|20 Questions for Congress About Immigration|
The profitable racket of smuggling illegals into the United States in sealed trucks has been going on for years, and only death makes it newsworthy. Trucks ought to be inspected when they cross the border, for the illegal aliens’ protection as well as for American sovereignty.
Smugglers reap millions of dollars in profits. They collect their fees up front ($800 to $2,500 per person), then often abandon their clients in desert areas without food or water, or hold them hostage in “drop houses” for ransom from relatives. Last year, 145 illegals died horrible and painful deaths in the Arizona desert. Smuggling is accompanied by a huge increase in violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping.
Yet, only 140 new federal agents were assigned to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona this year. That’s a pitiful response compared to the tens of thousands who invade our territory every year.
Congress and the Administration are toying with plans to use state-of-the-art technology to monitor the activities of law-abiding Americans, and are now using camera-equipped, unmanned spy planes in Afghanistan to hunt for terrorists. When are we going to use advanced technology on our border, including surveillance planes, electric fences, and, yes, U.S. troops to protect the states against “invasion” as required by Article IV of the U.S. Constitution?
The leader of a ring that smuggled about 900 illegal aliens during the 1990s was convicted in April after two of his passengers died in a sweltering tractor-trailer near Dallas. Each week, the smuggler would bring up to five loads of aliens to safe houses in El Paso where they would be picked up to be hauled to eager U.S. employers nationwide.
A Florida farm labor contractor was sentenced in April for luring illegal aliens into a smuggling operation that left 14 dead and 11 others to suffer in the Arizona desert after they were abandoned by their smugglers, called coyotes. Last year, 94 people were prosecuted in Colorado for smuggling illegal aliens.
A Tijuana restaurant owner pled guilty to running a smuggling ring that brought illegal aliens, mostly from Lebanon, through Mexico into San Diego. People-smugglers are bringing people from Pakistan and the Middle East into the United States for as much as $30,000 a person.
The leader of a ring that smuggled over a thousand Ukrainians into the United States through Mexico was sentenced in March to 17 years in prison. The smuggling operation began in Kiev, Ukraine, where people (referred to as “merchandise”) paid fees of $5,000 to $7,000 each, were provided with Mexican tourist visas, coached to say “United States citizen” without a Russian accent, flown to Mexico and escorted to Los Angeles.
Accidents are a common occurrence, even on highways far from the border, when vans carrying illegal aliens crash because of high speeds, incompetent drivers going the wrong way, or inability to read English signs. The injured have to be cared for in local hospitals at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.
In San Diego in December, 6 illegals were killed and 16 injured in a wrong-way lights-off head-on crash on the interstate, and two were killed and 20 injured in another crash in March. In Bowie, Kansas, in February, a van rolled over killing 3 and hospitalizing 15.
Near Fort Smith, Arkansas in March, 5 aliens were hospitalized after a head-on crash. A tractor-trailer driven by an illegal alien jackknifed and crashed in the new Boston Big Dig tunnel in May, and the cost to the taxpayers will be $500,000.
In populated areas of California and Arizona, the illegal traffic often moves through tunnels, of which U.S. officials say there may be “at least 100, if not several hundreds.” A truck will park over the U.S. end of the tunnel, and bundles of drugs are handed up through a hole in the trailer’s floor.
On April 4 in a parking lot near San Diego, U.S. authorities found a sophisticated tunnel with electricity, ventilation and a million-dollar pulley system. It was the fifth secret passageway discovered along that county’s border in the past 14 months.
The federal government has appropriated $695,000 to clean up the trash and waste in southeast Arizona to cope with the environmental damage caused by this human traffic. Arizonans say they need $62.9 million and 93 more employees to repair the damage and to protect against the threat of wildfires from mountains of trash.
We certainly can’t depend on Mexico to stop this invasion of illegals. U.S. authorities estimate that smugglers will pay $500 million this year in bribes and payoffs to Mexican military and police to protect this illicit traffic.
In May, an illegal alien criminal and documented gang member, with four previous felony convictions and who had been deported several times, sneaked back into the United States and committed a cold-blooded crime. When Oceanside (Calif.) police officer Tony Zeppetella stopped Adrian Camacho for a traffic violation, the alien pulled out a gun and killed the policeman with three shots.
