Panel Transcript: Can Attrition Through Enforcement Work?


Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims

Jessica Vaughan, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Immigration Studies

Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies

MARK KRIKORIAN: Good morning, or actually, good afternoon. My name is Mark Krikorian. I'm the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think-tank here in town that examines and critiques the impact of immigration on the United States. All of our publications, including the one that we're talking about today, are on our website:

The report we're releasing is in response to the my concerns about the way debate over this issue has gone. There's been . . . usually, it's presented as there are two options. This is what you see all the time. Politicians pardon me, Congressman and reporters and others there's only two ways to deal with this: deport everybody tomorrow or legalize them. However we dress up legalization, whatever we call it it's amnesty. I really couldn't care less what you call it. The point is those are the ways the two options are presented. Drive everybody through the desert on Tuesday through a vast biblical exodus or legalize them. The fact is that is a Hobson's choice, a false choice.

There, in fact, is a third way and that third way is the only thing that can work anyway, and that is a gradual process of attrition of the illegal population through enforcement of the immigration laws. It's what a lot of the pro-enforcement debate has been about without really sort of articulating that as a particular strategy.

What the paper that Jessica Vaughn is going to be talking about in a few minutes is about not just making the case sort of philosophically for that kind of enforcement strategy, not laying out the strategy, but a little more practically: it can actually be done. What kind of projecting? What will it cost? What will the likely results be? It's not sort of a crystal-ball forecast, but rather a kind of a projection of what can we expect a strategy like this to look like. How would it likely work? It's not a the report you have is in your envelope in your folders, it isn't a scoring of HR-4437. It's more, like I said, a kind of an examination of what are the likely results and the cost of this approach rather than specific pieces of legislation.

And we're honored to have with us today Congressman John Hostettler. He's going to go first just to hopefully get his comments out before he gets called off to a vote if that's what happens. Congressman Hostettler is the chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee here in the House, so obviously is central to the issue of immigration. And so what I wanted to do was let him say a few words and then Jessica will talk about a little more about what she found and kind of what her projections were about such a strategy. I'll then have a few comments about public opinion related to that kind of strategy and then we'll be happy to take Q&A.

Congressman? I think I'll just you go first if you want to

REP. JOHN HOSTETTLER: That's all right. Thank you, Mark. I usually don't do events such as this, but when I was asked by Center for Immigration Studies to come and take a small part in the discussion of this very important report, I was glad to get that invitation. I want to congratulate the Center for Immigration Studies and especially Jessica Vaughn for their for her very important work on this issue that is, I think, the key to understanding the solution to the problem we face today with illegal immigration.

When I was first asked to take the chair of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims back in early 2003, it didn't take long for me to realize that we had to basically look at two very large categories for solutions to this issue, and that was first in the area of resources and in the area of policy, and the question was, do we have the appropriate number of appropriate amount of resources in order to meet the requirement to solve the problem that massive inflows and continuations of residence here of illegal aliens into our country, or is it a policy issue? Do we need to bring on the policy in order to solve this problem of the appropriate level of resources to follow on?

It didn't take long for me to conclude that the issue for Congress was an issue of resources; that, in fact, we needed to provide the proper amount of resources to meet the demand, and Congress is doing that. In late 2004, in the intelligence reform legislation passed by Congress, I included two provisions to double the number of border patrol [agents] and triple the number of immigration customs enforcement agents over five years. The Senate added the provision to triple the number of detention beds over that same time period, and so these are the resources that Congress can add to benefit this turning back, if you will, of the flow into our country of illegal aliens as well to as to alleviate the situation that we have now regarding the 11 to 20 million illegals that are already here.

But the other side of that equation for the solution I concluded, and many others have as well, is that we need enforcement from the executive branch and that Congress can legislate all types of myriad policy changes and additions and we can provide resources to make those policy changes workable, but if the executive branch is not willing or unable for whatever reason to enforce the laws that are on the books, then all of that legislating, all of that those resource additions will come to naught.

And so the focus of this study is that of the importance of enforcement and to rebut that false notion that the only solution aside from a guest worker program essentially allowing amnesty for millions of illegals that are here is to forcibly deport the millions of illegal aliens in our country. The Jordan Commission in its final report used the analogy of a magnet an employment magnet. And if you're familiar with these large magnets that, in some cases, are on the end of these large cranes and electrical current is applied to the magnet and they are used to bringing up . . . pick up a large chunk of metal to move it from one location to another, the way they ultimately get rid of that chunk of metal in the place they wanted to be is to eliminate the electrical current and the magnet stops being a magnet and the chunk of metal falls away.

Likewise, the analogy for enforcement is very clear: if we enforce the law, in my opinion especially with regard to worksite compliance, then we will eliminate the incentive that brings millions of illegal aliens into our country has brought millions of illegal aliens into our country and continues to bring hundreds of thousands here a year. And so this idea of enforcing the law and even though I have concentrated on worksite compliance, the program set out by Jessica Vaughn from Center for Immigration Studies is a multi-layered approach that addresses issues beyond worksite compliance, but if we're not willing to first and foremost address that employment magnet, that both Father Hesburgh in1981 and Barbara Jordan in 1994 addressed, then we're going to do nothing to put a dent in the population that is here today and the incentive that is bringing more and more people into our country.

So I just want to, in conclusion, once again, commend the center and especially Jessica Vaughn on her very hard work to put this report together to focus our attention on this issue of enforcement, and while my colleagues and I in Congress continue to grapple with this issue of what to do, we can do the legislative work continually ad nauseam only to find out that if the focus of this report if enforcement itself is not carried out, our job will come to of no avail. And so I want to thank you for allowing me to take part and I will now go vote and I will be back shortly. Thank you.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Okay. Thank you, Congressman. I appreciate it. The congressman has been a leader on this issue obviously given his position and we really appreciate his participation. He may or may not be back for Q&A. We'll see whether if the votes hold him, but if he is then we will obviously have Q&A with him as well.

