out fake identifications, including Social Security cards, for use by illegal aliens. Even putting aside concerns about illegal immigration, we in Congress simply cannot and should not turn a blind eye to rampant counterfeiting of an official government document and do nothing to prevent it.
With this legislation, the Commissioner of Social Security would be required to offer more than a bare assertion concerning the card's security. This legislation directs the Comptroller General to perform an annual audit regarding the progress and status of developing a secured social security account number card, the incidence of counterfeit production and fraudulent use of social security account number cards, and the steps being taken to detect and prevent such counterfeiting and fraud.
The legislation also provides that, beginning on January 1, 2006, any Social Security card that is used for employer sanctions purposes, i.e., to show that an individual is eligible to work in the U.S., must be one of the new, secured Social Security cards. By a date certain we need an improved Social Security card to be the only Social Security card acceptable for employer sanctions. Other documents, such as the passport, would still be acceptable. This would make the older, easy to counterfeit cards, worthless to illegal aliens.
In the past, the SSA argued that this would involve a huge cost but SSA's cost estimate was based on the erroneous assumption that everyone would demand a new Social Security card. This failed to note that the use of the Social Security card in seeking employment is permissive, not mandatory, and that people would be able to use other documents. Last year, a preliminary CBO estimate scored this proposal at an average annual cost of $51 million over ten years. The cost will decline each year after 2006 as fewer and fewer replacement cards are issued. This cost estimate does not even take into account savings from reduced illegal immigration and reduced welfare fraud which will occur when there is a more tamper-resistant Social Security card.
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In addition, according to the SSA's own estimate, they issue 10 million replacement Social Security cards each year. Using that figure, more than half of all Social Security cards for American workers will have been replaced by 2006, the year when this legislation would require Social Security cards used for employer sanctions to be secure Social Security cards. Replacing the remainder as people need them is not an insurmountable challenge. On the contrary, it is a manageable challenge that goes after immigration and welfare fraud and promotes efficient use of government resources.
Some have argued that we should do nothingabsolutely nothingto make the Social Security card more tamper proof because it will not solve the problem of fraudulent breeder documents, such as birth certificates. But even if we did solve the problem of fraudulent breeder documents. we would still have to contend with fake Social Security cards because these cards are being made and purchased in order to avoid going through SSA for a Social Security card. Why not buy a fake Social Security card on the street instead of risking detection through the SSA with breeder documents? If everyone who wants a fraudulent Social Security card has to go through the SSA application process, it will increase both the costs and risks associated with acquiring a false card. My legislation is not a cure-all but it is a necessary component of a multi-faceted effort to reduce document fraud and illegal immigration.
Let me make it clear that this is NOT a national ID card. There are no fingerprints, no retina scans, no magnetic strips or any of the other parade of horribles that have been used to inject confusion and fear into the debate. In fact, this legislation would do exactly the opposite and explicitly prevent any attempt to make the Social Security card a national ID card. This legislation specifies that these new cards cannon be required to be carried upon one's person and nothing in the legislation authorizes the establishment of any new databases. It is there in black and whitethis is not a National Identification Card.
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Contrary to what is being said by opponents, in making the card more tamper-resistant, the government gains no new information and the card would be used no differently that it is now. Under current law, the Social Security card already may be used to prove eligibility to work when a person seeks a job. Current law also requires an employer to examine the document itself, not just get the number. The legislation I have introduced does not require any new information from individuals, does not require anyone to get a Social Security card and does not require that anyone even use a Social Security card. My bill would simply ensure that the Social Security card is worth the paper it is printed on. A simple upgrade in the quality of the material used to produce the card is not a first step towards anything except document integrity.
Opposition tactics had an effect during the last session of Congress. The House choseby an extremely close votenot to adopt an amendment to require improvements to the Social Security card. The issue will not go away, though, because the problem remains. Until we institute effective controls, we will continue to receive hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens each year.
Immigrants bring growth, creativity and opportunity to America. They are the cornerstone of much of our great nation's cultural heritage. Immigration should once again be seen as a noble experience that enriches Americaboth economically and culturallyrather than one demeaned by criminality and deceit. To accomplish this, we must make employer sanctions work and cut off the magnet of jobs. Adopting measures, such as a secure Social Security card, to reduce document fraud is the first pivotal step that must be taken.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If we do nothing and continue to allow the use of the Social Security card without making it tamper-resistant, fraud will remain rampant, employer sanctions will not work and the country will continue to be overrun by illegal aliens. H.R. 231 is a modest proposal to ensure that the SSA uses the latest inking and anti-counterfeiting mechanisms now used on paper issued in the form of the $100 bill and the U. S. passportboth of which boast extremely low rates of fraud. These would be specific, clearly outlined performance standards. In 9 years or so, only such an upgraded card would qualify as a Social Security card for the purposes of confirming employment eligibility. These modest steps are the least we can do to stop the unrivaled wave of illegal immigration hitting our nation.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. McCollum.
STATEMENT OF SANDY CRANK, ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER FOR POLICY AND PLANNING, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Mr. CRANK. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting the Social Security Administration,I will use the acronym in my comments today, SSAto testify on H.R. 231, a bill intended to improve the integrity of the Social Security card for employment eligibility verification purposes.
I would like to summarize my written statement, which has been submitted for the record.
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Mr. Chairman, the only purpose of the original Social Security card was to provide a record of the Social Security number, the SSN, so that employers could accurately report Social Security earnings. It was never intended to serve as a personal identification document; that is, to establish that the person presenting it is actually the person whose name and SSN appear on the card.
Because of this limited purpose, for many years Social Security cards were issued on the basis of an individual's declaratory statements about his or her personal identity.
However, as the SSN and the Social Security card itself began to be used for non-Social Security program purposes, incentives for possession of fraudulent cards became apparent. This raised concerns about the integrity of the card. Thus, in 1971, SSA began to require some categories of SSN applicants to submit evidence of identity. Since May of 1978, SSA has required all applicants to submit evidence of age, identity, and citizenship or noncitizenship status.
However, even with these improvements to the issuance process, our records can be no better than the source documents, such as birth certificates, which are used as evidence to substantiate your eligibility for a card.
Originally, SSA issued the same type of Social Security card to everyone, whether or not they were authorized to work. However, beginning in the 1980's, different versions of the card were developed and issued to indicate whether the person was authorized to work.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Of course, employers still could not rely solely on the Social Security card to establish that the person presenting it was the person to whom the SSN was assigned because it lacked any identifying data.
Further, SSA records reflect citizenship and work authorization status only as of the time the SSN is assigned or the card is replaced. SSA can update this information in its records only if the person applies for a replacement card.
Due to the limited purpose of the Social Security card, initially, no special efforts were made to prevent Social Security cards from being counterfeited. However, all Social Security cards issued since October 31, 1983, are made of banknote paper and incorporate a number of security features to make the card counterfeit-resistant and tamperproof. It is now difficult to produce a high-quality counterfeit of these cards.
And I would like to take a moment to point out on the sample card here the features that are now incorporated in the card. Please remember that, like the $100 bill, there are other security features in this card that are not made public.
The features that I can point out to you include: First, the stock is a blue tint, marbleized random pattern. Secondly, small multicolored disks are randomly placed on the paper stock and can readily be seen with the naked eye. And, thirdly, intaglio printing like that used in U.S. currency is used for some printing on the card and provides a raised effect that can actually be felt if you run your finger over the card.
As you know, both welfare reform and immigration reform legislation require us to develop a prototype of a new Social Security card. This new Social Security card would be made of a durable, tamper-resistant material and would contain security features. It would be designed to provide individuals with reliable proof of citizenship or legal residence status.
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The prototype card and the report on different methods of improving the application process are to be submitted to Congress by the end of August of this year.
Because of the increasing use of the Social Security number and the card, we are also using this opportunity to analyze how the SSN is used in American society today and how it may be used in the future.
We expect the development of the prototype card and the related study of the SSN application process, as well as our analysis of the potential use of the SSN and the Social Security card for purposes other than Social Security, will lead to informed public debate about the role of the card and its physical features.
We believe, therefore, it would be premature to determine the physical design and security features of the card while extensive study of these issues is taking place. The physical features of the card, in our view, should be based on the usage for which the card is designed as well as on other considerations, such as burden and convenience or inconvenience for the public, the status of technology, and the cost to the American public. Thus, we oppose enactment of H.R. 231.
In addition, we have some concerns about specific provisions of H.R. 231. For instance, the law already requires that a Social Security card, to the maximum extent practical, be counterfeitproof. And, as indicated earlier, we believe we have incorporated the kinds of security features in the physical design of the card which result in a card that meets this statutory requirement.
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Further, the requirement in H.R. 231 that the card be as secure against fraudulent use as a U.S. passport implies, to us, at least, that the Social Security card should contain a photograph, since this is the most obvious feature about a passport that links it to the person to whom it was issued.
Since we assign the vast majority of Social Security numbers at or shortly after birth, a Social Security card that satisfies this standard in H.R. 231 would have to be reissued to teenagers at about age 16 to include a photograph.
In addition, use of a photograph would require that all secure number cards, as defined in H.R. 231, would have to be regularly reissued to reflect changes in appearance. This would entail considerable costs and impose a substantial continuing burden on the public.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we fully understand and share the subcommittee's concerns about improving the integrity of the employment eligibility verification system. By improving the security of the SSN card and designating cards issued for a nonwork purpose as such, SSA has already made valuable contributions to that objective. Moreover, we will continue to assist employers in verifying employment eligibility, and we will gladly work with the subcommittee to improve that system.
However, we believe H.R. 231 is premature in view of the study that is under way and the issues that need to be resolved concerning all of the uses of the SSN and the social security card.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will be happy to answer questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Crank follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SANDY CRANK, ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER FOR POLICY AND PLANNING, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting the social Security Administration (SSA) to testify on H.R. 231, a bill designed to improve the integrity of the Social Security card for employment eligibility verification purposes.
Today, I will discuss the development of the Social Security card and the role that it plays in the verification of employment eligibility. I will also talk about some previously legislatively mandated projects which relate to the bill and provide comments on the bill.
HISTORY OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY CARD
Let me provide a context for my comments on the provisions in the bill that affect SSA by giving you some background on the Social Security number (SSN) and card. At the time the Social Security card was initially developed in the 1930's, its only purpose was to provide a record of the number that had been assigned to the individual so that the employer could accurately report Social Security earnings for the individual. That is still the primary purpose for which SSA issues the card. It was never intended to serve as a personal identification documentthat is, to establish that the person presenting it is actually the person whose name and SSN appear on the card. Although we have made the card counterfeit-resistant, it does not contain information that allows it to be used as proof of identity.
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Over time, however, the use of the SSN and the Social Security card has greatly expanded, and the card is now used for purposes other than Social Security earnings record maintenance, including use as evidence of authorization to work. Society's increasing use of computerized data has led to suggestions to use the SSN as a personal identifier in computer records.
Prior to November 1971, all SSNs were assigned and cards issued based solely on information alleged by an individual. Because of the expanding use of the card for other purposes, there was concern about its integrity. Beginning November 1971, persons age 55 and over applying for an SSN for the first time were required to submit evidence of identity. Beginning April 15, 1974, noncitizens were required to provide documentary evidence of age, identity, and noncitizen status. This made it more difficult to obtain a card on the basis of a false identity. Because of our concern that individuals who had been assigned SSNs for purposes other than work might use the card to obtain unauthorized employment, in July 1974, we began to annotate our records to reflect the fact that a noncitizen had been issued a nonwork SSN.
Several years later, the integrity of the SSN process was further improved. On May 15, 1978, we began requiring all SSN applicants to provide documentary evidence of age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or noncitizen status. Generally, to obtain an original SSN and Social Security card, an applicant now must submit at least two forms of acceptable evidence, such as a birth certificate and driver's license. Noncitizens must submit appropriate Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) documents to establish lawful noncitizen status. Applicants for replacement Social Security cards must submit evidence of identity, and if foreign-born, evidence of current noncitizen status. It must be kept in mind that the Social Security card was never meant to be an identification document. The underlying documents could be counterfeit despite best efforts to guard against such incidents.
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Applicants for an original SSN age 18 or over are also required to have an in-person interview. During the interview, the applicant is asked for prior names and surnames and the reasons for never before needing an SSN. For those who allege being born in the U.S., SSA performs additional verification prior to the issuance of an original SSN, because most people born in the U.S. should have been assigned an SSN by the time they have reached age 18. For these applicants, SSA also verifies the existence of a birth certificate at the State Bureau of Vital Statistics, and initiates a search for a death certificate when there is reason to believe the applicant may be assuming a false identity. SSA also requires documentation supporting the reason(s) the applicant never had an SSN.
