Stop it, stop it! I can't stand it any longer!
The proposal to split the Immigration and Naturalization Service into two parts — a "paperwork" branch for so-called customer service and an "enforcement" branch for deporting aliens — would be an absolute disaster and an open invitation for immigration benefit fraud. If the INS is going to be scrapped, the functions of the agency need to be held together under whatever law enforcement framework takes its place. And as long as a new border security agency is on the drawing board, the unwieldy and unworkable Immigration Court hearing system must be scrapped along with the beleaguered INS. Let me state the obvious.
For a two-bureau immigration plan to work, in theory, only "good aliens" are supposed to go to the "paperwork" bureau, while all the "bad aliens" are handled in the "enforcement" bureau. But the problem is that "bad aliens" also submit paperwork — lots of phony paperwork. The General Accounting Office (GAO) even has a name for it: immigration benefit fraud. "Bad aliens" love to get something for nothing . . . that's what "bad aliens" do. Just as bank robbers go where the money is, the "bad aliens" walk right in the front door of the INS and apply for anything they want. And the INS obliges. Just ask Huffman Aviation International of Venice, Florida.
The GAO recently lurched uncontrollably into the truth in reporting the rampant, systemic problem of immigration benefit fraud at the INS service centers. The report revealed that the INS has no coherent system in place for investigating and apprehending aliens who submit fraudulent applications for immigration benefits. Any system for weeding out "bad aliens" at the application service centers (the current "paperwork" division) is either entirely hit-and-miss, or doesn't even exist. Does anyone think this bankrupt system could be improved by moving the "enforcement" function even further away to a different "bureau" of the INS, or kept separate under a new border security agency? Who would investigate the benefit fraud? If the different divisions of the INS don't communicate now, how would putting them in separate chains of command help the situation? The INS as we know it needs to be disbanded, with all of its incompetent managers scattered to the four winds. The functions of the INS need to be put under the management of a new border security enforcement agency that can do the job of enforcing immigration law and stopping immigration fraud.
"Bad aliens" go about defrauding the federal government in many inventive ways. They send the same application to multiple INS offices under the same name until they get an approved petition or a green card. They send the same application under many different names to the same INS office. They apply for replacement green cards even if they never had a green card in the first place. They apply under family petitions by fictitious relatives until they get a green card. They apply for immigration status all over again after being deported. They love the bureaucratic refugee processing and political asylum systems too. They apply for political asylum in as many INS offices and under as many names as they want until they get it right. They list fictitious children on their applications and sell the "spots" to others who want to immigrate children under the phony names. Needless to say, the INS desperately needs competent information management to put a stop to the rampant benefit fraud. Taking the law enforcement out of the "paperwork" division is not the way to restore integrity to a bankrupt agency.
Rearranging the deck chairs on the INS-Titanic is bad enough, but there's an even bigger obstacle to immigration reform. As I've stated at length on my web site, the missing link of immigration reform is the Immigration Court system of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). While the INS plays its role as Congress' favorite punching bag for immigration policy, the EOIR hides in the shadows within the DOJ. The silence about the EOIR is deafening!
It's a sad fact that the federal government is equally inept at deporting the aliens it already knows about, not to mention the ones it doesn't know about. The problem is structuring the entire INS detention operation around the EOIR's Immigration Court hearing system, where the standard practice is to release just about all the aliens that the INS already has in custody, so they supposedly can be rounded up all over again sometime in the distant future. This ridiculous concept really is the four-letter word of the Department of Justice – E.O.I.R.
Everyone is concerned (as they should be) about finding illegal aliens, tracking visa over-stayers, rooting out foreign terrorist cells or having the Border Patrol track down aliens along the border. But these are the aliens that got away – THE ONES WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT. The public is starting to catch on that the INS isn't too good at finding unknown aliens. But I can assure you that the system for dealing with THE ONES WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT is equally bankrupt. The problem is the EOIR. The EOIR's Immigration Court system is just not designed for deporting anyone anytime soon.
Between the incompetence of the INS, the complete lack of alien detention center space and the bureaucracy of the EOIR, our system for deporting known illegal aliens and criminal alien residents is a sad joke. But no one is laughing. If all of the illegal aliens and deportable resident alien criminals were rounded up tomorrow, the system would not be capable of handling them. It would be an absolute disaster. The INS and the EOIR wouldn't have the foggiest idea of what to do with them! The aliens would all be released back out on the street on immigration bonds and go back right where they were as if nothing happened, while their cases would grind on through the system of Immigration Court hearings and endless appeals.
No matter what the INS or any border security agency calls itself, as long as the EOIR hearing system exists, there will be no real immigration reform. The EOIR must be abolished along with the INS. The immigration system in this country must be streamlined and built again from the ground up. American immigration policy needs to be put under new management once and for all.
If the EOIR is abolished along with the INS, there are already a variety of federal officers trained to do the same functions as the EOIR's mysterious bureaucrats in black robes. American immigration policy needs more officers for law enforcement functions, not more managers and attorney-bureaucrats in a pseudo- court system. The federal government already employs an army of law enforcement officers who could do the job faster and better than the Immigration Court.
Here's who could do the work right now:
INS District Adjudications Officers (examiners) – adjustment of status, derivative citizenship claims, inadmissibility waivers
INS Asylum Officer Corps – political asylum, withholding of removal, U.N. Convention Against Torture relief
INS Special Agents (investigators) – administrative removal, criminal alien apprehension
INS Deportation Officers – administrative removal, criminal alien removal
U.S. Border Patrol Agents – administrative removal, Section 235(b) determinations
INS Immigration Inspectors – expedited removal, Section 235(b) determinations, humanitarian parole
INS District Directors – waivers, registry, humanitarian parole
INS District Counsels – provide legal advice to all of the above in determining whether aliens are removable
U.S. consular officers abroad – all immigrant and non-immigrant visa processing, political asylum, refugee petitions, United States citizenship determinations
For any immigration system to work with integrity, the Immigration and Nationality Act also should be amended to abolish (at the very least) all stealth amnesty provisions that reward law-breaking, including Section 245(i) adjustments and non-permanent resident cancellation of removal under Section 240A(b). Remember those "bad aliens?" Well, they are going to love the new extended stealth amnesty provisions of Section 245(i) passed again by the House of Representatives. They'll be filing relative petions early and often.
Any illegal alien or visa-overstayer who has a spouse, parent, child, brother or sister who is a United States citizen or a green card holder will NOT be deported under this scheme, thanks to the 245(i) provision. If the INS won't deport you while waiting for your 245(i) petition to be decided (regardless of how fraudulent it may be), it sure looks like an amnesty. There's going to be plenty of fraud coming soon. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, or at least until Congress grants yet another amnesty. Can you make Congress stop the madness, Senator Byrd?
Juan Mann is the proprietor of DeportAliens.com the only immigratin reform web site that exposes the bureaucracy of the EOIR. He dedicates his work to the principle that one man's opinion can make a difference.
March 20, 2002