SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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INS AND THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR IMMIGRATION REVIEW
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
MAY 15, 2001
Serial No. 21
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
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Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/judiciary
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR., WISCONSIN, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, South Carolina
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
JOE SCARBOROUGH, Florida
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMARK GREEN, Wisconsin
RIC KELLER, Florida
DARRELL E. ISSA, California
MELISSA A. HART, Pennsylvania
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
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
TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
TODD R. SCHULTZ, Chief of Staff
PHILIP G. KIKO, General Counsel
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Chief Counsel and Staff Director
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DARRELL E. ISSA, California
MELISSA A. HART, Pennsylvania
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHRIS CANNON, Utah, Vice Chair
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
GEORGE FISHMAN, Chief Counsel
LORA RIES, Counsel
CINDY BLACKSTON, Professional Staff
LEON BUCK, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
MAY 15, 2001
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The Honorable George W. Gekas, a Representative in Congress From the State of Pennsylvania, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
Mr. Kevin Rooney, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Department of Justice
Ms. Peggy Philbin, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Department of Justice
Bishop Thomas Wenski, National Conference of Catholic Bishops
Mr. Roy Beck, Executive Director, Numbers USA
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
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Prepared Statement of Mr. John R. Lacey, Chairman, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Chris Cannon, a Representative in Congress From the State of Utah
Organizational Chart of the U.S. Department of Justice
Organizational Chart of the Executive Office for Immigration Review
Congressman Cannon Questions for the Record
Answers to Congressman Cannon Questions
Mr. Roy Beck
Mr. Kevin Rooney
Ms. Peggy Philbin
Congressman Conyers Questions for the Record
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAnswers to Congressman Conyers Questions
Mr. Kevin Rooney
INS AND THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR IMMIGRATION REVIEW
TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2001
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2 p.m., in Room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. George W. Gekas [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
Mr. GEKAS. The hour of 2 o'clock having arrived, the Committee will come to order.
By dint of the rules of the House and those that are mimicked by the Subcommittee rules, a hearing quorum consists of two Members; and the fall of the gavel signifies our intent to begin each hearing and each session of this Committee on time. Sadly, I must recess now until the second Member should appear.
During that time, you have a choice. I can repeat some Shakespearean sonnets or sing old barber shop melodies. We will forego both for the time being and recess until a second Member should appear. We stand in recess.
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Mr. GEKAS. The time of recess has expired by reason of the appearance on the working quorum of a Member in the name of Lamar Smith of Texas, former Chairman of this Committee.
The purpose of this hearing, of course, is an oversight of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and its accompanying entities and personnel and other items.
There is no American living who is not aware of the massive problems we are experiencing with immigrationlegal immigration, illegal immigration, the status of documented and undocumented workers. The list can go on and on with the variety of vexations that accompany our immigration policies or lack of policies.
While we listen to the testimony today we should keep in mind that indeed the administration and its budget offering contemplates an increased number of dollars to assist the completion and the beginning of some work; and one of the questions that will emanate from this hearing will be, will that be enough? Will that funding be enough? Or, on the contrary, is pouring additional money into projects which seem to have gone unheeded or unsatisfactorily serviced in previous months and years, would that be just throwing good money after bad?
The number of questions and the problems are as wide as the imagination. But we are constrained and we will be very patient in listening to the points of view of the witnesses and then subject them to as much relevant questioning as we can muster on the various subjects to which we have made some reference.
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We will begin by offering the gentleman from Texas the privilege of making an opening statement if he so desires.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I really do not have an opening statement, but I am looking forward to the answers to the questions we might have for our witnesses today.
I would like to thank you for having this hearing and for your active interest in all the subjects you mentioned in your comments just a minute ago. As you pointed out particularly, the INS has gotten a dramatic increase in their funds over the years; and we want to make sure we and the taxpayers of America are getting our money's worth. With this new administration I happen to think we are off to a very good start; and I think there are a lot of priorities we are going to be hearing about today that are going to be welcome news for those of us who care about immigration but care about all aspect of immigration, that is, not only processing legal grant immigrants more quickly but also enforcing those laws on our books on those who come into our country illegally.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for having the hearing; and I, like you, look forward to hearing the testimony.
Mr. GEKAS. I thank the former Chairman.
We turn to the panel with brief introductions with the distinguished membership of this panel and announce the presence of even more than we expected by reason of a hearing quorum, the gentleman, Mr. Cannon, a Member of the Committee.
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The first witness will be Kevin Rooney, the Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, now Acting Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Department of Justice. He comes to this panel after a long time of service to the Nation. He comes from Palmer, Massachusetts, and is a graduate of St. Mary's Seminary and University and Georgia Washington University School of Law.
He is quite well versed as we gained not only from public pronouncements and actions over the years but for purposes of this Chair's acquaintance with a lengthy consultation that we held in advance of this meeting today.
He is joined at the witness table by Peggy Philbin, the Acting Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review in the Department of Justice. We, too, met but only just briefly before the hearing has begun; and we find a long list of credentials on the part of Ms. Philbin as well which will become a part of the record as we introduce the introductory material into that record.
They are joined by Bishop Thomas Wenski, the Auxiliary Bishop of Miami. He is testifying on behalf of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration.
I think I should note that the Bishop's presence here is emblematic of what I think is the experience of most Members of Congress, that within almost every district, and particularly those that deal with immigration, that the local Catholic entities have been involved in every phase of immigration problems just like the ones we said in our preamble, legal immigration and the application for status, and dealing with illegal immigration as well and all the attendant problems. So it is appropriate that the Bishop be here today as a witness.
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They are joined by Roy Beck, the Executive Director of Numbers USA, which entity has been very helpful to some, some would say. Some would not say that. But that is the temperature of controversy. But we will be looking forward to his views as this meeting unfolds.
We will begin promptly by saying for the record that the written statement of each of the witnesses will be made a part of record without objection and that each individual is asked to reduce that written statement to, as humanly possible, 5 minutes. We will begin in the order in which they were introduced by starting with Mr. Rooney.
But right before we start we will enter an additional statement into the record. The Subcommittee, as part of its claims jurisdiction, oversees the operations of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. In lieu of appearing today, the Commission submitted a statement for the record detailing their current functions. Without objection, the Commission's statement will also be made a part of the record.
[The material referred to follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JOHN R. LACEY
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
I am pleased to have the opportunity to present this statement on behalf of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission as part of your committee's Department of Justice authorization hearings.
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The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission came into existence on July 1, 1954, pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1954. It operated as an independent Executive agency until October 1, 1980, when it was transferred by Public Law 96209 (22 U.S.C. 1622a) to the Department of Justice as a separate agency within the Department.
The Commission's appropriation for Fiscal Year 2001 is $1,105,000. It is important to note, however, that most of the statutes under which the Commission has conducted claims programs have provided for a 5-percent deduction from the lump-sum settlement funds, to the credit of miscellaneous receipts, to defray the administrative expenses of conducting the programs. Over the years of its existence, the Commission's budget appropriations have amounted to some $37 million but the deductions have totaled over $40 million. Consequently, the funding of the Commission's operations has come at little actual cost to the taxpayer.
The Commission's primary mission is to adjudicate claims of United States nationals against foreign governments, as authorized by Congress, following referral by the Secretary of State, or following government-to-government claims settlement agreements. Such claims have resulted from:
Nationalization or other taking of property by foreign governments
Damage to or loss of property caused by military operations during World War II
Maltreatment during confinement by enemy forces as prisoners of war or civilian internees
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In all, the Commission and its two predecessor commissions have administered a total of 44 claims programs involving some 17 foreign countries in which more than 660,000 claims have been filed and awards granted in excess of $3 billion. The Commission's most recently completed programs have involved claims against Germany, Albania, and Iran.
The Commission consists of a Chairman and two part-time Commissioners, who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and serve for fixed three-year terms. The Commission currently has a total of 11 authorized permanent employee positions. In addition to those of the Chairman and Commissioners, it has four attorney positions and four administrative support positions. The Commission currently maintains only the minimum level of staffing and physical resources needed to carry out its current responsibilities, but it must maintain the capability to effectively initiate new claims adjudication programs or begin other claims-related work in the event there are international or domestic developments requiring it to do so.
The Commission expects to continue being called upon to respond to requests for information from its Cuban Claims Program in support of the Department of State's continuing implementation of Title IV of the Helms-Burton Act. Under that provision, the State Department is charged with denying entry into the United States of officers and other senior employees of foreign entities found to be trafficking in properties formerly owned by U.S. nationals.
Under the authority given the Secretary of State in 1999 to refer claims to the Commission for preliminary evaluation, the Commission is also expecting a possible referral of certain categories of outstanding claims of U.S. nationals against Iraq. In addition, the Commission will continue to register and collect the names and addresses of potential claimants and conduct other preliminary planning in order to be ready to begin adjudicating these claims.
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As part of its responsibility with respect to prisoner-of-war claims, the Commission must also maintain the capability to provide information from its records on World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War era claims to veterans and their families seeking to qualify for benefits under various state and Federal programs, including medical benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Lastly, the Commission continually assists with and advises on a variety of international claims matters, coordinating with the Departments of State and Treasury, international organizations such as the United Nations Compensation Commission and the International Organization for Migration, and foreign government officials and agencies, including, most recently, officials in the governments of Poland, Germany and Croatia. It also receives numerous requests from Congressional offices and the public for information and advice on completed claims programs and proposals for new claims legislation.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement on the Commission's behalf. I will be happy to answer any questions which you or the other Members of the Subcommittee may have.
Mr. GEKAS. We will begin with the clock beginning to run on 5 minutes with Mr. Rooney.
STATEMENT OF KEVIN ROONEY, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. ROONEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Smith, Mr. Cannon. I appreciate the opportunity to appear today and provide an overview of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's operations in the context of the President's budget request for fiscal year 2002.
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In recent years, this Subcommittee's strong support has allowed INS to reverse decades of neglect. We have become one of the fastest growing Federal agencies and, even more important, one of the most improved. Our $5.5 billion budget request for fiscal year 2002 will enable the agency to build on the solid foundation we have laid together and further strengthen the Nation's immigration system.
Although the record resources we have received were desperately needed, the real key to INS's improved performance has been the coherent, comprehensive strategies developed for both enforcement and for services. These strategies ensure that our resources are deployed in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Our proposed budget, which is 10 percent higher than the current funding level, continues support for these strategies.
INS's enforcement strategy is aimed at building a seamless web that extends from our borders to the Nation's interior. The entire enforcement web is anchored by border control which has been and will continue to be our focus. Enforcement efforts at the border are designed to both facilitate the legal flow of people and products into our Nation and prevent illegal immigration and the smuggling of drugs and other contraband.
To move closer to our goals in fiscal year 2002, we are seeking 570 Border Patrol agents. These new agents, plus an additional 570 that the Administration has promised for the next fiscal year, 2003, will complete the 5,000 agent increase authorized by Congress in 1996. We are also asking for $20 million for intrusion detection technology, which has a force multiplying effect.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We plan to deploy the bulk of these resources along the Southwest border, particularly in Arizona and eastern California. We want to replicate the recent successes that we have had elsewhere, including San Diego where illegal entries have been reduced to their lowest level in 25 years.
Enhancing enforcement between our ports of entry is not enough, however. This must be coupled with similar efforts in the ports at the border and in the Nation's interior. INS has been doing this, and our fiscal year 2002 budget request will allow us to continue strengthening port activities by providing $50 million for 417 new immigration inspectors.
The budget also earmarks $26 million for upgrading various automated information systems, including the database that the inspectors use to prevent criminals, suspected terrorists and other inadmissible individuals from entering the country.
INS recognizes that without an effective detention and removal program, however, detecting and apprehending deportable aliens becomes little more than a training exercise, lacking in credibility and producing few results. We have worked diligently to enhance our capacity to detain and remove deportable aliens, especially criminal aliens; and the results have been dramatic. Last year for, example, we removed 70,427 criminal aliens, more than double the 1995 total. Our budget request will allow us to build on this record of success by providing an additional 173 positions and $89 million for detention and removals.
The aggressive approach taken to fulfill our enforcement responsibility has been adapted through the delivery of services. Our focus has been rebuilding a service structure that was woefully inadequate to handle the skyrocketing demand for immigration benefits, a demand fueled by both changes in immigration law and record-level legal immigration.
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Preliminary figures indicate that we welcomed more newcomers since 1999 than in any other decade in U.S. history. This helps explain why between 1993 and 2000 INS received more applications for citizenship than in the previous 40 years combined.
The rebuilding, though, is far from complete, but I can assure you that considerable progress has been made. Last year, for example, we completed 24 percent more benefit applications than we did in 1999. As a more meaningful measure for those applicants who have languished in line, we completed 430,000 more applications than we received last year.
The need to complete reconstruction of the service structure couldn't be clearer. Based on receipts to date we project that by the end of this fiscal year we will receive some 9 and a half million applications and petitions for benefits. That is 50 percent more than we received last year and 80 percent more than in 1999.
Currently, we are implementing the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act, the LIFE Act, which was signed into law in December. We estimate that the agency will receive nearly 4.5 million LIFE Act-related applications by the end of fiscal year 2003. In fact, we are already feeling the impact of this law. It is the chief reason why we received more non-naturalization applications in March than in any other month in more than a decade.
As if this weren't enough, the Administration has proposed establishing a universal 6-month standard for processing all benefit applications and petitions within 5 years. To meet this goal, it has pledged its support to a $500 million initiative to fund new personnel and enhanced technology and to make customer satisfaction a priority.
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Mr. GEKAS. Would the gentleman attempt to bring it to a summary close?
Mr. ROONEY. Absolutely.
We have included in our budget $100 million for this initiative.
It has become clear to me, Mr. Chairman, during the 7 weeks that I have served as Acting Commissioner that INS is moving along in the right direction; and I look forward to working with you and the Members of the Subcommittee to maintain this momentum. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GEKAS. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Rooney follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF KEVIN ROONEY
Thank you Mr. Chairman, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, and Members of the Subcommittee for the opportunity to appear before you today to provide an overview of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) operations, accomplishments and challenges in the context of the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 budget request. This INS budget request builds upon the accomplishments that have been achieved with strong congressional support. The resources Congress has provided have enabled INS to meet new challenges and strengthen the Nation's immigration system. They have resulted in improvements in how we enforce immigration laws and how we deliver services to our customers.
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INS has already demonstrated over the past several years that when the agency is provided with resources and employs coherent strategies, it can achieve dramatic results. These accomplishments include
illegal entries in San Diego reduced to a 25-year low;
effective management of detention growth6,000 to over 19,000 beds in 7 years;
removed 362,000 illegal aliens in the past 2 years126,000 criminals;
from 1993 to 2000, received and processed more applications for citizenship than during the previous 40 years combined;
reduced pending naturalization applications from 2.2 million in February, 1999 to 716,000 in February, 2001;
nearly doubled the number of permanent employees in less than 8 years; and
computer access within the workforce grew from 20% to 95% in 7 years.
The President's FY 2002 budget for INS continues to support the immigration goals and strategies that the agency has pursued over the past several years. The thrust of INS' FY 2002 budget is to extend the ongoing initiatives aimed at controlling the Nation's borders and maintaining the physical integrity of those borders. INS intends to build on its successful multi-year strategy to: effectively regulate the border; deter and dismantle organizations that smuggle or traffic aliens and narcotics; identify and remove detained criminal aliens from the United States, including terrorists, and minimize recidivism; enhance services and reduce processing backlogs; and reduce immigration benefit fraud and other document abuse. Overall, the FY 2002 budget request for the Immigration and Naturalization Service totals $5.5 billion, a 10 percent increase over the FY 2001 funding level. This budget includes $380 million in enhancements to a base funding level of $5.1 billion. The budget will add a total of 1,364 new staff positions, which will allow INS to grow to over 36,200 workyears by the end of FY 2002.
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In February 1994, INS implemented an innovative, multi-year strategy to strengthen enforcement of the nation's immigration laws and to disrupt the traditional illegal immigration corridors along the nation's Southwest border. Under this bold strategy, new personnel, backed with equipment and infrastructure improvements, are deployed in targeted areas each year, starting with the most vulnerable areas.
This strategy treats the entire border as a single, seamless entity. Enforcement activities between the ports-of-entry are integrated fully with those taking place in the ports, which the strategy recognizes as both vital to the nation's economy and potential entry points for criminals and contraband. As a result, INS has been able to enhance its enforcement capabilities while dramatically reducing waiting times for those trying to cross the border legally. The strategy uses a phased approach beginning in the Southwest until control is achieved nationwide.
Considerable success has been achieved in restoring integrity and safety to the Southwest border by implementing the strategy through well-laid-out multi-year operations, such as Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego, Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, Operation Rio Grande in McAllen, and Operation Safeguard in Tucson. The initial phases of these operations typically result in an increase in apprehensions, reflecting the deployment of more agents and enhanced technology. However, as the deterrent effect takes hold, the number of apprehensions declines as the operation gains control over the area.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Recognizing that protecting the border includes an obligation to protect lives, the Border Patrol launched the Border Safety Initiative in 1998. This is a joint initiative between the U.S. and Mexico, and is now an integral component of our border control strategy. In the past year, Border Patrol Agents have rescued more than 2,500 aliens who were injured, in distress, or victims of violence while attempting to make an illegal entry.
Border Patrol Recruiting and Hiring
In FY 2000, INS experienced record increases in the number of Border Patrol applicants and hires as a result of: (a) a more focused, local recruitment process, (b) the training of 300 Border Patrol Agents as recruiters, (c) intensified advertising, and (d) offering a $2,000 recruitment signing bonus. The enhanced recruitment program was supported in part by $1.5 million included in the FY 2000 appropriation for these efforts. The Border Patrol has been able to attract sufficient numbers of applicants to meet hiring goals through FY 2001. The INS is currently recruiting to ensure maintenance of a qualified pool of applicants for FY 2002 and is currently not experiencing Border Patrol hiring problems.
In FY 2000, the INS implemented Acompressed testing'' at 10 Sectors. This allowed applicants to take the written test and receive results immediately upon completion of the exam. If the applicant passed the written exam, he or she could schedule the oral board examination in 2 weeks. This process is 5 or more weeks shorter than the traditional testing process and has resulted in a 44 percent increase in applicants actually showing up to take the test.
In FY 2000, the Border Patrol trained 300 agent recruiters who participated in over 1,400 recruiting events ranging from campus and military job fairs, to open houses, to booths at local malls. Border Patrol recruiters were encouraged to establish personal contact and feedback with all interested applicants with positive results. We significantly increased advertising and recruitment incentives.
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As a result, in FY 2000, the INS achieved a record number of applicants (an 80 percent increase over FY 1999) due to aggressive recruitment and hiring initiatives to address Border Patrol Agent hiring shortfalls. The increase in recruitment provided the applicant pool with sufficient candidates for an associated increase in hiring. In FY 2000, the INS hired 52 percent more agents than in FY 1999.
During this fiscal year, INS has hired 900 new Border Patrol agents and will hire another 700 by the end of the year. Our training classes are already full through July.
The INS' border management and control efforts have made a significant impact on the border. In FY 2000, INS carried out immigration inspections for nearly 438 million travelers at the land borders and nearly 92 million travelers at airports and seaports. In FY 2001, these inspections are projected to reach 450 million at the land border and 98 million at airports and seaports, with continued growth in FY 2002. The INS has set FY 2001 performance targets of 80 percent of land border inspections in 20 minutes or less, and 72 percent of air flights cleared within 30 minutes. The INS will also continue the use of automated systems such as dedicated commuter lanes to facilitate the flow of inspection traffic for low risk travelers.