ENUMERATION AT BIRTH INITIATIVE
The Enumeration at Birth (EAB) program was established in 1989 as another means of improving the SSN process. It is a valuable tool in preventing fraudulent acquisition of an SSN and a Social Security card. This program is available in the 50 States (plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and allows parents to indicate on the birth certificate information form whether they want an SSN assigned to their newborn child. States provide SSA with birth record information about newborns whose parents want a Social Security card for their child, and SSA then assigns an SSN and issues a card. More than one-half of the original Social Security cards issued in fiscal year 1996 were processed through EAB. This process greatly reduces the potential for someone to use another person's birth certificate to obtain a Social Security card. For example, an individual who presents the birth certificate of a child enumerated under EAB would not be assigned a new SSN, since our records would indicate that an SSN had already been assigned to the child named on the birth certificate. As more children are enumerated through the EAB program, there will be fewer persons without SSNs whose birth certificates could be used to obtain an SSN for someone else.
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Federal income tax law requires that all persons claimed as dependents for Federal tax deduction purposes have a taxpayer identification number. This has created a strong incentive for individuals to obtain SSNs for their children at birth, thus reducing the potential for someone else's birth certificate to be used.
We must remember that, even with these improvements to the SSN card issuance process, the Social Security card is still just a record of the SSN assigned to the individual and not an identity document. Further, SSA records reflect citizenship and work authorization status only as of the time the SSN is assigned or the card is replaced. SSA updates this information only if the person applies for a replacement card.
SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS FOR WORK AUTHORIZATION
I would now like to discuss the role of the Social Security card as evidence of work authorization, which is a separate issue from personal identification. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) makes it illegal for an employer to knowingly hire anyone not legally permitted to work in the U.S.; that is, noncitizens not authorized to work by INS. Under IRCA, all employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all job applicants regardless of citizenship or national origin. Any of a variety of documents specified in the law and in INS regulations can be used for this verification. Some of these documentssuch as a U.S. Passportestablish both employment eligibility and identity. Othersincluding a Social Security card without a restrictive nonwork legendcan be used to establish employment eligibility, but must be accompanied by an identification document, such as a State driver's license. Employers do not have the authority to require employees to show their Social Security card to establish employment eligibility.
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Originally, SSA issued the same type of Social Security card to everyone, whether or not they were authorized to work. Beginning in May 1982, a legend, ''Not Valid For Employment,'' was printed on the Social Security cards of noncitizens not authorized to work. This was due to the increasing need for persons to have SSNs for nonwork purposes and INS concern that such persons could use their SSNs for work. Currently, there are few valid reasons to be issued a nonwork Social Security number card, although one such reason is to receive Federal benefits.
With this nonwork legend appearing on the card, employers were able, for the first time, to determine whether the individual to whom the card was issued was authorized to work at the time the card was issued. Of course, they still could not rely solely on the card to establish that the person presenting it was the person to whom the SSN was assigned. Beginning September 14, 1992, SSA began issuing SSN cards with the legend ''Valid For Work Only With INS Authorization'' to noncitizens lawfully in the U.S. with temporary authority to work. In these cases, employers must look at the noncitizen's INS document to determine if the noncitizen has current authorization to work in the U.S.
COUNTERFEIT-RESISTANT SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS
In the beginning of the Social Security program, due to the limited purpose of the Social Security card, no special efforts were made to prevent Social Security cards from being counterfeited. However, as counterfeiting became a concern, actions were taken to address this problem. For example, legislation enacted in 1983 required that Social Security cards be made of banknote paper andto the maximum extent practicablebe resistant to counterfeiting. SSA worked with the Bureau of Engraving, the Secret Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to design a card that met these requirements. All Social Security cards issued since October 31, 1983, incorporate a number of security features intended to make the card counterfeit-resistant and tamper-proof. It is now difficult to produce a high-quality counterfeit of these cards.
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If the Social Security card were the only work authorization document, it would have to contain features that would allow employers to easily detect counterfeit cards. Some types of humanly readable security features that make the card more counterfeit- resistant are already incorporated in the current Social Security card. However, while some of these security features have been made public, others, for obvious reasons, have not. Thus, it would be difficult to train employers to identify counterfeit Social Security cards without disclosing the very security features designed to make the card counterfeit-resistant. Under current law, employers are only required to make a good faith effort to ensure that documents are genuine, and they are not required to be document experts. For the same reason that most of us will accept a counterfeit $20 billlack of experience, expertise, and equipment in identifying a counterfeit billemployers may accept counterfeit Social Security cards.
As new versions of Social Security cards have been developed, new and replacement cards have been issued prospectively because of the prohibitive cost of replacing all cards still in use. Thus, there are now 47 versions of the Social Security card in use, all of which are still valid.
EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION PILOT PROJECT
Under the 1996 immigration reform legislation, we are working with INS on a pilot employment eligibility verification project to allow employers to verify by telephone the name, SSN, and work authorization status of a newly hired employee. At the outset, the pilot will involve 2550 employers from Chicago, since Illinois is one of the 5 States with the highest noncitizen population. Subsequent expansion will include the other 4 States (Texas, California, Florida, and New York). The project is to take place beginning in the summer of this year with results available beginning in the Fall of 2000.
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PROTOTYPE SSN CARD STUDY/REPORT
As you know, both welfare reform and immigration reform legislation required us to develop a prototype of a new card. The new card is to: be made of a durable, tamper-resistant material like plastic; use technologies that provide security features, such as a magnetic stripe; and provide individuals with reliable proof of citizenship or legal resident status.
The legislation also requires us to study and report on different methods of improving the Social Security card application process. We are to include in the report: an evaluation of the cost and workload implications of issuing a counterfeit-resistant card for all individuals over a 3-, 5-, and 10-year period; and an evaluation of the feasibility and cost implications of imposing a user fee for replacement cards and cards issued to individuals who apply for the counterfeit-resistant card prior to the scheduled phase-in options.
The prototype and report are to be submitted to Congress by the end of August of this year. Because the increasing use of the SSN and card by the government and private sectors clearly has implications for SSA, we decided to take this opportunity to reexamine the present and future purpose and use of the SSN and card from both policy and technological perspectives.
We are analyzing how the SSN is used in American society today and the relationship between the SSN and card and the role of each. We are looking at the importance of the SSN and card in other government benefit programs, education, finance, law enforcement, health care delivery, as well as other major domains of society. The proliferation of the use of the SSN throughout our society has significant implications and needs to be analyzed in conjunction with the possible development of an enhanced card.
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H.R. 231 PROVISIONS THAT AFFECT SSA
Let me begin my discussion of H.R. 231 by briefly summarizing the provisions that affect SSA. The stated purpose of H.R. 231 is to carry out the employer sanctions provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act by improving the Social Security card to ensure that it is secure against counterfeiting, forgery, alteration, and misuse. Specifically, the bill would require that: the Social Security card be made as secure against counterfeiting as the $100 bill, with a comparable rate of counterfeit detection, and as secure against fraudulent use as a U.S. passport; all Social Security cards issued after January 1, 2000, whether new or replacement, meet these standards; and beginning on January 1, 2006, only Social Security cards (other than nonwork cards) be used as evidence of work authorization.
SSA COMMENTS ON H.R. 231
We oppose H.R. 231 because it would be premature to determine the physical design and security features of the card while extensive study of these issues, mandated by Congress, is taking place. Resolution of these issues depends on the uses for which the SSN and card are designed, as well as other considerations, such as burden and inconvenience for the public, status of technology, and cost.
In addition, we have some concerns about specific provisions of H.R. 231. As I previously stated, the law already requires that the Social Security card, to the maximum extent practical, be counterfeit-proof. As indicated above, we have incorporated a number of security features in the physical design of the card which we believe result in a card that meets this statutory requirement. It is not clear what further changes would be necessary to satisfy the requirement in H.R. 231 that the card be as resistant to counterfeiting as a $100 bill. For example, H.R. 231 raises questions as to which specific features of a $100 bill would guarantee the same degree of counterfeit resistance as a $100 bill. It is entirely possible that a $100 bill is more counterfeit-resistant than a Social Security card, if in fact it is, due to stronger penalties and more vigorous prosecution of forgery, rather than the security features of the bill itself. Law enforcement resources are limited and therefore demand constant prioritization.
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The requirement in the bill that the card be as secure against fraudulent use as a U.S. passport, although not entirely clear, implies that it should contain a photograph, since this is the most obvious feature that links a passport to the person to whom it was issued. As stated above, we assign a vast majority of SSNs to children at, or shortly after, birth, thus making a Social Security card with a photograph virtually useless as a means of identification. In fact, use of a photograph would presumably require that the card be regularly reissued to reflect changes in appearance. This would entail considerable costs and impose a substantial burden on the public.
Finally, despite specific bill language to the contrary, we are concerned that the more the card is made secure for nonSocial Security purposes, the more its use will be required for other nonSSA purposes; thus creating a de facto national identification document.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the Social Security card was originally intended to be nothing more than a means of verifying the Social Security number so that an employer could accurately report an employee's wages. Its use for other purposes has provided the incentive to improve the quality of the issuance process and the counterfeit-resistance of the card. As I have indicated, we are concerned about the ever-increasing use of the Social Security card for non Social Security purposes and the costs associated with making it serve such purposes. Nevertheless, we are committed to testing effective, nondiscriminatory means of improving the employment eligibility verification system.
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We fully understand and share the subcommittee's concerns about improving the integrity of the employment eligibility verification system. SSA will continue to assist employers in verifying employment eligibility and we will gladly work with the subcommittee to improve that system. However, we believe H.R. 231 is premature, in view of the study that is underway and the issues that need to be resolved concerning the use of the SSN and Social Security card.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Crank.
STATEMENT OF ROY BECK, AUTHOR
Mr. BECK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Watt.
I believe I have been asked to speak to the seriousness of the problems on why you would even bother with these kinds of proposals. I don't speak specifically to this proposal, but for the last 6 years I have devoted nearly all my time to researching, writing, studying, and speaking about the effects of immigration on the American workers and the American people.
Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime. All over the country I have seen the victims of illegal immigration among all classes of Americans, but disproportionately the human face of the illegal immigration issue is the face of Americans who are the least educated, least skilled, most powerless, and most vulnerable members of our society. Imagine then how it must feel to be in the shoes of these Americans as small armies of illegal foreign workers move through their occupations.
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Unfortunately, the Federal Government consistently has failed to protect these vulnerable Americans from the economic robbery that results from an illegal foreign work force in their communities. The bill before this hearing would be an attempt by this Government to shoulder more responsibility in protecting these innocent American workers. I express appreciation to Mr. McCollum and the cosponsors of this bill for their interest in helping these Americans.
I am addressing the victims of illegal immigration today because their suffering has to be the starting point of any discussion about measures to reduce illegal workers in the labor force.
Objections to doing something effective against the hiring of illegal workers always include warnings that such measures may somehow threaten the freedom of Americans. And these can be legitimate concerns. But as you deliberate, I hope you will always ask what level of real freedom is possible for our most vulnerable American workers if you do not protect them from the endless competition of illegal foreign workers.
As an example, let's talk turkey-and-chicken. The poultry industry is booming, in the poultry crescent, which starts over here in the Delmarva Peninsula and comes down through the Shenandoah Valley, through North Carolina, across Georgia, Alabama, up into northern Arkansas, southern Missouri. That is a dynamic industry today. Employment has more than doubled in recent years.
This should be great news for the lower-skilled American workers who live in the small towns and rural communities where the plants are located. Long stuck in economic backwaters, it would look like their ship has finally come in. Instead, the Federal Government has flooded their labor markets with foreign labor, stripping away any economic gain that those workers might have reaped.
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Real wages and working conditions for the people in the poultry industry have gone down during this boom in the industry. Why has that happened?
An anthropology team from East Carolina University found that the flood of foreign workers was not just driving down wages and conditions but also displacing many American workers, especially black women, in the poultry industry. There are two streams in this flood:
No. 1, Congress over the last 30 years has quadrupled the level and the number of legal immigrant workers and their families entering the country each year. No. 2, Congress has declined to give corporations the verification tools with which they could be held fully accountable to abstain from hiring illegal workers.
Both streams of the labor flood must be addressed somewhere and sometime, but the subject today is illegal aliens, and they play an especially large role in the poultry industry. These streams of foreign workers erode what little leverage native workers had managed to muster for better working conditions.
