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Besides the extreme lack of resources that has been focused on at previous hearings, we need to make certain that the people in charge of the enforcement of the immigration laws have a true understanding of the laws and have a clear sense of mission that many key managers appear to lack. At present, nearly every field office of ICE is headed by a Special Agent-in-Charge who came from the United States Customs Service and not from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service. The immigration laws are highly complex and require that the executives who are charged with leading the enforcement effort have a thorough understanding of the laws that they are responsible for enforcing. They should have real-world experience in investigating and aiding in the prosecution of criminal organizations that produce fraudulent documents, promote fraud schemes to circumvent the immigration laws, engage in large-scale human trafficking or the smuggling of criminal or terrorist aliens into the United States. They should also have real-world experience and understanding of the ways in which proper enforcement of the immigration laws can synergistically act as a force multiplier when ICE agents team up with law enforcement officers from other federal agencies as well as local and state police departments. The effective enforcement of immigration laws can help to cultivate informants to facilitate not only investigations into immigration law violations, but violations of laws in many other areas of concern including narcotics investigations, gang investigations and terrorism investigations.
The current lack of leadership that is experienced in immigration law enforcement, the lack of effective training and the previously examined, lack of resources have been disastrous for the enforcement of the immigration laws, thereby imperiling our nation and our people.
It is vital that there be real accountability and real leadership where immigration is concerned. While Customs and Immigration were both border enforcement agencies, the border is where their similarities begin and end. I would therefore strongly recommend that the law enforcement officers who are charged with enforcing the immigration laws have a dedicated chain of command with a budget and training program that focuses on immigration. Certainly they can and should work cooperatively with the former Customs enforcement agents, but they need a separate identity in order to make certain that the current “Customization of immigration law enforcement” stops immediately for the security of our nation. The enforcement of the immigration statutes needs to be the priority and not an after-thought. I look forward to your questions.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Agent Bonner. TESTIMONY OF T.J. BONNER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER
PATROL COUNCIL Mr. BONNER. Thank you, Chairman Hostettler and other distinguished Members of the Subcommittee.
On behalf of the 10,000 frontline Border Patrol employees that I represent, I would like to present some of the concerns that we have about the dual enforcement mission of the Border Patrol and the other immigration agencies.
Long before the passage of the Homeland Security Act, or even the debate over that, this Subcommittee and other Members of Congress were talking about the problems in the former Immigration and Naturalization Service and the dual mission that it had, a mission of service and enforcement. And, in fact, about 6 years ago I testified in front of this Subcommittee supporting a bill that would have separated enforcement from service within what was then the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The Homeland Security Act achieved that goal. It split enforcement from service, and, as you noted, Mr. Chairman, it called for the creation of a bureau of border security. Unfortunately the Administration took it one step further and split the enforcement bureaucracy into two different bureaus, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This, in our view, was a serious mistake. It created the One Face at the Border Initiative where we expected employees to be experts in two or even three disciplines, immigration and customs in all cases, and in some cases agriculture.
If there were truth in advertising in some of these Government initiatives, this one should have been called One Hand Tied Behind Our Back, because it minimized our effectiveness by at least 50 percent, and this affects the Border Patrol just as much as it does the other agencies. While on its face it may seem that the Border Patrol is the least affected, we are very dependent on ICE for our detention needs.
The mess that we have down in south Texas right now, where I was speaking to one of our agents down there, is at any given time in south Texas 80 percent of our resources are tied up in processing people from countries other than Mexico. While we have 20 percent of our resources out on the line, 80 percent of them are in the office processing people just to give them a piece of paper that allows them to go wherever they want in the United States, with a promise to show up within about 6 months. And, of course, over 90 percent of these people never do show up. This is simply unacceptable.