Border ManagementFY 2002 Request
The FY 2002 budget includes an additional 570 Border Patrol Agents and $75 million to support the border control strategy. We would propose that these resources be primarily directed to the Southwest border so as to increase the emphasis provided to the eastern California, Arizona and Texas borders. These new agents, plus 570 in FY 2003, will complete the 5,000-agent increase authorized by the Congress in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996. With these 1,140 additional agents, the total increase of 5,000 Border Patrol Agents will be achieved, and the authorized strength of the Border Patrol will be about 11,000.
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The FY 2002 budget also requests $20 million so that deployment of intrusion detection technology, including high-resolution color and infrared cameras and state-of-the-art command centers, will continue. This technology acts as a''force multiplier'' to supplement the new agents and provide continuous monitoring of the border from remote sites. This combination of intrusion detection technology and the increased number of Border Patrol Agents will permit INS to enforce the rule of law and enhance border management over larger portions of the U.S. border. This technology assists agents in determining the source of the''hit,'' including the number of intruders, and if they are visibly armed, thereby increasing agent safety. The Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System (ISIS) enhancement is an important part of the overall strategy for strengthening control of the borders against illegal entry. ISIS will improve remote detection and tracking capabilities, resulting in increased deterrence of illegal border crossing and increased officer safety. Ultimately, it will provide the INS, in particular, the Border Patrol, with the capability to monitor effectively the integrity of the U.S./Mexico and U.S./Canada national boundaries for purposes of border management.
The INS Intelligence program provides strategic and tactical intelligence support to INS offices enforcing the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and assists other federal agencies in addressing national security issues. Intelligence program activities contribute support to preventing the entry of illegal aliens, terrorists and narcotics traffickers; identifying and dismantling alien smuggling operations; detecting fraudulent documents and false claims to U.S. citizenship; and detecting other individuals or organizations involved in the manufacture and sale of counterfeit documents, in application and benefit fraud schemes, and in other related criminal activity. The FY 2002 budget includes 78 positions and $7 million to expand the intelligence program on the northern and southern borders of the U.S.
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The INS continues to face a number of significant challenges in maintaining its infrastructure during a period of rapid growth. New and expanded facilities are required to support a work force of over 32,000. The Border Patrol's infrastructure needs are most serious and have been and continue to be given priority attention. Since the authorization of the INS Construction Account in FY 1995, the Congress has provided much-needed resources to allow INS to replace, expand and renovate facilities and to enhance border infrastructure. The INS budget request for FY 2002 continues support for critical infrastructure requirements. It includes $75 million for construction projects. This total includes $69 million for Border Patrol and detention construction projects, and $6 million for additional work on the San Diego Border Barrier System and for the enhancement of border infrastructure through the critical direct support of Joint Task Force Six (JTF-6) for projects such as fences, roads, and border barriers.
Air and Sea Ports-of-Entry
INS must balance its resources between its goals of detecting those who should not be allowed to enter the United States and managing legal travel across the borders. The FY 2002 budget request includes $50 million for 417 new Immigration Inspectors to staff newly-activated air and sea port terminals, high-growth understaffed gateway ports, and coordinated INS/U.S. Customs passenger analysis units. The request also includes 122 inspection assistants and clerks, along with detention and removals resources to support the significant increases in workloads at high-growth air and sea ports-of-entry. The budget provides for an expansion of the Carrier Consultant Program to enhance airline carrier training and for the increased workload attributable to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
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With these resources, the Service will strive to process 77 percent of all commercial flights within 30 minutes, and make strides in streamlining and automating manual processes, improving data integrity, and supporting enforcement requirements. To finance these initiatives, the FY 2002 budget would increase the current airport inspections fee by $1 from $6 to $7 for arriving international air passengers. It would also lift the cruise ship fee exemption, instituting a $3 fee for those passengers currently exempt. The increase is to provide resources to cover more of the true costs of operating the program.
In addition, the FY 2002 budget contains $26 million to expand significant resources for information technology initiatives. Resources are provided to update the National Automated Inspections Lookout System (NAILS), a centralized lookout database that is a compilation of information supplied by automated systems within INS and other federal and local law enforcement agencies. It is a critical system that contains data on individuals who are inadmissible, including criminals and suspected terrorists. The request includes resources to study technology for automated airport inspection alternatives. This budget will provide resources to purchase Live Scan Devices that will send electronic fingerprint submissions to the FBI, develop the Vessel Inspection Processing System (VIPS), and purchase portable workstations to access NAILS at the seaports. The FY 2002 budget will also provide the initial investments necessary to develop an automated entry/exit system as required in the INS Data Management Improvement Act of 2000.
The INS is focusing strategically on combating illegal immigration within the nation's interior. A comprehensive interior enforcement strategy was developed that creates a seamless web of enforcement extending from the border, and beyond, to the worksite. It seeks to facilitate internal coordination among the various INS enforcement activities and forge closer ties with other federal, state and local law enforcement and regulatory agencies. The integrated enforcement effort will promote national security, public safety and economic security. The interior enforcement strategy identified five strategic objectives: to identify and remove criminal and other dangerous aliens, deter and diminish alien smuggling, respond to community concerns and build partnerships, minimize benefit fraud and other document abuse, and block access to undocumented workers and remove those located. While each objective is crucial in its own right, highest priority is given to apprehending and removing those criminal aliens who are causing the greatest harm in our communities.
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Anti-Smuggling and Anti-Fraud Activities
The INS has a number of significant accomplishments to report in anti-smuggling and anti-fraud operations. During FY 2000, INS disrupted alien smuggling organizations at source countries, the borders and the interior of the United States. The agency used traditional and non-traditional investigative techniques, cooperation and coordination with the FBI, and broadened use of statutory authorities. The INS presented 7 major cases and 2,520 smuggling principals for prosecution. For example, the''Operation Knight Riders'' investigation involved a large-scale alien smuggling organization that specialized in moving large numbers of undocumented aliens from Central and South America and the Middle East into the United States. The successful completion of this case resulted in 9 criminal arrests and the closure of a major smuggling pipeline. In''Operation Telecom,'' INS investigated and shut down a sophisticated alien smuggling organization that engaged in recruiting and arranging for the smuggling of Chinese nationals from the People's Republic of China. This investigation also involved a law firm that assisted the smugglers by arranging bonds so aliens could be released and returned to the smugglers. The firm also filed fraudulent political asylum claims on behalf of the aliens to ensure that they would remain in the United States.
Quick Response Teams and Community Support
Considerable progress has been made in establishing and staffing the Quick Response Teams (QRTs). In the FY 1999 INS appropriation, Congress provided for the creation of QRTs and directed INS to establish 45 teams with 200 positions. These teams work directly with State and local law enforcement officers to take into custody and remove illegal aliens. Of the 200 QRT officers that have been selected, 193 have entered on duty at their assigned locations. The remaining officers are expected to enter on duty before the end of FY 2001. INS received $11 million for QRT deployment in the FY 2001 budget. INS will be consulting with Congress on deployment of those resources shortly.
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Much has been accomplished with the QRTs. During the first quarter in FY 2001, the teams received 2,532 requests for assistance from State and local law enforcement agencies. This figure reflects the largest number of requests received by the QRTs in any given quarter to date. Of the 2,532 requests, QRTs were able to respond to 92 percent (2,317). The response time for 98 percent of all requests was less than three hours. In addition, QRT officers made 2,246 administrative arrests. Of these arrests, 1,214 individuals were voluntarily returned to their respective countries of citizenship. Special Agents deployed at QRT sites presented 171 individuals for criminal prosecution related to alien smuggling, document fraud, and illegal entry.
In addition to the work accomplished by the QRTs, which are generally deployed to the areas where there is little INS presence and emerging illegal immigrant populations, Special Agents and Immigration Agents in the District Offices also respond to the needs of their communities by participating in many interagency law enforcement task forces. In this context, they contribute their immigration expertise to local, state and federal law enforcement operations in which criminal aliens may be involved, including alien gangs, drug trafficking and terrorism.
Detention and Removal
Since the early 1990's, the average daily population of INS detainees has grown from less than 6,000 to over 19,000. This rate of growth was the result of INS' expanded enforcement capability and changes in detention requirements contained in the IIRIRA of 1996. That law requires the agency to detain without bond many aliens during the pendency of proceedings who are subject to removal on the basis of a criminal conviction. The INS is also required to detain aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States for up to 90 days or until they are removed, regardless of the basis for the order and the prospects that their home countries will accept their return. As a result, annual removals in FY 2000 were over 180,000. Over 64,000 of these were criminal alien removals. In FY 2001, we project that 67,000 criminal aliens will be removed from the country.
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In dealing with the growth in the detention population, INS has issued detailed standards aimed at ensuring consistent treatment and care for all detainees. The standards will apply to INS' 9 Service Processing Centers as well as contract facilities and state and local facilities under intergovernmental service agreements. In addition to standards for safe, secure and humane confinement, they provide for consistent and expanded access to legal representation, telephones and family visits. The standards are being implemented with a phased approach, beginning first with the INS Service Processing Centers.
INTERIOR ENFORCEMENTFY 2002 REQUEST
Detention and Removal
In addition to the expansion of INS' more visible enforcement functions, additional funding will strengthen the detention and removal process. It is critical that INS continue to have resources to efficiently house and repatriate illegal aliens encountered both at the border and through enforcement of immigration laws beyond the immediate border area. To that end, 173 positions and $89 million are requested in FY 2002 for detention and removal initiatives in the areas of expanded national transportation, improved health services for detained aliens, increased detention bed space, and improved coordination with U.S. Attorneys. Included in the $89 million is a projected $40 million in Breached Bond/Detention Fund revenue which is anticipated as a result of the temporary reauthorization of adjustment of status provisions of section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and $7 million for detention beds to support increases in workloads at high-growth air and sea ports of entry.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCConsolidated Detention Bed Space
To continue to meet the mandatory detention requirements of IIRIRA, the budget request includes $69 million for 131 positions (68 Detention Enforcement Officers, 33 Deportation Officers, and 30 support positions) and an additional 1,607 average daily state and local detention bed spaces. This initiative includes resources to detain, transport and remove aliens.
National Transportation System
The INS uses the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS), created in 1995 by INS and the U.S. Marshals Service, to transport large numbers of detained aliens each year, transferring them to detention facilities or repatriating them. The budget includes an increase of $9 million to fund the costs associated with the INS' share of JPATS. This increase, when combined with current funding, will fund additional air movements to transfer or repatriate detainees.
The budget includes funding of $9 million to support the increased cost of providing health care for detainees. The INS is committed to ensuring that its facilities are safe and humane, and that adequate medical care is provided to aliens in its custody.
Coordination with U.S. Attorneys
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The budget includes 42 positions (28 attorneys and 14 support personnel) to enable the INS to better fulfill its role of providing agency counsel support when immigration-related matters arise in the Federal courts. This critical role involves such efforts as preparing litigation reports when lawsuits arise, and coordinating agency witnesses and evidence. These efforts are particularly crucial now in view of the high level of litigation involving the removal of detained aliens, a substantial number of whom are convicted felons.
The INS has improved customer service in various respects. Due to an intense, two-year Naturalization Backlog Reduction Initiative, the INS has made tremendous progress in increasing its immigration services' productivity and customer service. In FY 1999, INS met its first stage goal of completing 1.2 million naturalization applications. In FY 2000, the INS again met its naturalization goal by completing approximately 1.3 million applications while achieving a processing time goal of six to nine months nationwide. In FY 2000, INS also completed 564,000 adjustment of status applications, more than in any other year in the INS' history, and outperformed its national processing time goal. The Service also streamlined the''Green Card'' renewal process, decreasing the processing time significantly from between 12 and 24 months to 90 days. In FY 2000, the INS also reduced the processing time for employment-based petitions from 18 months to 90 days. By transmitting fingerprints electronically to the FBI, the INS decreased the average processing time for background investigation checks from 21 days to one day. The INS enhanced its customer service quality and accessibility by expanding the National Customer Service Center's live, toll-free (1800 telephone) assistance area across the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. All of these accomplishments were achieved within the scope of the overall FY 2000 immigration services workload of 6 million petitions received and approximately 6.5 million completed, resulting in a pending workload of approximately 3.9 million. In FY 2001, the INS continues working diligently to meet its goal of completing 800,000 naturalization and 800,000 adjustment of status applications.
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The INS faces significant challenges in delivering immigration services in the years ahead: (1) eliminating backlogs in all immigration benefit applications; (2) managing and responding to new and changing workloads; (3) ensuring process integrity; and (4) positioning itself for the future. Over the last several years, the INS has seen a dramatic rise in the number of applications and petitions received. The Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act of 2000 amendments alone will add an estimated additional caseload of 2.3 million applications and petitions in FY 2001 and 1.2 million applications and petitions in FY 2002 to the current 6.9 million applications received annually, a 26 percent increase over a two-year period. Because this additional workload will strain the existing infrastructure, the INS is exploring new ways of doing business to manage the new workload effectively while continuing to tackle the backlogged caseload aggressively. Premium Processing Service and electronic filing are examples of these new ways of doing business. Besides increased productivity, the INS continues working towards achieving process integrity through its anti-fraud and quality control efforts. Most importantly, the INS strives for excellence in customer service through process reengineering, effective use of technology, and greater accessibility to information and services.
Premium Processing Service
As a result of the overwhelming backlogs in recent years, it has taken INS from 60 days to more than one year to process certain business cases. In order to provide better service to business customers and to begin implementing new ways of doing business that more efficiently manage its workloads, INS proposed a Premium Processing Service for business cases in FY 2001. In the proposal, INS guarantees that businesses that pay for Premium Processing Service will receive an approval, denial, or request for evidence on their cases within 15 days of filing. If INS fails to meet this guarantee, it will refund the fee to the business.
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In the FY 2001 budget, INS was given authority to charge a voluntary $1000 fee to provide Premium Processing Service for business cases. The INS expects to implement Premium Processing Service in early summer for some applications. The INS estimates that, for FY 2001, the Premium Processing Service fee could generate approximately $25 million in additional revenue. These funds will be used to support the Premium Processing Service on the business cases for which the fee is paid, to detect and deter fraud in benefit programs, and to support backlog elimination efforts. In addition, other INS customers will benefit from the implementation of Premium Processing Service through experience gained from the new business processes and because revenues received in excess of the program costs would be used to pay for infrastructure needs in adjudications and customer service.
Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act
The LIFE Act, which was enacted on December 21, 2000, will have a major impact on INS' service functions this year and for several years into the future. It focuses on six primary immigration benefits. The LIFE Act reauthorized section 245(i) of the INA, providing INS with the authority to adjust the status of certain persons unlawfully in the United States. Eligible individuals had until April 30, 2001 to file a qualifying petition or application with INS or the Department of Labor to sponsor beneficiaries for legal immigration. The Administration supports an extension of this deadline.
The LIFE Act provides for a''Late Legalization'' program that reopens the Legalization Program authorized by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1996. This will allow members of three class action lawsuitsCatholic Social Services (CSS), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Zambranoto file to adjust status. In addition, the Act expands the existing Family Unity Program to include eligible spouses and minor children of''Late Legalization'' applicants.
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The Act creates a new''V'' Visa classification for the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents who have been waiting three or more years to immigrate. It also creates a new''K'' Visa non-immigrant classification for spouses and children of U.S. citizens.
Finally, the LIFE Act contains amendments to the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) and the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA). The NACARA/HRIFA amendments lift restrictions on waiving certain inadmissibility grounds relating to previous removals and unlawful presence, and eliminate bars to eligibility based on reinstatement of a previous order.
Workload will significantly increase as a result of the LIFE Act. In addition to the residency benefits, all LIFE Act benefits authorize employment for eligible applicants. Prior to passage of the LIFE Act, INS projected it would receive approximately 6,922,000 applications in FY 2001 and approximately 6,847,000 in FY 2002. The Act will increase processing workload by 2.3 million applications and petitions in FY 2001 and 1.2 million in FY 2002, increases of 34 percent and 18 percent, respectively.
Process changes and personnel increases for the LIFE Act workload will be funded from LIFE application/petition revenue. To process the additional workload, a reprogramming notification to increase spending authority of the Immigration Examinations Fee Account will be submitted.
In order to minimize the impact of LIFE Act application processing on the District Offices and Service Centers, V, K and Late Legalization cases will be processed at a temporary facility located near the National Records Center. Applications under section 245(i) will continue to be processed at INS' Service Centers and District Offices, and interviews for Late Legalization Applicants will be conducted at the District Offices.
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Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000
On October 28, 2000, the President signed into law the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTVPA). The VTVPA combines two major pieces of legislation: the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the Violence Against Women Act of 2000. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act is a comprehensive statute that addresses the heinous practice of trafficking in persons through a multifaceted approach that focuses on enhanced prosecution of traffickers, protection of and assistance to victims, and prevention efforts.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act will affect the operation of every component of INS to some extent. The new act amends portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act to add a new nonimmigrant classification for victims of severe forms of traffickingT visasof which 5,000 are available annually. In addition, it prescribes protections for victims while in Federal custody and provides for the authorization of continued presence for alien victims of severe forms of trafficking in order to assist in the investigation or prosecution of trafficking cases. INS is currently drafting regulations to implement the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2000 continues and strengthens our commitment to ending domestic violence and sexual assault. While VAWA 2000 contains many important provisions, Title V of the Act addresses the particular problems that confront immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It makes improvements to the immigration relief afforded battered immigrants by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and creates a new nonimmigrant classificationa U visafor victims of certain serious crimes suffered by vulnerable aliens. This new classification provides a mechanism for crime victims who may be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the specified crimes to remain temporarily in the United States. The statute also gives the Attorney General the discretion, in certain circumstances, to allow nonimmigrants holding T and U visas to become legal permanent residents.
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Immigration ServicesFY 2002 Request
The INS is proud of its accomplishment of processing over one million naturalization applications during FY 2000, and plans to continue the quality and timely processing of applications. The INS agrees with Congress that all immigration benefit applications should be processed in six months or less. The President's FY 2002 budget includes $100 million to implement the first installment of the President's five-year, $500 million initiative to process all applications within six months and provide quality service to all legal immigrants, citizens, businesses and other INS customers. These resources will be used for increased personnel, enhanced information technology and other resources to make customer satisfaction a priority. The INS is currently working with the Administration to develop a detailed backlog elimination plan to begin in FY 2002.
The INS recognizes that electronic filing will improve customer service and convenience of applying for immigration benefits. Although INS is not yet in a position to make all immigration benefit applications available for electronic filing, INS is committed to making multiple applications available for electronic filing in 2002. The initiative represents another new way that INS is thinking about doing business in order to improve management of its workload while delivering better customer service.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The FY 2002 request will provide INS with resources needed to carry out an effective immigration strategy. As you know, this Administration is committed to restructuring and splitting the INS into two agencies with separate chains of command that report to one policy official within the Department of Justice. I look forward to working with the Subcommittee on this and other important immigration issues. With your continued support, we can add to the improvements that have already been made, address problem areas and continue to ensure the integrity of our benefits processing.
I would be happy to answer any questions that you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee may have.
Mr. GEKAS. Let the record reflect that the gentleman from California, Mr. Issa, is in attendance.
STATEMENT OF PEGGY PHILBIN, EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR IMMIGRATION REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Ms. PHILBIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Smith, Mr. Cannon and Mr. Issa.
It is my pleasure to be appear before you today to discuss the functions and organization of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, EOIR, to highlight some of our recent accomplishments and to outline the President's fiscal year 2002 budget proposal.
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EOIR was established almost 20 years ago and has three components, each of whose primary function is to adjudicate immigration-related cases. These include the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, which overseas all the immigration courts in the United States; the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is the highest administrative tribunal dedicated to immigration; and the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, which handles employer-sanction cases, immigration-related employment discrimination and immigration-related document fraud cases. I am proud to say I am accompanied by all three of the component heads here today.
