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Immigration - Page One
(9/11/01 attack) won't happen again." - National Commission on Terrorism
Suspects Exploited Immigration PolicyNew York Times - by D. Schemo, R. Pear - September 27, 2001
For Hani Hanjour, identified as the pilot who flew the jet that rammed into the Pentagon, blending into the American landscape began in Saudi Arabia with a $110 application for a four-week English course in California. He had only to prove that he had $2,285 to pay for the lessons, along with room and board. He never turned up for class.
Two other men the authorities said plowed jetliners into the World Trade Center, Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, entered the United States on tourist visas. Even without the required student visa, the men studied at a flight school in Florida.
Consular officers deluged with visa applications say they generally do not have much time to investigate the applicants.
Once foreign visitors enter the United States, immigration officers and law enforcement agencies usually have no idea if they are complying with the terms of their visas.
United States immigration officials said the hijackers exploited an immigration system that critics contend is riddled with loopholes.
Until Sept. 11, that system was geared to ease the way for commerce — whether in the form of tourism, business or study.
Experts on terrorism said security precautions often took a back seat to pressures from industry, the concerns of neighboring governments and even bureaucratic rivalries in the United States government.
According to the State Department manual for consular officers, participating in the planning or execution of terrorist acts would bar a foreigner from getting a visa, but "mere membership" in a recognized terrorist group would not automatically disqualify a person from entering the United States. Nor would "advocacy of terrorism."
The manual, apparently unchanged since Sept. 11, says that the United States will exclude immigrants who incite or direct terrorist activity, but that statements of a general nature that do not directly advance specific acts of terrorism are not automatically a basis for exclusion, however offensive the statements might be.
Some American investigators have said they believed that Mr. Atta, the apparent mastermind of the group, belonged to Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and that he met with Iraqi intelligence officials this year. Yet he apparently entered on valid visas and may even have re-entered the country after overstaying his visa on his last trip to the United States. Zacarias Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan origin arrested last month after suspicious behavior prompted alarm at a Minnesota flight school, also entered the United States on a student visa, though the French police suspected him of terrorist ties. French intelligence officials shared this information with the F.B.I. after Mr. Moussaoui was arrested in August on charges of violating United States immigration law.
"In spite of elaborate immigration laws and the efforts of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the United States is, de facto, a country of open borders," the National Commission on Terrorism said in a report last year.
The panel said the sheer volume of border crossings, 300 million by land from Mexico alone and millions more by air, made "exclusion of all foreign terrorists impossible."
In a prophetic warning, the commission noted that one of the terrorists involved in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 had overstayed his student visa. "Today, there is still no mechanism for ensuring the same thing won't happen again," the commission said.
The lapses appear to have greased the hijackers' way at almost every step of their conspiracy, from applying for visas to arrival in the United States, from the failure to track them once here, to their failure to leave the United States once their visas expired.
In the case of Mr. Hanjour, the school where he applied to study English, a branch of ELS Language Centers in California, had no way of knowing he had obtained his student visa, entered the country and gone AWOL.
Michael Palm, a spokesman for ELS, a division of Berlitz International, said the Immigration and Naturalization Service never sent the form documenting Mr. Hanjour's entry in the United States. Had it done so, the school would have filled out the form and sent it back, telling the service that Mr. Hanjour never reached the school. Instead, as far as ELS could tell, Mr. Hanjour belonged to its standard 10 percent of no- shows.
School operators say the immigration service faces a backlog of up to a year in notifying them of arriving students. And even if the school had gotten notice and relayed word of Mr. Hanjour's absence, the I.N.S. would probably not have considered finding him a high priority, immigration officials say.
Given the limits of its staff, the immigration service focuses on investigating crimes by foreigners, domestic smuggling and illegal workers, said Eyleen Schmidt, a spokeswoman for the I.N.S.
Two other hijackers, Mr. al-Shehhi and Mr. Atta, took five months of flight lessons at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Fla., paying the school more than $38,000, according to Rudi Dekkers, the owner.
Mr. Dekkers recalled that neither of the men carried student visas. Nevertheless, Mr. Dekkers said he believed there was no problem giving the men lessons that ended with their obtaining pilot's licenses.