But Jessica now is going to talk about the report: what she's found, what [were] her findings, what her projections were. Jessica Vaughn is a senior policy analyst here at the center. Has been with the center on and off actually longer than I have and was and actually bring some very direct real world experience to this as well. The congressman, his magnet analogy, we use that analogy all the time, but it was detailed talking about a crane picking up metal I suspect because the congressman's a trained engineer and worked as an engineer.

Jessica was a consular officer originally . . . actually did consular work, visa work in the Caribbean dealing with these actual issues and so that shows from her depth of experience as opposed to kind of the wonkiness that you get from people like myself, who've never actually had to stamp visas. So I'll have Jessica talk for about, well, outline what she's found. I'm going to talk briefly afterwards and then we'll do Q&A.


JESSICA VAUGHN: Thank you. Thanks. I'm glad Mark mentioned the role that experience in fieldwork in immigration policy plays in your perception of this issue and this debate because the ideas in this paper are ideas that have been talked about by a lot of people, but most importantly people who are involved and have been involved for many, many years in the debate and in the actual administration of immigration policy. And I consulted with a lot of people about what the elements of an attrition policy should be and the most important idea that kept coming up is, you know, we know what it takes to bring about a reduction in the illegal alien population.

We have the tools available to us and it's just a matter of deciding to do it and getting resources for it and so this really is a result of not just me but a lot of people's ideas about how to go about this who have collectively a lot of experience in the operational angles of this issue, and I might express it a different way. If Mark is sort of the engineer in thinking up the idea, then people like me are the mechanics who sit down and think about how it'd actually work and add up how much it would cost and so on, but it's . . . but it has to be done because, as Mark has mentioned, the debate right now has been characterized by these two options, either the mass legalization and more green cards or what is characterized as sort of the felonization of the illegal alien population and setting up the 21st century trail of tears back to the Rio Grande, and that's not the way it has to be.

The idea of the attrition through enforcement policy is to actually bring about a change in the dynamics of migration; not to just react to it, but to actually change the way people think about the option of migrating illegally to the United States. And as it turns out, this is not going to be horribly expensive. It's not going to cost billions and billions of dollars which, in fact, is probably what it would cost if we decided to try to identify, apprehend, detain, and then remove each and every illegal alien that we could find.

I found that an attrition through enforcement policy would cost about $2 billion over a period of five years, which is actually less than 1 percent of what the president has requested for the entire budget for the Department of Homeland Security in the next year. So it's a very small increase above and beyond what we're already talking about doing at the border. And that's the idea that it's something different from just border control. It demands a focus on interior enforcement.

In order if you look at the inflow and outflow of illegal immigration over time, you see that it's been in recent years kind of like a bus headed downtown where, you know, in the outer suburbs you've got people getting on and the closer you, you know, as the bus goes through its route downtown more and more people are getting on, very few people are getting off. We have a lot of people who've been arriving in the country and not going home and this is, in fact, a departure from traditional illegal migration patterns.

A scholar by the name of Doug Massey, who's now affiliated with Princeton University and runs a big research project there called the Mexican Migration Project that project is based on surveys with people in Mexico who have migrated to the United States and back. And what he's shown is that there has always been a churn in the illegal alien population and in the process of migration.

Back in the mid-80s, as it turns out, about 45 percent of the people who came here illegally to work intended it to be temporary, and 45 percent of those actually ended up going back home. Today, what he's found is that the probability of an illegal alien returning home on their own has been reduced to 25 to 33 percent and he people speculate as to the reasons for that. I think one of the reasons is because of the neglect of interior enforcement; that people have realized that nobody's trying to stop them from living here once they've made the decision to come and once they've gotten into the country. And so if we can interfere with and start to change the dynamic, what we can do is try to restore volunteer bring about voluntary compliance with the law get people to go back home on their own and in time the population will shrink much faster than it's going to if we continue with our current approach, which has been essentially a triage approach focusing on criminal aliens and on the border itself.

And by using the government's estimates and independent estimates that are out there on the size of and flow of the illegal population, I found that with just a few key policy changes in addition to border control, we can gradually cut the size of the illegal population in half over about five years from let's I started with the figure of 11.5 million aliens and that we could gradually bring it down to about 5.6 million illegal aliens living here. That's a huge difference and it's not going to happen with a triage approach to interior enforcement.

Now, what exactly what kinds of policies exactly does it take to do this? I mentioned six of them that I thought were particularly important: mandatory workplace verification of status; ending misuse of federal identification documents, particularly the ITIN and the Social Security number; partnerships with state and local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement; reducing overstays, which a lot of people forget about it's believed that about 40 percent of the illegal alien population is made up of visa overstayers, as opposed to people who snuck across the desert or whatever, so we have to address that population or we're not going to get anywhere. We need to return to more routine immigration law enforcement. Right now that type of immigration law enforcement gets about 10 percent of all ICE resources, which is not enough. And finally some of the most positive compliance efforts that we've seen have been as a result of state and local laws to discourage illegal settlement.

So not only is this approach of attrition through enforcement going to work faster than what we're doing now, it also has the benefit of being low cost as I said we're talking about less than $2 billion over five years above and beyond what we're already doing. And the difference is that it doesn't focus on border control, but it focuses on interior enforcement.

The single most important element in the strategy, I think, is mandatory workplace verification. That's really basic pilot the basic pilot program, the genesis of the program that the Sensenbrenner bill seeks to make mandatory has been around for a few years, and we know that that can have a huge impact on the size of the illegal alien population. As has been said before, jobs are the main reason the illegal aliens are here, and so what we need to do is to interfere with that process and as a result fewer illegal aliens will choose to stay here. If we insist that employers have a legal workforce and make it easy for them to have a legal workforce, our experience and evidence that we've seen so far shows that the dynamics of illegal migration will change.

