MR. KRIKORIAN: Good morning. My name is Mark Krikorian. I'm the director for the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank here in town that examines and critiques the impact of immigration in the United States. Something I saw in The Post over the weekend, something that I really thought was appropriate for this panel; there are two stories on Saturday, one about a man sentenced for ID fraud, an immigrant who was involved with the terrorists but apparently didn't know they were terrorists, helped them get their driver's licenses and the story below it about two men in Florida, Pakistanis being indicted in yet another bomb plot, this one not included in this report by blowing up power plants or something in Florida.
Either one of these reporters and I say this not as an indictment of the particular reporters but neither one of them seems to have asked what was the immigration status of these people. One of the stories said the person sentenced for ID fraud is going to be deported. He is sentenced to time served and then he will be deported. Deported why? Was he an illegal alien, illegal immigrant who because of his involvement in criminal activity has become deportable. What's the story? The two Pakistanis, one of them is referred to as a legal permanent resident so he has a green card. The other one doesn't say who he is. Is he a temporary visitor? What's his story? We don't know.
Again, I want to emphasize for anybody who saw these stories, these particular reporters are not so much at fault as the whole way that the immigration and security issue is approached, nobody seems to be all that interested even in asking the question, what is the legal status of these people? How did they get here? They got a green card. How did they do that?
Nobody even asked the questions. The editors don't even think apparently about telling reporters to ask questions. And that is one of the things that we faced in doing the report that we are releasing today. The report which you all have in your packets is about how the terrorists got in over the past 10 years, 48 foreign-born Muslim terrorists. And Steven Camarota, our director of research, who will make a presentation on the report, has spent months trying to track down this information. He has spoken with the attorneys in some of these people involved. He has actually called some of the reporters who wrote the stories about these folks and the reporters said "gee, that's a good question. I never thought to ask how they got in." Were they legal immigrants or not. What kind of status were they in?
What's unfortunate is why do we have to do this. Why didn't the Inspector General of somebody, someplace release this report months ago? It's really a good question. But nature abhors a vacuum so we fill in this vacuum and Steve will go into detail about what the report found, but really what it summarizes to me is that what we are seeing is the consequences of trying to do immigration on the cheap. We have this idea that we can let in hundreds of thousands of people every year, millions if you include temporary workers and foreign students, as well as immigrants and what have you and tourists and business travelers.
But we can do that without spending what's necessary and devoting the resources that are necessary to do that process right. And the result is you get what you pay for, and that is an immigration system that doesn't work very well, not just in a security sense but in all other senses where we have millions of applications for green cards and citizenship, backlog or people wait hours in line at the INS. It's become traditional to kick the INS as the problem. But the INS is not the problem here. It's the Congress and successive White Houses that have allowed this situation to develop. The INS is left sort of holding the bag.
So after Steve makes his presentation, we'll have commentary from two experts on immigration issues whom we are really very lucky to have. Jan Ting will talk first. He is a professor at Temple Law School, has been there since 1977, and since 9/11 has been a frequent contributor to broadcast and commentary on problems in our immigration system.
And finally, Mark Miller will be our other respondent who will be responding to the report and talking generally about the issue of immigration and security and terrorism and is actually somebody uniquely situated to do that because he has actually been talking and writing and thinking about the intersection between immigration, security and terrorism long before anybody thought it was particularly important. He is editor, managing editor of International Migration Review, which is the premiere academic journal on the immigration issue. Has written and consulted for a whole variety of governments and agencies on the immigration issue and has worked on a book manuscript on migration, terrorism and security. After everybody makes their presentation, we'll obviously be happy to take questions. Let's start with Steve.
PRESENTATION OF STEVEN CAMAROTA, Ph.D.
DR. CAMAROTA: Well, thank you, Mark. The nation's response has come in many areas, including improvements in intelligence gathering and expanded security measures in public places. As important as all these areas are, there is probably no more important policy in preventing future attacks on American soil than the nation's immigration system because the current terrorist threat comes almost exclusively from foreign-born individuals who arrive from abroad. The purpose of this study was to examine how foreign terrorists entered and remain in the country in order to identify possible weaknesses in the system that can then lead to meaningful reforms. To provide a complete picture of the threat, we examine how terrorists entered the United States over the last decade, including the September 11th hijackers.
Including the September 11th hijackers, 48 foreign-born militant Islamic terrorists have been charged, convicted, pled guilty or admitted involvement in terrorism within the United States since 1993. Almost all of these individuals are now thought to be linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization. Of course, domestic terrorists still exist, and immigration policy will have no effect on home-grown terrorism, nor will it protect Americans from foreign terrorists abroad.
The existence of terrorists domestically or even threats to Americans overseas, however, is no reason not to make every possible effort to prevent foreign terrorists from entering or remaining in the United States. Most important, I think the reason to focus on bin Laden's organization is that the scale of the threat from foreign-based militant Islamic terrorism is fundamentally different from that posed by other terrorists because of its money, organization, international reach, fanatacism, desire to obtain weapons of mass destruction, and willingness to inflict maximum death and destruction.
Osama bin Laden's network represents a threat to the United States greater than that posed by any other type of terrorist. It is critically important that we develop immigration policies to deal with that threat.
So what did we find in the study? We have a lot of findings but let me run through some of them briefly. When we look at foreign-born Islamic terrorists, we found that they used every conceivable means of entering the country. They have come as students, tourists and business travelers, they have also been lawful permanent residents and naturalized U.S. citizens. They have snuck across the border illegally, arrived as stowaways on ships, used false passports, and been granted amnesty. They have even taken advantage of America's humanitarian tradition of welcoming those seeking asylum. As the report shows, at the time they committed their crimes, 16, or 1/3 of the 48 terrorists in the study were on temporary visas. Another 17 were lawful, permanent residents or naturalized U.S. citizens. Twelve, or 1/4, were illegal aliens and three of the 48 had applications for asylum pending. That's what our figure up here shows, basically a third were lawful permanent residents or citizens, a third were temporary visa holders, a fourth were illegal aliens when they committed their crimes. Clearly, we face a very broad-ranging threat.
In the wake of September 11th, many have focused on temporary visa holders such as students and tourists. This is quite natural since all of the September 11th terrorists entered on temporary visas and 16 of those were still valid at the time they committed their hideous crime. However, prior to September 11th most Islamist foreign-born terrorists were in fact lawful permanent residents or naturalized U.S. citizens. That is, they were immigrants or former immigrants who had become citizens.