When I visited Ashland, AL, I encountered a sizeable part of the black population there living in abysmal physical and economic conditions. The poultry plant there was the primary source of jobs for that community. Now depending on the community, these industries are sometimes primarily white, sometimes primarily black, sometimes quite mixed; that has been the history. In this particular community, it was a black work force.
This community was riddled with unemployment and underemployment, yet the poultry corporation had just informed a school board they had better prepare to start teaching Spanish-speaking students because they were going to begin busing in foreign laborers into that plant.
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The white mayor of that town told me that nobody in the town was fooled about what was going on. It seems the workers of that plant recently had staged a couple of walkouts and slowdowns over working conditions. The corporation simply was using foreign workersmany of whom turned out to be illegalto reassert its dominance over those native workers in all matters.
In the free market system that existed before the immigration flood began three decades ago, workers in that circumstance could have had some hope of pressuring for safer and better compensated work, but not with the threat of a limitless stream of illegal foreign workers.
Now, more controls at the border won't solve this problem. They help but won't solve it. Many of these illegal workers first came to the Unitde States as legal temporary workers in other fields or as visitors, but they never went home, and instead entered poultry and other industries.
Only the Federal Government can protect American workers from this illegal competition, and no lasting protection is possible unless employers have reliable tools of verification of the right of a person to work in the United States. Yes, we must also have vigorous Federal enforcement and penalties against corporate violators, but that is possible only by giving the employers reliable tools.
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROY BECK, AUTHOR
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Roy Beck. For the last six years, I have devoted nearly all my efforts to researching, studying, writing and speaking about the impact of immigration on the American people. The results of this work have appeared broadly in national magazines and newspapers and in two books: Re-Charting America's Future focused on the effects of immigration on environmental resources within the United States. Then last year, The Case Against Immigrationpublished by W.W. Norton & Co.gave primary attention to the effects of immigration on American workers.
NOT A VICTIMLESS CRIME
Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime.
All over this country, I have seen the victims of illegal immigration among all classes of Americans. But disproportionately the human face of illegal immigration is the face of Americans who are the least skilled, least educated, most powerless and most vulnerable members of our society.
These are the Americans who generally are at the mercy of what national economic forces may bring their way. And the federal government consistently has failed to protect these vulnerable Americans from the economic robbery caused by the presence of an illegal foreign workforce in their communities and in the national industries in which they work.
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THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BILL
The bill before this hearing would be an attempt by the federal government to shoulder more responsibility in protecting these innocent American workers from the crime of U.S. employers illegally hiring foreign workers.
The committee needs answers to three practical questions:
(1) What measures would appreciably reduce the number of foreign workers illegally holding jobs in this country? Would this bill be effective?
(2) Would these effective measures bring inconvenience or harm to law-abiding residents of the United States? In other words, would this bill have unintended negative consequences?
(3) Would the bill's benefits to Americans outweigh unintended negative consequences?
It is to the balancing consideration entailed in the third question that I speak today. My expertise is not in the effects of this bill. I do not know whether this bill would inconvenience Americans at all. But if it would, the inconvenience cannot be weighed unless you also know the inconvenience and harm to Americans if you don't keep illegal aliens out of the workplace.
I believe you must first focus onand develop humane, compassionate empathy forthe struggling American workers trying to eke out a living at the bottom of the economic food chain. Then, I believe you will decide that helping them is worth a fair amount of inconvenience that might be caused by any legislation that effectively would reduce the number of illegal aliens in the workforce.
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I express appreciation to the co-sponsors of this bill for their interest in helping these vulnerable American workers.
Let's talk turkeyand chicken.
The poultry crescent of America is booming. From the Del-Mar-Va peninsula, through the Shenandoah Valley, down through North Carolina and across Georgia and Alabama, swinging back up into northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, poultry- processing is a dynamic industry. Employment has more than doubled. [Hackenberg.]
This should be great news for the lower-skilled American workers who live in the small-town and rural communities where the plants are located. Long stuck in economic backwaters, it would seem that their ship has come in.
Instead, though, the federal government has flooded their labor market and stripped away any economic gain that those workers might have reaped. [Griffith] There are two streams to this flood:
(1) Congress has quadrupled the number of foreign workers and their families legally entering the country each year.
(2) Congress has declined to give corporations the verification tools with which they could be held fully accountable to abstain from hiring illegal workers.
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The problem of too many legal and illegal foreign workers is present throughout the poultry crescent. Both streams of the labor flood must be addressed somewhere. But illegal aliens play an especially large role in the poultry industry.
Poultry-processing has never been a high-paying or highly desired job. But it has provided valuable supplementary income for a mostly female black and white rural population. In traditional work patterns, a woman would work several months, a year, as long as she could stand it, and then drop out for awhile to care for her family and perhaps recover from job injuries, returning again and again to the plant.
With the poultry industry booming, the stage was set for the classic way the free-market system turned most Americans into middle-class citizens in the middle of this century. With pressure to increase wages and improve working conditions, owners accelerate technological improvements to increase the productivity per worker, which in turn makes it possible to raise wages morethe economic virtuous circle that raises the entire society. [Oshima.]
But during the poultry boom of the last two decades, real wages and working conditions have gone down for the Americans who held onto the jobs. [Hackenberg.]
And many Americans have been displaced.
An anthropology team at East Carolina University found that as American workers cycled off their jobs, the plants have hired foreign workers. When the Americans came back for their jobs in the old manner, they found they weren't needed. [Griffith.]
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Even most illegal aliens can't stick with these jobs for very long, but when they leave there are always more illegal aliens to replace them these days.
TARGETING BLACK WORKERS
The University study found a particularly chilling pattern of plants using foreign workers intentionally to reduce the black portion of their workforce. In one town where foreign workers suddenly appeared, blacks in the workforce dropped from 65 percent to 49 percent in just six months. Mangers were explicit in protected interviews that they celebrated the availability of foreign workers so they could replace their ''sorry black workers.''
When I visited Ashland, Alabama, I encountered a sizeable part of the black population living in abysmal physical and economic conditions. The poultry plant there was the primary source of jobs for that community that still was riddled with unemployment and underemployment. [Beck, chapter 1.]
Yet, the poultry corporation had just informed the town's school board that it had better prepare for a rapid rise in Spanish-speaking students because the company was going to begin busing in foreign workers to the plant.
The white mayor of the town told me that virtually none of the natives there was fooled about why this was happening. The black employees of the plant recently had staged a couple of work slowdowns and walk-outs to protest working conditions; the corporation was using foreign workers to re-assert its dominance over those native workers in all maters.
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In the free-market system prior to the immigration explosion of the last three decades, workers in that circumstance could have had some hope of pressuring for safer and better compensated work. But not with the threat of a limitless stream of illegal foreign workers.
BORDER CONTROLS NOT ENOUGH
More controls at the border won't solve this problem. Many of these illegal workers first came to the U.S. as legal temporary workers in other fields. But they never went home at the end of their service and entered the poultry and other industries.
The racial and ethnic groups which disproportionately suffer the most poverty in Americaparticularly black Americans and Hispanic Americansalso tend to suffer the most at the hands of these illegal foreign workers.
In the seafood industry of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, the workforce was predominantly black American women in 1989. Within just five years, teenage girls and young women from Mexico were dominating those jobs. [Heppel.]
In Ventura County, California, the veteran Mexican-American laborforce in the citrus industry was able by 1980 to win many collective bargaining agreements and major improvements in pay and benefits. But the rise of illegal immigration over the next decade forced the Mexican-Americans to lose their contracts and eventually to dissolve their unions. [GAO.]
Lower-skilled Americans of any race or ethnicity cannot on their own build dykes against this flood of illegal foreign labor.
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Only the federal government can protect these people. And no lasting protection is possible unless employers have reliable tools of verification of the right of a person to work in the United States. We also must have vigorous federal enforcement and penalties against corporate violators. But that is possible only by giving the employers reliable tools.
I would offer one more example from an article two days ago in the Washington Post. It was written by a welfare case worker in the Washington, D.C. area. [Schrader.]
Her insight was that welfare reform may be on its way to failure, at least in terms of a sizeable portion of welfare recipients whose low IQ and precarious emotional stability make them unlikely ever to be able to hold more than the most elementary of jobs.
In the end, the real issue in this welfare experiment is not welfare; it is work. Although the Northern Virginia economy is booming, there is a shortage of employment for unskilled workers. . . . I have an abundance of clients whose only work experience is some housekeeping and maybe food service, yet there just aren't enough housekeeping and food service jobs to go around.
But look in those housekeeping and food service jobs and see who is holding them in Northern Virginia: Foreign workers!
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And every year, these industries are replenished with a fresh supply of new legal and illegal foreign workers even though our own welfare recipients desperately need those jobs.
The Washington, D.C. area has tens of thousands of illegal aliens. But we won't remove them from their jobs to make room for our welfare recipients.
The welfare case worker ended her Post article with a poignant appeal:
Welfare reform is supposed to be about working to earn one's own living. My question is: as a society, what are we going to do with the people who are willing, even eager to work, but have low intellectual ability, poor health or emotional problems? What jobs are we going to create in our new knowledge-based workplace to allow those people some measure of self-support and self-esteem?
In 1994, The Jerome Levy Economics Institute focused on just these issues. It explored programs that governments and industries might institute or expand to create additional low-skill jobs or raise the skill levels of these ill-equipped individuals to obtain higher-level jobs. The goal was to find methods to move as many lower-IQ, low- motivated Americans as possible into jobs that provide for self-support and self-esteem. Robert M. Hutchens, economist at Cornell, wrote the conclusion that ''the best way to help these young unskilled workers is through supply-side interventions.'' Initiatives that limit immigration of workers can promote an environment where academic underachievers have at least some opportunity for upward mobility. [Hutchens.]
Page 147 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Is there a more callous action Congress could take toward the least equipped of our fellow American workersincluding the masses who are being asked to move off welfarethan to refuse to provide the tools to remove illegal aliens from the very jobs that these vulnerable Americans need? Or to remove the foreign worker streams that help prevent the normal working of the free market to raise wages for those jobs to something that could actually support the people occupying them?
PROTECT THE FREEDOM OF AMERICA'S LOW-SKILLED WORKERS
Objections to doing something effective against the hiring of illegal workers always include warnings that such measures may somehow threaten the freedom of Americans.
As you deliberate, I hope you will always ask what level of real freedom is possible for our most vulnerable American workers if you do not protect them from an endless competition of illegal foreign workers.
Roy Beck, The Case Against Immigration (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996), Chapter 1: ''A Nation of Too Many Immigrants?'' Chapter 6: ''Jobs Americans Will Do,'' Chapter 9: ''On the Backs of Black Americans: The Present.''
General Accounting Office, Illegal Aliens: Influence of Illegal Workers on Wages and Working Conditions of Legal Workers (Washington, DC: U.S. General Accounting Office, March 1988), pp.3738.
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David Griffith, Jones's Minimal: Low-Wage Labor in the United States (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993).
Robert A. Hackenberg, et al., ''Meat Processing and the Transformation of Rural America: The Emergence of a New Underclass?'' Aspen Institute Quarterly, vol. 5 (Spring 1993): 5.
Monica L. Heppel, David Griffith, and Luis R. Torres, Labor Certification and Employment Practices in Selected Low-Wage/Low-Skill Occupations: An Analysis from Worker and Employer Perspectives (Washington, DC: Inter-American Institute on Migration and Labor, March 1994).
Robert M. Hutchens, A Path to Good Jobs? Unemployment and Low Wages: The Distribution of Opportunity for Young Unskilled Workers, Public Policy Brief No. 11 (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: The Jerome Levy Economics Institute, 1994).
Harry T. Oshima, ''The Growth of U.S. Factor Productivity: The Significance of New Technologies in the Early Decades of the Twentieth Century,'' Journal of Economic History, vol. 44 (March 1984).
Janet Schrader, ''Lost on the Road to Reform: Some of My Clients Can't Do the Jobs Out There,'' The Washington Post, 11MAY97.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Beck.
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Mr. SMITH. Ms. Jenks.
STATEMENT OF ROSEMARY JENKS. SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES
Ms. JENKS. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Watt, I am Rosemary Jenks, a senior fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit, nonadvocacy research institution. I have been asked to appear before you today to discuss Congressman McCollum's bill, H.R. 231.
It is fitting that this hearing is being held during the month that marks the 10-year anniversary of the implementation of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act which first established sanctions for employers who knowingly hire aliens unauthorized to work in the United States.
Ten years ago, Congress promised the American people that, in exchange for an amnesty of immigrants already living in this country, the United States would control future illegal immigration through increased border control resources and enforcement of employer sanctions.