The immigration courts are comprised of 211 immigration judges in 52 courts, with 18 of these courts located in either detention centers or prisons. In addition to holding hearings in our courts, our judges travel to over 100 other hearing locations to conduct proceedings. Many of these proceedings are held in State and Federal prisons as part of the Institutional Hearing Program, or IHP. The vast majority of these cases are in the Federal prison system and in the seven States most affected by illegal immigrationCalifornia, Texas, New York, Florida, Arizona, New Jersey and Illinois. This effort is called the enhanced IHP, and last year our courts completed over 13,600 IHP cases.
Overall in fiscal year 2000 the total number of matters received by our immigration courts nationwide was 254,515 cases, a 10 percent increase over receipts in fiscal year 1999. In fiscal year 2000, 255,194 cases were completed by the immigration courts. Approximately 10 percent of these cases are appealed to the Board, as well as certain decisions of INS officers in a wide variety of proceedings. The Board has received approximately 30,000 cases per year for the last several years, an extremely large volume for an appellate body.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While the Board began with five Board members in 1940, it has grown to its current size of 21 Board members, including a chairman and two vice chairman and a staff of approximately 100 attorneys and paralegals.
In response to the continuously rising caseloads associated with increased INS apprehensions as well as recent legislative developments, the Board has initiated a variety of management and regulatory improvements designed to increase efficiency while maintaining due process guarantees for all.
One regulatory initiative streamlines the Board's procedures by allowing noncontroversial cases to be adjudicated by a single Board member rather than by a three-member traditional panel. This type of decision may be made in three types of cases: one, where the immigration judge's decision was correct; two, where the issues are controlled squarely by legal precedent; or, three, where the issues are insubstantial. This effort, while in its pilot stage, is proving highly successful.
With regard to our component OCAHO, we anticipate that its caseload will likely increase soon due to the settlement of the class action suit of Walters v. Reno, the case which has effectively suspended enforcement of the civil document fraud provisions of section 274C of the INA.
Let me discuss several other initiatives briefly.
Last year, EOIR established a position of nationwide pro bono coordinator to work collaboratively with immigrant organizations, the INS, bar associations, law schools and other groups to improve the level and quality of pro bono representation before the immigration courts and the Board. In its first year, the EOIR pro bono program has begun several successful initiatives, including a pilot program at the Board where case appeals involving detained and unrepresented aliens are matched with pro bono counsel who write and file appeal briefs on their behalf.
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In addition, we have begun intensive training programs for a small group of pro bono attorneys in immigration court practice, procedure and advocacy skills, each designed to provide additional access to pro bono representation.
On another front, EOIR has also established a new ''Attorney Discipline'' program to ensure that unscrupulous attorneys are not practicing before our courts or the INS. Forty-four attorneys have been sanctioned in the first 9 months of this program. All have been previously disciplined by their State bars. Some have been convicted of felonies ranging from immigration fraud to witness tampering.
Let me turn for a minute to our budget request. For fiscal year 2002, the President seeks $176.7 million to support EOIR's adjudications programs. This request includes funding for mandatory expenses, such as rent and salary increases, and a program increase of $4.85 million which will funds 59 new positions, including immigration judges and appellate staff attorneys.
The increase requested for EOIR is made in conjunction with enforcement increases by the INS, specifically funds in support of an additional 1,600 detention beds and 570 new Border Patrol agents, which we anticipate will bring 10,000 additional new cases to EOIR.
I would like to thank you for this opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee, and I look forward to working with the Members and will answer any questions you are may have.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GEKAS. We thank the lady.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Philbin follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF PEGGY PHILBIN
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Jackson Lee, and Members of the Subcommittee:
It is my pleasure to appear before you to discuss the functions and organization of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), to highlight some of the recent accomplishments and goals of our agency and to outline the President's Fiscal Year 2002 budget proposal for EOIR.
EOIR was established in 1983 when the Department of Justice (Department) created the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge and its Immigration Courts and combined this function with the existing Board of Immigration Appeals (Board). EOIR is an administrative hearing tribunal, hearing both trial and appellate immigration cases throughout the United States. Prior to the creation of EOIR, the initial hearing function had been previously performed by special inquiry officers at INS. The functional move of cases from INS to EOIR was to ensure impartiality in the immigration adjudication context by having cases decided by a different entity than the one that prosecuted them. In 1984, there were approximately 100,000 cases brought before the Immigration Judges. In Fiscal Year 2000, over 250,000 cases in 52 locations nationwide were brought before EOIR's Immigration Judges and over 30,000 cases were appealed to the Board.
In 1987, a third component, the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), was added to EOIR. Administrative Law Judges within OCAHO interpret the laws sanctioning the hiring of illegal aliens, immigration-related employment discrimination and immigration-related document fraud.
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EOIR's primary function is to provide a uniform interpretation and application of immigration law, through an adjudication process involving individual cases, and to provide due process and fair treatment to all parties involved.
THE THREE EOIR COMPONENTS AND THEIR MISSIONS
Office of the Chief Immigration Judge and the Immigration Courts:
The Chief Immigration Judge provides overall program direction, articulates policy, and establishes priorities for the Immigration Judges. The Immigration Courts are comprised of 211 Immigration Judges in 52 Immigration Courts throughout the United States, with eighteen of the 52 immigration courts located in either detention centers or prisons. Additionally, Immigration Judges travel to over 100 other hearing locations to conduct proceedings.
Immigration Judges preside over ten types of hearings. The most common hearing is a removal hearing, in which INS charges that an alien is unlawfully in the United States and should be removed. However, while almost all hearings include the issue of removability, the outcome of many of these hearings does not turn on this issue, but rather on the issue of relief from removal. Even if an alien is removable, he or she be able may claim asylum, voluntary departure, suspension or cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, registry or a waiver of removability due to criminal activity. Immigration Judges are experts in the many and varied issues of immigration law, and are often called upon to determine such complex issues as derivative citizenship claims or interpretation of state or federal criminal laws as they relate to immigration. In addition to the substantive issues surrounding removability, the Immigration Judges hold bond hearings for eligible aliens. Bond redeterminations are held when an alien in custody seeks release on his or her own recognizance, or a reduction in the amount of bond. The law states that decisions of Immigration Judges are final, unless appealed or certified to the Board.
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One of the most significant activities our judges perform is providing removal hearings for aliens convicted of criminal offenses who are incarcerated in prisons across the United States. Our judges travel to 44 states (and Puerto Rico) and 72 prisons on regular details and currently complete 98 percent of all hearings for incarcerated aliens before their release from prison. Last year alone, Immigration Judges spent 1815 days on these hearings.
The Institutional Hearing Program (IHP) provides the framework for hearings that determine the immigration status of aliens convicted of criminal offenses who are incarcerated in prisons across the United States. In concert with the INS, EOIR has concentrated on the Federal prison system and those in the seven states most affected by illegal immigration: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Arizona, New Jersey, and Illinois. There are also programs in virtually all other states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and selected municipalities. The seven state programs, known collectively as the Enhanced IHP, account for the vast majority of the state program caseload, as well as that of the total IHP. Consequently, Enhanced IHP is a central component of a variety of initiatives designed to expedite the removal of criminal aliens who are found removable from the United States. This involves close coordination with INS, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and state and local correctional authorities.
Due to increasing reliance on INS's administrative removal procedures, where an INS official may order certain criminal aliens removed without a hearing before an Immigration Judge, the number of IHP receipts has decreased by 22 percent from Fiscal Year 1996 to Fiscal Year 2000. For Fiscal Year 1996, the Immigration Courts received 15,685 IHP cases and completed 15,888 cases (which is more cases than they received, due to cases pending from the previous fiscal year). For Fiscal Year 2000, the Immigration Courts received 12,525 IHP cases and completed 13,655 cases.
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One of the most complex areas of immigration law involves asylum. In 1995, the Department completed work on a comprehensive asylum reform initiative, which provided greater avenues for relief for those with meritorious cases, while closing down the loophole of automatic employment authorization for all asylum filers.
Asylum reform has streamlined the procedures involved for processing asylum cases, integrated INS and EOIR processes, and eliminated duplicative adjudications. Asylum reform requires claims that are not approved by INS to be automatically referred to EOIR's Immigration Judges, who conduct full asylum adjudications during the alien's removal proceedings. These regulatory asylum procedures include provisions limiting the INS approval of employment authorization to those aliens who have been granted asylum, or whose applications are not adjudicated within 180 days of the filing date. Consequently, the success of asylum reform largely depends on the ability of Immigration Judges to render decisions within the established time frames. Otherwise, the benefit of work authorization would accrue to thousands of aliens who may not be entitled. Currently, Immigration Judges are completing 90 percent of the expedited asylum adjudications within the 180-day time frame.
The number of requests for asylum from the Immigration Courts has gradually decreased over the last few years. While in Fiscal Year 1996, the number of asylum receipts was 84,293, for Fiscal Year 2000, the number of asylum receipts declined to 51,241, a 39 percent decrease. In Fiscal Year 2000, 60 percent of asylum filings were received in New York City, San Francisco, Miami, and Los Angeles Immigration Courts.
EOIR has coordinated the implementation of expanded programs with the INS to ensure the optimal placement of resources based upon the volume and geographic concentration of detained, asylum, and criminal alien workload. To enhance the implementation of the asylum reforms, EOIR expanded the number of Immigration Judges in many courts and established several new courts. EOIR's computer system has been modified to facilitate the implementation of asylum reform by enhancing case tracking capabilities and by allowing all local and regional INS asylum offices limited access to the system. INS personnel can now access the Automated Nationwide System for Immigration Review (ANSIR) system and schedule cases for Immigration Judge hearings immediately upon their decision to refer asylum claims to EOIR. INS regional service centers can now access the ANSIR database and ascertain the status of cases to determine an alien's eligibility for employment authorization. This interactive scheduling system is now available to INS nationwide for all case types.
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EOIR has also been active in the regulatory area, publishing regulations that include provisions allowing the use of stipulated removals, thereby enabling the expedited removal of criminal aliens in applicable cases. Regulations also authorize the Immigration Judges to conduct telephonic hearings as well as video electronic hearings, which are particularly effective in providing hearings in remote detention settings.
Finally, INS initiatives continue to have a significant impact on EOIR's caseload. In Fiscal Year 2000, the total number of matters received by the Immigration Courts was 254,515, a ten percent increase over receipts in Fiscal Year 1999. The number of cases completed in Fiscal Year 2000 was 255,194.
The Board of Immigration Appeals:
Under the direction of the Chairman, the Board hears appeals of decisions of Immigration Judges and certain decisions of INS officers in a wide variety of proceedings in which the Government of the United States is one party and the other party is either an alien, a citizen, or a transportation carrier. Board decisions are binding on all INS officers and Immigration Judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court. The Board exercises its independent judgement in hearing appeals for the Attorney General, and provides a nationally uniform application of the immigration laws, both in terms of the interpretation of the law and the exercise of the significant discretion vested in the Attorney General. The majority of cases before the Board involve appeals from orders of Immigration Judges entered in immigration proceedings. The Board has received approximately 30,000 cases per year for the last several years, an extremely large volume for an appellate body. This is a dramatic increase from the number of cases received in the early 1990's. For example, in 1992, the Board received only 12,774 appeals, less than half of the current number of cases now received annually. In Fiscal Year 2000, the Board completed 21,278 cases. While the Board began with five Board Members in 1940, it has grown to its current size of 21 Board Members, including the Chairman and two Vice Chairmen, and a staff of over 100 attorneys and paralegals.
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Processing an increasing caseload has been a challenging task in a time of major legislative action in the immigration arena. The Board has provided the principal interpretation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA); the Immigration Amendments of 1988; the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988; the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT 90); the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA); the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA); the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997 (NACARA); and the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA) of 1998. New challenges will include interpretation of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTVPA) and the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act of 2000 (LIFE). These laws have represented the most fundamental restructuring of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) since its enactment in 1952, and have presented a myriad of new issues of statutory construction. The Board's mission requires that national policies, as reflected in immigration laws, be identified, considered, and integrated into its decision process.
In response to the continuously increasing caseload associated with increased INS apprehensions and legislative developments, the Board has initiated a variety of management and regulatory improvements designed to increase efficiency, while maintaining due process guarantees for all parties. A key initiative has been the expansion of the Board to 21 members, allowing the consideration of appeals using multiple panels of three Board members each. Further, Board attorney staff has been restructured into eight discrete teams, each assigned directly to a Board panel. En banc review of cases has been expedited by using a newly created electronic en banc system. These structural changes have greatly improved caseload management, accountability and communication.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to its numerous management initiatives, EOIR has continued to improve programs through the regulatory process. For example, the Board's jurisdictional and procedural regulations have been amended to expedite the motions and appeals practice to allow the Board to assume direct control of appellate filings, replacing a cumbersome and decentralized system of filing at local Immigration Courts. Further, the regulations establish time and number limitations on motions to reopen and motions to reconsider. Regulations also allow consideration of appeals using two en banc panels.
A much broader regulatory initiative, called ''streamlining'', to streamline the Board's appellate procedures was also recently implemented. Under these published regulations, noncontroversial cases that meet specified criteria may be reviewed and adjudicated by a single Board Member. The type of case amenable to this ''streamlining'' procedure is limited to the following:(1) where the result reached in the decision under review was correct and that any errors in the decision were harmless or nonmaterial and (2) where the issue on appeal is squarely controlled by existing Board or federal court precedent and does not involve the application of precedent to a novel fact situation; or (3) where the factual and legal questions raised on appeal are so insubstantial that three Member review is not warranted. This initiative is currently being implemented through a pilot project, and the results of this project will be used to implement streamlining on a permanent basis. From September of 2000 through April 2001, just over 30,400 cases have been screened for eligibility. Of those, 15,614 were initially placed into streamlining and 6,02920 percent of those screened for eligibilityresulted in decisions signed by a single Board Member.
Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer:
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) is comprised of a Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (CAHO) and three Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). The ALJs adjudicate individual cases according to the Administrative Procedures Act. OCAHO cases involve: (1) the unlawful hiring, recruiting, referring for a fee, or continuing employment of unauthorized aliens by employers, and their failure to comply with employment verification requirements (employer sanctions); (2) immigration-related unfair employment practices; and (3) immigration document fraud. Complaints under these sections of the Act are brought by the INS, the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, or private individuals. All decisions by this office are considered final unless overturned by a Federal court or the Attorney General.
In the area of document fraud, a settlement was recently approved in the class action lawsuit of Walters v. Reno, the case which has effectively suspended enforcement of the civil document fraud provisions of Section 274C of the INA and resulting cases for the past four years. Settlement of the Walters case could increase OCAHO's caseload substantially as INS resumes enforcement of Section 274C, since the coverage of the statute was broadened considerably by amendments to the law in 1996 and because a higher percentage of respondents in document fraud cases can be expected to request an ALJ hearing with the adoption of new procedures included in the settlement.
In FY 2000, OCAHO received 31 cases and completed 122. In addition, OCAHO judges have also been empowered to assist Board panels in the adjudication of Board cases as temporary Board Members, and have adjudicated 7,834 Board cases in this capacity.
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Last year, EOIR established a position of nationwide Pro Bono Coordinator to work collaboratively with immigrant organizations, the INS, Bar Associations, law schools, and other groups to improve the level and quality of pro bono representation before the Immigration Courts and the Board. In its first year, the EOIR Pro Bono program has initiated several successful programs. First, EOIR has forged partnerships with several national non-profit organizations to pilot the Board of Immigration Appeals Pro Bono Project, where case appeals before the Board involving detained and unrepresented aliens are matched with pro bono counsel who write and file appeal briefs. Second, EOIR, in partnership with local bar and pro bono groups, is providing intensive training to small groups of pro bono attorneys in Immigration Court practice, procedure and advocacy skills through role playing exercises with volunteer Immigration Judges in the immigration court. Third, EOIR is looking for ways to develop and expand joint efforts for pro bono representation to unaccompanied minors in INS custody, such as through the Phoenix Pilot Project. Finally, EOIR is assisting in the development and expansion of the use of Group Rights Presentations to INS detainees and other related projects which improve access to legal information and counseling.
While EOIR is interested in providing opportunities for more aliens to have representation before its courts, EOIR also has established a new program to ensure that unscrupulous attorneys are not practicing before its courts or the INS by establishing an ''Attorney Discipline'' program. This program was established to address the growing problem of fraud or malfeasance by attorney practitioners. In the first nine months of this program, EOIR has disciplined 44 attorneys, including 28 who have received final orders of discipline. Sanctions have ranged from suspension to expulsion from practice before the Immigration Courts and the Board. Virtually all of these attorneys previously have been disciplined by their state bars; some have even been convicted of felonies from immigration fraud to witness tampering.
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EOIR and INS together have achieved significant success in the processing of detained aliens. As a result of a joint INS-EOIR ''Detained Delays Task Force,'' we have reduced the average detention time from the date an appeal is filed with EOIR to removal by INS by 72.5 days per alien. This has reduced the number of days in detention, resulting in approximately 23,000 detention days available for use to detain other aliens. It has also reduced by 70 percent the number of detained cases pending at the Board for longer than 180 days.
In keeping with our customer service goals, EOIR has established a menu driven electronic phone system (a 1800 number) which provides ready access to Immigration Court information such as hearing dates, times and locations, status of asylum cases, Immigration Judge decisions and appeal information. This system, provided in English and Spanish, reduces the time required for the public to obtain information and schedules. The system is currently receiving more than 150,000 calls per month.
Further, in January of this year, EOIR produced for the first time a Statistical Year Book, which is available on our website (www.usdoj.gov/eoir). This year book provides the public with caseload data for each of its components, including type of cases, cases by nationalities, language, representation status, and custody.
BUDGET REQUEST FOR FISCAL YEAR 2002
For Fiscal Year 2002, the President seeks $176.7 million to support EOIR's adjudications programs. This request includes funding for mandatory expenses, such as rent and salary increases, and a program increase of $4.85 million, which will fund 59 new positions, including Immigration Judges and appellate staff attorneys.
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The increase requested for EOIR is made in conjunction with enforcement increases sought by the INS, specifically funds in support of an additional 1,607 detention beds and 570 new Border Patrol agents. We anticipate that these INS initiatives will bring 10,000 additional new cases and appeals to EOIR annually.
The Administration and Congress have recognized the importance of coordinating funding decisions that have cross-organizational impact. For EOIR, the importance of this coordination is critical because the volume, types and location of case largely depend upon the enforcement resources and policies of the INS. Similarly, the realization of the INS enforcement goals as articulated by the Administration and Congress, for example an enhanced ability to apprehend, detain and remove increasing numbers of criminal and non-criminal aliens, rely in part on EOIR's ability to adjudicate the resulting caseload in a timely manner.
Thank you for this opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee. I look forward to working with members of the Subcommittee and would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. GEKAS. Let the record indicate that the Ranking Minority Member, Sheila Jackson Lee, is now in attendance.
We will proceed with the Bishop's testimony.
STATEMENT OF BISHOP THOMAS WENSKI, NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS
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Bishop WENSKI. Thank you.
Our comments on the operation by INS today are offered with respect to the role that INS plays in implementing our Nation's immigration laws, a mission which is challenging and at times controversial. However, as Catholic Bishops, we base our testimony upon the principle that the human rights and dignity of the migrant, immigrant, refugee and other persons on the move should be respected and upheld.
I would like to concentrate on several areas in the short time I have to speak: U.S. Detention policy, family unity and reunification through our immigration system, reorganization of the INS, treatment of the unaccompanied alien minors by U.S. Government and our Nation's border enforcement policy. I thank you for having agreed that the entirety of our written testimony be placed in the hearing record.