Excluding September 11th terrorists, more than half, 17 of the 28 militant Islamic terrorists, excluding the September 11th hijackers, in the last decade were persons living legally in the United States I'm sorry were lawful permanent residents or as nationalized citizens.
In fact, some of the worst foreign terrorists in American history have been lawful permanent residents or naturalized U.S. citizens. For example, Egyptian-born Ali Mohammed, who is widely regarded as having written al Qaeda's terrorist handbook, is a naturalized citizen. Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, who was the ringleader in the plot to bomb New York City landmarks in 1993, was a lawful permanent resident. And there are many others. Terrorism unfortunately is not something only associated with temporary visa holders.
Another important finding is that violations of immigration laws are very common among terrorists. Not only were 12 of the 48 illegal aliens when they committed their crimes, at least nine others had committed significant violations of immigration laws prior to their taking part in terrorism. For those who were illegal aliens, most entered legally on temporary visas and then overstayed. However, some of the illegal aliens had actually snuck in the country such as Abdel Hakim Tizegha, who was involved in the Millennium plot. In addition to overstaying visas, terrorists have violated immigration laws in different ways. Some have engaged in fraudulent marriages to American citizens, such as Fadil Abdelgani, who took part in the bomb plot to bomb New York City landmarks, and Khalid Abu al Dahab, who raised money and helped recruit new members for al Qaeda from within the United States, and at least eight terrorists held jobs while living in the country illegally. Both of those individuals got green cards through marriages, false marriages to American citizens.
Now, in this report we outline a whole series of possible reforms in the study. Let me just mention a few of them. Because virtually every type of immigration has been exploited by terrorists focusing on just one category such as student visas or temporary visas in general would obviously be inadequate. We outline four reforms I would like to touch on. First, the fact that terrorists often flout the laws means that strict enforcement of the laws within the United States could significantly reduce the terrorist threat. If those who violate the law are identified and forced to leave the country, it would reduce the risk of terrorism, illegal immigration, which of course itself is a desirable goal.
The existence of a large illegal population currently estimated by the Census Bureau at eight to nine million itself creates a general contempt for the law among all parties involved, including those officials charged with enforcing it. With millions of illegal aliens already in the country, and with immigration laws widely flouted, it is perhaps easier to understand why the immigration inspector at Miami International airport allowed Mohammed Atta, the leader of the September 11th attacks, back into the country in January 2001, even though he had overstayed his visa on his last visit.
Given the large number of terrorists who lived in the United States illegally by overstaying temporary visas, enforcing visa time limits could also disrupt or perhaps uncover terrorist plots in the future. It's obvious that if we have a system in which we ignore laws, it's very easy for those who are charged with enforcing them to also ignore them.
The first step to doing that, of course, would be to establish an entry-exit system that would automatically record the arrival and departure of all persons to and from the United States. Those who would overstay their visas should be barred from ever entering the country again. The system would also allow the INS to identify visa overstays. Such is in current legislation recently passed and it is critical that elected officials ensure that it's properly implemented. Because of the number of terrorists who have worked in the country illegally, about eight of the 48 in the study had worked illegally at some point prior to taking part in terrorism. One area of interior enforcement that could help disrupt terrorism is to enforce the ban on hiring illegal aliens by punishing employers who hire them and forcing those found working illegally to leave the country.
Now, to make interior enforcement and enforcement in general possible, there needs to be a dramatic increase in resources devoted to the enforcement of laws within the United States. And that would involve a lot more inspectors and a very significant increase in the infrastructure of enforcement.
Instead of enforcing the law, some have suggested giving green cards to illegal aliens already here, thereby quote unquote eliminating the illegal alien population. Of course, this would not solve the problem of future illegal immigration and we did give out green cards to nearly three million illegals in 1986 and of course we know that they have been entirely replaced. But the point is some have argued even after September 11th that granting amnesty would be helpful to national security because it would allow law enforcement to know who is in the country. For this reason some amnesty advocates have even taken to calling it quote unquote registration of illegal aliens. However, in the past amnesties have actually helped terrorists and did not impede them in any way. Mahmud Abouhalima received a green card under the 1986 amnesty by falsely claiming to be an agricultural worker. Giving him a green card facilitated his terrorism because it was only after he received his green card that he was able to make several trips to the Pakistani-Afghan border, where he received the terrorist training he used in the '93 attack on the World Trade Center. Had Abouhalima not been given amnesty, he would not have been able to travel abroad and return to the United States as a trained terrorist.
The case of Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the '93 Trade Center bombing is also interesting. It shows why amnesty won't hinder terrorism. His application for amnesty was denied. However, because then, as now, there is no mechanism in place to force people who are denied a green card to leave the country, he continued to live and work in the U.S. illegally and ultimately took part in the '93 attack on the Trade Center as well. Thus, in the past, terrorists who applied for amnesty either received it, making their operations much easier, or when turned down, they simply continued to live in the United States illegally and to engage in terrorism unhindered.
If the choice is between an amnesty or enforcing the law, at least from a national security point of view, enforcing the law is obviously far better. Now, other reforms that are needed are clearly needed overseas in the way visas are processed. Several terrorists probably should have been denied temporary visas because they had characteristics of someone who would likely overstay their visa and try to live in the United States illegally. Under Section 214(b) of immigration law, individuals who are young, unmarried, have little income, or lack strong attachment to a residence overseas are not to be issued temporary visas like business and tourist visas. Several of the September 11th hijackers, including Mohammed Atta, who had lived outside of his country, fit these criteria and should have therefore been excluded which, of course, would have been very desirable prior to September 11th.
In addition, with regard to visa processing overseas, greater scrutiny is also needed for all visa applicants, including in-person interviews for everyone applying for a visa, careful background checks and the gathering of as much information as possible on all applicants, including photos and fingerprints. Several of the September 11th hijackers were issued visas without being interviewed in Saudi Arabia. Skepticism should be the guiding principle of visa issuance. Top priority must be given to the protection of the American people, and not the feelings of the visa applicant. Unfortunately, we seemed to have evolved into a situation in which the visa applicant is seen as the customer, not the American people, and this makes for a system that's much more easily penetrated by terrorists.
Now, the other reform I want to mention very briefly is an increase in border patrol. Attempted Brooklyn subway bomber Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, who was denied a visa, simply went to Canada and tried to sneak across the border. Improving visa processing, while leaving the borders largely undefended, as is the case, is an invitation for terrorists to do just as Mezer did. He slipped across the border.