While IRCA's amnesty provisions resulted in the granting of legal resident status and all the ensuing benefits to almost 3 million illegal immigrants, the increased border control resources did not materialize. Employer sanctions, while credited with a decline in apprehensions immediately following IRCA's passage, clearly have not served as a significant deterrent to illegal immigration.
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The INS estimates that the stock illegal immigrant population in the United States at the beginning of fiscal year 1997 had reached 5 million, about the same level as it was before the amnesty, and it was growing by about 275,000 each year.
Most economists and immigration experts agree that large-scale illegal immigration, which is comprised mainly of people with low education levels and few job skills, is contributing to the expansion of the low-skilled labor market and thus increased competition for low-skill, entry-level jobs. As a result, wages in low-skill industries continue to stagnate or decline.
Some occupations that used to provide workers with middle class incomes now provide poverty level wages. In 1990, 18 percent of all full-time workers were paid wages too low to keep a family of four above the poverty level. That figure was 12.1 percent in 1979. Working conditions in some industries, such as the agriculture and garment industries, are as bad as or worse than they were in 1986.
There are two main reasons why employer sanctions have failed to deter illegal immigration. The first is, enforcement of employer sanctions has not been a top priority of the INS. Employer sanctions cannot act as a serious deterrent until it becomes clear to employers that the law will be enforced consistently and aggressively and the penalties are significant enough to make the risk of sanctions unacceptable.
The INS over the past several years has expanded significantly its Telephone Verification System, which allows employers to verify the work eligibility of new noncitizen hires. However, the system has two major downfalls. First, participation is voluntary, so employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants are not going to participate; and, second, verification only takes place if a new employee says he or she is a noncitizen, so aliens using fraudulent birth certificates, for example, are not screened out.
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While the INS should be commended for moving forward with the TVS, it must also be encouraged to improve its employer sanctions enforcement activities. As the chart in my written statement indicates, employer sanctions cases investigated by the INS were at an all time low in fiscal year 1996.
The second and most important reason employer sanctions have not worked effectively is, there is no reliable means by which an employer can verify a new employee's identity and work eligibility.
The 1986 law required new employees to present an employer any of dozens of documents to establish identity and/or work authorization. This requirement spurred a multimillion-dollar industry in fraudulent documents virtually overnight.
Last year's illegal immigration law reduced the number of documents acceptable for employer sanctions purposes by eliminating naturalization and other citizenship certificates and birth certificates from the list. Since these are probably the most easily counterfeited documents, their elimination is a step in the right direction.
The current Social Security card, however, is not far behind in terms of ease of fraudulent reproduction. With a Social Security card and birth certificate, an individual can obtain a legal State driver's license or nondriver identification card and so have the documents that will meet the requirements to prove work eligibility and identity.
Even under the new law, those employers not participating in one of the voluntary work eligibility verification pilot programs still will be forced to do a balancing act between charges of discrimination if they request additional documents when they suspect fraud and fines by the INS if they accept documents they suspect may be fraudulent.
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The only system that would be fair to both employers and to employees is one that gives the employers a reliable way to verify work eligibility without having to judge the integrity of the documents produced and one that requires employers to verify the eligibility of all new hires, not just those who say they are noncitizens or who may look or sound like noncitizens. A secure Social Security card that can be verified easily is the most logical option for such a system.
The Social Security Administration operates the oldest and largest database in the U.S. and so has the greatest experience in managing massive amounts of data. Its field offices throughout the country give it the presence at the local level needed to administer such a system. The social security number is already used as a universal identifier at all levels of government and in the private sector, and employees already must provide employers with the number.
Enhanced enforcement of U.S. immigration laws is not the only benefit to a secure Social Security card. Countless criminals evade authorities by using aliases. In many cases, they make up names and Social Security numbers and have supporting identification documents made. In other cases, they take the names off tombstones and send in to local authorities for the deceased's birth certificate.
There are also countless stories, examples of which are included in my written statement, of Americans whose identities have been stolen and whose financial standings have been destroyed by criminals who used their Social Security numbers.
Page 153 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The SSA in the past has argued against the use of the Social Security card for identity purposes, but the reality is, it already is used for identity purposes in all walks of life.
SSA also has argued that the cost of producing a secure card is prohibitive, but if you add up the cost of the crimes committed by people using fraudulent names and Social Security numbers to evade authorities, the cost of illegal immigration, and the cost to Americans whose identities are stolen, you come up with a far greater figure.
America has waited 10 years for the promise of IRCA to be realized. Last year's immigration law went a long way toward that goal by authorizing increased border control resources, increased employer sanctions resources, and employment eligibility verification pilot programs.
The need for a secure verification system to control illegal immigration will become more urgent over the next couple years as the new welfare law is implemented and an estimated 2 million welfare recipients begin to search for employment. Most of these people will require the same kind of low-skill, entry-level jobs now sought or occupied by illegal immigrants. The development of a Secure Social security card represents yet another step toward realizing the promise of IRCA.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you, and I would be happy to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Jenks follows:]
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROSEMARY JENKS, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Rosemary Jenks, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a non-profit, non-advocacy research institution. I have been asked to appear before you today to discuss Congressman McCollum's bill, H.R. 231, to improve the integrity of the social security card and to apply the same criminal penalties for identification document fraud to work authorization document fraud. Before I talk about the specifics of H.R. 231, however, I would like to provide some background on why secure identification is critical both to law enforcement efforts and to the protection of individual rights in the United States.
It is fitting that this hearing is today, during the month that marks the ten-year anniversary of the implementation of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which first established sanctions for employers who knowingly hire aliens unauthorized to work in the United States. Ten years ago, Congress promised the American people that, in exchange for an amnesty for illegal immigrants already living in this country, the U.S. government would control future illegal immigration through increased border control resources and enforcement of employer sanctions. Immigration experts agreed then, as they do now, that illegal immigrants come to the United States for one primary reason: jobs. Thus, it was clear then, as it is now, that border controls alone would not halt illegal immigration as long as jobs were still available to illegal immigrants. Moreover, border controls would do nothing to deter those immigrants who entered the United States on legal temporary visas and then overstayed.
While IRCA's amnesty provisions resulted in the granting of legal residence status and all the ensuing benefits to almost three million illegal immigrants, the increased border control resources did not materialize. Employer sanctions, while credited with a decline in apprehensions immediately following IRCA's passage (primarily because of would-be illegal immigrants' fear of enforcement efforts, rather than actual enforcement), clearly have not served as a significant deterrent to illegal immigration.
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The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimates that the stock illegal immigrant population in the United States at the beginning of fiscal year 1997 had reached five millionabout the same level as it was before the 1986 amnestyand was growing by about 275,000 each year. Most economists and immigration experts agree that large-scale illegal immigration, which is comprised mainly of people with low education levels and few job skills, is contributing to the rapid expansion of the low-skilled labor market and, thus, increased competition for low-skilled, entry-level jobs. As a result, wages in low-skilled industries continue to stagnate or decline. Some occupations that used to provide workers with middle-class incomes now pay poverty-level wages. In 1990, 18 percent of all full-time workers were paid wages too low to keep a family of four above the poverty levelthat figure was 12.1 percent in 1979.
Working conditions in some industries, such as agriculture, are as bad as or worse than they were in 1986. The U.S. garment industry is experiencing a resurgence of sweatshop conditions. A 1994 General Accounting Office (GAO) report concluded that ''Sweatshop working conditions remain a major problem in the U.S. garment industry, according to the experts contacted. They say working conditions, in many cases, have worsened over the last few years. In general, the description of today's sweatshops differs little from that at the turn of the century.''(see footnote 2) According to an article in the Washington Post on February 16, 1997, ''The return of the kind of sweatshops that flourished early this centuryand were thought to have been largely eliminatedreflects fundamental changes in the garment industry and, more broadly, in American society,'' including ''increasing waves of legal and illegal immigration since the 1970S.''
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Why have employer sanctions failed to deter illegal immigration? There are two main reasons:
(1) Enforcement of employer sanctions has not been a top priority of the INS. Many employers recognize that the chances are very small that the INS will ever find out if they employ illegal immigrants. Other employers are willing to risk sanctions as simply another cost of doing business. Employer sanctions cannot act as a serious deterrent until it becomes clear to employers that the law will be enforced consistently and aggressively and that the penalties are significant enough to make the risk of sanctions unacceptable.
The INS over the past several years has expanded significantly its Telephone Verification System (IVS), which allows employers to verify the work eligibility of new noncitizen hires. Poultry processing plants, meat packing plants, hotels, and a variety of other industries, including the Florida state government, are taking part in the TVS. However, this system has two major downfalls: first, participation is voluntary, so employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants are not going to participate; and second, verification only takes place if a new employee says he or she is a noncitizen, so aliens using fraudulent birth certificates, for example, not screened out.
While the INS should be commended for moving forward with the TVS, it must also be encouraged to improve its employer sanctions enforcement activities. As the chart below indicates, employer sanctions cases investigated by the INS were at an all-time low in FY 1996.
Page 157 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC(2) The second, and most important, reason employer sanctions have not worked effectively is that, in the words of Dr. Demetrios Papademetriou of the Carnegie Endowment, there is ''at least one fundamental weakness in the law: the lack of a reliable means of identifying persons enticed to work in the United States, i.e., the absence of a work authorization system enabling employers to establish reliably a new employee's identity and work eligibility.''(see footnote 3)
The 1986 law required new employees to present an employer any of dozens of documents to establish identity and/or work authorization, including naturalization certificates, social security cards and birth certificates, all of which can be easily counterfeited or obtained fraudulently. This requirement spurred a multi-million dollar industry in fraudulent documents virtually overnight. A 1988 GAO review of INS records in five states found that about 40 percent of aliens apprehended at work used or were suspected of using fraudulent documents.(see footnote 4) As alien smuggling increased in the late 1980s, smugglers began to include in their ''package deals'' not only custom-made fraudulent travel documents, but also work authorization documents. Several current and former Members of Congress, including Sen. Feinstein and former Sen. Simpson, have successfully purchased the fraudulent documents they would need to establish work eligibilitygenerally, a driver's license and a social security card.
Last year's illegal immigration law reduced the number of documents acceptable for employer sanctions purposes by eliminating naturalization and other citizenship certificates and birth certificates from the list. Since these are probably the most easily counterfeited documents, their elimination is a step in the right direction. The current social security card, however, is not far behind in terms of ease of fraudulent reproduction. With a social security card and a birth certificate, an individual can obtain a legal state driver's license or nondriver identification card and so have documents that will meet the requirements for proving identity and work eligibility.
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Even under this new law, those employers not participating in one of the voluntary work eligibility verification pilot programs still will be forced to do a balancing act between charges of discrimination if they request additional documents when they suspect fraud, on the one hand, and fines by the INS if they accept documents they suspect may be fraudulent, on the other. The only system that would be fair both to employers and to employees is one that gives employers a reliable way to verify work eligibility without having to judge the integrity of the documents produced and one that requires employers to verify the eligibility of all new hiresnot just those who say they are noncitizens or who may look or sound like noncitizens.
A secure social security card that can be verified easily is the most logical option for such a system. The Social Security Administration (SSA) operates the oldest and largest data base, and so has the greatest experience in managing massive amounts of data. Its field offices throughout the country give it the presence at the local level that is needed to administer such a system. The social security number is already used as a universal identifier at all levds of government and in the private sector, and employees already must provide employers with a social security number. The SSA currently is working with state motor vehicle administrations to verify social security numbers, a process that greatly enhances the integrity of state-issued driver's licenses and id cards. Most Americans would not be troubled by the upgrading and reissuance of the social security card, and in many cases, they may even find it reassuring.
Enhanced enforcement of U.S. immigration laws is not the only benefit of a secure social security card. Countless criminals evade authorities by using aliases. In many cases, they make up names and social security numbers and have supporting identification documents made. In other cases, they take names off tombstones and send in to local authorities for the deceased's birth certificate. There are also countless stories of Americans whose identities have been stolen and whose financial standings have been destroyed by criminals who usurped their social security numbers. For example:
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A New York area physician learned that an imposter had opened bank and medicaid provider accounts in his name, billed the government for $250,000 for fictitious services, and forged the payment checks.
A Ph.D. speech therapist learned that an impostor had used her social security number to obtain certified copies of her university transcripts. The impostor then used her name and professional credentials to open a clinic, at which substandard therapy was provided.
A California mother found out that an impostor had stolen the identity of her daughter, who had died in an accident at the age of five, more than 50 years earlier.