Unlike foreign visitors working illegally, the two were "not making money, but spending it," Mr. Dekkers said. Immigration lawyers said Mr. Dekkers was correct: while visitors on tourist or business visas should first obtain student visas to attend flight school, it is not up to the school to ensure they do.
"I don't need anything from you, just a check to start flying," said Mr. Dekkers, who likened flying lessons to shopping for groceries. "We're just a business," he said.
A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said consular officials typically check the names of foreigners seeking visas each year against a database of four million names drawn from immigration, law enforcement and intelligence records. But the background checks are remarkable for what they do not include. Officials at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington said that up to five of the hijackers carried stolen passports and false identities.
But unless an entire batch of passports vanishes from a government warehouse, countries do not typically report to each other on individual passports that may have been stolen or lost. As a result, American consulates around the world have no way of knowing whether the person presenting a passport is its authentic owner.
"There is no proactive check on whether the passport is stolen," the State Department official said. "It's extraordinarily rare that a foreign government would bring to our attention the theft of a specific passport." Nor do State Department consulates have access to F.B.I. crime records open to any law enforcement and some regulatory agencies in this country, including the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Despite appeals and task force recommendations in earlier years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has so far refused to share those records with the State Department.
"It's been a turf issue," said one government official, predicting that the F.B.I. would be forced to give agencies not involved in law enforcement access to its criminal records. "I think that's something that they're not going to end up having a choice about," the official said.
After the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, Congress moved to tighten tracking of foreign visitors, including students. It ordered the immigration service to systematically match entries into the country with corresponding exits, for the first time.
It also ordered creation of an electronic databank on foreign students accessible to law enforcement officials. But both moves met with stiff resistance from business and educational institutions. And both were delayed.
The End of Mexico’s ProblemsDuke Energy Employee Advocate - http://dukeemployees.com - September 6, 2001
Mexico has more than a few problems: a corrupt government, widespread poverty, unsanitary conditions, and crime. The president of Mexico has a solution: Ship as many Mexican citizens as possible to the United States. The benefits to Mexico are manifold. It will reduce the economic drain on Mexico. The migrants can then avail themselves to free services at US taxpayer’s expense. He also wants those who have violated American laws by illegally entering the country to be granted US citizenship, as payment for their crimes.
President Vicente Fox of Mexico is meeting with White House dweller, G. W. Bush to nail down his demands, according to Ginger Thompson (The New York Times). Bush, who has given many world leaders a slap in the face, has fawned over Fox.
Bush is merrily trashing treaties with other countries, but felt that Fox deserved a hero’s welcome to the US. Fox has found the secret to getting Bush to cater to him. He simply demanded everything for nothing. Bush seems unable to resist a deal like that!
The High Cost Of Mexican ImmigrationFrontPage Magazine - By Allan Wall - August 29, 2001
On the eve of President Fox's state visit to Washington (scheduled for September 5) it behooves the American people to take a good, hard look at Mexican immigration to their country, and ask themselves if it is really in America's best interests. If the American people don't take an interest in the subject, the matter will soon be out of their hands anyway. After all, President Bush has taken immigration policy, once considered a domestic issue , and has made it a subject of negotiations with the government of Mexico.
It's crystal clear what the Fox administration wants – continued high immigration of Mexicans to the U.S., with full benefits paid for by American taxpayers, and eventual open borders. It also appears that the Bush administration is moving in the same direction.
America's mainstream media support mass immigration, and coverage of the issue is structured accordingly. Americans are constantly told that the vast people movement now occurring between Mexico and the United States is both inevitable and beneficial for all concerned, while its critics are ignored or slandered.
All the more reason to note the appearance of a well-documented study released by the Center For Immigration Studies, which demolishes conventional wisdom on the subject and raises various troubling issues. "Immigration from Mexico: Assessing the Impact on the United States," though highly unlikely to be alluded to on President Bush's bilingual Saturday radio address, should be required reading for every American policy-maker and concerned citizen.