The fourth set of reforms that I want to touch on very briefly is for a reduction in the overall level of immigration, for three main reasons. Given limited government resources, issuing fewer permanent and temporary visas would mean greater resources could be devoted to more extensive background checks on each applicant. It would also mean fewer immigrants and non-immigrants to keep track of within the United States in the future, again given limited resources. Finally, and most importantly, it would give the State Department and Immigration and Naturalization Service the breathing space they need to deal with their enormous processing backlogs, now over four million.
The workload at the INS has grown enormously in recent years. In the words of a January 2002 GAO report, the massive workload has created an organizational culture wherein "staff are rewarded for the timely handling of petitions rather than for careful scrutiny of those petition's merits." The pressure to move things through the system has led to, according to the GAO, rampant quote unquote pervasive fraud.
In other words, the level of immigration is now so high, that the system simply can't function properly. And things aren't much better at the State Department. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Mary Ryan, who is in charge of visa processing, recently said "consular officers around the world are stretched just about as thin as they can possibly be. We do not have the personnel, she said, to do the job the way it should be done. Putting caps on or reducing the caps that exist for foreign students and guest workers, and cutting permanent immigration back to the spouses or minor children of U.S. citizens, eliminating the visa lottery, and limiting employment-based immigration to only a few highly skilled individuals would in our view be a good place to start. And at least think about to lighten the load to make reforms possible.
Now, of course, no set of reforms will catch every terrorist every time. We have to accept that, but the reforms outlined here will dramatically increase the chance that at least some of those involved in a large conspiracy such as the September 11th attacks will be caught and this can and has before aided the uncovering of an entire conspiracy in the past. In the case of the Millennium plot, the apprehension of just one terrorist at the border, Ahmed Ressam, caused the entire conspiracy to unravel. Reforming immigration policy can enhance national security by increasing the chance that a terrorist would not be issued a visa in the first place or be able to cross the border illegally.
Changing our immigration system is exactly the kind of reasonable measure that would enhance America's national security without infringing on the rights of Americans, and it is one of the policy areas that in response to terrorism we need to focus on. Thank you.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Steve. Professor Ting?
PRESENTATION OF JAN TING, TEMPLE SCHOOL OF LAW
PROF. TING: Well, let me first say it's a pleasure to be here and it's an honor to be associated with this particular report and the Center for Immigration Studies. I think they do excellent work, and I think we would all do well to pay attention to their studies. I hope that this report in particular will be carefully read and analyzed by everyone.
I think it's useful to observe that prior to September 11th, the United States for many years has had a schizophrenic view of immigration policy. On the one hand, we are all a nation of immigrants. We all have immigrant ancestors who we honor for what they have done in coming to the United States, and we respect the role of immigration in building the United States into the country that it is.
On the other hand, most Americans recognize that we simply cannot have an open door for everyone in the world who wants to come to the United States, that we have to have immigration laws to limit both the number and the characteristics of the individuals whom we allow to immigrate to the United States. And as a necessary part of that immigration system, we have to have an answer to the question of what to do with people who come to the United States in violation of the laws that we put in place.
If the answer is, well, you know, let's give them amnesty because immigrants are very sympathetic cases on a case-by-case basis often, then we don't really have an immigration system. We really have an open door system, which is fine if that's what we really want.
But I don't think we want an open door system. I think we want a regulated system of immigration in the United States and that is going to require enforcement of immigration laws, so we have to recognize that there is this national schizophrenia about immigration where on the one hand, it's led to the phenomenon over the years of having really tough immigration laws, but really not wanting them enforced, and every time that the government tries to enforce the laws they are attacked as brutalizing or discriminating against immigrants or somehow treating them unfairly and aren't they sympathetic cases really? In many cases they are, but we have to bite the bullet on the question of do we want immigration policy or not.
I think that schizophrenia to some extent was mitigated by September 11th. I think we achieved some greater clarity that our immigration system really is broken and needs to be fixed and I think we have seen that in the political arena, the efforts on the part of elected officials to do something, quote unquote, do something about the problem in immigration and the problem as I see it really is and this is where this report fits in is what exactly is broken? What is it exactly that needs to be fixed? And I think Steve Camarota's report, in addressing the particulars how exactly did these 48 foreign terrorists enter the United States is going to provide us the keys to the questions that need to be asked of what needs to be fixed. What exactly are the problems? I think if we look at these 48 cases, these are 48 individuals who should not have been able to enter the United States, but were able to enter the United States anyway. This is the key to what's wrong with our system. This is the key to what needs to be fixed.
Steve mentioned the fact that one of the responses of Congress has been to call for an entry-exit system. I think most Americans would be shocked to know that once aliens enter the United States on their way to Disney World or whatever they claimed is their reason for coming to the United States, we have no way of not only, no way of tracking them. How would we do that, after all? But we also have no way of knowing whether they have even left the United States once their period of authorized stay in the United States is over. And that applies to both tourists and business people and students who come to the United States.
It's a fact that in 1996, Congress passed a very tough immigration law in which Congress ordered the government to establish a system for monitoring student visa holders in the United States but it's also a fact that that system was never implemented. Why is that? I think we have to recognize that there is a constituency in the United States that favors loose enforcement of immigration laws, that really doesn't want the immigration laws enforced. Who are members of that constituency? Well, in the case of the student monitoring system, it is actively opposed by colleges and universities who would have borne the burden of monitoring their own students and reporting to the government if these students who were admitted on their student visas never showed up for class or showed up for class and stopped attending class.
The burden of reporting those problems would fall on these schools and the schools didn't want it and so they opposed it, and it would be a very interesting problem I think for a journalist to go out and identify which members of Congress sent letters to the administration and to the INS. Maybe you could use the Freedom of Information Act to discover. I'm told some very interesting individuals signed those letters on behalf of the educational establishment saying you know what, we really don't want this law enforced.
And similarly on the entry-exit law which was passed in 1996, there were industries and businesses that had the view that this would somehow adversely affect their international trade, their international business, their cross border businesses and they didn't want that put in place either and so we have to recognize that there is a lobby here that does not support strict enforcement of immigration laws, and that's always been the case. That's nothing. That's nothing new here.