Another California resident misplaced his driver's license. He went to get another one, but an impostor had beat him to it. The imposter went on to ruin his credit line.
A brother and two sisters in California discovered, after their identification documents had been stolen, that they had each been ''married'' to an illegal immigrant.
The SSA in the past has argued against the use of the social security card for identity purposes, but the reality is that it is already used for identity purposes in all walks of life. It has estimated the cost of producing a tamper-resistant social security card with a magnetic strip (which is not required under H.R 231) at about $2.5 billion. While this is a large sum, it must be placed in context. If you add up the costs of crimes committed by people using fraudulent names and social security cards to evade authorities, the costs of illegal immigration (lust the cost of educating the children of illegal immigrants is estimated at between $2.3 billion and $5.9 billion annually), and the costs to Americans whose identities are stolen, you come up with a far greater figure than the one time cost of $2.5 billion. Moreover, some of this money could be recovered by SSA if a small fee were charged for replacement social security cards.
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H.R 231's provisions to extend criminal penalties for the fraudulent use and counterfeiting of identification documents to work authorization documents send an important message, both to criminals and to American workers. Fraudulent document producers, suppliers and users should realize that there are serious consequences to violating U.S. law. U.S. citizen and legally resident workers should be reassured that the U.S. government is serious about protecting their jobs, their wages and their working conditions. These provisions should be noncontroversial.
America has waited ten years for the promise of IRCA to be realized. Last year's immigration law went a long way toward that goal by authorizing increased border control resources, increased employer sanctions resources, and employment eligibility verification pilot programs. The need for a secure verification system to control illegal immigration will become more urgent over the next couple of years as the new welfare law is implemented and an estimated two million welfare recipients begin the search for employment. Most of these people will require the same kind of low-skilled, entry-level jobs now sought or occupied by illegal immigrants. It is not fair to force Americans and legal residents off welfare only so they can compete with illegal immigrants for these jobs, because the U.S government is unwilling to do what is necessary to control unauthorized employment. The development of a secure social security card represents yet another step toward realizing the promise of IRCA, protecting legal workers, and reducing the ease with which criminals can evade the law by using false identities or usurping the identities of others.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Jenks.
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN MOORE, ECONOMIST, THE CATO INSTITUTE
Mr. MOORE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My name is Stephen Moore, and I am an economist at the Cato Institute. And in keeping with the new truth in testimony rules, let me say, the Cato Institute does not receive a single penny of government funding. Thank you for allowing me to testify, and especially thank you to Mr. Watt for inviting me to testify.
I was joking with a couple of my colleagues when I was telling them I was going to be testifying today that in the last couple months Cato scholars have more often testifiedbeen invited by the Democrats, not the Republicans, and I think, unfortunately, this is another indication of the Republican Party, I think, being ideologically adrift.
I was doing a radio interview on this idea about this issue a couple weeks ago, and I was describing the idea that in Congress they wanted to create this identification card system. And a bunch of people call in; they are very much hostile to this. And a number of people called in, and they said, ''Gosh, darn it, this is just like the liberal Democrat, big government people in Congress who try to do this,'' and I said, ''No, this is the big government Republicans who are trying to promote this idea.''
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I know that a lot of the people who have been promoting this idea, including Mr. McCollum, say this is not going to be a national identification card. But let's not beat around the bush, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Beck introduced the whole idea of talking about poultry and chicken, so let's talk for a minute about ducks. There is a famous kind of saying in Washington these days: ''If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it is a duck.''
Recent history of immigration enforcement has been one of increasingly denigrating civil liberties and privacy rights in the name of enforcing our immigration laws.
When I testified, in fact, 10 years ago on the issue of employer sanctions, I remember clearly testifying in this very room, saying if we had employer sanctions, it would not be long before Members of Congress would want to have some kind of identification card because, of course, sanctions would not work with identifiers, and I remember clearly at that time, I received a very hostile responsein fact, outragefrom Members of Congress that anyone would suggest we would have some kind of identification card, and yet here we are 12 years later debating that very point.
Last year, Congress started a pilot project for a computer registry system that will eventually, I think, contain centralized work authorization information about every one of America's 120 million American workers. This is the so-called 1800BIGBROTHER system.
Page 163 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The centralized computer registry system is dangerous enough, but to add to that a photo internal passport system for every American citizen matching up with a computer data base is to put in place the entire infrastructure of a national ID card system. All that would be missing would be the nomenclature.
Some of the computer registry pilots, by the way, call for a machine-readable document, and I wonder what that machine-readable document would be. Evidently, what they are talking about, by the way, is some kind of biometric identifier on the machine-readable document, and I don't think it is too inconceivable to think that eventually that machine-readable document will be the Social Security card.
Now we have assurances from Congress that it will not be abused, but I believe this is about like giving a teenager a bottle of booze and keys to a motorcycle by getting a promise from him that he won't drink and drive.
Nearly all congressional supporters of the new Social Security card system say this will not be a national ID card, but members of this committee need to know some basic unsettling facts about what they are getting into.
First, it is important to remember, the Social Security card, when it was originally adopted back in the 1930s, Congress gave assurances that that Social Security card would never become used for identification purposes. In fact, this was the central debate. When the social security system was first envisioned, Americans quite rightly said they did not want the card to become a national identifier.
Page 164 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Other programs that collect centralized information about Americans have also been abused over our Nation's history. The most famous example would be the Confidentiality Census Bureau information being violated in World War II to help move Japanese Americans into internment camps.
I find it troublesome that Republicans would propose this idea. Have you forgotten, probably the greatest triumph for the last 20 years for the GOP was the defeat of Bill Clinton's health security card system. Remember that. That was the health care that you could never lose. Now I find that when the ID card issue comes up, some people even say we could link Clinton's proposal for the health security card with the Republicans' proposal for an ID card and then you could have one-stop shopping.
I am very troubled, by the way, by the fact that a lot of these measures, I think, could become much more cumbersome over the years. For example, it would be very easy to put a microchip on the cards, and in fact a lot of private companies are using those types of identification systems.
I see my time is up, so let me simply say that we have prepared a letter that has signatures by virtually all of the important leaders of the conservative movement who have urged Congress not to adopt any measure toward a computer registry system or a national ID card system.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Moore follows:]
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF STEPHEN MOORE, ECONOMIST, THE CATO INSTITUTE
Mr. Chairman, my name is Stephen Moore and I am an economist at the Cato Institute. In keeping with the new truth in testimony rules, let me first say that the Cato Institute does not receive a single penny of government funds.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment today on the idea of ''improving the integrity of the Social Security card by making it as secure as the 100 dollar bill.'' I am as opposed as I possibly could be to any measure that would move toward the establishment of a national i.d card in America. Make no mistake about it: H.R. 231 would do exactly that. I am aware that supporters of this idea argue vehemently that making the Social Security card fraud-proof is not the same as establishing a national i.d. card. In fact, there is a section in Mr. McCollum's bill H.R. 231 entitled ''Not a National Identification Card.''
Mr. Chairman there is a popular saying these days in politics that applies directly to this bill:
If it looks like a duck. If it quacks like a duck. If it walks like a duck. It's a duck.
Supporters of a new tamper-proof Social Security card maintain that it is different from a national i.d. card in that no one would be required to carry the card around with them. Such assurances ring hollow given the recent history of immigration enforcement. With each passing law, privacy rights have been subjugated in the name of policing our borders. Twelve years ago when Congress enacted the employer sanctions laws, I and other critics, testified in this very room that the ill-conceived notion of making employers the de facto deputized agents of the INS, would lead to discrimination against foreign-looking and sounding U.S. citizens and authorized workers. We also argued that employer sanctions were the first step toward a national i.d. card system.
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Members of this committee assured us that those predictions would never come to pass. They also pledged that if employer sanctions were proven to encourage discrimination against latinos or Asians then the law would be repealed. In 1990 the U.S. General Accounting Office documented a ''serious pattern of discrimination'' resulting from the employer sanctions law. Despite the evidence, the law has never been repealed.
Members of this Committee also denounced the suggestion that employer sanctions would ever lead to the establishment of a national i.d. card system or the implementation of any other technologies that would compromise the privacy rights of American citizens.
And yet here we are twelve years later debating this very issue. It is noteworthy that last year Congress adopted a ''pilot project'' for an insidious national computer registry system with the federal government centralizing work authorization data on every one of the 120 million Americans in the workforce. This system has become disparagingly known as: 1800BIGBROTHER.
Surely, no one on this committee would deny that efforts to reduce illegal immigration have led to ever more draconian measures to keep out unauthorized workers. Consider the inglorious legacy of employer sanctions. They have failed in every way. Rep. McCollum conceded himself that ''the employer sanctions law is not working.'' It is worse than that; the law has done harm to many American citizensparticularly minorities. But rather than repeal a law that does not work, Congress continuously adopts more and more stringent steps to make it work.
Page 167 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Last year the computer registry system was adopted on a pilot project basis. It is almost a certainty that no matter how big a failure this new system proves to be, within ten years the registry will be applied to all workers and employers in the nation. I have worked in Washington for fifteen years mainly covering the federal budget, and I have never encountered a government program that didn't workno matter how overwhelming the evidence to the contrary.
The centralized computer registry system is dangerous enough. But to add to that a photo i.d. card issued to every citizen that matches up with the computer data base is to put in place the entire infrastructure of a national i.d. card system. All that is missing is the nomenclature. As someone once put it: this is as about as ill-fated as giving a teenager a bottle a booze and keys to a motorcycle, but getting him to promise that he won't drink and drive. You're just asking for trouble.
Nearly all congressional supporters of the new Social Security card system say they are against a national i.d. card. The best way to protect against the establishment of a de jure national i.d. document system is to abandon the idea of converting the Social Security card into a de facto i.d. card.
The Social Security card was never meant to be used for identification purposes. When the system was created in 1935, to assuage the concerns of American citizens, Congress insisted that the card would never and should never be used for purposes of identification. Its sole purpose was to ensure that workers were paying the required payroll tax. Individual workers were assigned numbers so that the proper governing authority could easily account for the contributions made to the Social Security fund. Nonetheless, the use of the number grew steadily over the years. Starting in 1961, the Civil Service Commission began using the number to identify all federal employees. In 1962, the IRS started requiring the number to appear on all completed tax returns.
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We have seen on many occasions over the past sixty years abuses of the Social Security system that were never envisioned when the system was createdjust as abuses of the proposed i.d. card that we cannot now envision would almost certainly occur when expediency takes precedence over safeguards of privacy rights and civil liberties. In fact, privacy rights have already been eroded. The SSA disclosed Social Security numbers to the private sector until public outrage halted the activity in 1989. The disclosures affected more than three million Americans.
Earlier this year the Social Security Administration launched a web site, which allowed computer hackers internet access to individuals' payroll and benefit records. All a snoop needed access to was an individual's name, Social Security number, date and place of birth, and mother's maiden name. As Senator Grassley noted in a letter to SSA requiring the web site to be suspended, the system was ripe for abuse ''by everyone from nosy neighbors, to legal foes, to ex-spouses seeking financial support.'' The SSA's track record in protecting privacy does not inspire confidence that privacy rights would be properly protected under the i.d. card system.
The Social Security number is by no means alone in this regard. Various programs which authorize the government to collect personal information about American citizens have gone so awry over the years that we ought to be reeling in the information that the government collects from us, not expanding its powers in this regard. Here are some historical and recent examples of abuse:
The confidentiality of Census Bureau information was violated in World War II to help move JapaneseAmericans to internment camps.
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The FBI criminal history records system, which was designed for law enforcement purposes, is now used predominantly by non-law enforcement agencies and private employers.
The State of Ohio recently sold its drivers, license and car registration lists to TRW, Inc. for $375,000. In a recent editorial, Business Week asked: ''Who gave government agencies the right to cash in on information that people are forced to give them in the first place?''
In early 1995 more than 500 Internal Revenue Service agents were caught illegally snooping into the tax records of thousands of Americansoften friends and celebrities. Only five of these employees were fired for this invasion of privacy.
The IRS claimed that its new privacy protection measures would protect against this from happening again. But it did happen again in early 1997 with hundreds of IRS agents again illegally investigating the tax information of friends, foes, and celebrities.