First, Mr. Chairman, the Bishops are very concerned that more than 20,000 persons are detained in INS facilities, Federal prisons and local and county jails at any one time, especially when INS has the discretion under the law to release certain detainees. We find this troubling not only because of the financial costs of detaining these individuals but primarily because of the human cost of this policy.
The U.S. Bishops favor the repeal of the mandatory detention laws enacted in 1996. In addition, we strongly believe that INS should release asylum seekers, children and long-term detainees who are no threat to society. We recommend alternatives to detention should be developed for these populations and that all detainees should be provided thorough briefings on their legal rights in our system.
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With your permission, I would like to enter into the record three reports on the benefit of alternatives to detention and legal orientation presentations. These reports are explained in our written testimony.
[NOTE: The reports submitted by Bishop Wenski are not reprinted here but are on file with the House Judiciary Committee.]
U.S. Detention policy for immigrants are costly both in human terms and budget terms. We ask the Subcommittee to reconsider our detention policies and support funding alternatives for detention.
Secondly, Mr. Chairman, we ask that the Subcommittee reaffirm the principles of family reunification as the cornerstone of our immigration policy by authorizing funds to eliminate backlogs and adjudication, examining our family preference system and making section 245(i) a permanent feature of our law. We are encouraged by the President's call for $500 million over the next 5 years to reduce waiting times to 6 months in all relevant categories, but we believe it is insufficient to meet the need. However, we encourage the Subcommittee to scrutinize carefully the administration's budget to ensure that new funds actually are provided to reach this goal and, if necessary, to support additional appropriations.
We also are heartened by the President's call for an extension of the filing deadline for immigrants to make use of 245(i). Congress wisely extended this deadline temporarily in December, but it has recently expired. We echo the President's call for an extension, and we add that access to section 245(i) should be extended on a permanent basis. We think it represents sound public policy and should be extended permanently.
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Thirdly, Mr. Chairman, we ask that you move expeditiously to reorganize the functions of INS, preferably to a structure which separates the adjudications of the enforcement bureau but keeps a strong central authority to oversee both functions. A central authority, ideally a person at a higher level within the Justice Department, would help coordinate the adjudication and enforcement functions and fashion a coherent, coordinated national immigration policy.
In addition, we ask that in any reorganization you carefully consider the financing of any new agency authorizing permanent funding for the adjudication service side of the agency.
We have grave concerns about U.S. Policy toward unaccompanied minors who enter our Nation from abroad. In this regard, we ask you to enact legislation introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein of California soon to be introduced into the House entitled, Unaccompanied Alien Minor Protection Act of 2001. Along with providing important services to kids, the legislation creates an Office of Children Services within the Department of Justice staffed by child welfare experts to provide services to unaccompanied minors, including their placement in appropriate settings.
Mr. Chairman, I close my testimony on an issue which the Bishops have followed with growing concern, our Nation's border enforcement policy. Since 1993, funding for Border Patrol agents has nearly tripled, while since 1995 more than 1,600 migrants have died in deserts and mountains of the American West and Southwest. It is our belief that this one-dimensional policy has not deterred foreign-born persons from trying to enter the United States. On the contrary, it has diminished the human dignity not only of the migrants who attempt to cross into the United States but of the Border Patrol agents who are charged with enforcing the integrity of our borders.
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In this regard, we ask the Subcommittee to review our border policy and consider other options for stemming undocumented migration, including restructuring our legal immigration system and the promotion of developmental initiatives in Mexico and Latin America.
Mr. Chairman, the U.S. Catholic Bishops share the interest of the Subcommittee in ensuring that our Nation's immigration system is efficient, fair and generous. We offer these recommendations in the spirit of cooperation and with the desire to work with you to assist the INS in its mission.
Thank you for the opportunities to testify.
[The prepared statement of Bishop Wenski follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF BISHOP THOMAS G. WENSKI
I am Bishop Thomas G. Wenski. Auxiliary Bishop of Miami, and member of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration. I thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration on the budget priorities of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Specifically, I would like to address the vital topics of INS detention practices, including mandatory detention, funding for alternatives to detention, legal orientation for detainees, and the treatment of children; backlogs in the processing of immigration benefit; border enforcement; Cuban/Haitian resettlement; and INS reorganization.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, concern for the immigrant and the experience of immigration are both deeply imbedded in Church teaching. The task of welcoming immigrants, refugees, and displaced persons into full participation in the Church and society with equal rights and duties has long been an integral part of the Roman Catholic faith tradition.
The experience of the Church in the United States has provided the U.S. bishops with a special sensitivity to newcomers in our midst. Arguably no other institution in American life has had as much experience dealing with the integration of newcomers as the Catholic Church, especially through her parishes and schools. Since 1976, the bishops have been clear in their affirmation of the Church's solicitude for newcomers:
The Church, the People of God, is required by the Gospel and by its long tradition to promote and defend the human rights and dignity of people on the move, to advocate social remedies to their problems and to foster opportunities for their spiritual growth.(see footnote 1)
It is with these values in mind that I address to you my concerns and the concerns of the U.S. Catholic Bishops regarding the fiscal year 2002 budget for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
INS DETENTION PRACTICES
The Church is deeply concerned about the detention practices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. As the Subcommittee well knows, the number of people being detained by the INS has tripled in the past three years, making INS detainees the fastest growing population in the country. The INS's detention budget is now over $1 billion a year. More than 22,000 persons are currently detained by the INS, and the number is growing.
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The financial costs of this detention is staggering. But as great as the financial cost, so too is the human cost of this staggering increase in INS detainees.
The increase in detention is due to a number of factors. First, Congress in 1996 passed a number of laws that require mandatory detention of aliens, including many for whom detention makes no sense. And second, the decentralized nature of INS decision-making makes it impossible for there to be a national policy on detention.
The bishops recommend a number of policy and legislative changes governing the INS's detention practices:
1. First, the Subcommittee take a close look at mandatory detention laws and, wherever possible, make changes to those laws to give the Attorney General more discretion to release INS detainees who are not a danger to society and are not in danger of absconding.
2. Second, the Subcommittee should direct the INS to pursue a program of providing alternatives to detention for those detainees who are not a danger to the community and are not in danger of absconding. Such a program could be funded by a small earmark of current INS detention funds and would save the federal government millions in detention costs.
3. Third, the Subcommittee should direct the INS to fund ''legal orientation presentations'' in facilities housing INS detainees to enable detainees to receive accurate legal information about the forms of relief to which they might be eligible or ineligible. This would have the double benefit of speeding proceedings; identifying those detainees who may actually have relief, including valid claims of asylum; and helping those who have no form of relief available to them understand the reality of their situation.
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4. Fourth, the Subcommittee should enact comprehensive legislation to ensure that unaccompanied alien children in INS custody are treated humanely and not placed in juvenile jails or in adult detention facilities. The manner in which some children have been treated under our current system is nothing short of criminal. Representative Zoe Lofgren, a member of this Subcommittee, is about to introduce legislation that we strongly support on this issue. The legislation will be identical to S. 121, bipartisan children's legislation that was introduced last January by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Implementation of these recommendations would have the salutary benefit of actually reducing INS detention costs while treating the vulnerable among us in a more compassionate and humane manner.
Alternatives to Detention. Sixty percent of the more than 22,000 INS detainees currently are held in local and county jails. The rest are detained in INS facilities, Bureau of Prisons facilities, and private facilities. In anticipation of the increasing numbers of detainees, the INS has requested over 1600 additional ''average daily state and local detention bed spaces'' and 127 additional detention-related officer and support positions for fiscal year 2002. We are concerned with this requested increase, and would like INS to consider alternatives to detention which are more cost-effective and more humane.
Many of those detained by INS do not present a danger to themselves or their communities and are not a flight risk. Detaining such individuals wastes valuable federal resources that could be put to better use. Detention is not only costly in terms of dollars; it is costly, as well, in terms of human suffering as people are needlessly separated from loved ones. Often, the person in detention is the breadwinner for United States citizen and/or lawful permanent resident children or spouses. In these instances, the individual in detention, the family members, and the communities all suffer.
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The Church acknowledges and recognizes the right and duty of the government to provide for the public safety and welfare of its citizens. This obligation requires that certain dangerous individuals in removal proceedings should be held in detention pending a resolution of their proceedings rather than permitted to remain in the country at large. But along with this duty should be an obligation to assess whether each individual in detention is actually a threat to the safety of the country. Human rights considerations, respect for basic dignity, and the practicalities of cost and efficiency mandate that individuals in proceedings who are not threats to the public safety should not be detained. Along this vein, we believe that those who are not threats to society and are not flight risks should be released from detention. Of particular concern are asylum seekers and indefinite detainees, both of which are groups which the INS has discretion to release.
In addition to providing a more humane and compassionate response to individuals currently detained, viable alternatives to detention for deserving individuals could save millions of dollars in detention costs and free up costly detention space for more urgent uses. For these reasons, Mr. Chairman, I urge you, on behalf of the U.S. Bishops, to earmark at least $20 million from existing funds to support a nationwide program to provide alternatives to detention for individuals who are not a danger to the community and not likely to abscond.
We know that workable alternatives to detention exist. For example, the INS recently funded a pilot project which allowed for the supervised release of more than 500 noncitizens in three categories: asylum-seekers, individuals in removal proceedings due to a criminal conviction, and undocumented persons apprehended at work sites. The results were remarkable. Ninety-one percent of supervised noncitizens in the project appeared in court compared to 71 percent of noncitizens released on bond or parole. Sixty-nine percent of Appearance Assistance Program (AAP) supervised participants complied with final orders of removal compared to 38 percent of a group released on bond or parole. The project showed that supervision costs only $12 per day, as compared to the $61 cost per day for INS detention.(see footnote 2)
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There are also other successful models for alternatives to detention including one operated by Catholic Charities in New Orleans that finds jobs, housing and needed counseling for released asylees as well as long-term detainees. Of twenty-five asylum seekers released from this program, only one has been returned to custody since 2000. The INS supports this project and praises the results. I ask, Mr. Chairman, that an article from the New Orleans Times-Picayune on the program be included in the record.
Based on the budget provided for the supervised release pilot ($2 million a year for one site), we project an expansion of the pilot to the ten areas with the largest detention populations would cost $20 million but could provide significant savings in the FY 2002 INS budget.(see footnote 3) We urge the subcommittee to consider providing funding for an expansion of these projects to reduce costs and allow those who are no threat to society to stay out of detention.
Unaccompanied Alien Children. Mr. Chairman, we are particularly concerned about the increasing numbers of unaccompanied minors being held in INS detention. We believe that unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings are deserving of special treatment and that the INS should place as many as possible with family members, in foster care or in privately run shelter-care facilities. Yet a large percentage (approximately 30 percent) are still regularly detained in county or municipal juvenile correction centers, despite the fact that many of these minors have not committed any crime, are not considered flight risks, and do not present disciplinary problems. Detention in these jails greatly impairs the minor's access to counsel, and the inherently harsher conditions of confinement can result in the minor being too demoralized and/or discouraged to seek help or to participate meaningfully in court proceedings.
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Unaccompanied minors enter the United States under a variety of circumstances. Some seek to reunite with family members, others are asylum seekers who have experienced persecution, some are children who have been smuggled into the country and are at risk of being caught again by smugglers and forced into sweatshop labor or worse. Whatever their circumstances, these children deserve special care. The guiding principle in placing these children in appropriate settings should be the best interests of the child. Therefore, we believe that the care and placement of unaccompanied minors apprehended by the INS should be provided by child welfare agencies experienced in serving the special needs of children. Unaccompanied minors should not be held in any type of secure facility unless absolutely necessary for the child's or society's safety. When used to detain unaccompanied minors, secure facilities should protect these children from potential dangers and separate them from criminal offenders. Mr. Chairman, I ask that a study on the plight of immigrant and refugee children published by the U.S. Catholic Conference's Migration and Refugee Services be included in the record.
Mr. Chairman, we are gravely concerned with the recent transfer by INS of responsibility for unaccompanied minors to the detention and removal division. We believe that this change is potentially a conflict of interest, since those charged with enforcement responsibilities will also be charged with providing child welfare services. In our view, this responsibility should be housed elsewhere, perhaps in the Department of Justice, and staffed by child welfare experts.
This Subcommittee will soon have before it legislation that Representative Zoe Lofgren is planning to introduce that would make comprehensive reforms in the manner in which unaccompanied alien children in United States custody are treated. The legislation will be virtually identical to S. 121, the ''Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act of 2001,'' which was introduced in the Senate by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Bob Graham (D-FL). We respectfully ask the subcommittee to consider this issue within the context of your oversight responsibilities, as well as consider this legislation.
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Legal Orientation Presentations. In addition to the many other problems faced by individuals in INS detention, these detainees often carry the added burden of being without easy or affordable access to legal representation. Many of the facilities where they are held are in remote locations, far from legal help. Persons in INS detention do not have access to government appointed counsel, and, because most are indigent and cannot afford a lawyer, more than 90 percent go unrepresented. ''Legal orientation'' presentations, which provide detainees with a briefing on their rights under U.S. law, could offer hope to these unrepresented individuals as well as improve efficiencies in the immigration system, help identify detainees worthy of relief, and reduce detention costs.
We cannot underestimate how much is at stake for these individuals. All are in danger of losing their right to live in the United States. They also are in danger of being separated from their families. Some are in danger of being returned to countries where they may face persecution and/or death. Without legal help, most individuals in INS detention are unclear as to what the process before an immigration judge entails, what relief may be available to them or how to pursue it.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), like the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.(CLINIC) try to represent people detained by the INS. Unfortunately, because of restricted resources, most people go unrepresented. NGOs have found that the most effective way to screen people in detention to determine who needs a lawyer is through group legal information presentations.
In the summer of 1998, the Department of Justice (DOJ) funded a modest pilot project, through the Executive Office for Immigration Review, that provided legal orientation presentations to detainees in three sites. The project sought to determine whether informing INS detainees of their rights would have any impact on representation rates, the efficiency of the deportation proceedings, or INS detention expenditures.
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The DOJ found that the ''legal orientation presentations'' benefitted detainees in ways that also benefitted the INS and the immigration courts. They enabled detainees to receive accurate legal information before their hearings with the Immigration Judge. They helped detainees expeditiously determine whether they had potential relief available. They also greatly increased the number of individuals represented as the screening agencies could determine which people had strong claims and needed a pro bono lawyer to assist them further. In addition, they helped those without relief to reconcile themselves to removal. Immigration Judges, in turn were able to complete more cases in a summary fashion and benefitted from immigrants who came to their hearings informed about the process and the law. The Department of Justice has found that the above benefits allow the legal orientation program to increase the efficiency of both the INS and the immigration courts.
Such programs could result in substantial savings to the government. The DOJ report recommended the expansion of the project, stating that it improved efficiency, reduced detention costs and increased levels of representation. The report found that detainees who received ''rights presentations'' spent four fewer days in detention than those who did not. By expanding legal orientation presentations to other INS detention facilities, the DOJ estimated that over $8 million in detention costs would be saved annually nationwide.(see footnote 4) While the DOJ report noted that ''[b]ased on case data from the pilot period, the rights presentation has the potential to save both time and money for the government while also benefitting detainees,'' it also stated that the most significant barrier to replicating the rights presentation program is funding.(see footnote 5)
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I urge the Subcommittee to direct the INS to use existing funds to provide funding to make legal orientation presentations available to aliens in detention so as to improve deserving detainees access to relief, increase the efficiency of the system, and reduce the overall cost of detaining aliens.
FAMILY REUNIFICATION AND IMMIGRATION BENEFITS ADJUDICATION
The Catholic Church has long taken the position that family unity should be the driving force behind our immigration policy. Family reunification should remain the cornerstone of our national immigration system. All families, including immigrant families, should be supported in their efforts to re-unite or remain together, and to be self-sufficient.
The U.S. bishops make note of three developments under this Subcommittee's jurisdiction that make it more difficult for immigrant families to reunite and remain together in the United States.
Family Preference System. The U.S. Bishops believe that the family preference system should appropriately affirm values important to our society and provide the types of immigrants that benefit this nation. In this regard, we are deeply troubled by the long periods of time legal immigrants in the U.S. must wait before being reunited with immediate family members living abroad. Currently, legal permanent residents must wait at least three years and, in some cases, more than twelve years, to be reunited with spouses and children living abroad.(see footnote 6) The waiting periods for other family members, such as parents and siblings, are even longer.
Backlogs in Immigration Benefits Adjudications. Although, these lengthy waits are, in part, a result of the numerical limitations on family-based immigration, they could be substantially alleviated by increasing the processing times of applications for immigration benefits, especially naturalization. For many long-term residents whose naturalization and adjustment of status applications are backlogged, the approval of their applications would mean a much speedier reunification with their immediate family members. For those awaiting naturalization, they will be able to reunite with their families much more quickly once they become U.S. citizens because, as citizens, they will not be subject to the numerical limitations. For those awaiting adjustment of status, they cannot even apply for reunification with their family members until their applications are approved.
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The processing times for adjustment applications have averaged 69 months in some parts of the country.(see footnote 7) At the beginning of fiscal year 1999, the average time for the processing time of a naturalization application was 28 months.(see footnote 8) Although the average processing time for naturalization applications has decreased recently, many individuals still wait far too long to have their applications adjudicated. Such backlogs encourage undocumented immigration when family members honor their commitment as a spouse or parent by choosing to join their loved ones prior to receiving a visa.
While we are encouraged by President Bush's call for $500 million to be dedicated to reducing the backlog in immigration benefits over the next five years, we are concerned that this amount is grossly insufficient to meet the Administration's stated goal of reducing waiting times for all immigration benefits to six months. We are further concerned that the majority of the $100 million funded for this purpose in FY 2002 is coming from fee accounts and funding that has been carried forward from a prior year rather than from direct appropriations. It is our understanding that the Administration's budget provides only $45 million in ''new money'' for the critical task of reducing the backlog. Another $20 million is to come from revenues generated by the new premium processing fee, a yet untested source of revenue.
We are deeply concerned that the current FY 2002 funding for reducing the INS backlog in adjudications does not include $100 million in new appropriations. Even this amount is unlikely to be sufficient to address the serious backlogs in adjudications, particularly in light of the increased workload the INS will face in adjudications as a result of the LIFE Act, the increase in H1-B visas, and the extension of TPS to Salvadorans. We are further concerned that, as the premium processing fee is a new program, the projection of the revenue it will generate may be overly optimistic.
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We therefore urge you to work with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary to ensure that the additional new funds are appropriated for FY 2002 to begin the task of reducing the INS adjudications waiting time to six months or less. By providing the necessary funding in the INS budget to process all immigration benefits, particularly naturalization and adjustment of status applications, in a more timely fashion, we will facilitate the family reunification we, as a nation, so highly value. Moreover, we believe these funds should be directly appropriated rather than generated from fee accounts, and that the funds should be deposited into the ''Immigration Services and Infrastructure Improvement Account,'' a no-year account that was created by Title II of P.L. 106313, the ''Immigration Services and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2000.''
Permanent Restoration of Section 245(i) of the INA. Mr. Chairman, as you know, last year, Congress provided for a temporary extension of the deadline for aliens to file immigration petitions and applications and still make use of Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). As the Subcommittee well knows, Section 245(i) allows undocumented family members of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to adjust their status while here in the United States if they are otherwise eligible and have a visa immediately available rather than having to leave the country in order to do so. Without the ability to use Section 245(i), those family members would be required to travel abroad in order to obtain legal status in the United States. In many cases they would have to wait three or ten years before returning to the United States because of changes to the INA made by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).