Steve also mentioned the burden of amnesty. It seems to me the problem is not just that some of the wrong people get amnestied in when you have an amnesty. The problem is also that whenever you create an amnesty proposal (and I'm also including the current proposal of so-called 245-I) those amnesty programs create a tremendous burden on the immigration system. Somebody has to decide who gets it and who doesn't get it. You have got to deal with the appeals when they are denied and they appeal. You have to deal with that. And you have to deal with the court cases that come on when they sue you in court and say I'm entitled to what and you didn't give it to me. Although we had an amnesty in 1986, that litigation is still going on today. Years later, we are still litigating who is entitled to amnesty. You are setting up years of litigation for the Service, a tremendous burden for the agency that everyone acknowledges is overworked and overburdened.
One of the startling exposures was legal permanent residents and naturalized U.S. citizens have been involved in terrorism against the United States. That's something we all need to ponder and think about, the implications of that. Steve correctly raises the question for our visa officers and the INS of who is the customer? Who is the customer and, as Steve points out, we have tried to make our agencies customer friendly and customer service oriented and Steve, I think raises the interesting question have we misidentified who the customer is? And I think that we all need to think about that. Isn't the customer the American people and isn't the obligation of our foreign service officers and our INS to protect the American people as their customer, not the applicant?
Let me just say something about some issues that Steve has raised concerning resources. We have 6,000 miles of border. We have 13,000 personnel in the border patrol, and that includes support personnel who are not actively agents on the line. So I mean if you just do the math, you'll understand the dimensions of the problem that we have on our borders. We have inspections, you know, just inspecting the people that come in. You know how many inspections we have every year? 500 million. 500 million people need to be inspected as they come into the United States. We have about 5,000 inspectors in the Immigration and Naturalization Service to do that.
We talk about the illegal alien population of the United States. My estimate is more like 10 million in the United States and we have 2,000 investigators to go after those 10 million, and of those 10 million, you know the INS has actually caught 300,000 of those individuals, brought them before immigration judges. The immigration judges have ordered them removed from the United States. Those individuals have exhausted every appeal right that they have under the law, and then they have absconded and we can't find them and so included in that 10 million is 300,000 absconders who have exhausted every right of due process they have in the United States who have been ordered removed. We still only have 2,000 investigators in the whole country to track down this entire population. So there is a tremendous resource problem and I think the idea that's very popular in Congress now that we are going to fix this problem by rearranging the lines on an organizational chart misses the point that the problem at INS is not mission conflict, it's mission overload. They are just overloaded and that has to be addressed through resource and I think Steve raises a lot of interesting questions.
This new legislation that was passed by Congress includes what's called critical pay relief for about 20 people. 20 people are going to get raises as a result of this new legislation. What's needed is an across the board pay increase, the degree of turnover in the INS is terrible. The INS spends tremendous amount of money training people and special skills and loses them to other agencies that pay more. When I was at INS I was often puzzled about why isn't the INS an attractive place for an internationally minded college graduate to work just as say the State Department is or the office of the U.S. trade representative. Why isn't the INS as attractive a place to work as those other agencies in government?
And one of the answers is everyone is underpaid in the INS, and they can make better money somewhere else and another reason is INS gets no respect and it's not a fun place to work because it's one of those agencies like the IRS, like the tax service where you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don't. If you are not enforcing the law you are going to be attacked, why aren't you doing your job? But if you are enforcing the law, why are you beating up on taxpayers, why are you discriminating against aliens and damaging American industries that depend upon low-cost immigrant labor.
Let me emphasize that I think Steve's report is not targeted at the INS and I think it would be a mistake to view this report as an attack on the INS. It's not an attack on the INS. It's an attack on the problems that the INS is trying to deal with and we ought to be clear about that. Let me focus on one problem in particular that concerns me, and which Steve addresses in his report, but I would put even more emphasis on, and that is the problem of so-called visa waiver.
I think most Americans would be surprised to learn that in 1986, the United States changed the law in response to lobbying by the airlines and the tourist industry. Prior to 1986, we required, we generally required visas for foreign individuals who wanted to come to the United States. The visa process is one in which foreign individuals who want to come to the United States present their passports at a U.S. consulate overseas. The U.S. government has the opportunity to inspect the passport. Is it counterfeit, stolen, is it a real passport? Does the story fit? If we have any questions we can call the individuals and ask them questions. If there is any reason we think they are not eligible to come to the United States like they might be terrorists, we don't issue the visa and they can't come to the United States. And we enforce that through the airlines because we tell the airlines if somebody doesn't have a visa and they are required to have a visa, you can't sell them an airline ticket. You can't let them on the airplane because if you do, we are going to take away your landing rights in the United States. So the airlines are very serious about enforcing their visa laws because they don't want to lose their landing rights.
We have changed the law and are saying if these nice people from Europe are coming to the United States maybe they don't need visas. Those are for people from Africa, Asia or Latin America. But nice people from Europe, we really don't need to have visas for those people and of course the State Department is very supportive because it relieves them of having to do 17 million visa applications every year so they are very supportive of that. It seems like a good idea.
Well, guess who is coming in? Zacarias Moussaoui entered on visa waiver. He has a French passport, French citizen. There are actually conflicting press reports about that and let me say that at the outset, I have had discussions with various people about the Moussaoui case. The New York Times says he came in on a student visa. I invite people from the media to do further investigation. Isn't it remarkable that in this high-profile case we don't have a definitive answer to that question as to how he came in?
If you call up the INS or anyone in the government they won't give you an answer in this high-profile case as to how Moussaoui entered the United States. My position is he came in under visa waiver. He simply showed his French passport, bought an airline ticket and flew to the United States and the immigration violation that he was initially held on was that he overstated the 90-day period he was authorized to stay in the United States.
Another example is Richard Reed, the shoe bomber. He had a British passport. All he had to do was buy an airline ticket and get on the airplane. Anyone with a British passport can do that. We also know that Ramsi Youssef and one of his co-conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing came to the United States on a counterfeit European visa and came to the United States under the visa waiver program.
We know that western Europe, as much as the Middle East, has become a hotbed of terrorism. We know that hijackers spent time in western Europe. Western Europe is actually the catalyst for al Qaeda terrorism. We know thousands of blank passports have been stolen from government offices in western Europe, principally in Belgium and Italy, and they simply don't have the security concerns over their passports that we have in the United States. As one Belgian official told an American journalist, well strictly speaking Belgium does not have a terrorism problem. You have a terrorism problem, but we are not worried about that.
So I think we need to pay attention to this visa waiver problem. I would have thought that post-9/11, visa waiver would have been the first policy to change but surprise, tourism and airlines agencies were lobbying here in Washington. There were hearings held on February 28th in which they said full speed ahead on visa waiver.