Technology has played a vital role in advancing freedom around the world, especially in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. But it has also laid new temptations at the doorstep of government, suddenly afforded ways to micromanage people's lives. Once the technology and database is in place for a national worker registry, new and at times urgent alternative purposes for the registry will doubtless arise. Those who favor big government will find many uses for a centralized computer database every time a new ''national crisis'' emerges: to help fight the war on drugs, to control the spread of disease, to combat terrorism, and so forth. Here are a few examples of policy ideas that have already been promoted in Washington for which a national i.d. card and a computer registry system could be put to use:
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Nationalized health care. President Clinton's health care plan included a ''Health Security Card'' for all Americans. If the idea comes back, the Social Security card could be used also as a Health Security card. The card could contain information about genetic testing, sexual orientation, drug use, sexually transmitted diseases, and more.
Welfare payments. Vice President Gore has promoted a ''reinventing government'' initiative that would send entitlement monies to recipients via an ATM and Maryland has already experimented with the practice. Why not make the Social Security card capable of handling this function so that we can create one-stop shopping.
Criminal records. Many people will think that the information on a card and in a worker registry could be combined with criminal records to make sure former felons do not get bonded in the banking industry or that convicted rapists do not become school teachers. The system could possibly perform background checks for gun purchases. The City of Pasadena already requires an identification to purchase ammunition.
In the age of the microchip, centralized computers have the capability of holding and processing huge amounts of information about all 265 million American citizens. An optically readable i.d. card recently patented by Drexler Technology Corporation in California can hold a picture i.d. and 1,600 pages of text. The government could mass produce these cards at a cost of less than $5.00 per person. Even more sophisticated identification systems might remove the need for carrying a card at all.
Hughes Aircraft Company has a new identification technology involving a syringe implantable transponder. This ''ingenious, safe, and inexpensive'' worker identification technology plants a tiny microchip under the skin. It contains a ten character alphanumeric identification code that can never be duplicated. The microchip is read by an electronic scannerthe type that reads the price on the food you buy at the grocery store.
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The point here is that depending on how far Congress wants to go in suppressing the rights of the individual in order to deter illegal immigration, the technology exists for a fool-proof if Orwellian identification system. If Congress were willing to further denigrate Americans' civil liberties, many new government controls to enforce our immigration laws could be erected.
Indeed, I would ask supporters of the new Social Security card: What exactly is your objection to a national i.d. card? If combating illegal immigration is such a national emergency, then why not require the card be carried around at all times? Why not require a biometric identifier that is much harder to forge? Why not place a micro-chip on the card? All of these steps would no doubt help with the enforcement of immigration laws. My fear is that some of the more zealous anti-immigrant groups might respond privately: one step at a time.
Members of this Committee may complain that I am engaging in scare tacticsthat no one would suggest such measures. But in fact members of Congress have suggested these ideas in the past and continue to do so. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has suggested an identification card with ''a magnetic strip on which the bearer's unique voice, retina pattern, or fingerprint is digitally encoded.'' These were her words, not mine.
Senator Simpson, who just retired, has consistently argued that for employer sanctions to work effectively, an I.D. card is necessary. In the 1990 Immigration Act Senator Simpson sought an experimental card with a biometric component, such as a fingerprint, and a social security number. In Congressional hearings two years ago Senator Simpson and other members of Congress spoke openly and longingly about the virtues of ''an i.d. card system.''
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Sen. Simpson's original immigration bill last year included a provision that would have forced states to issue a standardized birth certificate that would have included an individual's Social Security number and, by the age of 16, a biometric indicator. This would allegedly reduce the document fraud that currently plagues the enforcement of employer sanctions, but would also have the federal government regulating state records to an unprecedented degree. This builds upon a Jordan Commission recommendation, but, like the Commission, it offers no cost estimate of what it would take to regulate the 7,000 vital statistics offices across the country that currently issue birth certificates.
The main argument, then against this very dangerous idea is that it is an affront to out basic privacy rights and civil liberties as American citizens. But there are other problems with the idea as well:
1. Congress lacks the constitutional authority. At the Cato Institute we have been tryingin most cases in vainto discipline Congress to always ask the question when voting on a new government program: where is the authority in the constitution to undertake this action. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government conferred authority to establish a computer registry, to compel citizens to obtain a national i.d. card, or to involve itself this intimately in the everyday business decisions of employers.
2. It will encourage further workplace discrimination. We don't have to imagine, for example, that this new card, would exacerbate discrimination against the foreign-born and also American-born citizens with foreign surnames. We don't have to imagine this because the laws already in place are causing such discrimination with Congress showing scant concern. For example, under employer sanctions, the documents of Hispanic job applicants have been found to be three times more likely to be challenged than those of whites. Hispanics and Asians are much more likely to be harassed by local law enforcement, employers, and the INS to produce their Social Security card.
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3. It will not be forqery-proof. No government i.d. card is fraud-resistant for longunless we move toward a 1984-style system with computer microchips, fingerprints, retina scans, and the like. Employer sanctions and I9 Forms have given rise to a cottage industry in fake identification. There's no reason to believe that black market entrepreneurs will abandon a lucrative business just because the federal government thinks it's getting clever. Phony worker documents are available for as little as $30 today in cities with high immigrant populations. The best a worker registry can hope to accomplish is to push up these costs temporarily as forgers update their techniques.
An i.d. card is not like a 100 dollar bill. Money is put into circulation. It flows through banks where specialists have the expertise and equipment to detect counterfeits. But millions of employers, who will be the guardians of this system, do not have such expertise, nor should they be required to.
4. It will not deter illegal immigration. As the experience with employer sanctions has shown, honest employers who simply want to play by the rules and run their businesses will face a hefty new burden imposed on them by Washington. Thome who want to skirt the law will pay workers cash or accept forged documents. Says a director of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in New York: ''If a guy running a sewing loft or a laundry or a restaurant needs to cut labor costs, he knows he can hire a few illegal workers, pay them less than the minimum wage, and get away with it.'' For those employers, sanctions have been an irrelevance. The first felony indictment under the employer sanctions law did not come down until August, 1994eight years after employer sanctions were first adopted. The job magnet that attracts illegal immigrants will maintain its strong pull. The ''Zoe Baird problem'' is one of demand, not supply.
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5. The costs exceed the ''benefits.'' Despite the failure of employer sanctions, much of the hysteria over illegal immigration is not confirmed by the official statistics on the size of the illegal alien population. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are now an estimated four to five million illegal aliens living in the United States today, and about 300,000 more settle permanently each year. Four to five million illegal immigrants is undeniably a large number of people, but it is far below the ''invading army'' of eight to ten million aliens regularly reported in the media or by anti-immigrant lobbyists. Illegal aliens constitute only about 1.5 percent of the 265 million people living in the United States. This level would not seem to require draconian enforcement measures involving every single American worker and employerespecially the majority of Americans who do not live in areas with a large number of illegal aliens.
Mr. Chairman, I wish to congratulate Rep. Melvin Watt for his courageous opposition to this bad idea. It saddens me to see Republicans, who took control of Congress in 1995 for the first time in forty years on an agenda of ''less government, more freedom,'' so enamored with an idea that so fundamentally contradicts that platform. Ironically, many of the same Republicans who belittled the Clinton administration for proposing a national health security card now want an even more insidious national i.d. card system with a centralized computer data base to control illegal immigration. Indeed, some advocates of the i.d. card idea have suggested that the card could and should be used for both purposes.
I wish to remind Republicans that this idea first surfaced in a Reagan cabinet meeting in 1981. Then Attorney General William French Smith argued that a perfectly harmless i.d. card system would be necessary to reduce illegal immigration. A second cabinet member asked why not tattoo a number on each American's forearm. According to Martin Anderson, the White House domestic policy adviser at the time, Reagan blurted out: ''My god, that's the mark of the beast.'' Anderson reports ''that was the end of the national identification card'' during the Reagan years. But bad ideas never die in Washington; they wait for another day.
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It is also noteworthy that the leaders of virtually every libertarian, conservative, and civil liberties organization in Americafrom Bill Bennett at Empower America to Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform to Milton Friedman the Nobel economisthave denounced the both a national i.d card and the computer registry as ''misguided and dangerous.'' (See letter to members of Congress.)
Illegal immigration is the price we pay in America for being a free and prosperous nation. Indeed, these freedoms are why so many millions of people from all over the world come hereboth legally and illegally. H.R. 231 asks Americans whether they are willing to give up some of those basic liberties in order to keep illegal immigrants out. The answer to that question should be: never. Congress should be concentrating all its efforts on reclaiming lost rights of citizens, not further snatching away, one by one, existing ones.
LETTER TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
DEAR MEMBER OF CONGRESS: We are writing to express our concern that both Congress and the Administration are moving toward the implementation of a national worker registry. We believe such a plan put forward in the name of immigration control, is both misguided and dangerous for the following reasons:
It will not work. Those employers who rely on undocumented labor are already violating the law; they do so intentionally and are unlikely to use a verification system. Instead, they will continue to violate the law by hiring undocumented workers while employers who already comply with the law are subjected to new, costly requirements for the hiring process.
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Faulty data. The data which a nationwide verification system would use would rely on two highly flawed data bases, one by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the other the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Both are notorious for containing incorrect or outdated information, with error rates as high as 28 percent. Roughly 65 million Americans either enter the work force or change jobs every year. Even an error rate of no higher than one percent would mean that 650,000 Americans could be denied jobs every year.
An unfunded mandate on employers. The creation of a national verification system for every workplace in America would present a huge administrative burden to the nation's employers, especially small business. All employers would be required to ask the federal government's permission every time they want to hire somebody. Americans want fewer burdensome regulations, not new ones.
A threat to privacy and civil rights. Worker registry proposals ask Congress to create a database of personal information on all Americans and make it accessible to all employers. The openness of the proposed systems raises barriers to controlling and monitoring the use of information. Such systems are prone to abuse by persons who use it to selectively screen individuals whose appearance, surname or accent suggests they are foreign or to screen such persons outside of the context of employment. In addition, government often lacks the political will to limit access to information once collected. Indeed, other purposes for the data base are already being proposed, including verifying eligibility for public benefits, tracking childhood immunizations, and tracking child support payments. Once a system of information on all Americans is in place, it will inevitably become ubiquitous in American life, presenting an enormous threat to the privacy and liberty of Americans.
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We believe it is unwarranted and unwise to create a data system involving 100 percent of Americans in an effort to identify the 1.5 percent who live illegally in the United States. We urge you to oppose the creation of a nationwide verification system.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Fathers Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Center for Democracy and Technology, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Immigration and Refugee Services of America, MALDEF, Los Angeles, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, National Association of Korean Americans, National Association of Manufacturers, National Council of La Raza, National Federation of Independent Business, Organization of Chinese Americans, Small Business Survival Committee, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Martin Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stuart Anderson, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, Ronald Bailey, Think Tank, Bernard Baltic, Reason Foundation, Gary Bauer, American Renewal, Douglas Besharoe, American Enterprise Institute, Morton C. Blackwell, Conservative Leadership PAC, David Boaz, Cato Institute, Clint Bolick, Institute for Justice, Matthew Brooks, National Jewish Coalition, Phillip M. Burgess, Center for the New West, Merrick Carey, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, Linda Chavez, Center for Equal Opportunity, Bryce Christensen, Editor, The Family in America, Jeff Eisenach, Progress & Freedom Foundation, Michael Farris, National Center for Home Education, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, American Enterprise Institute, Steve Gibson, Bionomics Institute, Stina Hans, Vista Hospital Systems, Robertt B. Helms, American Enterprise Institute, Rick Henderson, Reason, John Hood, Heritage Foundation, David Horowitz, Center for the Study of Popular Culture, Joseph J. Jacobs, Jacobs Engineering Group, Paul Jacob, U.S. Term Limits, Kent Jeffreys, National Center for Police Analysis, Thomas L. Jipping, Free Congress Foundation, Donna Kelsch, YMCA, NY, Jack Kemp, Empower America, Manuel S. Klausn, Kindel & Anderson, David Koch, Koch Industries, William Kristol, Project for the Republican Future, Mario Lewis, Competitive Enterprise Institute, James P. Lucier, Jr., Citizens Against A National Sales Tax/VAT, John McClaughry, Ethan Allen Institute, Donald N. McCloskey, University of Iowa, Michael T. McMenamin, Walter & Haverfield, William H. Mellor III, Institute for Justice, Stephen Moore, Cato Institute, Amy Moritz, National Center for Public Policy Research, Reverend Craig B. Mousin, United Church of Christ, Richard S. Newcombe, Creators Syndicate, Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform, Walter K. Olson, Manhattan Institute, Ellen Frankel Paul, Social Philosophy & Policy Center, Bowling Green State University, Jeffrey Paul, Social Philosophy & Policy Center, Bowling Green State University, Sally Pipes, Pacific Research Institute, Joyce Antilla Phipps, Seton Hall University, Robert W. Poole, Jr., Reason Foundation, Steven R. Postrel, Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Irvine, Virginia Postrel, Reason Foundation, T.J. Rodgers, Cypress Semiconductor, Michael Rothschild, Bionomics Institute, Rev. Don Smith, Fred L. Smith, Jr., Competitive Enterprise Institute, Phyllis Schlatly, Eagle Forum, Dr. Christine Sierra, University of New Mexico, Julie Stewart, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Thomas Szasz, SUNY-Syracuse, Ron K. Unz, Wall Street Analytics, Richard J. Wilson, Professor, American University, Cathy Young, Women's Freedom Network, and Benjamin Zycher, UCLA.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Moore.