The report shows that present-day Mexican immigration , rather than meeting the needs of today's economy, is a net drain, since most Mexican immigrant laborers are considered unskilled workers. According to Steven Camarota, author of the report, "because such a large share of Mexicans are unskilled at a time when the U.S. economy offers limited opportunities to unskilled workers, Mexican immigration has added significantly to the size of the poor and uninsured populations, and to the nation's welfare case load...."
Since most of today's Mexican immigrants have low levels of formal education (almost two-thirds of them have not completed high school), their presence in the work force poses a direct threat to the 10 million of your fellow American citizens who have not completed high school. Camarota explains that "Mexican immigration is overwhelmingly unskilled... unskilled immigration... tends to reduce wages for workers who are already the lowest paid and whose real wages actually declined in the 1990s." The report estimates that during the '90s, salaries of Americans without a high school education probably dropped 5% due to Mexican immigration.
Promoters of high immigration are fond of saying that "Immigrants only take jobs Americans don't want." But the Camarota report shows us that Mexican immigrants are in direct competition for the jobs of America's most vulnerable working poor. Certainly, Mexican immigrants are not competing for Paul Gigot's position at the Wall Street Journal, or with the host of other well-paid journalists and pundits who promote mass immigration, but they do threaten the jobs, and reduce the wages, of the most vulnerable workers in the American economy – those without a high school education.
One might respond by saying that the fact that our country has people without a high school education is a problem that should be dealt with. Most assuredly it is, but how do you solve a problem by increasing it? If the U.S. already has plenty of poverty, why import more? And present-day Mexican immigration is a poverty-importation scheme, as Camarota informs us. "Although they comprise 4.2 percent of the nation's total population, Mexican immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) account for 10.2 percent of all persons in poverty and 12.5 percent of those without health insurance." Recall that during the 2000 debates, when Gore correctly pointed out Texas' high rate of the uninsured, Bush refused to correctly blame immigration even to defend his own record (!).
Camarota points out that since Mexican immigrants earn less than American natives, they pay less in taxes and have a higher welfare dependency rate. The report states that "Even after welfare reform, welfare use among Mexican immigrant households remains much higher than that of natives. An estimated 33.9 percent of households headed by legal Mexican immigrants and 24.9 percent headed by illegal Mexican immigrants used at least one major welfare program. In contrast, 14.8 percent of native households used welfare." In fact, according to the Camarota report, "the estimated life-time net fiscal drain (taxes paid minus services used) for the average adult Mexican immigrant is negative $55,200."
Libertarians who defend open borders on ideological grounds should be aware that present immigration policies are increasing the size of the American welfare state and of government in general. Rather than being an example of the free market in action, today's immigration system is really a vast subsidy scheme, in which cheap labor profiteers get their cheap labor while the American taxpayer foots the bill.
And shouldn't any comprehensive appraisal of the costs of Mexican immigration include addressing the wide range of social problems exacerbated by high levels of immigration, of which Mexican immigration forms the largest percentage? This is not a question of "blaming immigrants," as those who wish to stifle debate mischaracterize it. It is rather an honest recognition that such problems as crime, poor education, inadequate health care , and environmental degradation are exacerbated by a system of immigration which takes in a million legal immigrants a year, the majority of them whose only qualification is being related to previous immigrants (nepotism); plus the millions of illegal aliens about to be rewarded for successfully flouting American law.
An honest look at California, America's immigration laboratory, should by itself dispel much of the euphoria promoted by mass immigration boosters. The former Golden State now has the second-smallest middle class in the nation, its once renowned public schools are in crisis, illegal aliens have become a political force despite being non-citizens, anti-American secessionists openly peddle their venomous rhetoric, and there is a power shortage despite the fact that California has a low per-capita electricity consumption. Yet it's considered bad form to connect these disasters to immigration policy. And you know the saying, "As California goes, so goes the nation."
What about the argument that allowing such high Mexican immigration is a way to help Mexico? If that is the real justification, then President Bush should be forthright about it. Imagine Bush addressing the nation: "My fellow Americans, immigration from Mexico is costing our country a bundle. You poor folks are in danger of losing your jobs, and you middle-class folks will pay more in taxes. You can also expect school overcrowding, a higher crime rate, and other social problems. But it's all worth it because immigration is helping our Mexican neighbors achieve a higher standard of living, and in another generation or two they will have the same standard of living that we have. Thank you Americans, for your sacrifice, and my good buddy Vicente appreciates it also!" As outrageous as it seems, such an approach would be refreshing compared to the present one of denying an amnesty while simultaneously preparing for it under another name! Nevertheless, I would even question the validity of the assertion that immigration is really helping Mexico.