There was actually a government official, and you can do the research to figure out who this was, who gave the testimony in defense of visa waiver and said there have actually been only two individuals in the last two years who took advantage of visa waiver to come to the U.S. to commit acts of terrorism, somebody said that, Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reed. Therefore a small percentage of people coming into the United States were demonic terrorists. Of course the airlines are saying we can't lose a dollar worth of revenue. We are on the ropes now. We need these hijackers as paid customers. Don't take away a single paying customer because we need them all.
So let me, let me just close here by saying that I think this is a great report. Echoing Steve's comment, the report really should have been done by the U.S. Government. Why isn't the U.S. Government doing it? Why isn't the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, which has access to each one of these files and can assemble this report very quickly, why aren't they releasing this information.
I mean, if I were a conspiracy theorist, which I'm not, I might look at the fact that we can't get information from the government in high profile cases like Zacarias Moussaoui. The fact that the government is not forthcoming in identifying the abuses of the visa program, like not telling us who they are, Moussaoui and Richard Reed, high profile cases. If one were a theorist, one would think government has inertia in just defending the status quo. We have always done it this way. Nothing has really changed.
Let me close finally by saying I think the Center for Immigration Studies is a terrific resource for immigration. They know a lot. They have terrific people involved in the organization, and I hope all of you in the media will continue to use the Center for Immigration Studies as a resource in your work. Thank you.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you very much, Dr. Ting. Professor Miller?
PRESENTATION OF MARK MILLER, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE
PROF. MILLER: Thank you very much. I'm delighted to be here with you. It gives me a break from grading my papers and exams. I want to talk more broadly about migration and security, and to look at some concepts because I think the most important line in this really quite remarkable report, a report that I regard as a major achievement, has to do with the advocacy of reconceptualization of immigration policy and of INS as part of security policy, as part of national security. That's a very fundamental argument, and it's one that I agree with, and I want to explain why I agree with you.
At first blush, it seems odd, doesn't it, to talk about migration and security when so many thinkers, political scientists and sociologists are talking about the end of the sovereign nation state, the transcendence of sovereignty, the decline of the state.
I think what became very clear on 9/11 is that states matter a great deal, and the reason for that is that states provide us security. We have to remember that states throughout the history of humankind essentially provide security, and we need states to provide security today. Now, I would be the first to argue that the concept of sovereignty is mutable and changeable. It's something that is negotiable really. But it may be that we are evolving into a different type of conglomerate state where there is a mixture of regional integration and sovereign states, but, such as we are in Europe already at that stage.
But regardless of what the future is going to bring, we are still going to need provision of security from government. And that strikes me as the major reason why we ought to take very seriously the central claim in the study, this call to reconceptualize immigration as part of security policy. It's something I wholeheartedly endorse, and I think we need to ask a second question, which is well, why is this something new? Why is it that we are only now after these terrible events of 1993 and of 9/11 coming around to understanding that migration affected security.
I think the answer to that query is to be found in the way we go about thinking about security questions, the way we go about teaching, about international relations. We have had barriers to seeing this connection.
On my way over here, I was listening to National Public Radio on the radio and that's unusual to have a taxi driver who is listening to National Public Radio, but Senator Grassley from Iowa was talking about the failure of people to connect the dots. Why was it that our FBI analysts could not connect the information with Mr. Moussaoui with the Phoenix report? Senator Grassley in his very homespun style said we have to change the culture. We have to rethink and reinvent things to think in a new way. We are at that stage, and this report reflects a new way of thinking about security, and is long overdue in my eyes. We have to get out of outmoded thinking about security mired in decades long past and rethink our security requirements.
When we do, we will take the question of migration very seriously indeed. Now, this paper is full of recommendations, not all of which I agree with, but I generally support the contention that the United States has not taken enforcement of immigration law seriously enough. In particular, I endorse the recommendations made to increase interior enforcement. When 9/11 occurred, I said to my wife, I said my God, finally people are going to take enforcement of the 1986 law seriously.
I have always viewed interior enforcement as an important dimension of American security policy. It seemed to me after 9/11 that this would be entirely self-evident. In order to make our 1986 law effective, we are going to have to have some kind of employment eligibility document. This after all had been recommended by the Hasper Commission way back in the early 1980's. Congress in its immense wisdom chose to ignore that. We certainly are going to have some kind of counterfeit resistant employment eligibility document that can be verified routinely in order to make that 1986 law work. That's long overdue.
We clearly are going to have to tighten up on access to driver's licenses. I studied a little town in southern Delaware that some of you may know, Georgetown, Delaware. There's lots of poultry plants, poultry processing plants. It's the flagship of Purdue, a plant that has the Oven Stuffer chicken. You talk to the immigrant workers who come into southern Delaware and they all drive to Virginia just as is reported in the report and they obtain driver's licenses and they come back up and they circumvent the law. There is widespread violation of immigration law, I think, in southern Delaware.
Well, it's within our power to do something about it, and we have to. Otherwise, we are just not going to have credible enforcement of immigration law, and I agree with the contention in the report that this kind of lax attitude towards enforcement of the law has important security implications. We have the wherewithal to do something about it. We need to do it.
Finally, I don't have too much time to talk, but I just want to make a few observations about kind of the trans-Atlantic and international aspect of this war against terrorism. Professor Ting has mentioned the situation in western Europe and while I'm very concerned about the Moussaoui case and about the arrests of al Qaeda operatives in Germany, Spain, France and elsewhere, I think it's also important to observe there has been considerable social science study of Muslims in western Europe, and the general conclusion is that the vast majority of this population is law abiding. It's really only a tiny minority that has been mobilized into radical Islamic politics. We need to be very, very vigilant about them. That's for sure. But the great bulk of Muslims are law abiding citizens or resident aliens.
I would also add in a recommendation or underscore a recommendation that we need much more effective and systematic cooperation with our allies to make our immigration law more credible. I think there is a general willingness to cooperate with the United States, but it's clear that our war against terrorism is going to have to be fought on a multilateral basis. It cannot be fought on a unilateral basis, so we have to bring in a systematic commitment to sustain multilateral cooperation inclusive of cooperation on immigration issues to make our war more effective.
It also goes without saying that the war on terrorism, that the immigration component is a vital component of a much broader war. The war is going to be vitally affected by what we do on complementary issues, questions of Palestinian statehood, things like that, need to be addressed by the U.S. Government in a very urgent kind of way just as we need to address the shortcomings of our immigration law in an urgent way. Thank you.
Question and Answer Session
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you. We'll take questions now. If you could identify yourself when you ask a question.