And I think it's important also to note that when I talk about mandatory workplace verification, that's not the same as the workplace verification that has been touted recently by DHS. Many of you probably read about the big IFCO bust of last month where the administration announced this initiative to start prosecuting employers who had blatantly hired illegal workers and about 1,000 illegal aliens were arrested in one operation. What was less reported is that probably 80 percent or more of those illegal aliens who were arrested are now back on the streets. They received notices to appear rather than actually being removed within 48 hours. Those kinds of operations will always have a role in law enforcement immigration law enforcement, but it's simply too slow to make a difference any kind of noticeable difference over time.

For example, if we did an operation like that every or if DHS did it every single week for the next year, that would result in a whopping total about 52,000 illegal aliens being removed out of a population of 11.5 million, and according to the figures I've seen it would cost probably about $83 million a year to do that every week.

If, on the other hand, we went to mandatory workplace verification where you actually try to prevent people from being hired and you uncover people who are already on the job who are not eligible to work, we could potentially deny about a million illegal aliens jobs at a cost of less than $100 million a year. So it's you're affecting much more people at a cost that's far less than what we're doing right now. The bureau and the way that I arrived at that [one] million figure that could be potentially affected by workplace verification is based on Bureau of Labor Department's statistics Bureau of Labor's statistic. They think that there are roughly 50 to 60 million new hires a year, and we believe that illegal aliens make up about 5 percent of the labor force, so that would be about 2.5 million illegal alien new hires a year.

We think that about half of all illegal aliens are actually working on the books. They're not being paid cash or under the table or anything else. They're actually on the payroll with probably with a false Social Security number. And so it's reasonable to expect that with this kind of a system, you could identify more than a million people a year, and even if only half of them decided to go home after they were identified taking their families with them, because another thing we know from research is that many illegal aliens here have families with them if half of them left that would still be a million people a year who would essentially self-deport at very low cost to the federal government.

I think it's really very underappreciated exactly how much of a law enforcement bargain mandatory workplace verification really is for the federal government. I mean, we're talking about, according to the Congressional Budget Office, $414 million over five years. To put that into perspective, that's about what we spent on the American Shield Initiative, which is all the sensors and high technology that was placed at the land borders, which according to a recent government audit have resulted in the apprehension of exactly no illegal aliens. Same amount of money and, I mean, I think it's obvious how our money would be better spent would be on a system like this.

The other huge deal for the federal government in terms of immigration law enforcement where we see great results so far has been in the adoption of state and local laws that discourage illegal settlement. We found that when, for example, when states have adopted laws to clean up the issuance of driver's licenses, especially in states like New York and Florida, literally tens of thousands of people who were living here illegally have decided on their own to go back home. And it's really the most successful interior immigration enforcement program that we have right now and it's, as I said, a result of state governments taking action, and it wasn't necessarily even directed at illegal immigration but at cleaning up state identification systems.

So to put that into perspective, in 2005 the Department of Homeland Security deported exactly 43 illegal Irish aliens and literally thousands have been leaving on their own from the state of New York alone because according to interviews that have appeared in the news, they don't want to live here if they can't drive, can't get a job, et cetera, et cetera. It's just not working for them.

So we know that this approach of attrition through enforcement will work. It's not speculation anymore. Our experience and the academic literature all support the fact that this is the fastest and the cheapest way to go. Illegal immigrants are human beings. They're not migratory birds that are hardwired to keep coming and keep coming and keep coming no matter what. We know that they make rational choices based on our policies, and so that if we change our policies in very targeted ways, we can, in fact, change the dynamic of illegal immigration in this country, and that's what's going to make a big difference to the communities around the country who are grappling with the burden that illegal immigration imposes on them.

So I can talk about other things that are in the paper. You can read them in the paper, but for now I'll turn it over to Mark.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Okay. I just wanted to make a few comments myself and then open it to Q&A. What I wanted to point out is first of all this attrition through enforcement concept theoretically works. Practically speaking, Jessica's talked about how it's not only proven to work in small-scale areas, it's also financially realistic, but also we released a poll last week that tried to kind of tried to plumb public sentiment on this and it's also quite widely supported by the public as well. And I just wanted to talk a few minutes about the poll.

The results are on our site at, and the reason we did this is because the past polling on this, the media polling, has been indistinguishable from the advocacy group polling. It's essentially been push polls. Time Magazine simply adopted the language of the pro-legalization crowd and asked respondents, Do you want to legalize undocumented immigrants who work hard and pay their back taxes and learn English and call their mother every Sunday, or do you want to adopt the House approach of the jackboot on the face of the alien forever? I mean, it was so absurd and so over the top that it got the response that they expected.

So what we did was try to come up with some more neutral descriptions. Not to do our own push poll, but to come up to sort of see measure public views, not specifically really, you know: do you like the Hagel-Martinez Bill? Or do you like the Specter's chairman mark? The point is, are the approaches the legalization approach or the attrition approach . . . resonate how do they resonate with the public? And we intentionally, for instance, used neutral language. We did not use the word illegal aliens. We did not use the word amnesty even though those are legitimate and accurate descriptions. They are hot-button terms that people would object to, so we avoided them. And what we found was kind of what we expected. I mean, it's if we found something different, we I don't know if we would have told you, but we didn't.

The new people news media got to have all of our questions. We picked out the ones that we thought were interesting, but the other questions we didn't release all the details for the reporters got a hold of it, doesn't tell you anything different from what we found and what we did was we asked first, free standing, Do you like the attrition approach? Yes or no? We described it and if anything we used language that made it strong sound stronger than you could. In other words, we talked about fortifying the border. We said forcing businesses to verify that workers are here legally. And we got more than two to one who said it was a good or very good idea as opposed to a bad or very bad idea 69 percent to 27 percent.

Then we asked the Senate approach, free standing. In other words, not comparing it, just we described the Senate Bill and we used their language. You know, the background check, payment of back taxes that sort of thing. So in other words, we didn't use the word amnesty. We weren't trying to spin this. And there was support for it. I mean, 43 percent of the public said they thought it was a good this is likely voters thought it was a good or very good idea, although 53 percent said it was a bad or very bad idea.