The other part that we rely upon ICE for are interior enforcement and work site enforcement. We are not authorized-although we are authorized by law to deal with these issues, we are not authorized by policy to deal with these issues. This results in millions of people coming to the United States looking for and getting jobs. If we are serious about controlling illegal immigration, we need to crack down on the root cause of people coming to this country, and that root cause is employment. We have to turn off the employment magnet. H.R. 98 would do that, and I would urge this Committee to look carefully at that legislation or ideas similar to it so that we can discourage people from coming into this country in search of employment. We need to get the word out to illegal aliens that it does them no good to come in. Whether they come in illegally, or come in legally and overstay their welcome, it will do them no good because no one will offer them a job because they are afraid of the consequences, the employers are afraid of the consequences. We need to take that step if we want to control illegal immigration.
Mr. Cutler brought out the fact that the former Immigration and Naturalization Service enforcement entities have been "customized.” That's a word that you hear when you talk to any Border Patrol agent, or any former ÎNS person. You have Customs managers who are trying to fit round pegs into square holes and make everything work in the old Customs way. This is not sound public policy. As Ralph Waldo Emerson sagely noted in 1841, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” In essence, what they are trying to do is make everything the same when, in fact, there are major differences between immigration and customs enforcement.
And my recommendation is that we fix this problem. This can be undone the same way that it was done, through the administrative reorganization authority granted within the Homeland Security Act. What needs to happen is a separate organization that would handle all of the immigration enforcement, and within that you would have the Border Patrol, immigration inspections, detention and removal, immigration investigations, and a separate organizations for customs. This would allow these officers to specialize. There was an old advertising slogan, I believe, from Kentucky Fried Chicken: We do one thing right. And if you allow these agents to specialize, they can do it right, they want to do it right, but they need the tools to do it right, they need the resources to do it right, they need the policies that enable them to do it right, and they need the laws that are enforceable to go out and to do it right.
I would welcome your questions, and thank you for your time. Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Bonner. [The prepared statement of Mr. Bonner follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF T.J. BONNER
STATEMENT OF THE
NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION, BORDER SECURITY AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OVERSIGHT HEARING ON THE NEW “DUAL MISSIONS"
OF THE IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
MAY S, 2005
The National Border Patrol Council thanks thc Subcommittee for the opportunity to present the
views and concerns of the 10,000 front-linc Border Patrol employecs that it represents regarding the
expanded mission of the agencies responsible for enforcing immigration laws.
Even before the creation of the Department of Homeland Sccurity, there was widespread concern about the dual cnforcement and service missions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (I&NS) that
often competed for the same scarce resources. In fact, a number of legislative solutions were proposed to
address that problem, and this Subcommittee held several hcarings regarding the matter. The National
Border Patrol Council shared those concerns and supported efforts to divide the agency into two separate
components that could each focus on a single mission.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 was also designed to achieve that goal. It abolished the
Immigration and Naturalization Service and transferred its functions into the new Department of Homeland
Security. The legislation called for the creation of two burcaus to absorb those functions: the Bureau of
Border Security to handle all of the enforcement functions and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to handle all of the service functions. For reasons that had more to do with political expediency than operational efficiency, the Administration used its reorganization authority under the Homeland
Security Act to further split the enforcement functions into two new bureaus: thc Bureau of Customs and
Border Protection (CBP) to enforce laws at the border and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) to enforce laws in the interior of the country. Rather than fostering the cooperation and coordination that are so essential to the accomplishment of the Department's homeland security mission,
this artificial distinction has created needless barriers to that effort.
Instead of a well-defined mission, these two enforcement bureaus now share responsibility for
enforcing both immigration and customs laws, and the employees at the ports of entry are also responsible
for enforcing agriculture laws. Predictably, this results in a diffused focus that dilutes the specialized cxpertise that is so vital to the accomplishment of the agencies' missions. All three of these areas of law are cxtremely complex, and it is unrealistic to cxpcct one employee to master them all. Yet that is cxactly what the "One Face at the Border” initiative requires. Although this concept sounds plausible in theory, it is