MR. BUCHANAN: William Buchanan. You mentioned law abiding status of the Muslims in Europe. What about the situation in Kosovo, Albanians in Montenegro? What about the history of France which has a long history of anti-semitism, the burning of synagogues.
MR. MILLER: Well, let's take the issue of anti-semitism in France. Like everyone else, I'm very disconcerted by the recent events, and we could trace them back in time. I think that there are grounds to be concerned about the emergence of a kind of anti-semitism, a new form of anti-semitism amongst north African background persons in places like France. I think that it's very limited as far as I can tell.
We need to be vigilant about it. It seems that this is the outcome of a profound alienation. It's very clear that this type of violence is affected by what's going on on the Arabic-Israeli front and it should be clear to all that this violation in no way serves the cause of Arabs or the Palestinians. It's a great disservice to everybody. Threat to everyone.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Bob?
MR. LATHAM: Bob Latham. I agree with the comment that Steve's report is a real major contribution. I think it really broadens our horizons from just focusing on the 9/11 perpetrators to looking at a lot of other people and at the loopholes in the system. And he also has quite a number of suggestions for reform.
My question is from reading the press, you come away with the conclusion that the INS is already tremendously overstressed. There was an article a couple days ago about the New York region where I think there was something like a dozen agents looking out for 1,500 absconders. So one agent for every 150 absconders.
And the reforms that Steve suggests are going to take a while to implement in the context of a very overstrained INS and of time needed to prepare people, to recruit people, to prepare people, etc. So two questions about what to do in the meantime.
It seems like the Bush Administration agrees with Mark Miller that one of the things we need to do in the meantime is promote diplomacy, cooperation with Canada and Mexico and the European countries. Most of the Mexicans, probably all of the Mexicans crossing the Mexican border are not terrorists, but there are some Middle Easterners crossing the border. What do you think of the possibility of getting Mexican authorities and Canadian authorities and European authorities to do intelligence work so that we have terrorists better identified before they get to the border, and secondly, what about profiling?
It seems like we are dealing with virtually everyone who, on this list is a Muslim, either comes from a Muslim county or comes from a European country where they are part of the Muslim community. What are your conclusions or recommendations vis-a-vis profiling?
DR. CAMAROTA: Let me
I think Jan hit on an important point. Everyone recognizes international cooperation against an international threat makes a whole lot of sense. The problem I think or the concern I have is that we can sort of see that as a solving much of the problem for us. But they are just not a target the way we are. Canada, Mexico, al Qaeda isn't trying to kill them. They are trying to kill us. They know it. Most countries know it. It is difficult to imagine that Mexico can overcome its official corruption and Canada can overcome its lax immigration system, given the fact it's not them people are trying to kill.
On the question of profiling as it pertains to immigration law, I would say I'm strongly against it. If you are going to police the border, you are going to need to stop everyone, not just people who look Middle Eastern. If you are going to go after people who overstay their visas, you are going to have to go after everyone who overstays their visas, not just people who are Middle Eastern. It doesn't seem to me that would be fair, reasonable, just, or in fact constitutional. So I'm strongly against an idea of selective enforcement.
I can accept the fact that given the lack of resources, it may be necessary as a short-term kind of triage measure to say look, we are going to go after the Middle Eastern absconders of deportations first. But that should not be a viable long-term policy. It is simply not fair. You need to enforce the law on everyone. I think it violates the spirit of America to say look we are only going after this one group, and I think there are all kinds of problems with it anyway.
PROF. TING: Can I just chime in something on profiling. I have a slightly different take on profiling. It's well established in American immigration law, rightly or wrongly, that profiling on the basis of nationality is okay, and the landmark case is the Chinese exclusion case which is back in like 1896 where the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Chinese exclusion law against constitutional challenge and basically said in the area of immigration law, the Congress can do whatever it wants. It has what's called plenary power. Anything they want to do, they can do.
It's also a fact that, let me also mention that for many years, the government was embarrassed to cite the Chinese exclusion case as authority because it was such a bad precedent, even though it was a unanimous decision. But interestingly enough last year in the Civitas opinion Justice Breyer for the first time in many years cited the Chinese exclusion case with approval in his opinion.
But let me say that American immigration law is replete right now with discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, and some examples of that are the per country cap on legal immigration in which all countries are basically held to a 7 percent cap. No country can get more than 7 percent of the immigration visas that are available.
Who does that affect? Does it affect Luxembourg or Denmark or Iceland? I don't think so. It affects Mexico, Canada, China, India are adversely affected. People in the queue from Mexico have to wait longer. They are simply discriminated against on the basis of nationality. We also have something called the so-called diversity visa, the green card lottery. Well, guess what, certain countries are barred from participation in the green card countries. Which ones? Mexico, China, India are barred. Anyone who has studied immigration law knows there is no constitutional law doing that. If we want to select them as they come in, we are free to do that.
Our sensitivity about racial and ethnic profiling is fairly reasonable in the case of New Jersey state troopers. That's on the basis of skin color or appearance. I think the kind of profiling that has occurred since 9/11 is not that kind of profiling. Government has launched several initiatives, including the initiative to interview students in the United States, and the so-called absconder initiatives. Are we going to be able to go after all 300,000 at once? We would love to, but you can't. Government has said as part of our national security effort the first absconders we are going to go after are people who meet the 9/11 profile. They are young, male, they entered recently in the United States and they are from certain countries of origin, of known countries of origin of terrorism and we are going to prioritize those.
I think that is profiling to be sure, but it's profiling on the basis of objective facts. It's not profiling on the basis of skin color or appearance and I think we all ought to be clear about that. There is certainly ample constitutional precedent for doing that and I think we can also distinguish that from the kind of profiling against our own fellow citizens that we all find objectionable.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Can I just make one last comment about that question, and that is a practical matter that I don't think there is necessarily that much difference between their two points of view in a sense, and that is that when we try to identify people from specific nations for higher priority enforcement, in this context of Islamic terrorism it doesn't necessarily end up being all that effective.
What do we do? We first identified a list of terrorist sponsoring countries, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya. Even before 9/11 it was much more difficult for people from those countries to get visas. What happened? The next batch of terrorists came from those that weren't on the list, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt. Now we have put most Islamic countries essentially on a list that requires a higher bar for visas. What we are likely to get next is terrorists coming from countries with large aggrieved Muslim minorities but where the majority is not Muslim. For instance, the Philippines, India, China, Russia, some of the biggest immigrant sending countries. And then what Professor Ting referred to, we have large Muslim minorities that have small violent contingents in Western European countries, too, so in a sense it sort of becomes difficult to raise the bar against visa issuance, just in those countries where terrorists might come from, because there aren't that many countries where terrorists might not be coming from except Chad and Jamaica. But all big countries that are going to be sending a lot of people to the United States, with a handful of exceptions, are places where terrorists could be coming from.
