Immigration bureaucracy in a Trojan horse
August 27, 2002, 05:00 AM
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Since when does giving bureaucrats the power to bring back deported criminal aliens help America's homeland security?

If Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee get their way, the amended "homeland security" bill coming up for a vote sometime after Labor Day will pave the way for an even more expanded and less accountable federal immigration bureaucracy. Unlike the House version, the Senate bill creates a new independent agency inside the Department of Justice that could install itself as a permanent amnesty machine for illegal aliens and criminal alien residents.

By expanding the U.S. Immigration Court system and consolidating power in its appellate component, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Senate's bureaucratic monster would let faceless functionaries reconsider the cases of deported illegal aliens at will. With S.2452, criminal aliens wouldn't have to bother with "family reunification" schemes like the one sponsored by Congressman Barney "bring 'em back" Frank (D-MA) — the H.R.1452 criminal alien importation act. If the Senate version of "homeland security" becomes law, the new "homeland security" immigration bureaucracy could just bring 'em back themselves - without the public ever knowing.

The Senate bill "to establish the Department of National Homeland Security and the National Office for Combating Terrorism," S.2452 is decorated with the window-dressing of "immigration reform, accountability and security." But the fine print of S.2452 conceals an all too familiar story - federal bureaucrats wanting more power and less accountability.

Title XIII of S.2452 creates an "agency for immigration hearings and appeals" inside the DOJ, with a brand new agency director (another layer of management) appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The bulk of this agency is nothing more than an emboldened version of the existing DOJ litigation bureaucracy of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the EOIR. The appellate component of this bureaucratic beast, the Board of Immigration Appeals, would retain its name but spring to life with almost imperial powers over the existing U.S. Immigration Court system.

The most obvious bureaucratic power-play of Title XIII is the part where all appointed BIA members and immigration judges "shall exercise their independent judgment and discretion" in the cases coming before them. This independence is a rebuke to Attorney General John Ashcroft who stopped the bureaucratic momentum of the EOIR and the BIA in February 2002. The Attorney General cut the number of members on the BIA, limited their ability to hear new evidence in cases on appeal, and clipped their wings in other ways as well - all by the stroke of his regulatory pen. Under S.2452, the Attorney General would have to battle with the President's new director of the immigration hearings agency before pulling this maneuver again - that is, if the Attorney General would even have any control over the new director at all.

But the most dangerous part of Title XIII is where "the Board [of Immigration Appeals] shall have de novo review of any decision by an immigration judge, including any final order of removal." This one sentence grants the clandestine appellate component of an obscure agency buried inside the DOJ, the power to second-guess the final deportation order of any illegal alien and criminal alien resident in the United States whenever and however they want.

Under Title XIII, the new BIA can decide (perhaps on a whim?) to hold new hearings (de novo review) in closed cases where criminal aliens were already ordered deported, already gave up the right of appeal, or even already left the country. Under the banner of "homeland security," S.2452 gives the BIA to power to let more illegal aliens and more criminal alien residents stay in the United States longer - and even permanently.

I may be missing something here, but how does giving unknown federal bureaucrats the indiscriminate power to reverse deportation orders enhance America's "homeland security?"

Juan Mann is the proprietor of DeportAliens.com , the only immigration reform web site calling for the EOIR bureaucracy to be abolished (since October 2001). He urges all concerned Americans to use the lobbying resources of Numbers USA, FAIR and Project USA to stop the immigration bureaucracy expansion of S.2452.

August 27, 2002