Panel Transcript: Downsizing Illegal Immigration

A Strategy of Attrition Through Enforcement

By Mark Krikorian, Greg Bednarz, and Roy Beck on May 24, 2005

Related: Report

Tuesday, May 24, 2005
National Press Club
Washington, D.C.


Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies

Greg Bednarz, former INS deputy assistant commissioner for investigations

Roy Beck, Executive Director, Numbers USA

MARK KRIKORIAN: -- Good morning, I'm Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Immigration Studies, a think tank here in Washington that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.

Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy recently introduced bipartisan immigration legislation backed by a wide coalition of business, labor, and ethnic groups, which made a lot of splash and is likely to be the immigration vehicle that ends up being debated, to the extent there is any debate this year in Congress.

Unfortunately, the McCain-Kennedy plan, as well as President Bush's own immigration proposals, which he unveiled last year, are based on a false premise, that since the federal government can't quickly deport 10 million people, 10 million illegal aliens, the only alternative is legalization, which in English we call amnesty. The question we want to discuss today is whether we are in fact faced by the forced choice, the Hobson's choice between amnesty or mass expulsions, or whether there is another way. I'll talk about this first. My comments will be based on the Backgrounder paper that's in your packets.

Responding to that paper as well as offering kind of general thoughts they may have on this topic are two other people who have given a great deal of thought to this issue. First, Greg Bednarz will talk -- will follow me. Greg is now retired from the Immigration and Naturalization Service as a 25-year-plus veteran of the INS -- started out as a lowly inspector in Michigan and retired as deputy assistant commissioner for investigations.

Then Roy Beck will offer his thoughts. Roy is a journalist, author, and executive director of Numbers USA, which is the most sophisticated activist group working on the immigration issue today.

So, to the substance of the issue: Are expulsion or amnesty the only choices that we face in dealing with an illegal population of 10 million or more? The answer is no. And happily, the third way -- the third approach to this issue is in fact the only one that can actually work, and that is to shrink the illegal population, to downsize it through consistent, across-the-board enforcement of the immigration law. That would involve deterring settlement of new illegals, increasing deportations to the extent that we can, and I'd submit, most importantly, increasing the number of illegals already here who are persuaded to give up and deport themselves, that by doing that we can reverse the trend of continual increases in the illegal population by bringing about continual steady decrease in the illegal population, the point of which is not just to curtail the new arrivals of illegal immigrants, as I said -- not to limit the flow only but to reduce the stock, as they say in statistics, reduce the overall number of illegal immigrants so we shrink the problem to a manageable nuisance, which it's always going to be, rather than a looming crisis that lawmakers feel compelled, appropriately, to come up with some response to.

The analogy I would submit is to a corporation downsizing a bloated workforce. They use a combination of tactics -- a hiring freeze, which is to say limiting the number of new people admitted to the organization; layoffs, the analogy of deportations; and new incentives to encourage people who are working for the corporation, excess employees, to leave. Now, this kind of strategy -- I didn't just make this up. I mean, it's implicit in a lot of the legislation -- pro-enforcement legislation that Congress has considered, the Real ID Act, for instance, which the president signed recently, which dealt with standards for drivers licenses, or the CLEAR Act, which has been debated now for a number of years, which would systematize the relationship between local and state cops and federal immigration authorities. But even though specific measures like that are important, they're still tactics; they're pieces of a larger puzzle, and what's needed is the overall blueprint for success, the strategy that those tactics are a piece of in order to place those tactics, those specific measures, in context for the public, for lawmakers and even especially maybe for the enforcement personnel who were doing the job so they understand what it is that their day-to-day responsibilities are a part of.

So is any of this even possible? I mean, it sounds good but is it just policy wonks building castles in the air? The fact is this is eminently realistic, and we can see -- get a sense of how it would work from looking at the churn, the natural churn that exists in the illegal population already. The Immigration Service, in 2003, released a report estimate of the illegal population, and one of the ways they came up with that estimate was by looking at this question of churn, of people coming and going in the illegal population. And their estimates were that there is something like 400,000 people who stop being illegal aliens every year. Some of them get green cards. Many of them -- some of them are deported. Many of them leave -- they give up after living here for an extended period of time and go home.

The problem is that something like 800,000 new illegal aliens settle here each year, so that outflow is swamped by the arrival of newcomers and so the total pool of illegal immigrants keeps going up. A strategy of attrition would work to switch that relationship so that fewer new people come in, more existing illegals leave the illegal population, and we have an annual decrease. It's a realistic, sober approach to a long-brewing problem that doesn't look for immediate magic solutions but also doesn't just declare surrender, which is what Senators Kennedy and McCain would do and what the Bush proposal also would do.

Now, I think it's important here to ask, why not mass deportations? If we want to reduce the number, want to increase the outflow from the illegal population, why not stage a rerun of the unfortunately named Operation Wetback of the 1950s, which was probably the highest profile example of this kind of mass neighborhood sweeps and roundups.