So I mean, I agree with Professor Ting but in the long run as Steve said, the law does need to be enforced against everybody because security threats come from pretty much everywhere. I identified the person in the back as next.
MR. CHAUDRY: Yes. My name is Ijaz Chaudry, and I'm a former student of Professor Ting at Temple Law School. It's very nice to see you and be part of this discussion. I had a question regarding, we were talking about immigration law and it seems as if we basically have a question about implementation, how would we implement the laws that are already on the board and secondly, what we are talking about is that basically one third, in your study, you basically said that one third of the terrorists from the 48 were lawful residents and U.S. citizens. So how is it that we are going to control that, from within our own borders? And secondly, as Professor Ting had mentioned, you know, we basically all of us came from, on the basis of immigration, from one place or another.
DR. CAMAROTA: Well, in the case of lawful and permanent residents, a number of them had violated the law, working and living in the United States illegally. Some of them had engaged in fraud or marriage or lying on their visa application. I can't access those files. I can only go with what I have. I suspect a larger share than that did. But at least nine of the people living here legally when they committed their crimes had significant violations prior. So if we didn't give them a green card when they had a sham marriage or when we didn't give them a green card when they filed their false name or if we hadn't given them amnesty and so forth, that would be one way.
I think when you look at individuals here as lawful permanent residents or citizens, part of the point of that is to at least understand that those visas or those categories are also a source of terrorism, and I think we just need to understand that. Because if we are going to come up with a solution, we don't want to just focus on temporary visas. That's not the only problem, but it's a big part of the problem.
So in terms of enforcing the law, obviously there is a lot of things we can do. We can prevent people from getting into the country illegally with driver's licenses. All the terrorists opened bank accounts because they needed to receive money from overseas to take some very expensive flight lessons. By allowing the laxity on things like driver's licenses and opening bank accounts, we made their terrorism much easier. A number of terrorists have worked in the United States illegally. A number have filed false claims.
Serious terrorists have never been given visas under Section 214(b) of the immigration law because they had the characteristics of quote unquote, intending immigrant. You don't have to catch everyone involved in a large conspiracy. Often identifying a few people in the conspiracy can cause the whole thing to unravel. Of course I'm not arguing that immigration is the only thing that we need to do.
PROF. TING: I'm not sure what your question directed to me was. Just the fact that we are all descended from immigrants and you know, we ought to acknowledge that. I think we certainly do. We all acknowledge that. Was there something in particular you wanted to ask?
MR. CHAUDRY: Basically and also to add on to that. You mentioned about working with other nations, whereas, you know, you basically have terrorists coming in from different nations and not just as you mentioned the Muslim countries. There is western European nations as well. So how is it that we can control our contacts with other countries unless we have, unless we have contacted within those countries on a national level?
PROF. TING: Yes. Well, certainly immigration does facilitate cultural understanding and we all acknowledge that there are positive aspects to immigration, too. I don't think any of us are proposing that we would cut off immigration completely to the United States, but I think we have to strike the right balance and I think that we generally feel that it's been tilted for too long towards the direction of letting too many people in.
I'll just echo what Steve has just said. I don't think anything Steve is proposing is the absolute fix to the problem it's going to solve the problem; it's going to keep everyone who ought to be kept out, out. All I read the report as saying is some things that will be helpful, that will let us prevent some of these people from entering who shouldn't be allowed to enter, who ultimately become LPRs and naturalized U.S. citizens. And if we can keep even some of them out that is a very desirable goal.
MS. KELLY: Carol Kelly, National Public Radio. You talk about perhaps, actually just changing the lines at INS is not going to help the problem. Do you think that the proposals for splitting the agency in two, dividing up processing and enforcement, would actually harm the situation? And then the other question is we have been hearing this drumbeat of talk about the inevitability about another terrorist strike. do you think these sort of changes would have an impact on that, that it's not quite as inevitable?
DR. CAMAROTA: Well, in terms of reforming the INS, I would echo what other people have said. I don't think the problems of the INS are its structure. The marriage of benefits, green card citizenship with enforcement is not the primary impediment to effective immigration control. That's not the problem at the INS. The bigger problem is they tell the INS to enforce the law, INS enforces the law, and they say what are you doing enforcing the law? We have specific circumstances of when that happens. We can name them. We have all kinds of aspects of immigration they have been penetrated by different interest groups to get their particular slice of the pie, so they are probably much bigger problems, and of course this whole question of just the lack of resources.
The INS doesn't have anywhere near the resources it needs, and given the fact that it has a huge workload and a growing workload and that it's already overwhelmed, everyone acknowledges. GAO reports, one after the other, say that. Then at the same time we are going to fundamentally restructure it. That could make things a lot worse, because, at least in the short term, because it seems very likely that more stuff is going to get missed. As I have suggested, when stuff gets missed it's very helpful to terrorists.
PROF. TING: The estimate of the reorganization that I have read is Congress is budgeting $100 million for this reorganization, which is small potatoes. It reminds me of Everett Dirksen's comment. A million here, a million there, pretty soon you are talking about real money. That's $100 million that could have been spent another way. That's $100 million in terms of moving files, in moving resources, in closing down files, in opening new offices, in terms of relocating personnel, of dismissing personnel in some locations, of hiring personnel in other locations. Inevitably in that sort of reorganization files get lost, inefficiencies get introduced. So I'm concerned about the reorganization itself.
I think we ought to recognize that the problem in INS was to my mind not caused by too much communication within the INS. I mean the problem with, like sending out this letter to Mohammed Atta six months after the 9/11, was caused by too little communication. The enforcement side wasn't communicating with the benefits side enough.
And so we need to have a reorganization that facilitates communications within the INS, not that divides up the INS and interferes with communications, and I think that we ought to recognize that in a split agency everyone needs to be cross-trained. The people on the benefits side have to understand the enforcement of law. People on the enforcement side have to know benefits side so they don't enforce the law against people that are entitled to benefits. You have got the same personnel anyway. You have just got a bureaucratic structure you have paid $100 million for.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have a question for Mr. Camarota. What kind of ideas do you have for the INS enforcing and eventually 10 million limited to the U.S., what kind of resources are used? And secondly, what is the events of September 11th-- [inaudible].
