Learning that Professor Ting had been Assistant Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from 1990 - 1993, under the first President Bush, I immediately asked him, "Is it true that 90 percent of refugee and asylum applications are fraudulent?"
"95 percent," he replied. [For an asylum-abuse anecdote, see below.]
Now Ting, currently on leave from his position at Temple, is running for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. This week, he triumphed, narrowly, in the Republican primary. Next he challenges Democratic incumbent Thomas Carper.
Carper, finishing his first term (after a stint in the Navy, a spell as Delaware's sole Congressperson, and two terms as a popular Governor ) has a "D+" grade from Americans for Better Immigration. Importantly, the spring brouhaha in the Senate over S2611 left Carper on the record with a bunch of votes he may have difficulty defending against a candidate who knows the vast subject of American immigration as well as Ting does. (Carper's post-passage statement on S2611 suggests that he doesn't know much about what's in the bill he supported at almost every turn.)
And Ting has emphasized immigration-sanity since he threw his hat in the ring at the start of the primary season. He told me recently that others had tried to dissuade him from this tack. But as Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has finally discovered, "Every state is a border state, and every town is a border town." And, indeed, Delaware, too, is impacted to the tune of two illegal aliens (and three other immigrants) for every eighty residents, according to FAIR's statistics.
Poultry processing on the state's Eastern Shore has attracted the same civic distress as elsewhere in the country. And in the Wilmington suburb of Elsmere, Councilman John Jaremchuk had already crafted a plan in spring 2005 to get illegal aliens out of town, well ahead of Hazleton, PA's big splash this year. Jaremchuk is now running for the Delaware state House of Representatives, with illegal immigration the central theme of his campaign, albeit as quite an underdog.
With a few notable exceptions, the U.S. Senate still seems to be at the "But we're a nation of immigrants!" level of "thinking" when it comes to immigration. So imagine what it would be like to have someone in the Senate who instantly understood (as we immigration realists did, but many of our countrymen still haven't) the significance of 9/11/01's savage enormity. As Senate candidate Ting wrote to his email list on 9/11/06:
The sky that morning was remarkably clear and blue, without a single cloud. I had driven up from Delaware to Temple Law School to teach a class. The radio announced that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, which was spewing smoke. I thought to myself that there must be some way to keep errant planes from intruding on New York City. The class I was teaching that day was Immigration Law. By the start of class we had heard that the second plane had hit, so we knew it was deliberate terrorism. And there were rumors of more attacks in Washington and elsewhere. I told my class that if the people who did this turn out to be foreigners, the field of immigration law was about to change dramatically.
Whence arises this instinct for our country's peril in a comfortably-situated professor at a big-time law school? There's a clue in the brief biography at Ting's campaign website:
Jan was born in Michigan in 1948, the son of Chinese immigrants who came to the United States to continue their studies after the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Michigan, Dr. Sik Woo Ting (Jan’s father) joined the U.S. Army as a medical officer during World War Two. He saw action at the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle for Germany. He received his U.S. citizenship while on active duty with the U.S. Army in France in 1945. Jan’s parents taught him that voting and participating in the democratic political process are precious rights for which American lives have been sacrificed.
My asylum anecdote: A 28-year-old Kurdish man ( "Hussein" ) who deserted from the Iraqi Army because he had been systematically tortured (he was suspected of supporting Kurdish rebellions against Saddam Hussein's thugocracy) was granted asylum in the U.S. in 1998 ( "Tortured Iraqi Fugitive Given U.S. Sanctuary," [pay archive] Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1998, page A-1). From the Times's article:
[Hussein] said he eventually escaped to Iran in 1994 after buying the identity papers of an army veteran. He said he stowed away on a Greek ship bound for Brazil, then hid on a second ship bound for the United States and arrived in March 1997. [Emphasis added]
I hadn't realized that an asylum candidate is entitled to be so choosy about his final destination!