McCain Bullies 9/11 Family Members While Senate Sabotages Expedited Removal
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[See also by Juan Mann: 03/06/06 - Chertoff Fiddles While Deportation System Burns ; 02/28/06 - DHS Deceptive On Expedited Removal—And Paralyzed By Bureaucratic Battling]

While the mainstream media might mention "catch and release" and "OTM" every once in a while, the knowledge about what is really going on about how illegal aliens are actually apprehended and processed at the border remains mostly hidden from public view.

But the knowledge is critical—because the border will remain porous as long as current litigation-based non-detention policies and procedures remain in place.

In the U.S. Senate—getting past the open hostility from pro-amnesty zombies—even some of the "best" immigration law enforcement efforts happening right now amount to little more than feel-good amendments validating current Executive Branch non-enforcement policies.

As part of my ongoing one-man virtual march on Washington, D.C.—resolutely chanting "expedited removal, SI . . . Amnesty, NO" here on the pages of—I came to the conclusion last week that "[u]ntil Bush Administration zombies accept the most basic premise that keeping illegal aliens out of the United States is a worthwhile goal, then there's no use in trying to have an intelligent conversation about immigration law enforcement with any of them."

Now it's obvious that this unfortunate conclusion goes double for the United States Senate—especially Arizona Senator John McCain.

How is the Senate out to lunch on immigration law enforcement? The smoking gun comes from a report last week from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), concerning the looming amnesty crisis.

On the surface, the report appears to be good news: According to FAIR:

  • Senator Sessions (R-AL) offered an amendment requiring detention of illegal aliens who are other than Mexicans and a $5,000 bond for release. This amendment aims to end current "catch and release" policies. Senator Kyl argued that the amendment represents the current policy of the White House and therefore should be adopted. Others argued that the amendment would never work as long as there are too few detention beds.  But the amendment was approved by voice vote.

  • Senator Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment that had been set aside yesterday to mandate use of expedited removal for illegal aliens (other than Mexicans) captured within 100 miles of the southern border and within 14 days of entry. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

That's right, Senator Sessions, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bonds out illegal aliens from immigration custody like it's going out of style. . . all so it can feed the ponderous federal litigation bureaucracy of the Department of Justice's Immigration Court system of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

And as long as this litigation-based system persists, as the good Senator said in a different context, "the amendment would never work."

And as for Senator Coburn's amendment, this language conforms to the current provisions of H.R. 4437. But that's not necessarily a good thing. As I've written again and again, these new time and distance restrictions on expedited removal actually scale back the authority already on the books (but not fully implemented) since 1996! It's all there in Immigration Act Section 235(b).

So while illegal aliens chant in the streets for another amnesty, the so-called "enforcement" language of the current bill immigration bills would mean the death-knell for nationwide expedited removal authority.

Instead of apprehending illegal aliens found ANYWHERE in the United States with TWO YEARS of their entry, the game of "pass the border and you're home free" would become law.

And what's my beef with Senator John McCain?

Consider this e-mail I received on March 9 from Peter Gadiel, regarding the recent "adventures in D.C." of his 911 Families for a Secure America (FSA) group.

Gadiel wrote:

"At the end of a week of lobbying, we accidentally met Sen. John McCain just outside the Russell Senate Office Building. Joan [Molinaro], Bruce [De Cell] and I approached him [and] identified ourselves as 9/11 family members. We told him we opposed his amnesty bill, and of our promise to hold accountable members of Congress who vote for it for the acts of violence that result. The following conversation resulted:

  • McCain looked at Joan [Molinaro] and said: 'You're kidding, aren't you?'

  • Joan Molinaro: 'No, we're not kidding.'

"At this, McCain started screaming and pointed his finger in our faces: 'After all I've done for you people! I welcome you to come to my state. I'll debate the issue with you. The people of Arizona trust me…I got 77% of the vote last year. Who do you think they'll believe?'

  • McCain: 'It's people like you who make my job so hard. I got 77% of the vote….

  • Gadiel: Oh sure, but you needed 85% of your money from outside the state. What kind of confidence is that?"

Like I said. Intelligent conversation about immigration law enforcement is definitely in short supply these days.

So in the face of this continuing deficit, I turn, as always, to my e-mail in-box. On March 8, a reader wrote concerning the ongoing expedited removal scandal:

"Let me just say that, in the simplest terms possible, this [non-enforcement] is a return to the objectives of the second-to-last Commissioner of the INS, Doris Meissner, whose goal, as set by the administration that appointed her (Clinton) was to essentially open the border as wide as possible by turning the agency into a customer-service organization—and distance itself from any law-enforcement role.

"Under DHS, the 'umbrella' of fighting terrorism is being used as a reason to realign 'priorities and redirect assets so that the administration can bolster itself on the War on Terror'—which is a good thing, but not to the detriment of all else! Everything done within DHS is done under the guideline of how it looks under the counter-terrorism microscope and virtually no discussion is given or heeded on any other area of concern."

Amen, my friend. Another reader wrote this week concerning my two previous columns:

"Good to hear that there are other people who are knowledgeable about the various means of removal and are equally frustrated. Another point to take into consideration is that the different Border Patrol Sectors have different local policies as to how they implement ER [expedited removal].

"We are supposed to apply the most expeditious means of removing someone if the alien is eligible for that form of removal, be it reinstatement, administrative removal, ER or VR [voluntary return]. With the sheer numbers of Mexicans apprehended (and those apprehended repeatedly) Mexicans enjoy an almost special status in that they are eligible for VR that carries no penalty whatsoever if repeatedly apprehended.

"Oh sure, there is the odd Mexican who might rack up 20-25 VRs, which in most sectors would finally warrant ER or an NTA [the EOIR Immigration Court charging document called a "notice to appear"], or maybe a misdemeanor prosecution, if an AUSA [Assistant U.S. Attorney] was available and willing to take it, but the fact is, without penalties, or a medium which serves as a deterrent, there is an incentive to try and try again. 

"Virtually all AUSA's reject prosecuting non-criminal Mexicans or repeat offenders unless the number of violations is really high. More U.S. attorneys to prosecute the minor cases are needed, plus we need to make the interior repeat program mandatory, not voluntary, as it is currently. VR or ER as it applies to Mexicans just enables the smugglers and keeps them employed.

"If Mexico refuses to really assist us in keeping their citizens from repeatedly breaching our borders and enables the smuggling industry to flourish in staging sites and crossing points near the POEs [Ports of Entry], we need more ways to make returning a deterrent and not an incentive by virtue of being from a contiguous country. We need more prosecutions and fewer returns to the border where it is easier to return. Too bad we can't set up a flight pad for repatriation in Chiapas."

So there you have it. The ongoing expedited removal non-implementation scandal continues.

And so far, the story of how our own immigration laws and policies make the border even more porous remains confined to my e-mail in-box, and right here on the pages of

But hopefully not for long.

Lou Dobbs, are you listening?

Juan Mann [email him] is an attorney and the proprietor of He writes a weekly column for and contributes to Michelle Malkin's Immigration BLOG. 

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