This temporary extension of the filing deadline for making use of Section 245(i) was April 30, 2001. Our dioceses throughout the United States were deluged with requests for assistance with 245(i) applications. Unfortunately, there was not sufficient staff to respond to all requests, and many individuals who met the requirements of this extension were not able to benefit from it because of their inability to obtain legal assistance. More importantly, now that the April 30, 2001 deadline has passed, no one will be eligible for benefits under 245(i), and families will be forced to separate for years before re-uniting or to live together with some family members in an undocumented status.
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Mr. Chairman, the Subcommittee has several bills before it that would extend the April 30, 2001, deadline. We support those measures and urge the Subcommittee to move expeditiously to enact an extension of the deadline. At the same time, the U.S. Catholic Bishops believe that Section 245(i) should be a permanent provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as it is crucial to supporting immigrant families and promoting the goal of family reunification. Furthermore, the permanent restoration of 245(i) would help to provide funds to the INS for carrying out its adjudicatory functions, as each 245(i) applicant must pay a $1000 penalty to the INS which is used for adjudications. Thus, the permanent restoration of 245(i) would not only promote the value of family unity within our immigration policy, but also would provide needed funds to INS to help alleviate its backlog in immigration adjudications.
The Church recognizes the right and the responsibility of sovereign states to control their borders. We, therefore, understand that adequate funding and training for the border patrol functions of the INS is necessary to carry out the nation's immigration enforcement function. However, we are deeply concerned that necessary steps be taken to ensure that the human dignity of those involved (border patrol agents as well as those attempting to cross the border) is respected and enhanced. We support efforts to make the border patrol more sensitive to the human rights of those undocumented persons it encounters through the use of independent monitoring mechanisms. We also support efforts to promote sensitivity in local communities to the human rights of migrants.
Over the last several fiscal years, funding for Border Patrol agents has increased dramatically, ballooning from $354 million in 1993 to over $1.2 billion dollars in 2002. The Administration's FY 2002 budget submission would increase the number of Border Patrol agents by 570 to a record level of more than 10,000 agents. At the same time, since the advent of Operation Gatekeeper in 1995, more than 1600 migrants have died in the deserts and mountains of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.(see footnote 9)
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The bulk of the INS budget is dedicated to Enforcement and Border Affairs. For FY 2002, the agency is requesting $171.6 million in new funds and 1206 new positions, including an additional 570 Border Patrol agents to support its border management strategy. Among the initiatives the INS plans to fund is the continued deployment of intrusion detection technology and additional intelligence resources.
The FY 2002 budget provides an additional 570 Border Patrol agents in each of fiscal years 2002 and 2003. One of the consequences of having so many new members of the border patrol is a lack of selectivity and training. Compounding the problem is the high attrition rate among Border Patrol agents. Of particular concern is the degree to which border patrol agents have been trained in civil rights and human rights matters. There continue to be reports of civil rights violations along the border, including reports of American citizens who might not ''look American'' being harassed by border patrol agents.(see footnote 10)
Mr. Chairman, the increased border enforcement by the United States since 1994 has increased the risk factors for migrants crossing the border, driving them into more dangerous terrain and into the hands of smugglers. As a result, in recent years the number of deaths of migrants along the border has risen.(see footnote 11) While we do not condone or encourage undocumented migration, we nevertheless advocate that the basic human rights of migrants, whatever their legal status, be upheld.
Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, we believe it is time for Congress to examine and review U.S. enforcement policy on the U.S.-Mexican border more closely. It is clear that increasing enforcement personnel along the border does not necessarily dampen the will of persons to come to this nation in search of work and a better life, though it can make their journey far more dangerous, and even deadly.(see footnote 12) We believe that new policy options should be considered. We also ask that INS be directed to train and monitor personnel to respect the civil and human rights of migrants they encounter.
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THE CUBAN/HAITIAN RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM
Throughout our history the United States has been a beacon of hope to those fleeing political oppression in the form of abusive and totalitarian governments. In the 1980s and 1990s we offered safe haven to many individuals fleeing the anti-democratic governments in Cuba and Haiti. To ease their transition into the United States, the Cuban/Haitian Primary/Secondary Resettlement program (CHPSRP), funded by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and operated by nonprofit organizations, provides initial processing, orientation, family reunification, case management, and employment referral services for Cubans and Haitians who have been paroled into the United States by the INS.
The purpose of the CHPSRP program is to provide resettlement services for Cuban and Haitian entrants, including unaccompanied minors, who enter the United States without documentation and are subsequently given permission to remain in the United States temporarily (''parole''). Without the program, thousands of Cuban and Haitian entrants and unaccompanied minors paroled by INS would be released directly into communities without any support or supervision, where they would further strain the already overburdened state and local social service system. Because there exists no line-item appropriation authority for this program, the CHPSRP must rely on user fees paid by immigrants for adjudication services, an unstable and unreliable source of funding which contributes to rollbacks in the program.
The INS has cut funding for family reunification cases under the CHPSRP, threatening services to Cubans and Haitians who enter the United States and who have relatives in the country. For example, the INS has cut the period in which services are offered to individuals from 90 days to 30 days as well as eliminated a one-time direct assistance grant to assist individuals with basic necessities. The reduction in the service period could eliminate the following services past one month after entry: employment referrals and counseling, individual counseling, life-skills training, English instruction referrals and social service and health care referrals. Given that employment authorization processing normally takes much longer than 30 days, the provision of follow-up services beyond that time period is vital to ensure that Cuban and Haitian entrants reach self-sufficiency. The elimination of the direct assistance grant, a small amount which helps defray the costs for basic necessities while an individual waits for up to four months for employment authorization, will have a harsh impact on individuals, families, and communities.
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The impact of these cuts is far reaching. Because the majority of Cubans and Haitians served under this program (about 8,000 a year) enter the United States in the South Florida region, Florida will be disproportionately impacted by the cuts. Seventy percent of Cuban/Haitian entrants are family reunification cases, with at least fifty percent living in South Florida. Without follow-up services and direct assistance, Cuban/Haitian entrants will likely turn to the social welfare system for support, further burdening state and federal governments. Without full funding of the Cuban/Haitian program, Cubans and Haitians will have difficulty adjusting to their new home, preventing them from giving their special skills and contributions to their community and state. Based on this need, the U.S. Bishops support line-item appropriations funding for the Cuban/Haitian program in the FY 2002 budget.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, the Bishops wish to address the critical issue of INS reorganization. Currently, there exists no clear distinction between the service/adjudication mission of the INS and the enforcement mission. As a result of this lack of separation of functions, in many cases enforcement officials are also charged with adjudicatory responsibilities. For example, while some INS inspectors belong to the enforcement side of INS, they hold broad and unreviewable adjudicatory authority. A separation of functions, governed by a central authority with clout and shared support services, would help bring clarity of mission to the adjudication and enforcement functions, resulting in more efficient adjudications and more accountable enforcement.
A central authority, preferably located in the Department of Justice, is critically important to ensure that legal and policy decisions are consistent between the bureau charged with enforcement and the bureau charged with service/adjudications. Because of the increasing profile of immigration in our country, a high-level person with some clout within the Executive Branch is needed to run the nation's immigration functions. Such a person should have increased access to Executive branch officials, the authority to speak for the Administration on immigration issues, and increased budgetary authority. Upgrading the INS within the federal system would also increase its ability to attract quality managerial talent.
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Mr. Chairman, I also urge you to make funding changes a part of INS restructuring. The costs of operating INS are borne by taxpayers but also by customers who are forced to pay fees for certain services. Many ''service'' functions, such as naturalization application processing, are paid for by fees which are beyond the financial means of many INS customers. The adjudication/service side of INS should not be funded solely on the basis of fees collected from INS' customers. Any reorganization of the INS should ensure that appropriated funds are available to supplement the Examination Fee Account used now to pay for services. We recommend that Congress appropriate funds into the Backlog Reduction account, created through legislation passed in the 106th Congress. The account was created as a revolving fund, to be used at the discretion of the Attorney General, to supplement funding for adjudication services.
Mr. Chairman, we also believe that, within any INS reorganization, the Asylum Division should remain intact and serve as a model for other parts of the agency. Asylum adjudicators require highly specialized knowledge and skills which are distinct from those of other INS adjudicators. Prior to the creation of the Asylum Corps in 1990, asylum determinations were supervised and performed by INS officers who also adjudicated other types of immigration benefits. The creation of the Asylum Corps has dramatically increased efficiencies in adjudications of asylum claims and allowed asylum officers to remain focused on the asylum mission. The asylum division should serve as a model for other important functions of INS, such as the refugee program. For example, the effectiveness and integrity of the refugee program would be enhanced by modeling it on the Asylum Corps, with a dedicated corps within a single line of authority integrating policy making and policy implementation aspects of the program.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, we strongly recommend that the responsibility for caring for unaccompanied minors who come to our country be transferred outside of INS, preferably to a new office within the Department of Justice. These children, often smuggled into ports of entry, are traumatized and often physically or mentally abused when they enter our country. Currently, however, the majority are placed in INS detention facilities or juvenile facilities with criminal offenders for months, and, in some cases, years. INS recently transferred care and custody of these vulnerable children to the Detention and Removal branch of the agency, a clear conflict of interest which gives those charged with detaining children discretion over release decisions. We urge Congress to investigate this recent decision and direct changes in how INS handles unaccompanied alien minors.
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Mr. Chairman, the United States must continue to be a leader in welcoming immigrants to our land of opportunity and treating them with respect, dignity and justice within our great nation. On behalf of the U.S. Catholic bishops, I would like to conclude with a summary of the recommendations I have discussed for improving the immigration process in the United States, through INS funding of critical programs and services:
1. The INS should actively engage in the search for alternatives to detention for deserving aliens. This can be accomplished first, by revisiting our mandatory detention laws and second, having the Subcommittee make clear to the INS its support for the small amount of funding that would be necessary to operate alternative programs. Furthermore, the Subcommittee should work with the Appropriations Committee to ensure that such funding is available to the INS.
2. The INS should fund and permit the operation of ''legal orientation'' presentations, which would increase the efficiency of the immigration system, help identify INS detainees worthy of relief, and reduce detention costs.
3. The Subcommittee should move swiftly to enact Representative Lofgren's ''Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act,'' legislation she will soon introduce that will be identical to S. 121, bipartisan introduced in the Senate by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Bob Graham (D-FL).
4. The Subcommittee should act to ensure that family reunification remains the cornerstone of our immigration policy. It can do this by reviewing our family preference system to ensure that it is offering a meaningful opportunity for families to reunify, using its oversight and legislative authority to ensure that the INS is adequately addressing the backlogs in immigration benefits adjudications, including working with the Appropriations Committee to ensure adequate funding for those activities; and instituting Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act as a permanent part of our immigration law.
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5. The Subcommittee should ensure that funding for border enforcement include training in civil rights and human rights matters for border patrol officers. Additionally, the Subcommittee should pursue more comprehensive policies for addressing undocumented migration.
6. Line item, no-year appropriation for the Cuban/Haitian resettlement program should be included in the INS FY 2002 budget.
7. The INS should be reorganized to separate the adjudication and enforcement divisions with one central authority and give the agency a higher profile within the Department of Justice. In so doing, the Subcommittee must act to ensure that there is adequate funding for the new agency to carry out its service mission and to manage any transition that is necessary.
Each of these recommendations, Mr. Chairman, is offered respectfully, recognizing that all of us involved in the complex issues of migrationwhether government officials, private agency personnel, or the faithfulare doing our best to address the challenges of migration in our increasingly globalized world.
Mr. Chairman, it is the view of the U.S. Bishops that we, in the United States, must renew our commitment to welcome newcomers to our shores and to offer them humane and compassionate treatment. By doing so, we serve our own vital interests and act as an example to other nations.
On behalf of the nation's Catholic bishops, I thank you and your colleagues on the Subcommittee for allowing me the opportunity to present our views and for your leadership on this issue of vital national importance.
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Mr. GEKAS. We thank the Bishop and turn to Mr. Beck.
STATEMENT OF ROY BECK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NUMBERS USA
Mr. BECK. The staff and citizen network of NumbersUSA.com appreciates the chance to speak to the Committee this afternoon on this opportunity.
Numbers USA was founded in 1997 to carry out unfinished recommendations of Barbara Jordan's Commission on Immigration Reform, President Clinton's Council on Sustainable Development and this Committee in 1996.
On February 24, 1995, Barbara Jordan testified before this Committee and said, ''Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave.'' .
The latter is my purpose for being here today. Those who should not be here are not being required to leave. This is about internal interior enforcement.
I speak today as a proxy for hundreds of thousands of Americans who live in communities all across America. These communities are being inundated by illegal immigration, and yet these people do not feel that there is any ''service'' in Immigration and Naturalization Service.
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In preparation for this testimony, we took testimony from citizens in more than two dozen communities across the country where they say immigration laws are violated openly, massively and without apparent consequence. We have also received comments from more than two dozen active INS agents and retired INS officials. What we heard was chilling.
Our main appeal, Mr. Chairman, to you today and the Committee is that you routinely tap into this kind of on-the-ground experienceAmericans who live in these communities and the agents who have to enforce this lawand find out what they need to do to serve the needs of the American people.
We have found in our testimonywe provided you a number of examples of what we found, but I would like to just mention a few things. The evidence is strong that, except for deporting those who have committed aggravated felonies, the INS has indeed abandoned many American communities and left them outside the rule of law as far as immigration laws are concerned. Citizens cannot understand how illegal immigrants are allowed to openly gather in large numbers without any attempt by the INS to apprehend them or at least to disrupt their lawbreaking.
From Houston, a landlord described how the apartment complex she and her husband owned began to be filled by illegal aliens. The owners called the INS with the information. We got help only when there were murders, she said.
In Frankfurt, Indiana, last month, the newspaper reports the head of a local immigration services group saying that of 3,500 foreign-born residents of that area, about 70 percent are illegal.
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Now the uninitiated in this country, upon seeing so much law breaking openly acknowledged in an easy-to-control rural area, might expect to see Federal vans arriving the next day to start loading up the lawbreakers, but apparently nothing happened.
Illegal aliens are so sure that INS will never make them leave the country that they stage parades and rallies calling attention to their illegal status as they push for Government benefits and U.S. Citizenship.
Perhaps the greatest outrage to U.S. Citizens is the open congregating of illegal workers on their community streets. A Minnesota citizen commented, did you know there is no number in the phone book for reporting lawbreaking to the INS? All the listed numbers are for benefits. None of them are for law enforcement.
The citizens' words about the INS in general to us were often very harsh and perhaps unfairly so. When we put out the appeal for people to comment, we probably did not hear from the people who are happy with the INS. But we do not overstate by saying that the INS has become a truly reviled agency among citizens seeking a sense of order in their communities.
The INS agents' and officials' comments that we received are barely less harsh than that of the citizens, and yet the overwhelming message that we draw from our interviews from INS people and most citizens is the belief that the INS is filled substantially with dedicated public servants who are not only willing to enforce our Nation's immigration laws but are exceedingly disconcerted and disillusioned by their lack of authorization to do so.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And the complaints seem to be in two ways. One of them is not enough resources; the other is not enough will among the people in middle and perhaps higher management.
Here are a few of the comments from INS sources.
''current regional and headquarters politically motivated policies prohibits us from enforcing immigration law in the interior for fear of offending a group or generating negative media attention.'' .
An agent who is popular in his community for aggressive apprehensions of illegal immigrants reports that when his numbers get too high he is dispatched to another part of the country to supposedly help with office work there.
Recently, in the Southeast, INS agents checked 20 suspects while looking for a fugitive illegal felon. They discovered that only two of these people were legal residents, but they let all 18 illegal aliens go because their orders were they didn't have the resources to detain them.
And the incidence of absconding on showing up for hearing dates is legion.
Another says, ''We need the ability to immediately respond to citizen complaints and take actions on day laborers, without fear of media attention or criticism.'' .
Another says, ''Local law enforcement agencies are disgusted with us and don't even bother calling anymore since they know we won't or can't respond.'' .
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Are these INS agent experiences typical? I don't know, Mr. Chairman, but I hope this Committee will work diligently to make sure they are not typical and that they become increasingly rare.
The INS may be currently having great success in some communities in America. I hope so. But because the Census Bureau last year found what looks like 6 to 11 million illegal aliens, I have no difficulty believing that the communities from which we heard are more typical than aberration.
Although many of our INS sources did not know each other, their descriptions of what is wrong with the system were remarkably similar; and their suggestions for how to turn around the agency were also similar. My written testimony includes a fuller description of these.
I will conclude by noting that there are perhaps three most clear consensus items from all of our interviews.
Number one, nothing you do on the border will work if INS does not establish bold, vigorous interior enforcement in which every class of undocumented aliens has a credible fear of being detected, detained and deported.
Number two, Congress has to stop undermining everything the INS does by repeatedly passing amnesties and incremental amnesties that reward the lawbreakers and create loopholes through the law. One agent said when he picks people up now they have large numbers of receipts from the last few times that they have been picked up and they say they are saving these receipts for the next amnesty. That is the word that has gone around the world.
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Number three, Congress should provide the funding so that the INS can pledge 100 percent service to those communities that call on the INS for help in disrupting the illegal immigration industry.
Mr. GEKAS. I thank the gentleman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Beck follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROY BECK
The staff and citizen network of NumbersUSA.com thank the chairman and the committee for this opportunity to address issues of general oversight of the INS.
NumbersUSA.com was founded as a non-profit, nonpartisan organization in 1997 to advocate for key recommendations of the national, bi-partisan Commission on Immigration Reform. Those recommendations were set aside by Congress in 1996 to be addressed at a later date. As they have yet to be addressed, we are hopeful that this committee this year will renew the important work of the Commission and its chairman, the late Barbara Jordan.
SERVICE FOR COMMUNITIES OUTSIDE THE RULE OF LAW
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We would like to use this occasion to stress the importance of re-establishing the ''service'' in the Immigration and Naturalization Service. American citizens of all races and walks of life, native-born and foreign-born, in communities in every region of this country are failing to receive even the most rudimentary of service when they call on the INS to deal with the rising tide of illegal immigrants.
In preparation for this testimony, we communicated with citizens in more than two dozen communities where immigration laws are violated openly and without apparent consequence.
The general mood and feeling of helplessness we found is perhaps best described in a May 7, 2001, Newsday article by Bob Weimer, a columnist for the Long Island Newspaper. He was specifically writing about the Long Island community of Farmingville where citizens have organized and met repeatedly with the INS and every other level of governmentto no avail. Weimer describes the current scene in Farmingville, but he could easily be describing a hundred other communities:
''The [INS] service's well-documented inability to do anything about the rising influx of undocumented aliens on Long Island demonstrates a complete bureaucratic breakdown. It has failed to perform its mission. . . .
''The word goes south; the aliens come north, and anarchy spreads and becomes routine. Every day in a thousand ways laws are broken. Congress made it a crime to aid, abet, conceal or induce an alien to enter and/or reside in the United States illegally. . . .
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''Farmingville teems with undocumented aliens, but Suffolk police, state officials and the hopeless INS manage consistently to look elsewhere while immigration law, tax law, labor law and local housing and sanitary codes are flouted. Landlords pack the aliens into hazardous and substandard housing. Contractors work them off the books, thereby avoiding all the nasty little charges and levies associated with legal labor transactions.
''Federal and state laws are broken in a thousand different ways every day at hiring sites on Long Island. . . . [After all the efforts of citizens to persuade the INS to enforce the law] nothing has changed. The influx continues. The burden on the town's worn-out housing stock mounts. Local officials, state officials and federal officials continue to avoid the issue. . . .
''The people of Farmingville feel they have been abandoned. They feel the cold wind of anarchy.''