Mr. Crank, let me begin my questions with you. You talked about the various tamperproof features on the Social Security card. In the case of employer sanctions, what good does it do to have the security features if the employer, him or herself, has to take the card at face value, and, if it looks genuine, has to accept it? What good do the security measures do in that case?
Mr. CRANK. Again, Mr. Chairman, let me remind you that it is not an identity card.
Mr. SMITH. I know that, but as you pointed out, in the last 4 years it has been used for other reasons legitimately.
Mr. CRANK. That is right. And so an employerand we do communicate to them what to look for in the card. By the looks of the card, he can tell if a card had been altered. That is about the most he can tell from the card. If the card had been altered, then he has prima facie information that that person has
Mr. SMITH. What if a card had not been altered?
A year before last, I believe it was, this subcommittee had a number of individuals testify that for $15, $12, $20, individuals could purchase counterfeit Social Security cards that had to be accepted by the employer. Is there any way to prevent that?
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How does an employerhow does this accrue to the advantage of the employer? How do security measures help someone to distinguish between something valid or counterfeit?
Mr. CRANK. It only helps them if what is presented is demonstrably and visibly counterfeited. If it is such a good reproduction that it escapes notice of the naked eye, then it doesn't help.
Mr. SMITH. That is the answer I was looking for, not the answer I wanted. It was the answer I expected, I should say.
Mr. Beck, you mentioned the competition of American workers with illegal aliens, and you talked about lower wages, lost jobs. We heard earlier a cost estimate on this particular bill. Is there any way to quantifyand perhaps there is notthe loss in jobs, the lowered wages, and so forth on individuals who are in the country legally?
Mr. BECK. I don't have those figures with me, and there have been a lot of disagreements in trying to figure that out. However, there have been a number of efforts at just what illegal immigration costs the country. And it must be remembered that the cost of this verification system would come out of the entire population's pockets, whereas the cost of illegal immigration primarily comes out of the pockets of people who least can afford it in this country.
Mr. SMITH. Let me address a question to both Mr. Beck and Ms. Jenks. Ms. Jenks, this actually goes more to what you were testifying about, that employer sanctions are not working. You mentioned two reasons: One, they are basically not enforced; and two, there is no way for an employer to check to see if someone is legally in this country or not.
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A couple questions. No. 1, Do you know of any better way to better enforce employer sanctions other than having a more tamperproof card? And, No. 2, what evidence is there that the INS is not, in fact, enforcing employer sanctions as expected?
Ms. JENKS. Let me answer the second question first. The only evidence I have is the data from INS on their employer sanctions enforcement activities.
I included a chart of that data in my written statement which showed enforcement activities have been declining over the last couple of years, the last few years. The first question, the INS's TVSTelephone Verification Systemhas been received very favorably with employers who use it. They find it easy to make a phone call to verify an alien registration number.
The problem with that system, as I mentioned, is it basically lends itself to discrimination because it is only for people who attest they are noncitizens, or if an employer decides someone looks like a noncitizen, they can try to initiate this verification process.
So there needs to be a process that can verify the identity and work authorization of all workers, regardless of what they look like or what they sound like, and I think that the pilot program in last year's immigration law for the Social Security number call-in system is one of the best means that we have available.
What needs to go along with that, however, is a secure document so that when the employee presents the Social Security card to the employer, the employer has a reasonable belief that this is a legitimate card, that this person hasn't just bought a card off the street or taken some dead person's Social Security number and made himself a card, something like that. So that the phone-in system has to be combined with some kind of secure document.
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Mr. SMITH. OK. Thank you, Ms. Jenks.
Mr. Moore, one question for you. You testified you are opposed to the employer sanctions and a more secure Social Security card. What would you do to discourage illegal aliens from working in the United States?
Mr. MOORE. Let me first say something about this issue of jobs and immigration.
Mr. SMITH. I tell you what, unless you respond with that, you will go into Mr. Watt's time, since my time is up.
Mr. MOORE. What would I do to reduce illegal immigration?
Mr. SMITH. What would you to do to discourage illegal aliens from work in this country? What would you do or suggest?
Mr. MOORE. Well, first of all, even Mr. McCollum, in his floor statement last year on the Social Security card system, said, point blank, employer sanctions are not working. So it is not me who is saying employer sanctions, it is some of the people who are the original proponents.
Mr. SMITH. That can be argued either way.
Page 182 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What would you do to discourage illegal immigrants from working?
Mr. MOORE. There are a number of things we need to do. I think we have to expand NAFTA and free trade throughout the hemisphere. Free trade to bring it to Mexico, Chile, and the countries in South America would have a very positive effect.
Mr. SMITH. Would you sanction employers from hiring illegal aliens? Would you sanction employers in any way from hiring illegal aliens? Do you feel it ought to be illegal to hire illegal aliens?
Mr. MOORE. I strongly disagree with the idea that employers should be the policemen of the INS.
Mr. SMITH. So you think they should be able to hire illegal aliens.
Mr. MOORE. I don't think they should be the ones responsible.
Mr. SMITH. You wouldn't prevent them?
Mr. MOORE. I would say if someone comes to a worker's door, that employer should be able to presume that person is here legally.
Mr. SMITH. Whether they are legal or illegal, they should be able to hire them.
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Mr. MOORE. That is right. It is the job of the INS to enforce that.
Mr. SMITH. OK. You have answered my question.
Mr. Watt is recognized.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I will be brief, and I don't think I will even ask any questions. I guess when Mr. McCollum left, everything else, it seems to me, without getting a clear understanding from Mr. McCollum of the purposes for which this enhanced card would be used, you are really out there kind of in the dark, trying to figure out what this discussion is all about.
I don't disagree with anything Ms. Jenks said or Mr. Beck said, but unless you start with the assumption that you are going to use this card as a national ID card or as an employer ID card or some purpose beyond which Mr. McCollum seemed to be saying he anticipated it would be used, I don't know what purpose it serves to spend $90 million$51 million a year for the next 10 years, even if you accept that figure.
So while I don't necessarily disagree with anything Ms. Jenks or Mr. Beck have said about the impact, it is basically irrelevant unless you start with the assumption that you are going to use this card for some purposes for which it is not now currently used, nor was it ever intended, as Mr. Crank said.
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So we could have a philosophical discussion here. It seems to me the discussion should start at the other end of the spectrum, which is where Mr. Moore assumed it was starting. You are going to start with a debate about whether it is good to have a national ID card or whether it is good to have an employer ID card, if that is something different than a national ID card. I wanted Mr. McCollum to tell me what the difference was.
But the debate has got to start over there, and if we decide that we are going to have a national ID card, then I think what Mr. Crank is saying, tell the Social Security Administration, and we will, you know, mandate that we use the card for that purpose.
But why would you spend a whole bunch of money doing all of this to create a more secure card that, according to Mr. McCollum, is not going to be used for any worthwhile purpose?
I mean, I am not sure what Mr. McCollum would say the purpose of doing all of this is, and I know what Mr. Beck and Ms. Jenks would like to have it used for. I know what Mr. Moore would not like to have it used for. What I do not know is what Mr. McCollum wouldwhat purpose there would be spending a half a billion dollars at least to create a more secure card for whatwhat are we going to do with it?
And until we answer that question, there is no sense in my asking Mr. Beck about black mayors orI'm sorrywhite mayors and black domestic workers and black poultry workers, as if that is relevant. I mean, you know, hey, it ain't relevant unless we got some basis for discussing that in the context of this card. And while I appreciate you trying to direct your comments to me, I just think they are irrelevant until we answer that question.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
You left a lot of questions hanging in the air. Maybe we will be able to address them in the future.
I thank the panelists as well for your testimony. No doubt you will all be back at some point in the future. But thank you again for being here today.
The Subcommittee is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X E S
Appendix 1.Prepared Statement of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational fund
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) appreciates the opportunity to submit testimony regarding proposed changes to the social security card, which is used as a document to verify authorization to work in the United States. MALDEF is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of Latinos in the areas of education, employment, political access, immigration, and language rights.
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H.R. 231 purports ''[t]o improve the integrity of the Social Security card and to provide for criminal penalties for fraud and related activity involving work authorization documents for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act.'' While MALDEF does not oppose efforts to make the social security card less vulnerable to counterfeiters, this bill does not ensure that those persons who are authorized to work in the United States will continue to have reasonable methods to establish such authorization. Additionally, this proposed legislation is duplicative and unnecessary, as the Social Security Administration (SSA) is already under a legal requirement to establish a counterfeit-resistant social security card. It is premature and unwise to further constrain SSA without sufficient specificity and planning and curtail the detailed analysis and planning already underway.(see footnote 5)
Under current law, persons who are authorized to work in the United States must establish both their identity and their employment authorization prior to working in this country.(see footnote 6) A job applicant can establish both identity and authorization by producing one document, such as a United States passport or resident alien card, alien registration card, or other document designated by the Attorney General.(see footnote 7) Alternatively, a job applicant can establish his/her identity and employment authorization with two of the approved documents set forth in the law.(see footnote 8)
Page 187 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC H.R. 231 proposes to improve the integrity of the social security card, one of the documents which can establish an applicant's employment authorization.(see footnote 9) As currently drafted, H.R. 231 could drastically reduce the methods available to persons authorized to work in the United States to prove their work authorization.
H.R. 231 Will Severely Limit Options for Authorized Workers
Under current law, if a person cannot establish identity and authority to work with one of the single documents enumerated in the law such as a passport, then he/she may separately establish identity and work authorization with two different documents.(see footnote 10) In establishing work authorization, a person may currently show either a social security card or any other document approved by the Attorney General.(see footnote 11)
H.R. 231 fails to clarify whether the new card would be used as a sole source of authorization or would still recognize the alternative option of showing other documents approved by the Attorney General.(see footnote 12) If the intent of the bill is only to replace the social security card option, and not restrict the alternative options, such intent is not shown by the actual language. Without clarification, workers likely will be denied the ability to prove through alternative documents their authority to work.
No Requirements or Funds Are Provided To Educate the Public on the Need to Obtain a Reissued Social Security Card
Page 188 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With implementation of H.R. 231 beginning on January 1, 2006, employers will be prohibited from recognizing any social security card issued prior to January 1, 2000, as a valid document to establish employment authorization. This proposed legislation fails to recognize that the SSA has been issuing social security cards since the 1930's. Any person who was issued a card between the 1930's and 1999 will not be able to use that card to establish authority to work in the U.S. Since many persons actually are issued social security cards at a very young age and the SSA will not begin issuing the new cards until the year 2000, the overwhelming majority of working age persons in 2006 will not possess social security cards that can be used to establish employment authorization.
Beginning in 2006, new workers entering the work force for the first time, workers who were unemployed and are attempting to re-enter the workforce, and workers who are simply changing jobs will be surprised to find that the otherwise valid social security card they possess will not be recognized by their potential employer to establish work authorization. Without an alternative document approved by the Attorney General, workers will be forced to begin the process of applying for a reissued social security card and wait at home, unemployed until the SSA can process the request. This is a heavy burden for any worker to bear, particularly the working poor.
Consideration should be made particularly of the most vulnerable populations to ensure access to information about any changes affecting both work authorization and the many uses of a social security card. Outreach and the proper funding must target elderly, migrant, non-English speaking, and rural populations.
H.R 231 Would Undermine Current Mandatory Analysis and Planning to Develop a New CounterfeitResistant Social Security Card
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Under the new immigration law, the SSA is charged with developing a prototype of a counterfeit-resistant social security card.(see footnote 13) The law provides that the card shall be of ''durable tamper-resistant material;'' shall ''employ technologies that provide security features such as magnetic stripes, holograms, and integrated circuits,'' and shall provide ''reliable proof of citizenship or legal resident alien status.''(see footnote 14) The Comptroller General and the Commissioner for Social Security are each charged with conducting various studies and reports to explore ways to improve the application process and to determine the costs involved with issuing new cards over various time periods.(see footnote 15)
In contrast, H.R. 231 would require the SSA to create a card ''as secure against counterfeiting as the 100 dollar Federal Reserve note'' and ''as secure against fraudulent use as a United States passport.''(see footnote 16) Each of these documents has many different features that would require a number of costly changes that would be of questionable efficacy. H.R. 231 is unclear as to whether required changes include a combination of all the features in both the 100 dollar note and the passporta picture, special print, etc.