Saul Morales-Garcia alias Javier Duarte Chavez shot Las Vegas police officer Enrique Hernandez six times in December. The alien had previously been deported, but he illegally re-entered the United States.
Zeppetella had served six years in the Navy and Hernandez eight years in the Marines. Both had a wife and infant child, and friends of both officers said their childhood ambition was to be a policeman.
In June, Enrique Sosa Alvarez was arrested in San Jose and charged with dragging a nine-year-old girl from her home and raping her repeatedly for three days before releasing her. A fingerprint check identified him as David Montiel Cruz who had previously been convicted of auto theft.
Police don’t know for sure who he is, but we do know for sure he should have been deported after his earlier crime. The ease with which criminals change their names and come back across the border shows the folly of accepting Mexico’s matricula consular as a valid I.D.
Illegal alien Walter Alexander Sorto was repeatedly picked up for driver’s license violations and for not having insurance, but Houston police were barred from reporting his illegal status to federal authorities. In March he and a companion abducted, raped and killed three Houston women.
Maximiliano Esparza, who raped and killed a Bellevue, Washington, nun last year, had earlier been in a California prison and the court had ordered him deported. But our government didn’t deport him; it merely asked him to sign an I-210, a simple promise to depart, widely known as a “catch-and-release” document.
Before the 9/11 attack, ringleader Mohamed Atta was ticketed in Florida for driving without a license, and his accomplice Ziad Samir Jarrah was ticketed for speeding in Maryland, and both were on expired visas. Chalk that up to missed opportunities to prevent 9/11.
Currently under a final order of deportation are 314,000 absconders, illegal aliens whom our government can’t deport because we can’t find them, including 4,800 from nations where Al Qaeda terrorists are active. Only a fraction of them have been entered on the National Crime Information Center database, the Department of Justice’s listing of outstanding warrants and fugitives.
Only the brutal gang rape of a Queens, New York, woman in December by four illegal aliens has produced a governmental response. Three of those four criminals already had long rap sheets from previous arrests and should have been deported.
The House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration was spurred to hold a hearing in February to question New York and Houston officials about their so-called “sanctuary” ordinances that deter or even prohibit local police from reporting illegal aliens to federal authorities. New York was under such an executive order issued in 1989 by then-Mayor Edward Koch.
On May 30, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed Executive Order 34 permitting city employees to ask people seeking government services about their immigration status if that is relevant to their eligibility. Bloomberg said his order was necessary to put the city into compliance with federal law, and even Koch came out in support of the Bloomberg order. Bloomberg’s order, however, has limitations. He said in a written statement that he will never let police or city agencies become an arm of the INS “under my administration.”
But why not? State and local police, of whom we have at least 670,000, are our first line of defense against criminals (not the minuscule 2,000 federal investigators assigned to immigration enforcement). But local police are being shackled by city officials.
Twenty cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Seattle and Portland, Maine, have adopted “sanctuary” ordinances banning police from asking people about their immigration status unless they are suspected of committing a felony, are a threat to national security, or have been previously deported. But how are the police going to know if they have previously been deported unless they first ascertain who they are?
What happens when alien criminals complete their prison terms? The Justice Department’s inspector general admitted that our government released 35,318 criminal aliens into the general population in 2000, and nobody knows how many then committed other serious crimes.
The famous case of the sniper who terrorized the Washington, D.C. area for weeks last year is a good example both of the importance of the role of the local police and of the irresponsible way that federal immigration authorities release aliens instead of deporting them. Lee Malvo was picked up and fingerprinted the previous year by a Bellingham, Washington, police detective and west coast Border Patrol agent. They turned Malvo over to federal immigration officials, who had the duty under our laws to deport him immediately because he came to the United States as a Jamaican stowaway on a ship that docked in Miami. But Seattle district immigration officials released Malvo, who subsequently went across the country on a killing spree with John Muhammad, who was financed by the $60,000 he made selling forged U.S. driver’s licenses and birth certificates.
