Chertoff Fiddles While Deportation System Burns

Since the reorganization three years ago of the dreaded Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) into a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS), what do the American taxpayers have to show for this billion-dollar bureaucratic bonanza?

Well, for starters, there's taxpayer-funded DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.

He has been dutifully peddling the Bush Administration's ongoing promotion of the Big Lie that a "guest worker program" is not an illegal alien amnesty.

The DHS Secretary reached another low of immigration non-enforcement with his latest outrageous comments last week in Brownsville, Texas:

"'We are in the midst of a serious discussion about a guest worker program,' Chertoff said Friday at Alice Walker Hope Park, which is on the bank of the Rio Grande with a view of Gateway International Bridge. 'Not as amnesty, not a reward, but a constructive mechanism to allow migrants in the U.S. to assume a strong labor demand.'

" 'A guest worker program would allow U.S. law enforcement agencies to spend more time focusing on 'dangerous' elements 'we really worry about,' rather than on the many thousands of people who come to the country seeking work, Chertoff said."

[Chertoff promotes guest worker program—Homeland Security secretary says security of nation depends on it," by Sara Ines Calderon, The Brownsville Herald, March 4, 2006.]

Well, Mr. Secretary, for your information, the "many thousands of people who come to the country seeking work" are called illegal aliens.

And by definition, these uninvited "guests" are breaking the immigration laws of the United States by their unlawful entry and presence.

As an antidote to this Beltway bureaucrat blather, consider this email I received this past week from a savvy VDARE.COM reader:

"As much as the system frustrates you, it's a million times worse for agents. I have seen illegal aliens do things you wouldn't believe to get into the U.S.  No fence, UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle], sensor, or amount of agents can stop them. My personal opinion is that employers who hire illegal aliens need to be punished. The only way to stop the flow is to eliminate the perceived need for slave labor."

Amen, my friend—we need LESS not MORE pauper labor!

And if you cannot grasp this concept, Mr. Secretary, it's time to resign. Instead of hob-nobbing with Mexican diplomats, just ask any of the thousands of uniformed officers under your command whether it's worth "worry[ing] about" illegal aliens invading in the United States.

Until 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.

For intelligent conversation, I look instead to my e-mail in-box. And it just so happens that I was also having such a discussion with this very same VDARE.COM reader concerning the ongoing DHS deception about expedited removal authority along the border.

Here's the bottom line from the policy prescriptions we agreed on:


  • send illegal aliens from Mexico home on a "voluntary return" (VR) as quickly as possible

  • streamline the "expedited removal" (ER) paperwork process to move out more illegal aliens faster while getting the agents out of the office and back to their posts as quickly as possible

The impromptu policy discussion which follows should really be taking place at the highest levels of the federal immigration bureaucracy. But instead it's taking place on the internet . . . anonymously, of course, here on VDARE.com.

The VDARE.com reader wrote:

"When an illegal alien is removed, deported, whatever you want to call it, he is simply sent back to his home country . . . Do you think these people will EVER try to LEGALLY return to the United States?

"Expedited Removals simply eliminate the middle man (immigration judge) and eliminate the likelihood that an illegal alien released on his own recognizance will skip his trial and be removed in absentia. Either way, if the person is in this country ILLEGALLY, he will simply RETURN ILLEGALLY one way or another. He won't care that he's been 'removed' [by the EOIR].

Bravo! That's exactly the case for summary removal that I've been writing about for years now.

The reader continues:

"The only case in which an Expedited removal is actually productive is when dealing with OTM's [aliens from countries other than Mexico]. Due to the fact that DHS has limited bed space for illegal aliens awaiting immigration proceedings, many of them are O/R'd [released from detention on their "own recognizance"]. In the case of the Mexicans, simply returning these individuals to Mexico would be the best course. Instead, immigration agents are forced to spend hours doing paperwork (time better spent in the field apprehending other criminals) in order to return a person to Mexico who will just jump the fence in a couple hours anyway. OTM's are sent back to their home country, so at least E/R's make it harder for them to get back to the border.

"Are you surprised that immigration agents are hesitant to do this worthless paperwork on Mexicans? A simpler E/R procedure for Mexicans—which would take minimal time for agents to complete—would be an improvement. The interior repatriation program at least slowed these guys down, but even that won't stop them. I really wouldn't criticize agents for their frustration with the same system you are complaining about. I'm sure 99% of them feel the same about our immigration problems as you do.

I informed the reader that the last thing I would do is criticize the agents in the field—as I think is clear from my writing on expedited removal, the credible fear review process, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) division, and the rest of my article archive.

In fact, a great deal of the material I write about (including the last article) originates with people in and out of government who really know what's going on in the system, including various agents/officers, both active and retired.

Eliminating the deportation Middle Man (the EOIR Immigration Court system, that is) is a wonderful thing!  Abolishing the EOIR has been the main focus of my writing for over four years now. And as far as I know, INS/DOJ/DHS haven't applied the ER to Mexicans outright if caught within the U.S. . . . they're still giving them VRs instead.

The reader replied:

"Wow! Your research is pretty impressive. I'd say you know more about the nuts and bolts of immigration law and policies than most DHS employees. I apologize if I misinterpreted some of your statements as agent criticism.

"I found it interesting that illegal aliens can be E/R'd within 2 years of entry. BP agents in the [southern border] sector are only allowed to E/R within 14 days. But yes, you are incorrect about Mexican E/Rs. The majority of individuals E/R'd by the BP are Mexican nationals. The E/R was initially used by BP to prevent OTM's from being O/R'd and skipping out on their [EOIR Immigration Court] trials. However, someone decided that it would also reduce the caseload in immigration courts if some Mexicans were also E/R'd instead of set up for removal proceedings.

"An additional benefit would be that the Mexicans wouldn't be O/R'd either. So at this time, most Mexicans are still V/R'd. Those with "minor" criminal records are "full" V/R'd, which is a narrative attached to their paperwork that states their records were checked and that they didn't qualify for removal proceedings (to cover DHS's ass when they commit a heinous crime later.) Those who used to qualify for remprocs [removal proceedings] or reinstatements are now almost all E/Rs. Then you have the <1% who are remprocs, active warrants, and prosecutions. The E/R is good, even if applied to Mexicans, because it keeps them from being O/R'd. Additionally, if anyone is E/R'd three times within 12 months, they meet BP guidelines for prosecution under 8 USC 1326 (illegal reentry.)

"The problem is that most of these guys aren't caught that many times and the hours it takes to complete the E/R paperwork outweighs most benefits. It would make more sense to VR most of them. The best solution would be to simplify the required paperwork to E/R Mexicans who qualify for E/Rs. Believe me, BP agents are doing all they can."

I reiterated the fact—which NO ONE seems to care about in the "mainstream" press—that Congress gave the authority to give ER to ALL illegal aliens ANYWHERE in the U.S. within TWO YEARS of entry, but the DHS/INS/ICE/CBP has never implemented this full authority.

The executive agencies have the power to write the federal regulations tomorrow. But they have been sitting on their hands for TEN YEARS and doing next to nothing to actually institute summary removal nationwide!

Now the much-celebrated H.R. 4437 will actually scale back the authority they've never implemented.

In the short run, I expect that the Senate Judiciary Committee amnesty will probably emerge from the current hearings in one form or another. The Beltway barons aren't listening—and richly deserve the devastating grass-roots revolt they will ultimately provoke.

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