So when you present the legalization approach on its own, there are, in fact, I mean, you will get some support, but of course it doesn't mean anything on its own. It's got to be compared. What are the options? What are the sort of menu options? So we did two different ways of doing that. First, we put the House approach the attrition approach versus the legalization approach together: two to one in favor of attrition, 64 percent to 30 percent. And then we gave them a third option, which is the one that we keep hearing about from the legalization people: mass deportation and roundups. And we found then, with the three options, 56 percent in favor of attrition, 28 percent in favor of legalization, 12 percent in favor of massive deportation and roundups, which there's no proposal [for] anyway and there isn't going to be. So I mean, even if you put the two enforcement-related results together, you get more than two-thirds of respondents supporting some kind of enforcement-related approach . . . mostly overwhelmingly supporting an attrition approach allowing through enforcement of the law making illegal immigrants return home over time. That's the way we described attrition.

And my point here is that this isn't something that lawmakers or the public need to feel is a sacrifice for their country; that, you know, they have to take one for the team by approach, by enforcing, by supporting an attrition approach. This is actually when you ask the public kind of where they are . . . it's a commonsense response to a problem and it's pretty clear that despite the false choice of legalization or amnesty that where the public is is at least in a kind of broad sense where the House bill has already gotten to, or at least the implicit strategy of the House bill.

So with that I'll open it up to questions. If the congressman gets back, you can accost him with questions too, but for now you can ask Jessica or me questions and we'll continue for a little while until people run out of gas or I run out or gas, but then since I never run out of gas, we'll have to stop before that.

If you could identify yourself too. Yes, ma'am?

Q: (Off mike and inaudible) And I have a question for the two of you as far as your experience with, like, being consulate officers. Could part of the problem or a solution to the problems, like, you know, the attrition solution, be to deal with backlog of visa cases; that, you know, (off mike) trying to go through the legal route so there'd be an appropriate time but because of backlog, you know, with cases that that might be an issue?

MR. KRIKORIAN: That they come in illegally, in other words, because of the backlogs?

Q: Right. And they end up taking the illegal route versus the legal route because of the backlogs?

MS. VAUGHN: I wouldn't say that it's completely irrelevant, but I would say the way it's related is not because people are so I mean, I think it's a pretty small share of the illegal alien population amounts to people who are frustrated with the legal process. I think the backlog contributes to illegal immigration really because it just undermines the integrity of the entire system. In other words, you have because of the backlog you have a lot of people who are not actually entitled to . . . a green card, because our system is so oversubscribed and can't handle the workload, those people end up being able to submit fraudulent applications and nobody ever detects it, or they submit an application that's never going to be approved, but because they've submitted it, it gives some kind of a de facto status in the country and that the existence of the backlog allows all of that to happen. And so people just see it as more evidence of the fact that our immigration system is completely broken. There are some people who are here illegally who might eventually qualify for the legal status. I just don't think it's a huge number of people necessarily.

MR. KRIKORIAN: And well, I have a quick response I have two points. One is the implicit assumption in this issue of, you know, backlogs that are too long or caps that are too low this is other part of the Senate proposal: to double legal immigration too, remember? {Also,] that immigration is inevitable. Is that it's like the tides and the weather and we have to accommodate it and if we don't it's going to seep through illegally anyway and that's a mistake in assumption. Immigration is an artifact of government policy. It's not a force of nature because immigrants aren't migratory birds that instinctively must do things . . . people respond to incentives.

The other point, though, specifically about the backlogs is the assumption is that these are people who applied overseas, got frustrated at the long waits, and came here anyway. There's some of that, but a lot of people in the various backlogs of the various categories on the waiting list are illegal aliens who are using the system as a way to launder their status. So they got on the waiting list after they snuck in illegally rather than getting on the waiting list and then saying, Geez, I'm not going to wait 20 years. I'm going to come anyway.

MS. VAUGHN: Part of why so much of the backlog is spouses . . . it's people who came here illegally and then found love.

Q: A lot of people don't know what the backlog is. There are one million people in the current real backlog. The real backlog are people who are at nearly done with their processing, but perhaps lack one document or two. There's literally nobody in the true real backlog, which is people who have completed their entire application, everything checks, and they're just waiting for adjudication. There might be 150,000 of those. Okay? So this number that you see in the whatever you want to call it groups because there are so many different groups that flaunt this number of 7 million. One million of those are people have their paperwork in a state of process that's nearly complete and that requires an adjudicator to work directly with the immigrant, the lawyer, the husband whatever.

Now, of that percentage, some number, perhaps is big as 20 percent, will be inevitably denied, so the backlog is a decision back log. So they say, Oh, you got all your stuff. Hey, you're denied. You don't qualify. Then there are six million that are treated as backlog, those are in that's what the number that Mark was just referring to. It's not a real backlog. Many of those people came in and were able to change status using various changes in our laws. They continue and will continue with the Senate bill. We will have thousands, okay? The backlog will that's why you see these people saying these backlogs are going to move to 12 or 14 million. The Senate bill would dictate that we if the House accepts the Senate bill on its face, because we're creating all sorts of new exceptions all of which will go in to this processing mill. If anybody in this room is illegal, that will be your opportunity to go ahead and apply using a foreign mailbox to get into this new backlog that will be created.

So our own immigration laws there's precedent create the opportunity for this so-called backlog because while you're in process you can work. That's the

MS. VAUGHN: That's exactly it. Yeah. And some of it is actually . . . I think it's a mistake to call it a backlog. Some of it is actually a waiting list too, which is, you know, the statute limits the number of people who can be issued.

Q: That's not a backlog.

MS. VAUGHN: No, I call that the waiting list. But a lot of people think of that is the

Q: This is treated as the backlog. There are people whose paperwork is processed and waiting for their quota opportunity.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Right. And that's but I mean, that's what . . . the people have the last comment on this backlog issue. That is often what people are talking about. In other words, when you when the pro-guest worker people talk about there being only 5,000 visas for unskilled workers in the employment-based category, but 500,000 Mexicans wanting to come in, that's the kind of thing that they're talking about supposedly inadequate caps and that's my point about the flow: there is no natural level of the flow. It's an artifact of the government's policy.