In fairness to our local police, they repeatedly complain that they get no cooperation from federal immigration officials when reporting illegal aliens — unless a major felony is involved. Attorney General John Ashcroft should make sure that all police know about his October 8 speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police wherein he promised that federal agents will respond when local officers notify them of immigration violators.
If the United States can wage a preemptive war against Iraq, local police should be allowed to preempt vicious crimes by checking the citizenship status of persons arrested for minor as well as major crimes, and then reporting illegals to federal authorities. All sanctuary ordinances should be rescinded.
A driver’s license is the pass to board a plane as well as the license to drive car. It confers a sort of quasi-citizenship and, as described by one illegal alien in Texas, “The driver’s license ends up becoming our pass to be in this country.” Yet, 20 states do not require applicants to prove they are legally in the United States.
Since 9/11, 21 states have enacted new legislation to make it harder to get driver’s licenses, and legislation has been introduced in another 22 states. Peter Gadiel, whose 23-year-old son James died in the World Trade Center attack, traveled from Connecticut to Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee to support beefed-up identification laws. A Tennessee legislative committee heard testimony about the need to tighten driver’s license rules from April Gallop, a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Even in Idaho, State Senator Cecil Ingram told a public hearing, “This has turned out to be a bigger problem than I thought.”
The states embarrassed by the 9/11 hijackers have gotten the message. Virginia passed a bill to stop issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, and Florida and New Jersey passed legislation to coordinate driver’s licenses with immigration visas. New Jersey, where driver’s licenses have been made of paper and do not require a photo, has long been the target of document fraud and counterfeiters. The state is now converting to state-of-the-art digitized driver’s licenses with a dozen covert and overt security features, including a mandatory photo, bar code, hologram, and digital signature.
Arizona and Mississippi also killed bills to make it easier for illegal aliens to get a driver’s license.
Tennessee, a state known to be casual about issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, considered but postponed action on requiring driver’s license applicants to present a document showing they are legally in this country.
Minnesota is trying to address the controversy through rulemaking by the Department of Public Safety. The proposed rule would require visitors to present documents to prove they are in the country legally, and the license would expire when their visas expire.
Georgia would seem an unlikely state for immigration controversies, but an estimated 435,000 Hispanics live in Georgia, a 300% increase over 1990, according to the U.S. Census. A lively big group showed up at a hearing in Gainesville from the county of Hall, where at least 19% of the population is Hispanic and 85% of those are not citizens. For weeks, Georgia wrangled over a bill to allow driver’s licenses to be obtained by illegal aliens who come from the “Free Trade Area of the Americas,” i.e., from Canada, Latin America, and some Caribbean islands. The bill was finally defeated in April.
Among those who spoke against the proposed legislation was retired Col. A.R. “Mac” MacCahan (whose Army unit lost 206 of 212 men fighting in the Korean War). He asked, “What part of illegal don’t you understand?” Others ask, why reward people who have committed at least three felonies: illegal entry into the U.S., purchasing fraudulent documents to get a job, and misrepresenting the legality of those documents at the workplace?
Kentucky was once one of the easiest states for illegal aliens to get a driver’s license. That changed after a 1998 incident in which the Immigration and Naturalization Service arrested a van load of illegals from Russia who had traveled from New York to Louisville to get driver’s licenses. After that, Kentucky reinstituted a policy of requiring that noncitizens applying for licenses take a written test. County Circuit Clerk Tony Miller said, “We try to be helpful. We offer that test in 21 languages.” But Miller didn’t explain how it promotes safety to license drivers who can’t read the road signs.
INS public affairs officer Garrison Courtney identified one of the biggest problems: “If they were illegal when they came here, it’s very difficult to determine who they really are because they’ve created illegal I.D.s for themselves.” The Seattle Times reported that one U.S. Department of Justice raid discovered piles of cash totaling $95,262 plus $10,000 worth of computer equipment and specialty papers that had been used to print 800 fake driver’s licenses, green cards, work permits, Mexican birth certificates, and Social Security cards.
Many are concerned about the danger from issuing licenses to terrorists who might use trucks loaded with gasoline or other hazardous materials in the same way that hijackers used commercial airliners on 9/11. The U.S. Transportation Department reported last year that we lack sufficient safeguards, particularly from the many states that do not require applicants to prove they are legally in the country.