As an American who lives and works (legally) here in Mexico, I would certainly agree that a prosperous Mexico would be in the best interests of both Mexico and the United States. I just do not see the present immigration system as being very conducive to that end. It certainly does enable Mexico's white-minority government to retain power and gives aid and comfort to Hispanic ethnic identity activists in the U.S. – but it seems to exercise a corrosive effect on Mexican society as a whole.
Rural villages are depopulated and families separated. The economy is distorted in various ways. For one thing, Mexicans who already have employment are constantly tempted to quit their Mexican job and go north. Meanwhile, other Mexicans refuse available employment because they can earn more from their remittances from the U.S. than by working locally. Now there are even complaints of labor shortages in regions and industries of Mexico – including construction and agriculture (which is solved by importing workers from poorer parts of Mexico and Central America who work for even less!): How can Mexico's economy mature if its principal asset remains cheap labor?
Besides, if the United States is required to accept massive Mexican immigration until Mexico achieves economic parity, how long will that take? At least a generation, under the best-case scenario, I'd say, and in the meantime, what happens to the unity and sovereignty of the United States? That question also must be asked and dealt with. As Samuel Huntington has pointed out in another article that deserves wider circulation , "Mexican immigration looms as a unique and disturbing challenge to our cultural identity, our national identity, and potentially to our future as a country." Millions of Mexicans are immigrating to the United States, and more and more of them are not assimilating, and appear to have no intention of doing so. Even the acquisition of American citizenship, once thought to be the decisive point in crossing the line from one loyalty to another, is for many contemporary immigrants just a means to an end. The fact is, most prospective Mexican immigrants to the U.S. go there for the money and don't have a burning desire to become Americans . With the increase in double citizenship, immigrants can have their cake and eat it too. If Fox is able to legalize absentee voting of Mexicans in the U.S., there is a potential for millions of double citizens to be voting, Fox hopes, in the interests of the Mexican government. Influential Mexican writers view present immigration trends and the growth of a Hispanic bloc in the U.S. as a projection of Mexican power. Just recently, for example, Mexican writer Elena Poniatowski, visiting Venezuela, stated clearly that "Mexico is recovering the territories ceded to the U.S. with migratory tactics."
Or consider the declaration made on August 23rd in El Paso, Texas, by Fox's cabinet officer Juan Hernandez (himself a dual national), who said that "the Mexican population is 100 million in Mexico and 23 million who live in the United States."
That figure of 23 million Mexicans in the United States necessarily includes American citizens of Mexican descent – which means that the Mexican government Bush is negotiating immigration policy with is claiming jurisdiction over and allegiance from, American citizens.
If unchecked , the continued mass immigration of Mexicans combined with a high rate of non-assimilation can only lead to disaster. Whether it leads to a full-fledged secession of the Southwest, a globalized corporate merger of the U.S. and Mexico, or simply the balkanized America reduced to the "squabbling nationalities" Roosevelt warned against a century ago, or some combination thereof, it means the end of the United States of America as we know it . It also means the end of the republican form of government envisioned by the framers of the constitution. All of which is much too high a price to pay for the present system to continue or be expanded.
Which means it's high time for an end to mass immigration from Mexico. Close the gates now. Allow the free market to function for America's working poor, thus justifying the work ethic. Permit the immigrants already in the U.S. to assimilate, prosper, intermarry , and become Americans. And when our gates are shut, Mexico's leadership will be forced at last to look inward and get serious about the plight of its own people, in its own country. That's what Bush should tell Fox when the latter comes calling, and if Bush doesn't – and he probably won't – the American people should tell him so, in no uncertain terms.