MR. KRIKORIAN: There's a question? Yes, in the back. Yeah. No, no, no. You, yeah.

Q: I have two questions. One

MR. KRIKORIAN: Could you identify yourself?

Q: My name is Tim Vettel. I'm with the Immigration Policy Center. One is related to your backlog or non-backlog group. Historically, what has been the disposition of that six to seven million group that's not really backlogged? Are they for the most part denied, or are

MR. KRIKORIAN: You mean the people on the waiting lists who are waiting for a quota opportunity to come up?

Q: Well, are they denied, or are they ?

MS. VAUGHN: A lot of them are denied. I mean, I've seen figures that have suggested that as many as 50 percent of the applicants for marriage-based petitions for green cards are rejected because believed to be a fraudulent marriage.

Q: Instead of throwing numbers around, I mean, I'm not an expert on numbers. If you have to go to the accurate stats which DHS provides, rather than relying on anecdotal information.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah, yeah. I don't want to go into the numbers now. What was the second part of your question?

Q: Historically there's a pattern because what happened to that six million.

MS. VAUGHN: Some of them stay here, even if they get rejected.

Q: All right, so some

MS. VAUGHN: Because they're not there's no enforcement activity.

Q: The question that I had during the presentation was the one over the revenue estimates where you said that it was somewhat up and down, $100 million over a year, over $400 million a year, over 550


Q: Okay. That's the federal government's cost, correct?


Q: So aren't there also employer costs involved? And if so, is there an estimate to what those costs would be?

MS. VAUGHN: Yes, there is. And it depends on the type of the number of new hires that you have per year.

Q: Right, right.

MS. VAUGHN: And it depends on the type of computer system you have set up.

Q: Right.

MS. VAUGHN: But it's gotten much cheaper over the years, because it's now a web-based system.

Q: Right.

MS. VAUGHN: So the latest report suggested that the highest possible cost to an employer, as I recall I'd have to look it up and I could get back to you if you wanted, it was something like, at most, $800 in start-up fees.

Q: Per employer?

MS. VAUGHN: Per employer.

Q: How many employers?

MS. VAUGHN: And that was based on years-old data that is

Q: Okay, you finally found the employers. What would the annual cost for the employers be? You have an annual cost to the federal government, but, as you know, there are a lot of complaints (inaudible). I'm looking for the annual cost for the employer category.

MS. VAUGHN: You could find that by going to the

Q: You don't know the

MS. VAUGHN: I don't know it offhand. Look at you can find it on the DHS website in the ISR Weststat study.



MR. KRIKORIAN: I mean, just to sort of I mean, the concept of the there's not going to be that much ongoing costs. The number that Jessica came up with was an estimate of getting started and that is an old number, because now we're talking about using I mean, some of it's really just sort of staff time to take the tutorial on how to do it, and the marginal costs then is in other words, is one extra step in the existing normal hiring process, unless you're going to use a vendor, because there's now vendors that are offering to do this kind of thing. And they would become a big deal.

So it's you're right. There

Q: the costs.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah, yeah. That's a good point.

MS. VAUGHN: But it also has to be balanced against the cost of having somebody sit and fill out I-9 paperwork, because most like 96 percent of the employers who use Basic Pilot like it better than the existing system, so that's presumably a cost they'd be willing to bear.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Including the center. We're one of the participants in the pilot, the basic pilot. Yes.

Q: Jessica Echard with Eagle Forum. On the employer verification, I've heard arguments that because so few employers use it now, that's why it's so fast and easy and that . . . a mandatory requirement would slow it down. Is there any truth to that?

MS. VAUGHN: Well, I'm sure there would be some growing pains, like there would be with any system, but I don't haven't seen anything particularly that would lead me to believe that it can't be done or it would necessarily slow the system down. I'm not aware of anything that suggests that.

MR. KRIKORIAN: I mean, it would have to be scaled up if you use current

MS. VAUGHN: Right.

MR. KRIKORIAN: I mean, the existing number of servers I mean, it would be impossible. It would cease to exist in hours. But, yes, I mean, it would have to be scaled up.

Q: $138 million is budgeted in


Q: FY '06 by DHS to expand the system to encompass an anticipated first-year growth from voluntary and for the potentially (off mike), and they're going to multiply the capacity dramatically. Right now it takes less than a second. Might go up to two seconds.

MR. KRIKORIAN: The point is it's a it really is a resource issue is all it is.

MS. VAUGHN: And that's part of the costs that is projected in the study, so

MR. KRIKORIAN: Yes, sir?

Q: Yes, sir. What we have been dealing with are

MR. KRIKORIAN: Could you identify yourself, just

Q: What's that, sir?

MR. KRIKORIAN: Could you identify yourself?

Q: Oh, Ralph Hostettler, spelled with one L.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Okay. (Laughs.)

Q: We are related some way or other. In any event, we have been dealing more or less with theories so far. Every machine has nuts and bolts. I think it's time we start dealing with the nuts and bolts. One of the nuts and bolts items is the Social Security card problems. If we started there and re-registered all Social Security cards with a photograph, and this could be done fairly readily. We have 33,000 voting precincts in the country. We can vote 55 million people in 12 hours.

MR. KRIKORIAN: And what's your question, sir? That's

Q: The question is well, what it was maybe what is wrong with my suggestion? That's what I want to know. And you could reregister at the same time the voter registration. You would know who the citizens were. Today, nobody knows who the aliens are.