INS ABANDONMENT OF AMERICAN COMMUNITIES
The evidence is strong that, except for deporting those who have committed aggravated felonies, the INS indeed has abandoned most American communities and left them outside the rule of law as far as immigration laws are concerned. Citizens cannot understand how illegal immigrants are allowed to openly gather in large numbers without any attempt by the INS to apprehend them, or at least disrupt their lawbreaking. To most citizens, the INS need never do any special investigating or tracking to apprehend scores of illegal aliens every day in most cities. They merely have to go where major numbers of illegal immigrants are well known to gather.
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From Houston, a landlord described to me how the apartment complex she and her husband ownedas well as other neighboring complexesbegan to be filled by illegal aliens. The owners called the INS with the information. ''We got help only when there were murders,'' she said. Eventually, most of the residents were illegal aliens, living openly in a sanctuary where the federal law apparently refused to reach.
In Frankfort, Indiana, the newspaper last month reported that the head of a local immigrant services group said that, of 3,500 foreign-born residents of the area, about 70 percent are illegal. The uninitiated, upon seeing so much lawbreaking openly acknowledged in an easy-to-control rural area, might expect to see federal vans arriving the next day to start loading up the lawbreakers. But nothing happened. Illegal aliens are so sure that INS will never make them leave the country that they stage parades and rallies calling attention to their illegal status as they push for government benefits and U.S. citizenship.
Perhaps the greatest outrage to American citizens is the open congregating of illegal workers on their communities' streets. Although there are some legal foreign workers mixed in, the undocumented status of many or most is widely known by all in the community. Said one citizen: ''In every job I have ever had, I have always been asked to prove my citizenship/legal residency. Can you tell me why the hundreds of day laborers that converge each day at the West Los Angeles site three blocks from my apartment do not have to do the same? The INS deliberately ignores this blatant, daily lawbreaking.''
Refusal of the INS to cooperate with local law enforcement agencies is another source of bitterness. I spent six months in 1996 on a book tour for my immigration book published by W.W. Norton & Company. On nearly every call-in radio show, a local policeman, sheriff's deputy or highway patrol would call and tell me a story about apprehending a van-load or a worksite-full of illegal aliens, calling INS and then being told to release them if they hadn't committed a major felony. The problem seemed especially pronounced in states like Pennsylvania not known for high illegal alien traffic.
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Increasingly, local law enforcement won't even bother paying attention to the illegality of residents or call the INS because of years of neglect by that agency. This breeds even more contempt among the citizenry for the idea that they live in a society of laws. A TV photographer in Georgia told me that he has gone on enough INS operations that he believes he can accurately spot cars filled with illegal aliens rather than legal foreign workers. He said, ''I once followed a conversion van that was an obvious load of illegal aliens. I followed the van for 65 miles and called at least five law enforcement agencies, but not one would respond. I passed three patrol cars along the Interstate and called their dispatcher who would not dispatch them. I have tried to report the same at other times and had the same reaction.''
REBUFFED CITIZEN ASSISTANCE
When citizens first encounter the widespread breaking of immigration laws in their community, they tend to assume that the federal government has an agency that will want to know. But the INS seems to make no effort to enlist the help of the citizenry in its duties. A Minnesota citizen commented to me: ''Did you know there is no number in the phone book for reporting lawbreaking to the INS? All the listed numbers are for 'benefits.' None of them are for law enforcement.'' A North Carolina citizen said every time he calls the INS main phone number, he gets a recording. He has yet to find a way to talk to even an operator.
Not surprisingly, many citizens don't even try to get help; they just assume that nothing will happen. ''Illegal aliens have taken over our neighborhood,'' said a resident near downtown Washington DC. ''We know these people are illegal. It is obvious. They have turned our area into a drug war zone and taken over. We've lost everything, and nobody does anything.'' But she admitted that she had never even thought of calling the INS for help.
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Citizens and local law enforcement agencies all over the country would help the INS to identify the immigration lawbreakers if they were only given a chance and a little encouragement. Instead, citizens are either rebuffed or told by sympathetic INS officers that the ''orders from above'' won't allow them to enforce the law. From Las Vegas, Raleigh, Prescott, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and many points in between, we were told by citizens that INS agents had told them variously: ''Not permitted to bother any alien at their domicile, any recreation play ground or place of worship.'' ''Not permitted to make vehicle stops when reasonably sure that the occupants might be illegal aliens, based on many years of experience and training.'' ''No illegal alien discovered at highly publicized companies has been terminated, deported nor the firm fined because the INS is working on other arrangements.''
An Arizona woman living 35 miles from the Mexican border told me she witnesses,
''. . . [daily] hordes of illegal aliens heading north, both in vehicles and on foot, sometimes in groups of more than a hundred. The border Patrol agents in the field, at least for the most part, are doing the best they can. The problem lies with our governmental hierarchy that won't let them do their job because of policies fueled by payoffs from businesses that want the cheap labor. The border Patrol ''grunts'' out here are many times told to ''not see'' groups of illegals, which as a result, continue unhindered into the land of milk and honey to take jobs from American citizens.
''The message we are sending into Mexico is insanely contradictory; on the one hand we put an armed force on the border to stop anyone from illegally entering the country and on the other hand, we have hundreds of businesses actively recruiting these same people. I spoke only last week to a friend who does business in Mexico who told me he sees representatives from American companies openly recruiting.''
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One exasperated citizen remarked after being repeatedly told that his local INS office would not be levying fines or deporting apprehended illegal aliens, ''It appears that the local INS has metamorphosed from an agency enforcing U.S. borders or employment related immigration laws into an illegal-immigrant service agency. Clearly, the local INS is deeply involved in wide-scale harboring of illegal aliens.''
THE VIEW FROM INSIDE THE INS
The citizens' words about the INS in general were often very harsh, perhaps unfairly so. But we do not overstate by saying that the INS has become a truly reviled agency among citizens seeking a sense of order in their communities.
To better understand why the INS leaves these citizens feeling like they live outside the reach of the rule of law, we solicited the views of people inside the INS. Our open request resulted in our receiving comments from more than two dozen INS officials and people who have retired both from on-the-ground jobs and from high INS echelons. As with the citizens we have quoted, we will do our best to help you talk directly with any of these human resources. The experience of talking with so many INS officials and citizens in impacted communities has been enlightening and sobering and one we recommend to the committee. We encourage the committee regularly to give a ready ear to both constituencies.
The description of the work of the INS by the INS agents and officials is barely less harsh than that of the citizens who live daily with the results of the INS non-enforcement policies. The overwhelming message that we draw from our interviews with INS people (and with most citizens who have had direct contact with INS agents) is that the INS is filled substantially with dedicated public servants who not only are willing to enforce our nation's immigration laws but are exceedingly disconcerted and disillusioned by their lack of authorization to do so.
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Here are some of the comments from our INS sources:
''Current regional and headquarters politically motivated policies prohibit us from enforcing immigration law in the interior for fear of offending a group or generating negative media attention. This includes joint operations with local law enforcement, the ability to work leads and tips without completing and forwarding a detailed 'operation plan' through a maze-like chain of management to pick apart and review.''
An agent who is popular in his community for aggressive apprehensions of illegal immigrants reports that when his numbers get too high, he is sent away for a few weeks to another city outside his region to supposedly help with office work there.
Recently in the Southeast, INS agents checked 20 suspects while looking for a fugitive illegal alien felon. They discovered that only two of them were legal residents. But they let all 18 illegal aliens go because their orders were that they didn't have the resources to detain them.
''We need the ability to immediately be able to respond to citizen complaints and take action on day laborers, without fear of media attention or criticism, and accomplish these things at our own district level, without headquarters interference, backpedaling or second-guessing.''
Another source comments, ''Twenty or thirty years ago, responding to local calls was a priority.''
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC ''Local law enforcement agencies are disgusted with us and don't even bother calling any more since they know we won't or can't respond,'' says another.
An experienced INS officer says: ''We need an employer sanctions program backwithout a maze of 'operational plans' before entering a business, notifying businesses before we arrive, more warrants served on scofflaw businesses and serious response to citizen complaints.''
Finally, a source tells us, ''The enforcement people in INS would really like to start doing our jobs like we did before we were castrated by the policies of the last decade.''
Although many of our INS sources did not know each other, their descriptions of what is wrong with the system were remarkably similar. And their suggestions for how to turn around the agency were also similar. I offer you my distillation of the principles the INS officials stated to give you some benchmarks to test on your own. We encourage this committee to probe the wisdom in the ranks of the retired and agents on the beat and see if you find the same thing.
PRINCIPLES FOR TURNING THE TIDE ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
I believe that if you seriously probe to find the views of the rank and file in the INS and of retired INS officers, you will discover them suggesting a set of principles very much like the following ones that emerged from our interviews. Some of these require congressional participation and are flagged by a notation at the end of the item.
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1. Nothing will turn the tide on illegal immigration without the reinstatement of interior enforcement. Over the last decade, interior enforcement has been systematically dismantled until virtually all that is left is the deportation of people who commit felonies other than breaking immigration laws. In neighborhoods all over America, citizens are seething because they can so easily see this dismantling. ''Interior enforcement'' means detecting, detaining and deporting illegal aliens from America's communities in all regions, not just along the borders. ''Any alien that makes it in now is almost guaranteed a life without interruption by INS or the Border Patrol.''
2. Putting more people on the border won't do much good unless people in other countries think they could be sent back if they succeed in getting past the Border Patrol. ''Throwing more agents at the border won't stop the flow without interior enforcement.'' Even people whose primary career focus has been the border said the best immediate help for controlling the border would be beefing up interior enforcement. It is the lack of interior enforcement that entices so many to risk their lives to illegally enter the country across deserts, in unsafe trucks and train cars, and welded inside ship cargo units.
3. Interior enforcement relies on creating credible fear among all illegal aliens that they could get caught and, if caught, could be deported. Swift, firm enforcement on just a few can cause many to decide to return home if the enforcement appears possible on every kind of illegal alien. Today, only illegal aliens who break other laws have any significant fear. One officer said: ''You have to reduce the comfort level of being an illegal immigrant. Right now, you can bring your family here and live like Americans. We have to make it so they are always looking over their shoulder.'' The INS needs more money to ensure swift processing and deportation for a credible number of illegal aliens out of each community. When the illegal aliens in those communities see people disappear and not come back, they will begin to think seriously about whether they want to live with that kind of uncertainty. This requires resources to ensure that a certain random percentage of illegal aliens who are apprehended will be personally escorted through every stage of the process until they are out of the country.
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CONGRESSIONAL ACTION NEEDED: Ensure sufficient funding.
4. For the most part, new laws are not needed to solve the problem. ''There has been too much reinventing of the wheel instead of concentrating on putting the resources behind laws already in place.'' Let the agents use the tools they had in the 1980s, and especially in the 1950s and 1960s, and they can make an incredible dent in the millions of illegal alien population. Most of the tools still exist under law but have been taken away by administrative decision.
5. Invest in an identification system that will allow every agent to get prints on all apprehended aliens and to check the prints before considering letting them loose with a ticket to appear in court later. Since there isn't enough jail space to detain every illegal alien until a hearing date, it is imperative that agents be able to jail the ones who are repeat offenders and who have a record of having failed to show up at a previous hearing. Reliance on the FBI print system currently forces agents to wait a couple of weeks for prints to be processed. Agents need something that will report back in an hour or two. The INS has such a system in limited use primarily on the border but it already has exceeded capacity. The INS needs to determine the fastest, most efficient way to resolve this problem and move forward with the extra funding provided by Congress.
CONGRESSIONAL ACTION NEEDED: Request proposals and sufficiently fund a system once satisfied.
6. Encourage the apprehension and finger-printing of every possible illegal alien, even if there aren't enough resources to deport most of them. This not only will be disruptive to their communitiesespecially if people are randomly pulled from the pool to go through the swift deportation systembut it will kick in the 10-year exclusion rule on them, preventing them from benefiting from any legal access to the United States. Widely publicizing this can start to act as a real deterrent.
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CONGRESSIONAL ACTION NEEDED: Congress must resist constantly violating its own laws by giving illegal aliens loopholes around the 10-year exclusion rule.
7. Make sure that aliens who enter illegally after being deported are treated as felons as the law allows, earning them guaranteed jail time. Most illegal aliens break immigration laws to make money. They can't make money in jail. A better fingerprint system will begin finding these ''repeaters'' in large quantities. It won't take long for the word to get out that ''repeating'' bears risk of serious inconvenience to the business plan.
8. The INS must try for the first time to enforce the 1986 employer sanctions law. Everybody agrees that pressures from those who economically benefit from trafficking in illegal workers has kept the INS from ever seriously attempting to carry out the law. Disrupt the economic gain from illegal immigration and there won't be much reason to break the law. A relentless presence at street-hiring sites is bound to disburse the illegal aliens and leave the jobs for those at the sites who have a legal right to be here.
9. Not much will happen unless the top echelon and middle management of INS believe in enforcing immigration laws. ''The reason for the problems is that the INS force has been handcuffed by its leaders.'' The overwhelming opinion among the rank and file is that the leadership of the INS has been filled with people who favor illegal immigration or who are politically afraid of those groups in American society who gain money and power off illegal immigration. The mission of the INS has been corrupted and cannot be restored to provide service to the American people again unless there is a wholesale change in the top echelons of the agency. As in other parts of the Justice Department, people should not be allowed to hold jobs if they believe they can pick and choose which laws to enforce.
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10. Congress must stop making the INS job impossible by enticing millions more illegal aliens through amnesties and incremental amnesties. ''The amnesty programs have devastated our enforcement efforts.'' The various kinds of amnesties approved in 1997, 1998 and 2000in addition to the memory of the giant one in 1986have sent a message to the rest of the world that the Border Patrol and INS agents are merely for show, that the United States actually wants people to come here illegally. ''I have talked to many illegal migrants coming back after deportation or voluntary departure. They will tell you that they are saving all their papers that show they have been here and are waiting for the next amnesty program.''
CONGRESSIONAL ACTION NEEDED: Members of Congress need to publicly take the no-amnesty pledge to send a signal to the rest of the world.
11. Congress should provide the funding so that the INS can pledge 100% service to those communities that are calling for help in removing illegal immigrants. Quick Response Teams (QRTs) have been tried but not properly funded. Their presence will inspire more local authorities to identify illegal aliens. The first INS interview can often be conducted over the phone. If the INS agent determines probability, the alien will stay in local custody for no more than a few days until QRT arrives. ''We have a lot of older experienced retired agents who can return to work on a one-year contract to work the cities that have large numbers of known illegal migrants. This approach will give a wakeup call that illegal migration will have consequences.'' Never again should a local law enforcement agency be told to release a suspected illegal immigrant into the public.
CONGRESSIONAL ACTION NEEDED: Sufficient funding for a credible QRT effort, with a pledge to expand funding as long as Americans in local communities still are reporting INS abandonment.
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The chairman of the Commission on Immigration Reform, the late Barbara Jordan, testified before this committee on Feb. 24, 1995. She said:
''Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave.''
This committee's oversight task is an incredibly important and challenging one because the INS currently is making virtually no effort to ensure that ''those who should not be here are required to leave.''
And because of that lack of interior enforcement, our amplified efforts on the border to ensure that ''those who should be kept out, are kept out'' are failing. Around the world, the word is out: if you can succeed in evading the U.S. Border Patrol on your way in, and if you do not commit an aggravated felony once you travel a few miles into this country, you have virtually no chance of ever being forced to leave. With that kind of incentive, would-be illegal aliens around the world will do almost anythingincluding risking dying in the desertto outmaneuver our Border Patrol.
The general spirit of lawlessness in which so many communities find themselves tends to create a cycle of behavior that only moves the communities further toward anarchy. A leader of one group of citizens lamented that quiet homeowners after repeated frustration with the INS turned to the streets in public demonstrations outside their general experience: ''Citizens are forced to the streets to protest their own government because of its constructive abandonment of its duties to its citizens. Citizens are arrested while illegal aliens go about their business freely and act contrary to the law, with impunity.''
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On the border, citizens have drawn national news coverage for taking up arms and taking the law into their own hands as they defend their property from an invasion of sometimes a hundred illegal immigrants a day. These developments presage darker impulses that could be stirred. The abandonment of the enforcement of the law by the INS fans the embers of vigilantism that seem never to be fully extinguished in the spirits of human beings seeking a society of order over disorder.
If this committee does not find a way to help the INS reinstitute credible interior enforcement, the amount of money provided in the INS budget is of no particular consequenceexcept for the amount of the taxpayers' dollars that are being wasted.
Mr. GEKAS. The Chair will yield itself 5 minutes for a round of questioning of the witnesses and will accord the same privilege to all the Members of the Committee, of course.
Mr. Beck, the bulk of your testimony is visited upon either lax or nonexistent law enforcement on many of the areas in which you have commented. Do you find some benefit from the proposals, including some from Members of this Committee and now frompossibly from the administration, for a bifurcation of the INS so that law enforcement will, in effect, carry its own weight and look to its own business separate and apart from the naturalization and immigration policies on the other side?
Mr. BECK. That is a little bit beyond our full expertise, but I will say this, that nearly universally among the citizens and among the INS people that we talked to that was received in great favor, the idea of having a true enforcement agency and a true benefits agency.
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Mr. GEKAS. Ms. Philbin, I noted in your testimony that you have placed some importance, of course, on the unaccompanied minors' situation, and so did the Bishop touch on that. I have a joint question. Either of you could feel free to answer it. Are we satisfied as we sit here that all is being done that is possible to be done to provide guardians ad litem or other types of legal and personal representation for minors in these situations?
Ms. Philbin first.
Ms. PHILBIN. Mr. Chairman, the Department is looking at that issue so I do not have a position on whether we are doing enough in the guardian ad litem area, but I can say that what EOIR has done as an agency has taken great strides in being sensitive to the issue of juveniles. We haveour judges have been trained, and they provide a different hearing setting for juveniles, particularly in Phoenix. We have a program in Phoenix with one of our immigration judges that creates a setting for our juveniles. We worked with the advocacy groups and the INS to try to make the process as fair and as nonadversarial as possible, given the circumstances of immigration court proceedings. So we are sensitive to the issue, and we look to other ways to improve it.
Mr. GEKAS. Bishop, do you have any comment?
Bishop WENSKI. Right now, about 30 percent of the children, the unaccompanied minors, are being held in juvenile correction centers; and this is of great concern because these children are not delinquents in the sense for the various.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GEKAS. But assuming they are not being inhumanely treated, are they given legal representation? That is my question.
Bishop WENSKI. When they are in the juvenile correction centers, sometimes that makes it harder for them to get the access to counsel.
Mr. GEKAS. Why is that?
Bishop WENSKI. Because there could be more easily access to counsel if they were in the foster care situation where the foster care could take them to the attorney rather than having an immigration attorney try to chase them down through the juvenile detention centers.
Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Rooney, does that jibe with your feel about the juveniles and guardians ad litem?
Mr. ROONEY. Mr. Chairman, to say that we were doing all we could for juveniles, obviously, would not be fair.
We have, as I think the Bishop mentioned in his testimony, about 600 juveniles in our detention facilities. We are very sensitive to making our facilities available to those who wish to represent the juveniles. We are doing as much as we can to implement our new standards for our detention centers in making it possible for pro bono and other representatives to come in and talk to and work with the juveniles. We would be concerned about the guardian ad litem situation that not only would the rights of the children be represented but also the rights of their parents, who may or may not be in this country.
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But yes, weclearly, if the juvenile was not in a facility, we would have more ready access to counsel, but we try to make it available to the juveniles in our facility.
Mr. GEKAS. I take it, Mr. Beck, that you do not favor extension of 245(i).
Mr. BECK. It is a device that is meant to deal with a certain humanitarian concern about families that was much better dealt with by the Jordan Commission and what this Committee recommended in 1996. 245 creates loopholes around rules that send the word to the rest of the world that we do not believe in the laws that we have.
Mr. GEKAS. The time of the Chairman has now expired.