DR. CAMAROTA: I do think that September 11th probably for a time has made it very unlikely that whatever agreement we may or may not reach with Mexico will involve giving green cards to people here illegally. That's mainly the point. The issue could come back. Nothing ever dies.
The question of enforcement. Let me run through a couple of numbers on immigration. The INS estimates that about 150,000 illegal aliens go home on their own each year. They deport about 50,000 illegal aliens, and something like 20,000 die a year and about 200,000 get green cards each year. The illegal population, there is an out-migration from illegal status of over 400,000 a year, we think. It's just that something like 700,000 or 800,000 new immigrants come in each year. If we knew how to increase out-migration and lower the numbers that come in, the problem would take care of itself. Numbers leaving in the illegal immigration are quite large. To do that, we would need to enforce the law. In addition to the border, which obviously is in need of dramatic increases in resources.
In addition to that, we need to enforce the law against hiring illegal aliens. We need to enforce laws and toughen laws about getting false documents. There is a whole series of things that we can do, and I try to outline a lot of those things in the report, but I think we could dramatically reduce the size of the illegal population in the United States and the number coming in.
Could we ever completely eliminate it? No. We could never completely eliminate murder or any other heinous crime. But the point is could we do a whole lot better than we are doing now? Yes, we could. As I try to argue in this report, it could be very helpful in our fight against terrorism. Given the fact that so many terrorists violate the law. The INS has estimated that 40 percent of the illegal aliens in the United States are people who overstay visas. If we haven't have given them visas they wouldn't be here illegally. We can enforce 214(b), which is to exclude people who we know based on their characteristics are more likely to stay.
I think all these things coupled together could have a human impact on illegal immigration.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yes, sir.
MR. JOHNSON: Jeff Johnson, CNS News. If these reforms did come about in strengthening the system in the United States of immigration, what is the risk of terrorists trying to exploit weaknesses in other governments to obtain false passports or false visas there? What can we do about it?
DR. CAMAROTA: We have had a number of terrorists who have done that. Four of them used false passports. That problem already exists. Submitting false documents, one had false documents from Egypt. There are others as well. So I think that problem already exists.
It's an enormous challenge, but part of a tighter immigration, one in which the numbers are lower and the scrutiny is greater, is that you are much more likely to identify a fraudulent claim, a false document, an implausible story. There is another recommendation in the study: If somebody actually submits a fraudulent application for a visa and you determine that the document is fraudulent, that is still not grounds for excluding them. And I make the suggestion in the report that they, that person should be added to the watch list. It's probably the way the State Department works, but the point is we need to be much tougher about document fraud. We need to get much tougher about excluding people who try to do that.
PROF. MILLER: If I could just chime in a bit. It's important for you to realize that the scholarly literatures on terrorism and migration begin roughly at the same time. They very rarely speak to one another, because academia is very compartmentalized. We need to understand that part of the reason why we have Ahmed Ressam here from the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria is the very success of the Algerian counterterrorism campaign, and part of the reason why Mr. Atta is here is the very success of the Egyptian counterterrorism campaign. And what's happening is that the al Qaeda network is just relocating to areas that it regards as soft, where it can strike at targets effectively. And that right now happens to be us and Western Europe.
If we succeed in making our counterterrorism defense more credible, it's a reasonable expectation for the issue to displace itself, but to tell you the truth, in this globalized context, the counterterrorism I think inevitably over the next couple of decades is going to lead towards more regional and international cooperation. I expect that to be a major outcome of this war.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Two more concise questions. Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: To what extent would state and local law enforcement be part of the solution? I don't think INS, as generous has Congress has been and probably will continue to be, will ever hire enough INS agents. There aren't that many people out there to fill the void. Why not let the cops do it?
PROF. TING: I have some concerns about that. While I generally favor enforcement of the laws, I think authorizing state and local authorities to enforce immigration laws is a problem, because it assumes that state and local authorities understand immigration laws: sort of like asking state and local authorities to enforce the federal tax law. Do they really understand the law well enough to know who to go after to prosecute? We are liable to have cases of mistaken identity and mistakes on the part of local authorities.
Immigration is a complex body of law. Understanding who has legal rights under our law and who doesn't is a complicated question. People need specialized training and it's a shame that the INS puts a lot of resources in training people and then losing them to other agencies. In government you have to think about how best to use resources and how the net pluses would outweigh the negatives that would almost certainly arise.
DR. CAMAROTA: I would say, for example, if you put into the criminal database people who are long-term visa overstayers, when they get picked up on a traffic stop they could be turned over to the INS. It would have to be better INS than we have here. That could be an example of local law enforcement. You could teach law enforcement to run the names of suspects that they pick up to find out if there is an immigration violation, not just traffic stops.
It turns out, as you probably know, two of the September 11th hijackers were picked up in traffic stops before September 11th. So the point is that I, too, share Jan's concern over using local law enforcement, but I also think there is a role to play and I think they could be effective.
MR. KRIKORIAN: One last question?
MS. ANDERSON: My name is Erin Anderson, and I'm here from Arizona. You keep talking as though most of the terrorists, our concerns are people who abuse the visa system. The concern we have from our community where we are is that those who come across the border don't have any documentation and don't have any visas, and the numbers that are coming across are considerable. The border patrol has told us when they talked to us one-on-one, they have admitted that they are only maybe catching one in 100 that are actually walking across the border.
Those walking across the American-Arizona-Mexican border are not all Mexicans. They have caught Brazilians, Haitians, Angolans, Russians. One of the more notable ones they caught recently were Palestinians who were fluent in Spanish, and they are able to cross over with a group of other Mexicans, so they blend in very well. So how does your report address those concerns? I have one more point. The Mexican police know about these people. These people don't just wander into Mexico and not know about it.
DR. CAMAROTA: I agree with you. There are only 1,700 border patrol agents on duty at any one time on the southern border. That number needs to be 10 times that amount. There needs to be a system of fences and barriers. There needs to be -- the only way to gain control of the southern border is to go after employers who hire illegal aliens. There are a bunch of other things we can do internally. It would have to be holistic, both interior enforcement and a heck of a lot more done at the border. That's what I suggest in the report. The southern border is going to be attractive if it hasn't already become an attractive option for al Qaeda. There is every reason, official corruption in Mexico, which you have alluded to, makes it attractive.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Our panelists might hang around. I thank everybody for coming and hope to see you at our next event.