MR. KRIKORIAN: I mean, the identification

Q: Once you know all the citizens and now what would be wrong with that

MR. KRIKORIAN: The identification issue obviously is essential. Congress took a first step in that direction with Real ID last year and I mean, that's a to some degree a conceptual that really is a conceptual debate, not just a practical debate, because the question is, do we want a single national identification card; in other words, turn the Social Security card into something other than a piece of cardboard, or do we want to follow continue with the approach the House has already started on, which is tightening up the existing national ID system, which is what the driver's licenses are. It's just a decentralized national ID system. I mean, that's not our that's not the debate here.

There is a cost aspect to that, even through Real ID. That's the main objection that you're hearing from the DMVs is that it's costing them a lot of money, but Jessica doesn't have that in her cost estimates.

MS. VAUGHN: No. I mean, what I talk about is information sharing among federal agencies so that we can start to get a handle on people who are using someone else's Social Security Number as part of the verification process; in other words, to mask their illegal status and then turning around and applying for an ITIN so they can file a tax return to get a refund on the withholding that they had under this false Social Security Number.

MR. KRIKORIAN: But my basic point is there's a lot of cleaning up we can do with before if we were to decide to embark upon some kind of single national ID card. That might be something we'd do at some point, but we shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There are all kinds of incremental improvements that can be made in the existing ID system.

The Social Security Administration, for instance, kicking back false or stolen Social Security Numbers every time they're submitted by an employer for a new hire every time as on a routine basis. There's a lot of things like that that can be done that we're not doing now, so it seems to me pick the low-hanging fruit first. Yes.

Yes, Jack?

Q: Jack Martin, FAIR. There's two aspects of the verification system that really didn't come out in the discussion and I think also are worth bringing out. One of them is the fact that the verification system in the House bill will identify over time those employers who are continuing to knowingly hire illegal aliens. They no longer will be able to hide behind the pretext that they were not able to distinguish between a false ID and a legitimate ID.

There is an up side to that as well, and that is that we also allow those employers who currently are hiring illegal aliens not being able to know that, because of false identification, to be assured that they have a legal workforce so that the next time an immigration officer is reported to be in motion in the neighborhood half of the workforce will not disappear down the alley and not show up for a couple of days. I think those, both, also are important aspects.

MS. VAUGHN: Right, that this makes it easier for employers who want to comply with the law to do so. And many of them simply don't know about this program yet.

MR. KRIKORIAN: And even some who do end up having to drop out because it's voluntary. Just as a quick anecdote, I mean, an immigration enforcement agent a few years ago told me that he had recruited a landscaping company in southern California to join the existing pilot program, because the patriotic employer wanted to hire only legal immigrants. He had no problem finding labor. He had to just pay a $1 an hour more, because once word got out, the illegals didn't show up anymore.

The problem is that he was being undercut on bids for commercial landscaping contracts by the competitors who did employ illegal immigrants, and so he ended having to drop out, because he wasn't operating on an even playing field. So I mean, there's a business benefit, but especially if everybody has to follow the same rules.

Yes, ma'am? Yeah.

Q: Mara Lee, Evansville, Indiana Courier & Press. Senator Richard Lugar, our Republican senator from Indiana, is a legalization proponent. In fact, he would prefer something even more liberal than the Hagel-Martinez view.

It's his opinion that hardening the border over the last ten years has had an unintended consequence that instead of having a circular migration of single men, we've had more women and children joining because it's harder for the men to go home part of the year or every year. So, one, I wanted to get your thought on that.

And the other question is the fact that there are a lot of families with mixed status where there's either a citizen child or a green card-holding spouse and one or a citizen spouse and one who's not. How does that play into your idea of how easy it will be to convince people to leave?

MS. VAUGHN: Sure. Well, this idea of more people coming up to stay permanently is something that was, as I mentioned, documented by Massey's project. And I don't think it's necessarily just a result of a hardening of the borders. I think it's completely reasonable to expect that that's happening also because of the lack of interior enforcement as well, that once you make it here there's very little chance that anything is going to be happen to you [so] that you will be identified as an illegal alien. And on the contrary, it's very easy to get a Social Security number that you can use to work or find somebody to hire you off the books. You can get a driver's license in some states. You can get a mortgage. Your kids are in school, et cetera, et cetera.

And so what the attrition through enforcement strategy tries to do is to interrupt that living-here-in-plain-sight quality of being an illegal alien and to make it more difficult to have a normal life despite your lack of status. And again, this is not just speculation, but what we have found through our experience on numerous occasions that I could go through with you is that once there's a little more heat and it's not so easy to get by here, people do make the choice to go back home on their own. They voluntarily comply with the law.

Q: Even when they have family members who are citizens or illegal?

MS. VAUGHN: Yeah, if they want to keep their family member. If they want to keep their family together, yes, because usually it's the children who are the ones with status.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Let me address those two points, just to sort of amplify what Jessica said. The idea that border enforcement is interrupting this circularity of migration, first of all . . . the circularity story is what the policy people told the German government, too. And they said, well, we'll just stop the guest worker program in 1973 when the oil shock happened. And all the Turks it's all circular anyway. They're just coming and going. And now there are twice as many foreigners as there were then, so some of it's a fairy tale.

And even when you look at Professor Massey's numbers: 45 percent used to go home, now say a quarter to a third only go home. Well, what that means is a majority stayed permanently before and now a larger majority stay permanently. And it would seem to me that the implication ' if the tightening of the border is what's causing that, to the extent we really tighten the border, the solution is one of two things. One is what we're suggesting, which is join a tight border with tighter interior enforcement. And the alternative would seem to me clearly to be get rid of border enforcement and join that with no interior enforcement, so just stop enforcing altogether. The word for that in two words is open borders. That is essentially what the critique is based on. It's an open-borders perspective, which they'll say no, we're not for open borders, but they are. I mean, objectively speaking.

And the mixed-families issue is the thing to keep in mind there is that the Pew Hispanic Center in its recent estimates for illegal immigrants actually broke out how long people had been here as well, and their estimate was something like 40 percent of illegals had been here less than five years. Two-thirds have been here less than ten years.