We yield to the lady from Texas for a round of questioning for 5 minutes.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman; and I do thank you for holding this hearing.
Mr. Chairman, let me ask a parliamentary inquiry. I have a number of questions. I would like to have a second round.
Mr. GEKAS. I am not sure about the second round, so why don't you begin with the first?
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Well, I won't be able to complete my questions in one round. I hope you will consider a second round.
Mr. GEKAS. We will ask the panel right now if they are willing, and I hope they are, to answer questions submitted in writing following this hearing.
Mr. ROONEY. Yes.
Ms. PHILBIN. Yes.
Bishop WENSKI. Yes.
Mr. BECK. Yes.
Mr. GEKAS. The lady may proceed.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I will be making comments about this hearing through an opening statement and may have some questions, and I will not submit any in writing because I believe they should be in the public hearing. In any event, I will look to speak to you individually in my offices if we have do not have a second round.
Let me thank the Committee for this hearing, particularly since it has moved to the authorizing Committee. Previously, I believe these proceedings have been before the Commerce, Justice and State, so I am very gratified for that.
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I also want to acknowledge the long-standing work of Kevin Rooney and his leadership as the Acting Commissioner. I thank him very much for his presence here today, along with the other witnesses.
It is noted that President Bush has included in his fiscal year 2002 budget $100 million to implement the first installment of the President's 5 year, $500 million initiative to process all applications within 6 months and provide quality service. However, I must say that the $20 million reserved to go into premium processing fees has not yet been implemented.
I am equally concerned that there is nothing in the President's budget to decrease the current backlog. That is what is sorely needed. The long lines, the long waits, the long family separations all need to be addressed and fixed by this President and the incoming INS Commissioner after his confirmation.
I have only had the honor and privilege of being the Ranking Member as a first term and now a second term; and throughout my tenure I have worked steadfastly for family reunifications, treating and recognizing that this Nationtreating immigrants with dignity and recognizing that this Nation is a country of laws but it is also a country of immigrants.
I am also aware than within the INS budget there is an unusual, huge amount of money for border enforcement and detention and removal. However, there needs to be, additionally, a reflection on civil and human rights training.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Of particular concern is the degree to which Border Patrol agents have been trained in civil rights and human rights matters. There continue to be reports of civil rights violations along the border, including reports of American citizens who might not look American being harassed by Border Patrol agents.
I have been a long-standing supporter of increasing the number of Border Patrol agents at the border, providing them with professional development training, ensuring that their compensation is at a very high level. I want them to be at a very high level of professionalism, and I thank them for their service. But along with providing them with the resources I also think it is important for them to have that kind of training. But I will also be looking for additional equipment that helps them do their work during nighttime hours.
The number of people being detained by the INS has tripled in the last 3 years, making INS detainees the fastest-growing population in the country. The INS detention budget is now over $1 billion. More than 22,000 persons are currently detained.
I have done a lot of work on unaccompanied alien children. I look forward to having hearings on this issue. I believe this is something that all of us can realize that there should be improvement.
Most of the lawyers that have the responsibility of representing these children indicate that the facilities are harsh and that we should look to other alternatives. Approximately 30 percent are still regularly detained in country or municipal juvenile correction centers, despite the fact that many of these minors have not committed any crime.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would also like to have the INS consider alternatives to detention as well; and I believe, Mr. Chairman, we need to look to fixing what happened in 1996. We need to repeal the most punitive aspects of the 1996 immigration law. We need to treat refugees better. Because, obviously, many of them look to this Nation for a sense of refuge, as the word indicates, and a sense of freedom.
I would like the entire statement to be submitted into the record, and I have some questions at this time.
Mr. GEKAS. Without objection, the statement will be admitted into the record.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Jackson Lee follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE SHEILA JACKSON LEE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Thank you Mr. Chairman. It is gratifying to have this oversight hearing on the INS budget and its mission. For the past few years, the authorization oversight for the Justice Department and the INS has been handled by the Commerce, Justice, State appropriations Subcommittee, so it is glad to have these hearings back where they belong, in the House Judiciary Committee.
Several weeks ago, I met with Kevin Rooney, the Acting Commissioner for the INS, who is with us today, and we discussed the INS budget, and immigration policy overall. He informed me then that President Bush had included in his FY 2002 budget, $100 million to implement the first installment of the President's five year, $500 Million initiative to process all applications within six months and provide quality service. However, I must say I am troubled that the $20 Million reserved to go into premium processing fees has not yet been implemented, and am equally concerned that there is nothing in the President's budget to decrease the current backlog. That is what is sorely needed. The long lines, the long waits, the long family separations . . . all need to be addressed and fixed by this President, and the incoming new INS Commissioner after his confirmation.
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I am also aware that within the INS budget there is the usual huge amount of money for Border Enforcement and detention and removal. However there needs to be Civil and human rights training. Of particular concern is the degree to which border patrol agents have been trained in civil rights and human rights matters.
There continue to be reports of civil rights violations along the border, including reports of American citizens who might not look ''American'' being harassed by border patrol agents. The Subcommittee should ensure that funding for border enforcement include training in civil rights and human rights matters for Border Patrol officers.
The number of people being detained by the INS has tripled in the past three years, making INS detainees the fastest growing population in the country. The INS detention budget is now over $1 billion a year. More than 22,000 persons are currently detained by the INS, and the number is growing. However, along with detention, the INS absolutely needs to be concerned about the growing issue that many, many Members are concerned about, and that is Unaccompanied Alien Children: We are concerned about the increasing numbers of unaccompanied minors being held in INS detention. Unaccompanied minors should be placed as much as possible with family members, in foster care, or in privately run shelter-care facilities. Yet approximately 30% are still regularly detained in county or municipal juvenile correction centers, despite the fact that many of these minors have not committed any crime, are not considered a flight risk, and do not present disciplinary problems. Detention in these jails, greatly impairs the minor's access to counsel, and the inherently harsher conditions of confinement can result in the minor being demoralized.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also, I would really like the INS to consider Alternatives to detention. INS needs to actively engage in the search for alternatives to detention which are more cost-effective and more humane rather than requesting over 1600 beds. We need to make clear to the INS its support for the small amount of funding that would be necessary to operate alternative programs. Such funding should be available. Those who are not threats to the public safety and not flight risks should be released from detention, and the people who will be granted T and U visas who are victims of trafficking and are battered immigrant women should not be detained. Viable alternatives to detention for deserving individuals could save millions of dollars in detention costs.
INS already has tremendous backlogs; how is it going to be able to manage and respond to its new and changing workload? Is President Bush's call for $500 million to be dedicated to reducing the backlog in immigration benefits over the next five years enough to meet the stated goal of reducing waiting times for all immigration benefits to six months?
Also Mr. Chairman, we need to repeal the most punitive aspects of the 1996 immigration law, while restoring an overall sense of fairness and equity to our system of immigration and naturalization. I hope the Subcommittee will act to correct some of the harshness of the '96 law.
The President did not submit much information concerning the plight of refugees. There is concern that in recent years there has been a decrease in the U.S. Government's efforts to protect refugees as compared with the record increases in the number of refugees and internally displaced people throughout the world. There currently are approximately 14 million refugees and internally displaced persons throughout the world with Africa being the world's largest refugee-producing continent. We believe that funding for refugee resettlement in FY 2002 should be sufficient to resettle 100,000 refugees into the United States, as well as providing torture victim and trafficking victim assistance. We also need to pay particular attention to resettling especially vulnerable populations of refugees, such as unaccompanied refugee children, women and refugees from Africa. Thank you Mr. Chairman and I hope these issues can be considered.
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Mr. GEKAS. Out of deference to the Ranking Member, who is entitled to an opening statement, we will begin the time clock now on the questions that you are posed to render, thus allowing your statement to be exactly that.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to raise a question regarding the budget and the focus that I think is very important.
Commissioner Rooney, we have noted the continuous backlog. In fact, one of the difficulties in meeting the April 30 deadline on 245(i) was not only the late regulatory process where the regs came out I think at the end of March but also, obviously, the huge push and then the backlog of staffing in terms of taking the applications. But in light of the extraordinary new missions that the INS will have in this and future years, including new V and K visas and new trafficking visas, the designation of E-1 Salvador for TPS, the extension of TPS for Honduras, Nicaragua and the increased number H-1 B visas, why did the administration fail to ask for $100 million in new money for backlog reduction and infrastructure improvements that the President and Attorney General promised?
Mr. ROONEY. Ms. Jackson Lee, the $100 million which I think you have outlined in your remarks, the new money, the money will be there. There is $45 million in new money, $35 million in money that is in the base, and then $20 million that we would realize from the premium processing fee, which we expect, frankly, to be quite successful.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. JACKSON LEE. You still do not getI still think you are sort of shortchanging or having a shortfall. Are you thinking you will be able to meet the requirement of the backlog that is so egregious with that amount of money and wouldn't need additional funding?
Mr. ROONEY. The 5-year plan to do that is to get it down to the 6-month processing time, and we are getting there.
I know there are still some real horror stories. But we have cut some of the processing times downfor naturalization processing, the average time was 28 months just 2 years ago, and now it is down to 6 to 9 months. So we believe it is going to take time but the 5-year plan at $100 million a year we believe is going to be able to allow us to accomplish that. I think probably we would not be able to do more than that for the money we are asking.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Tell me what is the status of the agency with respect to improving its technology database?
Additionally, I would like to secure your commitment to work with me. I am concernedI think both of us discussed the very tragic incident regarding a Border Patrol agent at night. I would hope that some of the funds could be utilized for night equipment to protect them, because they do do a lot of work at night. Whether they have enough of that kind of equipment, so I would be interested in that.
But I would like to know, since we worked very hard on increasing funding in previous years to upgrade your technology, where are you in that?
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Mr. ROONEY. One of the things we have done, we took a lot of criticism, the agency did, from the GAO for not having an effective plan for data systems; and in many instances, as the money came in over the recent past few years, some of the programs actually developed applications that would be supportive of their individual programs and not a total picture from the agency perspective. We are committedin fact, we have actually been recognized for our planning in this areanow to come up with an enterprise architecture laying out what our data systems plans are.
And then I have already participated, in the short time I have been here, in two high-level boards where the Commissioner and the Executive Associate Commissioners of the agency reviewing all data systems' plans to get funding, commentary and results anticipated before any of the projects are approved. It seems to me there is a strong commitment there, and we certainly would work with you.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I think that is very important.
Let me offer another opportunity for us to work together. I notice there are requests for detention removal initiatives. I am very interested in the accommodations for children, the unaccompanied children, opportunities for parent and child to be together, whether or not there were any counseling services. I think that is extremely important. We shouldn't just have dollars for beds and detentions, bricks and mortar. We need to have recognition that these are children whose circumstances may be not of their own choosing at this point in time and that they do have the opportunity if they are in this country to access legalization. I think that is extremely important.
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I do have some additional questions in particular toand I thank you, Mr. Rooney, very much and thank the other witnesses for their testimony.
I do have some questions now for Mr. Beck, and I do appreciate the fact that we have a first amendment and a right to associate and have the views that we particularly think are important, but I would like to ask you.
Mr. GEKAS. The lady is yielded an additional one and a half minutes.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the Chairman very much.
You described the greatest outrage to American citizens is the open congregating of illegal workers on their community streets. You cite as evidence day laborers who seek work on the street in West Los Angeles. You argue that most of these workers are illegal immigrants. Do you base this conclusion on the color of their skin? Do you reach this conclusion based or their accent? How do you make this determination?
Frankly, I want to acknowledge the INS officers in Houston, Texas, that were just noted on the front page of the Houston Chronicle as having broken a very large smuggling ring. I think our INS agents are working, but I think they also have a sense of balance in this country that we are a country of immigrants and certainly, unless we do a massive overhaul of our policies, that this is a country that welcomes those that come legally and attempts to provide access to legalization for those who may be here and be in the position of being reunited with their families.
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How are you making those comments in your testimony?
Mr. BECK. I believe the comments in my testimony were quoting the citizens in terms of their characterization.
One of things that happens in communities is that people do see a large number of people who are obviously from other countries speaking other languages, and there is a real mixing in terms of who is legal, who is not legal, and there is no question that people make errors in terms of believing that more people are illegal than are.
However, based on talking to the INS agents and from the literature on this, there is not reasonable doubt that in all cases of street hiring sites there are illegal aliens present and often a majority. But certainly it would not be a matter of being a color of skin or where somebody is from. We would reject that.
And I would just, if I could, comment I think we are a Nation of immigrants and a Nation of laws, and we would want to welcome those who the public, the citizens through their representatives, decide should come, but I do not think we should give any welcome to people who come illegally. By welcoming, we invite millions more to come.
Mr. GEKAS. The time of the lady has expired.
We yield to the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith, for 5 minutes.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Commissioner Rooney, in your prepared remarks today you have mentioned that the INS has removed 362,000 illegal aliens in the last 2 years, 126,000 of whom were criminals. I am just wondering how many individuals were removed from the interior who were not criminals.
Mr. ROONEY. I don't have that breakout, Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. Let my furnish a possible answer, which is not very many. The previous administration I think basically decided to ignore interior enforcement and the result was we had this flashing neon welcome sign to people wanting to come into the country illegally that simply said, you get past the border, you are home free. You have passed go, and you are going to get a reward. I hope the new administration, yourself included, is committed to interior enforcement. Are you?
Mr. ROONEY. Yes, absolutely Mr. Smith. As I indicated in my testimony, we are really making a lot of effort in that regard. We well recognize the fact that what is happening now is as we have sealed off some of the entries at the border, people are coming into the interior of the country, and we are at the moment focusing on quality cases. We are talking about there where they are smugglingas a matter of fact, the case that Ms. Jackson Lee mentioned in Houston where the 21 defendants pleaded guilty.
Mr. SMITH. But, on the whole, you are going to do a better job of interior enforcement than the previous administration.
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Mr. ROONEY. Absolutely.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Beck, you made it clear in your testimony what you think about the lack of enforcement of removing illegal immigrants from the interior. I was going to ask you about another subject. This goes to what you think the impact of our immigration policy is on American workers and recent legal immigrants themselves.
Mr. BECK. As I said at the beginning, our primary focus is to carry out unfinished recommendations to the Jordan Commission which made it very clear that our legal immigration numbers are so high that they cause economic injustice in the country. They harm the most vulnerable American workers. Illegal immigration is doubly or triply so partly because of the makeup of illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime. Legal immigration, although the immigrants are doing nothing wrong, the numbers can be so high that they do depress wages for the most vulnerable people in this country; and certainly we have seen a mass of articles and studies in recent months about what has happened to the people on the bottom of the ladder.
Mr. SMITH. I think we have both seen some of the same studies. I think there were three or four, all by reputable, credible organizations, where the estimate was anywhere from $1,200 to $2,400 that blue collar workers were sacrificing in wages because of unfair competition with other folks who are in the country.
Mr. BECK. That is a better answer than mine.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Bishop Wenski, in your opening words today you said that you would prefer that not so many individuals be detained, particularly asylum seekers; and I was going to mention a figure to you to ask if you are aware of it. That is, a couple of years ago a study was made of these individuals who filed for asylum and were thought to have fraudulent claims; and before we changed the law we found out that of all the individuals that we directed to show up for subsequent hearings, in fact, only 6 percent did so; 94 percent never showed up for the hearings. Don't you think that if we did not detain these individuals we would have the same problem where individuals would not show up for their hearing and, therefore, we might as well not enforce the laws?
Bishop WENSKI. I think there is evidence that when there are board programs and release programs that you can have a significant number of people that do, in fact, show up for their hearings.
Mr. SMITH. As I say, when we tried it before, we changed the law. I am surprised 6 percent showed up, to tell you the truth, but anyway only 6 percent showed up.
Mr. Rooney, I am interested, as you are and as you said in your testimony, about increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and also retaining those who are already hired. What is the INS going to do to make sure we do not have such a high turnover rate? What can we do to attract more Border Patrol agents? And I compliment the administration in their budget for requesting almost 600 new Border Patrol agents themselves.
Mr. ROONEY. Thank you, Mr. Smith. We havefrom what my understanding is, there has been a poor history of attracting agents and meeting the turnover. A major effort was undertaken in the past year and a half, I guess principally a couple years, and we have trained 300 Border Patrol agents as recruitersnot full-time recruiters but to go outas a matter of fact, just out on the Mall here last week I met the principal one, a very impressive young manand they go around all over the country in their local areas recruiting Border Patrol agents. And we are actually in the position now where we anticipate no problem. It is a matter of getting the people into the classes and completing the 17-week program in time.
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Mr. SMITH. That is welcome news.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GEKAS. We thank the gentleman. We now turn to the gentleman fromis it Mr. Cannon or Mr. Issa first?
The gentleman from California is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. ISSA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will try to use less than the 5 minutes .
Bishop Wenski, my question to you, in your comments you mention making the 245(i) permanent. From a practical standpoint, would not that guarantee that anyone who came here with a visa could thenof any sort, including a tourist visacould then overstay and essentially bypass the immigration process and get permanent status or at least be in the country and stay in the country through the process?
Bishop WENSKI. No, not really. Because the benefit is when they have a remedy available. Not everybody that would come in on a tourist visa would have a remedy available to them.
Mr. ISSA. I didn't say they would never leave, but would not they effectively come in over the Canadian border for a day and say, I am here now and I would like to spend the next 2 years unincarcerated in the process of checking this out.
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Bishop WENSKI. I don't believe that would be the case.
Mr. ISSA. Isn't that what happens today, Bishop?
Bishop WENSKI. I would not be able to say on every case. But the benefit that this particular legislation provides is for peoplethat it benefits the American family members of aliens here because it allows them to keep their relative here and not having that relative having to return to their home country and maybe wait for several years before being reunited with their American citizen son or daughter or.
Mr. ISSA. Bishop, isn't it true that your organization has essentially always advocated open borders?
Bishop WENSKI. No.
Mr. ISSA. So you believe that we should enforce our boarders. We should have a right to refuse to take any or all that we choose to.
Bishop WENSKI. The church has always recognized the sovereignty of countries and the right of the country to enforce borders. But we say that enforcement should be done in a just way, a fair way and a humane way.
Mr. ISSA. In your comments, you said a generous way.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Bishop WENSKI. Why not a generous way, too? Because it benefits the immigrant but also the native American.
Mr. ISSA. Thank you.
Mr. Rooney, I think the remainder of my questions would go to you.
In my district in San Diego, Orange, Riverside County area, we have about 2,200 Border Patrol agents, about 100 INS agents. The Border Patrol was stripped of any and all ability to seek undocumented immigrants seeking work illegally or doing anything else and limited only to a few checkpoints at the border and the interior. Do you think that is a wise policy to have so much, if you will, on the line and nobody for those who get through?
Mr. ROONEY. The policy that the agency developed in the past few years of putting the agents on the line for the deterrent effect is working.
As to the numberI don't have the breakout as toand perhaps if somebody has that as to whether or not any of the agents are dropped back would be a different story. But the policy of keeping the agents on the line in San Diego and surrounding, the border area around there, and in El Paso and McAllen, Texas, and Arizona, et cetera, has actually had a significant effect on deterring entry and, as a result, a significant decrease in apprehensions which we take as being a positive number because ifbecause we are not apprehending them because they are not coming through.
Mr. ISSA. I appreciate that. But if there is already 9 million illegals here working and taking away jobs and bypassing the system, then I would not necessarily say there is any reason to lock up the corral anymore. The cattle have all left, so to speak.
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One otherand so I gather there is no change anticipated in bringing real enforcement against the employer or the undocumented who is working illegally.
Mr. ROONEY. No, as I said to Mr. Smith, Mr. Issa, interior enforcement is something that we expect very much to be emphasizing.
