No sooner had President Bush and his Mexican counterpart, Vicente Fox, decided to resume the backroom palaver over an amnesty for the 3.5 million illegal Mexican aliens in the United States than the General Accounting Office burst forth with a report showing that the immigration system is already out of control. Aside from the 793 other valid arguments against amnesty, the GAO has come up with yet another one.
The GAO study (read it in PDF format), prepared at the request of House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, shows that what the Immigration and Naturalization Service calls "benefit fraud" is "rampant" and "out of control."
"Benefit" is bureaucratic jargon for changes in immigration status that enable the immigrant to remain in the United States. It includes letting immigrants become naturalized citizens, granting work permits and upgrading the visa status of foreign visitors. To conclude that "benefits fraud" is out of control is to say that the people in charge of enforcing border security don't know who's coming into the country or how they got here.
There's a good deal in the report that raises security concerns, as Mr. Sensenbrenner remarked. The report, he said, "raises a whole host of troubling homeland security threats posed by an immigration benefits process wrought with fraud." The GAO found that INS officials "believe that some aliens are using the benefit application process to enable them to carry out ... crimes of violence, narcotics trafficking and terrorism" in the United States.
The frauds include arranging fake marriages or falsifying evidence of marriages so immigrants can claim they're merely reuniting with their families. Others involve faking membership in certain categories of immigrants accorded special treatment, like clergymen, priests and nuns, or as "essential workers." In the Los Angeles area, the GAO found that 90 percent of 5,000 petitions for workers sought by foreign firms are fraudulent. After following up the study with another investigation, the GAO found that in 1,500 petitions filed, only one was not fraudulent.
The whole process of falsification of documents puts loot into the pockets of criminals who forge them, smugglers who peddle them and crooked businessmen who use them to rake in the cheap labor they crave. Of 22,000 applications for aliens submitted by a "consulting firm" for immigration, the GAO found that 5,500 were clearly fraudulent and another 4,400 were suspected of fraud. The INS itself "does not know the extent of the immigration benefit fraud problem," but the problem "is pervasive and significant and will increase as smugglers and other criminal enterprises use fraud as another means of bringing illegal aliens, including criminal aliens, into the country."
The report doesn't directly study illegal aliens, but it does tell us that a great many immigrants ostensibly here legally are simply fakes, illegals dressed up as legal immigrants, and a lot of them dangerous fakes. If we did pass an amnesty program for illegals, the INS wouldn't be able to enforce it. How could an agency unable to enforce laws on benefit applications keep track of which illegals are eligible for amnesty and which need to be kicked out?
Nevertheless, amnesty seems to be on the way. INS Commissioner James Ziglar told the pro-immigration lobby, the National Immigration Forum, last month, "Some believe that our migration talks with Mexico have been forgotten in the wake of Sept. 11. I assure you that is not the case." Rep. Tom Tancredo, probably the most sensible advocate of immigration control now in Congress, says, "I can confirm that the White House is pressuring representatives to act" on the president's passion for amnesty.
He also says amnesty "would be a kick in the teeth to the thousands of individuals across the world who are legally attempting to enter the United States," and so it would be. But it would be an even meaner kick at the millions of Americans who want their country preserved from the crime, drugs and terrorism that illegal immigrants import and the INS can't stop or catch.
Nor would amnesty be limited to Mexican illegals. Ever since Mr. Bush started muttering about amnesty, the Democrats have demanded he expand it to include all illegal aliens inside the country.
That pretty much discloses why Mr. Bush as well as the Democrats care about amnesty at all. In addition to the cheap labor their backers demand, amnesty will also eventually mean cheap votes. Mr. Bush imagines the aliens he amnesties will support him; the Democrats think otherwise, and so far there's little evidence to contradict them.
Instead of worrying about which illegals we're going to legalize and trying to cadge votes from them before they're even eligible to enter the voting booth, Republicans and Democrats might try thinking about the good of the nation for a change and work on fixing an immigration control system that has now been proved to be literally—and dangerously—out of control.
COPYRIGHT 2001 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
February 28, 2002