So clearly, the short term, less-rooted people are more likely are going to be the people who are going to be leaving first and easiest to get them to go. It's so at some point it's going to get more and more costly to get the next unit. The marginal cost of getting the next number of illegal immigrants to go home on their own is going to rise. But let's drive off that bridge when we get to it. I mean, if we can I think we can, in fact, successfully cut the illegal population in half and then we'll like I said, we'll deal with the rest of it then.

Thank you, Congressman, for coming back. We'll take yeah, some more questions.


Q: You mentioned the (off mike) rate and (off mike) only 250 people actually got deported, if the government did that. But if you take the press accounts at face value, (unintelligible). So if the government did that on a regular (unintelligible) press-friendly way, do you think that, you know, just deporting, you know, 50,000 people a year would cause many people to self-deport and be part of the attrition enforcement?

MS. VAUGHN: I definitely think that stepping up interior routine interior immigration law enforcement would contribute to a climate of compliance and that, yes, if people thought that it was possibly getting more likely that they would be detected and unable to work and unable to live here, yes, that does contribute to their thought process of deciding whether or not to either come in the first place or to stay here. Absolutely. That's why I think that I have as one of the elements of this strategy more routine interior law enforcement, whether it's just for garden variety overstays or workplace enforcement. All of that has to be in place to back up a verification system and the other elements of the strategy. Absolutely.

It's like the analogy I think of is the way we enforce our speeding laws. If your local sheriff announced that they would only be prosecuting speeders who were already criminals, for example, which is essentially what the kind of immigration law enforcement we have in the interior now, how many people do you think would voluntarily drive 25 miles an hour or 55 miles an hour or whatever the speed limit is? You drive I adhere to the speed limit not only because I have my kids in the car, but also because I don't want to get a ticket. And I think that there's a chance that there might be somebody someday sitting there behind that sign waiting to give me a ticket on any given day of the month. But you create this, and that's why you feed the parking meter, because you think that you might get a ticket if you don't voluntarily comply with the law.

I don't lie on my taxes. Well, I'm honest, but also you might get audited. That kind of random audit model is what works for this in many scenarios and it has to be a part of the overall picture of immigration law enforcement.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Congressman, I had a question for you from something that you had that I've heard you say before, because I talked briefly about our poll the Zogby Poll that we had commissioned on public opinion. What is your sense, sort of, of your own constituents . . . kind of when you're back at the district doing town halls? What kind of I mean, do you get a sense that there's public support for legalization or for mass deportations or for some kind of attrition approach or what? I mean, what's your sense of that?

REP. HOSTETTLER: Well, as I was watching the response in the press and in the various media concerning the demonstrations that were being held at the outset of this recent series of protests, demonstrations, boycotts whatever they've become I've heard from the press that this was going to result in comprehensive immigration reform that was going to allow millions of illegal aliens to stay in the country as a result of the temporary worker program or some other form of amnesty. And I was very surprised by that given what I had heard in town hall meetings before, the series that we had over the April recess.

Well, then I went actually into the town hall meetings, and these folks in my town hall meetings must not have been reading the same press because it was just the opposite. Constituents . . . overwhelmingly, while there are a host of other issues to talk about the war on Iraq, taxes, gas prices completely dominated by a discussion of illegal immigration. And for disclosure's sake, it's not necessarily widely known, even in my own district, that I am the chairman of the subcommittee, and so people were not suggesting that you're the chairman, what are you doing in holding hearings in your official capacity? They weren't coming from that perspective.

Now, we would talk about what I was doing as chairman, but the questions weren't prefaced in that, so I think what we seeing is a response, at least in my district, as to an issue and a problem that is growing in Indiana. It's growing in the Eighth District in Indiana as well as what people are seeing on the television happening all over the country, and it is not at all once again, in the Eighth District of Indiana it's not at all suggested to me that what the solution to this problem is is to allow these folks to stay.

And everybody understands out there that once you the 1986 they don't necessarily mention the 1986 Act, but the precedent was there. It will be here today, and they understand that our constituents my constituents understand that if you do this time, then you're just going to invite more illegal immigration into the country. The people, as was evidenced in this report, you find out with not a lot of exposure to this issue that the illegal alien population is a very sophisticated population, and the people that facilitate them help them in their movement in the country are very sophisticated. And they feel that if you've done it once in 1986 and you've done it twice 2006 hopefully not that you're going to do it again. And so our constituents are getting it.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Let's take just one or two more questions, and then we'll break and let the congressman go. Yes, sir.

Q: I'm Mark Sheffell (ph), Work Force Management Magazine


Q: Congressman, you wrote a letter to ICE after reading coverage of recent immigration rallies and you said in this letter that some of the stories mentioned that there were McDonald's that closed, and so on, and you suggested that maybe that meant they had illegal workers.

I'm wondering, one, have you gotten a response to that letter to the suggestion maybe McDonald's needs to be investigated? And, two, do you think that the ICE should look into a higher profile, sort of brand name companies? Because right now, the crackdowns that are occurring are in these small companies that probably no one even in the local area where they are had actually heard of before.

REP. HOSTETTLER: My response was as a result of a report in the Indianapolis Star that included a statement by a spokesperson from the local McDonald's franchises in the Indianapolis area, and that statement was a statement of support for the boycotts and the individuals that took part in the boycotts, and an announcement essentially that many of these restaurants in the Indianapolis area were going to be affected to the extent that service was going to be possibly limited to just drive-through service, if service at all.

And so that is why I wrote a letter to Immigration Customs Enforcement talking about this issue because if you step back and you look logically at the motivation for the boycotts, if all of the folks that are taking part in the boycotts are legally in the country and legally allowed to be employed, no enforcement of any of the immigration laws that we're talking about is going to have any impact on them. And so the purpose of the boycott is really senseless.

So I assume that the purpose of the boycott was to show that there are significant numbers of illegal aliens employed in some of these facilities and America was to get the message that our economy was going to be adversely affected when the immigration laws were going to be enforced and these folks were no longer able to be employed; not necessarily forcibly deported, but their employers were going to say, we can't employ you anymore, and so that was the purpose of the boycott.