Mr. ISSA. I look forward to seeing that. I will tell you that in my district it is nonexistent.
I have one more question. Ever since the Border Patrol was enacted, you have had Border Patrol at the border; and then in my case, some 70 miles north of the border, both in San Diego County limits, on I-15 and on the 5, you have had secondary checkpoints. I would ask you a question. In light of the effort to no longer racial profile, in light of the rights of American citizens, don't you think that, although perhaps somewhat effective, that those border checkpoints are an unfair and unreasonable infringement on the rights of American citizens simply because they happen to live near a border?
Mr. ROONEY. No, I don't believe so. The checkpoints, which have been court tested as to their fairness, provide a very valuable check for us of people who have come in and then are routed along the major highway traveling north.
Mr. ISSA. Mr. Chairman, if I could have another 30 seconds.
Mr. GEKAS. The gentleman is accorded an additional one and a half minutes.
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Mr. ISSA. Would it surprise you to know that those checkpoints are apprehending less than seven people a day, on average?
Mr. ROONEY. Yes, it would.
Mr. ISSA. I think you will find that to be true; and, if it is not, please follow up with me because we got those by visiting the checkpoints and meeting with them.
I am here today to say those secondary checkpoints are mostly about feel good, and I don't think they are a reasonable balance. I don't think these people on the secondary checkpoints were put into service rooting out those people who bypass the primary checkpoint. You would have a far higher apprehension and less jobs available to those who circumvented the system.
Thank you. I forward to any written remarks you have.
Mr. ROONEY. Thank you. I will be glad to respond.
Mr. GEKAS. The Chair thanks the gentleman.
I will now yield 5 minutes to Mr. Cannon.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to thank the panel for being here today and sharing your thoughts with us; and Mr. Beck in particular, your statement from Barbara Jordan, which we can all agree with essentially, that we need to have a consonance between the rules of immigration and the reality.
Would you, Mr. Beck, describe your relationship with Dr. John Tanton, please.
Mr. BECK. Dr. Tanton is the publisher of The Social Contract, and I have served since about 1991. I have been listed as the Washington editor, which is an unpaid part-time correspondent.
Mr. CANNON. If you have any further relationship with Dr. Tanton, I would be happy to hear of it.
Mr. BECK. I first met Dr. Tanton in the 1970's when I was an environmental reporter for the Grand Rapids Press. He was one of the premiere environmental activists in Michigan, and I covered him several times during that decade.
During the 1980's, as a journalist covering immigration for various newspapers, he was one of the people I would encounter from time to time as a source.
In 1990, after being a Washington correspondent for the Booth newspapers, I decided to work full time researching and writing about immigration with books, magazine articles and whatnot and at that point met Dr. Tanton again and began to serve as the Washington editor for The Social Contract.
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Mr. CANNON. According to this filing which I have marked as exhibit one which we will make part of the record, your organization, NumbersUSA.com, also operates under the name U.S. Inc., and that is run by Dr. Tanton, is that correct?
[The material referred to follows:]
Mr. BECK. Numbers USA operates only under Numbers USA. We are a programmatically autonomous group project that operates under an umbrellait's a 501(c) organization in Michigan. U.S. Inc. is run by Dr. Tanton, and that organization has about 30, 32 nonprofit projectsrecycling, environmental, preservation, language projectsand it is set up to allow groups to not have to have their own auditors and legal systems. Instead, we are able to be an autonomous group that uses the U.S. Inc. auditing services.
Mr. CANNON. Are you aware that on April 17, 1998, Dr. Tanton wrote a letter that was sent to all FAIR members in Michigan that read, ''the time has come for the immigration reform unit to move into its next phase, defeating our opponents at the polls and electing our supporters in their stead. He is'referring to Abraham'not going to change. We need to usher our opponents out and seek colleagues who agree with us.''
Mr. BECK. When was that written?
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Mr. CANNON. April 17, 1998.
Mr. BECK. I am sure thatI have heard things like that. I don't remember that preciseI am not part of FAIR.
Mr. CANNON. We have an exhibit we will submit as number two. It was directed to FAIR members in Michigan and signed by John Tanton M.D., Founder. Does that ring a bell?
Mr. GEKAS. Does the gentleman wish to submit that for the record?
Mr. CANNON. I would.
Mr. GEKAS. Without objection.
[The material referred to follows:]
Mr. CANNON. Let me hand that to you so you can look at it as I ask the next question.
I'm sorry. Would you hand that to Mr. Beck?
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The question is, did that letter go to the members of FAIR. Are you aware of that?
Mr. BECK. I'm sorry, your question?
Mr. CANNON. Did that letter actually go to the membership of FAIR?
Mr. BECK. I'm sorry, I don't know, Congressman.
Mr. CANNON. Do you recognize the letter at all?
Mr. BECK. I don't think I have seen this.
Mr. CANNON. Is the relationship of Mr. Tanton to FAIR such that he could send a letter without your knowing it?
Mr. BECK. I am not a part of FAIR.
Mr. CANNON. Are you not a member of the board?
Mr. BECK. No I am not a member of the board of FAIR. I am not connected to FAIR in any way. Dr. Tanton is on the board of FAOR.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANNON. During 1999 or 2000, any time previous, did Dr. Tanton or anyone associated with the organization FAIR discuss with you their desire to see Senator Abraham defeated for reelection or efforts they might undertake to further that goal?
Mr. BECK. Dr. Tanton 's participation was major public record. It was written repeatedly throughout the year 2000.
Mr. CANNON. Did he talk to you about using the organization FAIR to help promote that idea?
Mr. BECK. No, I never heard anything like that. As I say, I am not part of FAIR, so I would not know.
Mr. CANNON. But you have discussions with Dr. Tanton. The question is, did he ever talk to you about using the organization FAIR to do that?
Mr. BECK. No. Dr. Tanton is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, but I can answer your questions from my standpoint.
Mr. CANNON. Right. I have for the record a letter marked three which I would like to submit, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GEKAS. Without objection.
[The material referred to follows:]
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Mr. CANNON. You wrote a fund-raising letter for a Political Action Committee, Michigan immigration PAC. And the sole purpose of Michigan immigration PAC was, according to the website, to defeat Senator Abraham, is that correct?
Mr. BECK. Yes, yes. Just to make clear, I did that as a private citizen. It had nothing to do with Numbers USA.
Mr. CANNON. Is it fair to say that you and Dr. Tanton and others associated with you wanted to defeat Senator Abraham?
Mr. BECK. As a private citizen, yes.
Mr. GEKAS. The gentleman is yielded an additional one and a half minutes.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You then were also coordinating advertisements in Michigan that mentioned Senator Abraham by name. Those ads also mentioned H-1 B visas. Those ads were run by nonprofit groups called the Coalition for the Future American Worker and Americans for Better Immigration, is that correct?
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Mr. BECK. That is right.
Mr. CANNON. And the purpose of those ads was to hurt Senator Abraham's chances for reelection.
Mr. BECK. No, the purpose of the ads was to try to block the doubling of H-1 B visas as.
Mr. CANNON. Pardon me, is that really, truly the purpose? When it passed 95 to 1 in the Senate and by a voice vote in the House, was it really your purpose to attack H-1 B visas or was it to attack Senator Abraham?
Mr. BECK. We were fighting H-1 B visa increases. All the organizations have been on record for a long time.
Mr. CANNON. You spent $2 million against Senator Abraham and virtuallyactually, nothing until about a week before Senator Abraham referred your organization to the IRS. You are telling me this was about H-1 B visas when it was $2 million spent by the associated groups in Michigan against Senator Abraham.
Mr. BECK. Senator Abraham never referred us to the IRS. I don't know where the numbers on the dollars are coming from, but we advertised all year, and we advertised throughout the country. We did not advertise just in Michigan. We advertised in many districts.
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Mr. CANNON. How much did you spend in those other districts?
Mr. BECK. I am not at liberty to say.
Mr. CANNON. Not at liberty, or you don't know?
Mr. BECK. I don't know at this moment, but if I went back to lookbut I am not at liberty to say how much we spent. But we could certainly talk someI could find information in terms of how much time we spent in many districts. We advertised in many districts, asking the voters to exercise their rights as citizens to respond in terms of what they thought about the H-1 B doubling.
Mr. CANNON. Did you coordinate your advertising in any way with FAIR?
Mr. BECK. The Coalition for the Future American Worker included about 20 organizations, and FAIR was one of the members.
Mr. CANNON. So did you coordinate with FAIR? They knew what you were doing with the Coalition.
Mr. BECK. FAIRmembers of the Coalition were a part of that.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANNON. And you had discussions with people who were directing FAIR? They understood what you were doing?
Mr. BECK. Yes.
Mr. GEKAS. The time is up.
Mr. CANNON. I recognize my time has expired.
Mr. Chairman, thank you. I yield back.
May I ask to submit questions in writing?
Mr. GEKAS. Absolutely. I will repeat that.
Mr. BECK. I will be happy to talk further.
Mr. GEKAS. And each of the members of the panel have agreed, at least by a nod of the head, which would be reflected in the record, that they are willing to answer written interrogatories.
With that, we will thank the panel.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, may I have a parliamentary inquiry, please, so I can be well aware and well informed of the rules of this Committee? Are there Judiciary Committee rules from the full Committee or are these Subcommittee rules limiting Members in important issues dealing with important legislative initiatives to one round of questioning? If Members would like to have another round of questioning, Mr. Chairman, I don't know why we are on some kind of clock that we can not have an additional round.
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Mr. GEKAS. Of the decision as to whether there will be a second round, that is in the discretion of the Chair; and I have already informed Members on both sides that we will restrict it to the first round that we had. Knowing full well that this is a complex set of issues, we could be here all day with third and fourth and sixth rounds, and we would never, never really accomplish all of the questions that the lady from Texas might have or cumulatively the Committee might have.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. If the gentleman would be so kind as to yield, I would never putI don't think any Member would put the Committee through that. We all recognize the constraints of the witnesses' time and ours, but certainly a second roundI know Mr. Cannon, and I am certainly not speaking for him. He said he would put his questions in the record. But he had a line of questions. I have a line of questions for a second round. These are important issues to be put on the record.
Mr. GEKAS. The Chair maintains its position that there will be no second round. However, I will at some future date entertain a requestentertainthat is, consider a request from the lady of Texas if there need be a reconvening of any one of the four or all the four members of the panel.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. If the gentleman would yield, finally, let me make a final statement and say, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your kind response, but let the record show that I vigorously object to this limitation on Members' right to question. I think it is unfair, and I think that the likes of a witness like Mr. Beck and his association with The Social Contract, it would have been important to have had that information on the record. But I understand the Chairman, and I will have an official letter to you requesting that Members be allowed to have two rounds.
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Mr. GEKAS. I will await the delivery of that letter.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GEKAS. The hearing is now adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:25 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE CHRIS CANNON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
I would like to thank the chairman for holding this hearing on ''INS and EOIR.'' It's clear the hearing is the first of many on important immigration matters this session and I appreciate his leadership in bringing this together.
I particularly think it's important that Roy Beck was allowed to participate as a witness at this hearing since it has provided the first opportunity for members of the Committee to question Mr. Beck about highly controversial political advertisements run by groups he leads or with whom he is affiliated.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On April 17, 1998, Dr. John Tanton, founder of FAIR, sent a letter to all FAIR members in Michigan that stated: ''the time has come for the immigration reform movement to move into its next phasedefeating our opponents at the polls and electing our supporters in their stead . . . [Senator Abraham] is not going to change. We need to usher our opponents out and seat colleagues who agree with us.''
Along with the statement of purpose the contents of the letter representthe stated goal of defeating pro-immigrant federal elected officeholdersit's clear a plan was launched to utilize tax-exempt organizations in an effort to defeat Senator Spencer Abraham, chair of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. As fundraising vehicles, tax-exempt organizations provide numerous advantages over political action committees: no limits on contribution amounts, the ability to withhold the names of donors, and the ability to receive donations that are tax-deductible or tax-exempt for its operations. Beck, Tanton, FAIR, and others associated with them were certainly willing to utilize these advantages.
In 1999, FAIR produced a widely-condemned advertisement that featured Senator Abraham, who is of Lebanese descent, alongside a photo of known terrorist Osama bin-Laden, asking: ''Why is a U.S. Senator trying to make it easier for terrorists like Osama bin Laden to export their war of terror to any city street in America?''
Starting in 2000the year Senator Abraham was up for reelectionFAIR, which is a 501(c)(3) organization on whose Board John Taunton serves, began working with Roy Beck to fund political advertisements designed to damage Senator Abraham's reelection campaign. Roy Beck heads a 501(c)(3) organization NumbersUSA.com, which is part of John Tanton's U.S. Inc. Roy Beck is also the Washington Editor of the publication ''Social Contract,'' published by Dr. Tanton. It is clear that Roy Beck and FAIR were attempting to fulfill John Tanton's stated objective: of defeating Spence Abraham (and other federal officeholders) by creating a political organization funded illegally by tax exempt funds..
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From April to October 2000, FAIR and two tax-exempt front organizations run by Roy Beckthe Coalition for the Future American Worker and Americans for Better Immigrationran approximately $2 million in advertisements that mentioned Senator Abraham by name and were clearly designed to hurt his reelection campaign. In fact, one of the advertisements stated: ''ask him how'd he [Abraham] feel if you gave his job away.'' As an elected office holder, the only way to accomplish that would be to vote against Senator Abraham.
Around the time that Senator Abraham sent a letter to the IRS requesting an investigation of FAIR and its activities through the Coalition for the Future American Worker, advertisements were run by the Coalition against members of Congress outside of Michigan, although there is no evidence these purchases amounted to more than nominal buys compared to the amounts spent in Michigan. Even then, the true intention of these advertisementsto influence political campaignswas clear, since the ads were run primarily in House districts where incumbent legislators were engaged in tight reelection contests. Those districts included the seats currently occupied by Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA), Jay Inslee (D-WA), and Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)all of whom won election in 1998 with less than 52% of the vote. In fact, FAIR Executive Director Dan Stein described the purpose of the ads: ''We want to make immigration issues radioactive in election years.'' (Source: June 14, 2000, Technology Daily.) Ads were also ran against Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Gephardt.
The idea that the tax-exempt Coalition for the Future American Worker and Americans for Better Immigration are independent organizations completely divorced from the 501(c)(3) group NumbersUSA.com is belied by the reciprocal web links among the organizations. For example, on the NumbersUSA.com web site under ''Fight H-1B Abuse'' one finds a direct link to Americans for Better Immigration. And on the Americans for Better Immigration website is a link that states ''Send free faxes to Congress at NumbersUSA.com.'' As far as one can tell, the primary activity of NumbersUSA.com appears to be efforts to lobby Congress, which IRS rules prohibit as a primary or even substantial activity for a 501(c)(3) organization.
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That Beck, FAIR, and Tanton sought Senator Abraham's defeat is crystal clear in a fundraising letter signed by Roy Beck as part of Michigan Immigration PAC, whose web site says its ''sole goal for the year 2000 is the defeat of Senator Abraham.'' Yet FEC records show that Michigan Immigration PAC raised and spent only $25,000 against Senator Abraham's election, while FAIR, the Coalition for the Future American Worker, Americans for Better Immigration and related groups spent approximately $2 million between April and October 2000 in TV, radio, and newspaper advertisements that mentioned Senator Abraham by name. It's clear that the reason for this 80 to 1 disparity is that a conscious decision was made by Roy Beck, John Tanton, and those associated with FAIR that the rules that govern political action committees are too constraining and do not provide the tax advantages of organizations with the tax status of 501(c)(3) or other non-profit status.
A main concentration of Mr. Beck and those charitable groups with which he is affiliated groups continues to be defeating officeholders with whom they disagree. In a Monday, March 19, 2001 message to Beck's supporters that alluded to his previous political advertising efforts, Beck urged them to call the office of Senator Brownback, the new chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, writing: ''If you are so inclined, you also might want to remind the staffer that the Brownback office should look very carefully at how Sen. Abraham used his chairmanship to make him a nationwide target of labor organizations and conservatives who were incensed by his open-border policies. That opposition helped lead to his defeat.''
Are federal tax officials aware that Beck is saying that his groups' advertisements helped defeat Senator Abraham and that he is issuing a direct threat against other officeholders? The message to supporters from Beck also directly alluded to press reports about Senator Brownback's interest in running for the Governor of Kansas: ''Brownback is said to be wanting to run for Kansas governor in two years. Will his staff think becoming a national controversy is a good way to emerge among Republican competitors for the party nomination?'' Not coincidentally, earlier this year ads about immigration from Mexico ran heavily in Kansas and were funded by FAIR and Roy Beck's Coalition for the Future American Worker.
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The web site of Beck's Americans for Better Immigration features a page devoted to ''Involuntarily Retired Past Champions of High Immigration and U.S. Population Growth,'' shows a picture of Senator Abraham, and boasts, ''Voted out: Nov. 7, 2000.'' To say the least, this is an odd statement on a web page of a group that purports it has no involvement in electoral politics.
Given the past statement of John Tanton that the new overriding goal of anti-immigrant activists is to defeat their opponents in elections, the Internal Revenue Service should view advertisements by FAIR and Roy Beck's groups that mention a particular elected official as efforts to influence that candidate's election or electoral prospects. In the future, I will instruct my staff to forward any and all such advertisements to the IRS for review.
I believe it is past due for the IRS to investigate FAIR, the Coalition for the Future American Worker, Americans for Better Immigration, NumbersUSA.com, U.S., inc, and other interrelated groups that have clearly abused their non-profit tax status by violating numerous tax laws and prohibitions related to involvement in political and campaign activities. These groups are mocking the IRS and our tax laws. It's time for them to stop laughing.
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(Footnote 1 return)
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, ''Resolution on the Pastoral Concern of the Church for People on the Move,'' November 11, 1976, as quoted in One Family Under God, NCCB Committee on Migration, September, 1995, p.7
(Footnote 2 return)
Testing Community Supervision for the INS: An Evaluation of the Appearance Assistance Program, Final Report of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, August 1, 2000.
(Footnote 3 return)
According to the evaluation report of the pilot project, it costs the INS $3,300 to provide supervised release to each asylum seeker compared to $7,300 to detain an asylum seeker. For those removable for criminal offenses, supervision costs $3,871 compared to $4,575 per detained individual.
(Footnote 4 return)
''Evaluation of the Rights Presentation,'' Anna Hinken, U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office of Immigration Review, p. 12.
(Footnote 5 return)
Id. at ''Executive Summary.''
(Footnote 6 return)
''Visa Bulletin,'' United States Dept. of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Number 30, Volume VIII, March 8, 2001. (Dept. of State Publication 9514)
(Footnote 7 return)
''A Blueprint For New BeginningsA Responsible Budget for America's Priorities,'' U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 2001, p.85.
(Footnote 8 return)
''INS Achieves 2-Year Naturalization Program Goals,'' News Release, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, November 15, 2000.
(Footnote 9 return)
''Death at the Border,'' Eschbach, et.al., International Migration Review, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Summer 1999), p. 430.
(Footnote 10 return)
See e.g., '' 'Driving While Brown' Called an Added Risk in Border Areas,'' San Diego Union Tribune, July 24, 2000; ''Judge Stopped Twice on Way to Court,'' Houston Chronicle, October 1, 2000; ''Amtrak Border Patrol Practices Examined: Issue of racial profiling raised,'' by Karen Ivanova, Great Falls Tribune, May 25, 2000.
(Footnote 11 return)
Eschbach, Hagan, and Rodriguez, Causes and Trends in Migrant Deaths along the U.S.-Mexico Border, 19851998, University of Houston, Center for Immigration Research, March 2001.
(Footnote 12 return)
''Immigrants face border badlands,'' Phil Magers, United Press International, April 17, 2001.