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Tancredo: INS Threatens Whistleblower By Joseph A. D'Agostino The Week of November 5, 2001
The campaign for immigration reform got a boost on October 31, when four congressmen held a press conference to advocate the creation of a new border security agency and Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft talked tough about cracking down on illegal immigration as a part of the war against terrorism.
Representatives Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.), Marge Roukema (R.-N.J.), Walter Jones (R.-N.C.), and Virgil Goode (I.-Va.) said they favor the unification of border security in one agency separate from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
Tancredo also said that the INS was intimidating a 30-year agent he intended to have testify in a hearing of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, which he chairs. "When the INS found out that he was talking to us and considering testimony, they told him that if he did that, he would be fired," said Tancredo. "We are working to get him whistleblower status."
Tancredo told Human Events that he has an appointment to meet with White House aide Karl Rove on November 27 to talk about immigration reform.
Right now, Tancredo told the press conference, border responsibilities are divided among several agencies, a situation that is exploited by smugglers and other immigration-law violators.
"If you want to bring in drugs, you go to one line," he said. "If you want to smuggle people, you go to another."
"The INS is confused about their role," he said. "And they have a dual role. They are supposed to enforce the law and they are supposed to help immigrants. . . . Enforcement is not the goal. They consider themselves to be social workers."
By creating a new agency dedicated solely to enforcement and turning the INS into an immigrantsí service agency, some immigration problems may be solved, said Tancredo.
Momentum is growing for that cause on Capitol Hill, he said, as last week the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus added five new members, bringing its total to 35.
"We are not proposing legislation, because the chances of us getting through a bill here in the short term are pretty slim," he said. "But we hope this will be included in the administrationís proposals."
On the same day, speaking for the administration, Atty. Gen. Ashcroft hit the immigration issue hard.
"The Department of Justice will prevent aliens who engage in or support terrorist activity from entering our country," said Ashcroft. "We will detain, prosecute, deport terrorist aliens who are already inside the nationís borders. America will not allow terrorists to use our hospitality as a weapon against us. . . . Forty years ago, the Department of Justice, under Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, undertook an extraordinary law enforcement campaign to root out and to dismantle organized crime. The Kennedy Justice Department, it is said, would arrest a mobster for spitting on the sidewalk, if it would aid in the war against organized crime. In the war on terror, it is policy of this Justice Department to be equally aggressive. We will arrest and detain any suspected terrorist who has violated the law."
Ashcroft announced the creation of a Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, which will coordinate information-sharing among agencies that have often failed to communicate in the past. He will also impose more extensive background checks on those who apply for non-immigrant visas. "I am today asking the secretary of state to designate 46 groups as terrorist organizations," Ashcroft said. Members of these groups will be barred entry into the United States.
Roukema said the administration needs to do more about immigration reform. She pointed to congressional testimony that had been presented that day by Mary Ryan, assistant secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, and Michael Becraft, INS acting deputy commissioner. "They had not one single recommendation to close the loopholes," she said.
At a recent conference in Ottawa, she said, Canadian officials had conceded that their own immigration system is also full of holes. "They told me their immigration policies have been very porous," she said. "And they said Canada is often used as a staging ground for immigrating here."
She told Human Events that she might support Tancredoís proposal for a six-month moratorium on all immigration into the U.S. "I would personally be in favor of that, probably," she said.
-- K (email@example.com), November 03, 2001