Now, when you put together the statement by McDonald's in the Indianapolis area I don't think it was affected in the Evansville area where I represent or even in some other areas, but in the Indianapolis area, if you take their statement and the purpose of the boycott, I can only conclude that there were sizeable portions of these folks who were illegally in the country. And so I merely made a suggestion to ICE that to look at not only McDonald's but other companies who were adversely affected whose operations were adversely affected by the boycotts and that might be a good place to start looking.

And so I don't I wasn't necessarily talking about brand-name folks that Americans know, but generally saying that if these folks were adversely affected by the boycott, then there might be a clue that many of their employees would be illegal aliens. And so to answer your question, it may be very positive coming on the heels of Ms. Vaughn's comment that this idea of this audit scheme where if another Wal-Marts, as they were, enough McDonald's enough fill in the blank or whoever is continually confronted with the enforcement of the laws that are on the books today, then in the same way that I'm affected by the notion of an audit in my federal taxes, we will comply. These folks would comply with the law.

And then in conclusion, that compliance would result in many illegal aliens not being able to obtain or retain employment. And so by attrition, the fact the issue would be solved to a certain extent.

MR. KRIKORIAN: I think if I could just interject one quick comment, too, what's necessary here is changing employer expectations because at first it's actually not going to do any good because all the employers are going to figure, well, this is just the latest little storm. It will blow over and we'll keep our heads down and then it will pass. So it's changing expectations that matter. And the problem there is not money, it's not computer systems. It's what do the what does the administration and the agency say.

For instance, after IFCO, the pallet manufacturer, there were all these rumors reported in the press that, oh, my God, there's going to be mass round-ups. Illegals were staying home. They weren't sending their kids to schools. And then the Immigration Service is no, no, no. Don't worry. Don't worry. There's not going to be any immigration enforcement. You have nothing to worry about. The rumors are all well, I mean, what the heck kind of message does that send?

It's a similar thing to I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year and Secretary Chertoff was assailed by several of the senators because of an enforcement action that ICE had undertaken in North Carolina. This was outside an Air Force base in North Carolina. They conducted a sting mandatory OSHA training for the construction workers and they arrested 48 illegal aliens working on an Air Force base. And the anti-enforcement folks, senators were all over the man, all over Secretary Chertoff. How dare you do this thing? and It's occupational safety and health. What were you thinking? And so that's going to happen. The question is, then, what is the response from the executive branch.

It could be, Thank you very much, senator. I wasn't aware of that because that's a field operation. I hadn't been briefed on it, but now that you've let me know, I'm going to go back to the office and I'm going to give them a medal and we're going to do it again next week. Instead, of course, what the secretary said as he started groveling and saying that had no idea this was happening and it will never happen again and, oh, my God, I'm appalled. Well, that's why employer expectations are difficult to change, because they have an experience with McDonald's supporting the boycotts, with the enforcement people and getting away with it with the enforcement agents themselves or the enforcement management saying that you have nothing to worry about.

Let's just take one more question so I can let the senator go, and Jessica will be here to answer afterwards, if you want.

Yes, sir?

Q: (Off mike). On your website you have a figure of a net $20 billion in public expenditures for illegal workers and

MR. KRIKORIAN: $10 billion at the federal level and $29 billion if they're legalized. That was our it was a $10 billion this is just so it's called The High Cost of Cheap Labor. It was a report that if at the federal level of taxes paid in and services used, illegal immigrants represent a $10 billion net deficit for federal taxpayers. And if they're legalized that would almost triple to $29 billion.

Go ahead.

Q: And a recent UCLA study was conducted. Its findings were that the contributions to the economy by illegal immigrants is somewhere around $890 billion a year. Could you just I don't know how that how they could compromise that way

MR. KRIKORIAN: Sure. Right.

Q: loss of that revenue.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Just quickly, my research director is the one who did our report, so if you want more detail, Steven Camarota, he's not here today. But the contribution to the economy issue is a different thing. I haven't looked at the report, but presumably they're adding up all of the wages paid to illegal immigrants, that kind of thing.

What we looked at specifically was taxes paid and services used. And the fact is that in a modern society, there's just no way that low-skilled workers are going to be able to provide enough in tax payments to result in to cover their service use. It's just not possible.

Now, illegal immigrants, just like anybody, create jobs. The economy is bigger because there are more people here. How could that not be true? The point is that all the jobs that illegal immigrants create almost all the jobs are then taking by illegal immigrants. In other words, the benefit the economic benefit to the society as a whole from all immigration is estimated at being this was now a number of years ago was estimated at being something like between $1 and $10 billion a year. In other words, by forcing the wages of the poor down and then spreading that benefit to the rest of society, but it's completely swamped by the public service costs.

So I mean, I don't want to get into a debate on this. Like I said, my research director can talk to you about that, but those are two different kinds of numbers is what you're talking about that really aren't that they're in different fields, different areas. They're not comparable.

Q: So you couldn't say anything about (off mike)?

MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah, the purchases and all that creates their demand creates jobs. It's just that they fill the jobs that they create. That's my point.

Q: There wouldn't any jobs at the top? I mean, at corporate level. I mean, you have companies that say McDonald's you know, like (off mike). You wouldn't have people buying trucks at Ford, or people buying trucks from Chevy, that doesn't create jobs at the top or even at middle ?

MR. KRIKORIAN: It creates a bigger economy. It does it's not clear that it creates a benefit a per capita benefit for American citizens who are already here. Or actually it does, but it's very small and the extra social service costs from that cheap labor swamp the economic benefit.

So let's end it there, so the congressman can tend to the people's business. Jessica and I will be here afterwards. You're free to stay, Congressman, if you wanted to ask questions afterwards, but I appreciate Congressman Hostettler's participation. And I hope to see you excuse me? Oh, yeah. We'll have a transcript of the whole discussion on our website probably next week and I hope to see you at our next event. Thank you.