In comparison, the requirements under current law are much more specific. Further, H.R. 231 does not recognize the strain on the social security card, which originally was not intended to serve the many purposes that today it is forced to serve such as establishing employment authorization. In the context of the current legal requirement to design a prototype counterfeit-resistant social security card, the SSA can best explore the many issues surrounding the current uses of the card to design the card best suited for those needs that are appropriate for its use, while limiting the burden on all card users.
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H.R. 231 Leads To A National Identification Card
When the social security card was first developed, its only purpose was to allow an employer to report social security earnings to the SSA for the individual card holder. Today the card is used for other purposes beyond keeping track of social security earnings. H.R. 231 contains a disclaimer that it does not authorize the establishment of a national identification card and that people will not be required to carry the new social security cards all the time.(see footnote 17) Despite this disclaimer, H.R. 231 moves us closer than ever before to the development of a national identification card.
H.R. 231 provides that the social security card should be as secure against fraud as the 100 dollar Federal Reserve note and the United States passport.(see footnote 18) Without further instructions or analysis, the social security card could easily become a national identification card. If the social security card resembled a United States passport, both the public and private sector would take advantage of the existence of the card and require individuals to produce the card for a wide variety of purposes. The more the card resembles a United States passport and the greater its exclusive use as identification and authorization, the closer we are to using the social security card as a nationally recognizable document to identify not only who a person is, but to reveal a variety of other characteristics and information about the person.
H.R. 231 does not require the SSA and Congress to consider the current uses of the social security card or what should be its future uses. Without such a careful analysis, H.R. 231 sends us well on the way to a national identification card.
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H.R. 231 will not contribute to the development of a counterfeit-resistant social security card. Instead, such development should be left to the ongoing process that will assure a better planned card is designed. Hasty, ill-conceived and unnecessary legislation such as H.R. 231 must not deny the reasonable opportunity for any authorized worker to establish his/her authority to earn a living in the United States.
Appendix 2.Letter Dated June 12, 1997 From Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Committee on the Judiciary, With Additional Questions Prepared by Rep. Christopher Cannon, to Paul Virtue,(see footnote 19) Acting Executive Associate Commissioner for Programs, Immigration and Naturalization Service
Mr. PAUL VIRTUE,
|House of Representatives,|
|Committee on the Judiciary,|
|Washington, DC., June 13, 1997.|
Acting Executive Associate Commissioner for Programs,
Immigration and Naturalization Service,
DEAR MR. VIRTUE: I appreciate your appearing before the Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims to testify at the hearing on H.R. 1493 on May 13, 1997.
Mr. Cannon has asked that you answer additional written questions for the record. I have attached a copy of the questions. I would appreciate your answering the questions in writing and returning your answers to the Committee for inclusion in the hearing record within two weeks.
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If the Committee can provide you with any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact George Fishman by phone at 2022255727 or by fax at 2022253672. I appreciate your participation in our hearing.
cc. Hon. Chris Cannon.
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FOR PANEL III
Mr. Virtue: I understand from your written testimony that the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP) is currently active in 74 sites, 39 states and the District of Columbia. Of these 74 locations, at what interior sites is this program in place? I would appreciate a complete listing of these sites.
You mention that ''Our goal for FY 1997 is to remove 14,000 aliens through the IHP program.'' How was this number determined? When is this goal expected to be achieved?
In FY 1996, the INS removed 10,325, approximately one quarter, of the 40,000 foreign-born inmates interviewed through IHP. What percentage of total inmates are these foreign-born? How does the number removed compare to the number of illegal aliens interviewed? Of the numbers removed through the program, are reports available that detail, for example, the location from which removed and type of arrest?
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In reference to the ''county jail initiative expansion'' you mention in your testimony. In which county jails is the ''county jail initiative expansion'' expected? What resources are necessary for this expansion, and for setup, in general, of this program?
In terms of H.R. 1493, you cite that, ''In a preliminary assessment, INS estimates that this legislation would cost 900 positions, 447 FTEs and $90,717,000.'' Mr. Gallegly, in his testimony points out that, ''With more than 26,000 employees and a requested budget of $3.6 billion for FY 98, the INS is fully capable of the staffing needs of this legislation. In fact, the detention and deportation budget of the INS has more than tripled from $193 million in 1993 to an expected $756 million in 1998. Likewise, personnel working in the detention and deportation area has increased dramatically, from 1623 employees in 1993 to 3323 in fiscal year 1998.'' Within the parameters Mr. Gallegly has outlined, is the expansion of this program feasible?
In addition, you point out various negative aspect of this legislation, including the ''forced diversion of INS resources away from priority enforcement programs which produce greater enforcement results.'' What of the positive impact this program has had, in particular, in California? Could you discuss the positive aspects of such a ''forced diversions?''
The testimony Mr. Gaston delivers is a story that can be retold by anyone in my own districtyet, you mention that ''the bill jeopardizes progress we have made to remove more serious and dangerous convicted criminals for the sake of attempting to remove individuals who have not yet been arraigned.'' Is a cost-comparison available for the monies expanded in the processing of an illegal alien through the system versus the expansion of the program to a typical location and his immediate deportation? Furthermore, your comments would suggest that the expansion of this program would not conform to the strategies and overall goals of the INS in addressing the immigration problem. Is this purely a resource issue?
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Appendix 3.Prepared Statement of Hon. Christopher Cannon, a Representative in Congress From the State of Utah
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate this opportunity to express my interest in the legislative proposals this subcommittee is addressing today.
Many of you may be aware of the current situation in my home district in Utah of which I have spoken previously. Utah is battling a tremendous influx of illegal immigrants. With this growth has come a dramatic increase in illegal drug trafficking and crime: Salt Lake City police records in 1995 indicate that 80 percent of arrests for felony level narcotics violations were undocumented aliens.
Consequently, I am interested in, in particular, the legislation proposed by Mr. Gallegly which would expand a pilot program that has been extremely successful in the City of Anaheim to several prisons across the nation. The program involves stationing an INS agent at each selected location with the capabilities and duty to identify deportable aliens awaiting arraignment.
One of the main challenges facing Salt Lake County at this time is inadequate jail space and lack of identification capabilities for aliens arrested by local authorities.
Clearly, with the expansion of a program like this, this primary problem could begin to be addressed effectively: By identifying illegal aliens prior to arraignment, they could be deported immediately, rather than held in local jails at the expense of local taxpayers, rather than taking up space better used to hold more violent criminals arrested for committing local crimes; or worse yet, rather than being set free due to lack of jail space and endangering local populations.
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By identifying illegal aliens prior to arraignment, the burden which the federal government is currently placing on these local entities can, significantly, begin to be relieved.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
LEGISLATION CONCERNING IMMIGRANT ISSUES
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
Page 196 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFIRST SESSION
H.R. 231, H.R. 429, H.R. 471 and H.R. 1493
MAY 13, 1997
Serial No. 37
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
Page 197 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
SONNY BONO, California
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
STEVE 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
Page 198 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
THOMAS E. MOONEY, Chief of Staff-General Counsel
JULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Staff Director
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
Page 199 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCC O N T E N T S
May 13, 1997
TEXT OF BILL
H.R. 231, H.R. 429, H.R. 471 and H.R. 1493
Smith, Hon. Lamar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
Beck, Roy, author
Bryce, Richard, undersheriff, County of Ventura, CA
Crank, Sandy, Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning, Social Security Administration
Gallegly, Hon. Elton, a Representative in Congress from the State of California L35, 47
Gaston, Randall, chief of police, City of Anaheim, CA
Jenks, Rosemary, senior fellow, Center for Immigration Studies
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Krikorian, Mark, executive director, Center for Immigration Studies
McCollum, Hon. Bill, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida
Moore, Stephen, economist, The Cato Institute
Pickett, Hon. Owen B., a Representative in Congress from the State of Virginia
Virtue, Paul W., Acting Executive Associate Commissioner for Programs, Immigration and Naturalization Service L25, 36, 49
Wright, Colin, NATO Civilian Coalition
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Beck, Roy, author: Prepared statement
Bryce, Richard, undersheriff, County of Ventura, CA:
Letters dated May 12 and 13, 1997, to Melvin L. Watt
Crank, Sandy, Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning, Social Security Administration: Prepared statement
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Gallegly, Hon. Elton, a Representative in Congress from the State of California: Prepared statement
Gaston, Randall, chief of police, City of Anaheim, CA: Prepared statement
Jenks, Rosemary, senior fellow, Center for Immigration Studies: Prepared statement
Krikorian, Mark, executive director, Center for Immigration Studies:
Letter dated May 23, 1997, to Zoe Lofgren
McCollum, Hon. Bill, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida: Prepared statement
Moore, Stephen, economist, The Cato Institute: Prepared statement
Pickett, Hon. Owen B., a Representative in Congress from the State of Virginia: Prepared statement
Virtue, Paul W., Acting Executive Associate Commissioner for Programs, Immigration and Naturalization Service: Prepared statement
Wright, Colin, NATO Civilian Coalition: Prepared statement
Page 202 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Appendix 1.Prepared statement of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Appendix 2.Letter dated June 12, 1997, from Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Committee on the Judiciary, with additional questions prepared by Rep. Christopher Cannon, to Paul Virtue, Acting Executive Associate Commissioner for programs, Immigrationa and Naturalization Serivce
Appendix 3.Prepared statement of Hon. Christopher Cannon, a Representative in Congress from the State of Utah
(Footnote 1 return)
31 U.S.C. 712 and 31 U.S.C. 717.
(Footnote 2 return)
U.S. General Accounting Office, Garment Industry: Efforts to Address the prevalence and Conditions of sweatshops, GAO/HEHS9529 (November, 1994).
(Footnote 3 return)
Papademetriou, Demetrios, intestimony before the House Subcommittee on International Law, Immigration, and Refugees of the House Judiciary Committee, June 16, 1993.
(Footnote 4 return)
U.S. General Accounting Office, Immigration Reform: Status of Employer Sanctions After the Second Year and Plans for the Third Year, GAO/TGGD8224 (May 17, 1989).
(Footnote 5 return)
See Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104208, §657 (1996).
(Footnote 6 return)
8 U.S.C.A. §1324a(a)(1)(B), 1324a(b)(1) (West Supp. 1997).
(Footnote 7 return)
(Footnote 8 return)
The law currently provides:
(Footnote 9 return)
(C) Documents evidencing employment authorization
A document described in this subparagraph is an individual's
(i) social security account number card (other than such a card which specifies on the face that the issuance of the card does not authorize employment in the United States); or
(ii) other documentation evidencing authorization of employment in the United States which the Attorney General finds, by regulation, to be acceptable for purposes of this section.
(iii) Redesignated (ii).
(Footnote 10 return)
(D) Documents establishing identity of individual
A document described in this subparagraph is an individual's
(i) driver's license or similar document issued for the purpose of identification by a State, if it contains a photograph of the individual or such other personal identifying information relating to the individual as the Attorney General finds, by regulation, sufficient for purposes of this section; or
(ii) in the case of individuals under 16 years of age or in a State which does not provide for issuance of an identification document (other than a driver's license) referred to in clause (i), documentation of personal identity of such other type as the Attorney General finds, by regulation, provides a reliable means of identification.
Id. §1324a(b)(1)(C), 1324a(b)(1)(D).
(Footnote 11 return)
Id. §1324a(b)(1)(C)(i), see text at supra note 4.
(Footnote 12 return)
Id. §1324a(b)(1)(B), 1324a(b)(1)(C), 1324a(b)(1)(D).
(Footnote 13 return)
Id. §1324a(b)(a)(C), see text at supra note 4.
(Footnote 14 return)
H.R. 231, 105th Cong. §1(b) (1997).
(Footnote 15 return)
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104208, §657 (1996).
(Footnote 16 return)
(Footnote 17 return)
Id. §657(b). Under this subsection, the Comptroller General and the Commissioner of SSA are required to submit a report to Congress on their prototype and studies by September 30, 1997.
(Footnote 18 return)
H.R. 231, 105th Cong. §1(a)(2) (1997).
(Footnote 19 return)
(Footnote 20 return)
(Footnote 21 return)
Response from Mr. Virtue was not available at time of printing.