America Negotiating Away Her SovereigntyFrontPage Magazine - by Allan Wall - July 3, 2001
Why is America negotiating away her sovereignty? There is simply no other way to adequately describe the present negotiations with the Mexican government over U.S. immigration policy. Rather than being left to the American people to manage, through their elected senators and representatives, the establishment of a bilateral working group to deal with U.S. immigration policy indicates that the sovereign right to control its own borders and immigration policy is being negotiated away to the Mexican government.
The problem is, the Mexican government is not negotiating in good faith. The goal of the Fox administration is to continue using the United States as a safety valve. Mexico's white elite government wants as many of the country's poorer and darker-skinned citizens as possible to emigrate to the U.S. They also want the American taxpayer to provide Mexican immigrants, legal or illegal, with government benefits that they can't obtain in Mexico. And, they are working hard to maintain the loyalty of Mexican immigrants in the U.S., so that even if they become American citizens, their primary loyalty will be to Mexico. These goals are not new - the previous Zedillo administration had them as well- but the Fox administration is bolder in their application and has a more coordinated and strategic manner of carrying them out.
Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda, in Phoenix at a meeting of Latino journalists on June 21st, dictated a non-negotiable program that the Mexican government expects the Bush Administration to follow. Castañeda made it clear that he would brook no compromise - "It's the whole enchilada or nothing, we can't slice it one piece at a time." What exactly is included in Castañeda's list of demands? Basically, the complete surrender of U.S. sovereignty over immigration policy. America must legalize all Mexican illegal aliens, loosen its already lax border enforcement, establish a guest worker program (during an economic downturn) and exempt Mexican immigrants from U.S. visa quotas! Not only that, but the Mexican government is demanding that Mexicans living in the U.S. receive health care (provided by the American taxpayer) and in-state college tuition. As Castañeda aptly described such demands during a visit to Tijuana on June 27th, "We must obtain the greatest number of rights for the greatest number of Mexicans in the shortest time possible." (Remember, he is referring to rights for Mexicans in the United States, not in Mexico!)
The Mexican government is demanding a complete capitulation of the United States on immigration policy and national sovereignty. What's also amazing is that nothing of substance is being offered in return. Mexican government officials have taken their measure of the Bush Administration and concluded that they probably can demand and receive much of what they want. They are not even very secretive about it. Castañeda referred to the United States' transfer of immigration policy from domestic policy to international diplomacy, pointing out that such a change "is totally, radically new". Such a change is quite satisfactory to Castañeda, who once wrote that "Some Americans.... dislike immigration, but there is very little they can do about it."
Castañeda is not alone in the Mexican government in his utter contempt for U.S. sovereignty. Ernesto Ruffo, Mexico's Commissioner for Northern Affairs advised would-be illegal immigrants that ".... if the border patrol finds you, try again." Fox himself calls illegal aliens "heroes", and the Mexican government recently distributed thousands of survival packets to Mexicans preparing to make the trek north as illegal aliens (the packets included lists of California hospitals where illegals could obtain free medical care).
The Mexican government is also determined to retain the loyalty of Mexican immigrants, regardless of legal status or citizenship. National Security Adviser Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, before taking office, wrote in an editorial here in Mexico proposing the mobilization of Americans of Mexican ancestry as a tool of Mexican foreign policy. Juan Hernandez, head of the Presidential Office for Mexicans Abroad clearly stated that "We are betting that the Mexican American population in the United States .... will think Mexico first." This should be considered an insult to the many patriotic Americans of Mexican ancestry - they of course are not the problem! The problem is a growing number of newer immigrants is indeed remaining loyal to Mexico. And Fox’s promise to grant voting rights to Mexicans living in the United States sets the stage for a massive increase in double citizenship. If not checked, the not-too-distant future could hold the prospect of millions of people voting in both countries and - Fox hopes - voting in the interests of the Mexican government!
The big question is - will the government of the United States of America defend the nation's sovereignty - or completely sell out to the Fox government? A national discussion of U.S. immigration policy is long overdue anyway. For too long criticism of immigration and assimilation policy have been considered taboo, but American citizens have every right to question present policy, as they do of any other public policy issue. Clearly, different Americans have different opinions on these matters. But the answers to fundamental questions about the nature of America's future should at least be determined by Americans themselves. They should not be negotiated away by the Bush Administration and then imposed upon them by the Fox Administration of Mexico.