Now, random raids at workplaces and elsewhere are always going to have to be conducted. They're an essential tool to make sure that every illegal alien understands that at any time he can be deported and detained, but mass roundups, neighborhood sweeps, this kind of thing, aren't going to happen, and I think there are probably three reasons for this. First, we just don't have the capacity to find, detain, and deport 10 million people in any short period of time. This is partly a question, of course, of personnel, of transportation, of detention facilities, but it's not just that. Over the past 30 years or so, all kinds of new rights for illegal aliens have been invented. A cadre of activist attorneys has developed whose goal is to obstruct enforcement of the immigration law. And so it's just simply much more difficult to remove illegal aliens than it was in the past. Congress can address some of these problems -- increasing resources, radically streamlining the deportation process -- but Washington has permitted the illegal alien population to grow so large that simply arresting them all just isn't going to work.

A second reason I think that we're not going to see mass roundups is that even if we had the capacity to magically relocate 10 million people, there would inevitably be some economic disruption. The fact is that businesses have become addicted, to some degree, to this labor. The degree of that addiction or dependence is wildly, I would say even ludicrously, exaggerated by lobbyists, but it exists to some degree. There are 6 (million), 7 million illegal aliens in the workforce. Our remarkably supple and responsive and flexible market economy can deal with their absence in relatively short order, but it's not going to happen overnight. It's going to take time to -- the enforcement would take time to unfold, and that works okay because it would give the economy time to adjust.

The third reason I think we're not going to see mass deportations is, frankly, an exodus of biblical proportions, millions of people driven through the desert with a huge dust cloud behind them, is that it would all be televised. It would undermine public consensus, public support for enforcement in the first place. The media as it is is going to latch on to every misstep by the government, which is inevitably going to happen. Every unfortunate story of an illegal immigrant family, every inconvenience to business, and mass roundups would create a superabundance of these anecdotes and would almost certainly undermine whatever political consensus had been developed in favor of immigration law enforcement.

And none of this means that a new attrition strategy, a downsizing strategy, wouldn't include a significant increase in deportations. After all, to go back to the business analogy, layoffs would happen. They would be important and essential. The thing is that the number of deportations are already so low that even a big increase isn't sufficient to address the problem. We only deport some -- actually deport, remove from the interior of the United States something like 50,000 illegal aliens a year, and in fact, some of them are legal immigrants who have committed crimes and made themselves deportable. So the number of people who were illegal aliens, regular illegal aliens, and were deported is actually even less than that. If we have 10 million illegal aliens and we're only deporting 50,000 people a year, that would mean we'd have to increase deportations 200-fold in order to deal exclusively with the tool of deportation with this problem, and it's not going to happen.

A more realistic goal of, say, doubling or tripling deportations -- heck, quadrupling or quintupling them, important though it is, is simply not going to have a big enough numerical impact to be the only tool that's used, and because of that, self-deportation is essential.

Now, a question you might ask, will illegals even respond to a change in the enforcement environment? This is one of these myths that illegal immigration is going to happen no matter what, whether we like it or not, and so we might as well lie back and pretend to enjoy it because nothing we do is going to make any difference. The fact is that it does make a difference. Illegal aliens respond to cues and to changes in enforcement. A good analogy of this that relates specifically to this issue of attrition or downsizing is the special registration program that was instituted after 9/11. Non-immigrant visitors -- that is, people who did not have green cards but were here on other temporary status from the Middle East -- were from a number of countries, Islamic countries, were subjected to a special registration program. They had to come into the Immigration Service and present themselves, have their information taken down.

Well, the affected nations -- of all these nations that were listed, the country that had the biggest illegal alien population here was Pakistan. And what we found -- and this seems to be confirmed from a number of different sources -- is that once Pakistani illegal immigrants understood that at least with regard to them, immigration enforcement was going to be somewhat more serious and somewhat more systematic, that they started leaving in droves. Thousands and thousands of Pakistani illegal aliens left on their own. They deported themselves once it was clear that the party was over. They took buses to Canada, they hopped on a plane back to Pakistan or to the U.K. They responded to the change in the enforcement environment.

So what would an attrition policy look like? It would combine two things, clearly: regular conventional enforcement -- in other words, arrests, prosecution of repeat illegal crossers, deportations, asset seizures, what have you, but it would combine those kinds of tactics with an expanded use of verification of legal status at a variety of important points. In the paper I called them virtual choke points, to draw the analogy to like a border crossing point. Another way of thinking of it might be firewalls in the computer business. In other words -- and the point is to make it as difficult as possible to live here illegally.

As to the first area, the regular -- the sort of conventional enforcement efforts, the first thing that we need more than extra border patrol agents or extra Jeeps or extra plain-clothes investigators, the first thing that has to happen is an unambiguous commitment from the White House down to immigration law enforcement. The fact is no unambiguous commitment like that exists now. And the only way anything like this can work, regardless of the level of resources, is if we end the climate of impunity for border jumping, for illegal employment, for fake documents, for lying on immigration applications, and this kind of -- this ambiguity regarding immigration enforcement has an extraordinarily demoralizing effect on immigration enforcement personnel. Greg may be able to tell us a little more about that.

And the fact is that the reverse -- a commitment to enforcing immigration actually has a remarkably -- I don't know what the word is -- exhilarating effect on immigration enforcement personnel, and we've seen an example of that with the fugitive operations teams, which were set up after 9/11 to go after illegal aliens who had formerly been found deportable and then skipped and ran off. You can see it when you talk to those guys that they understand that their bosses actually value what they do, and that if they succeed in doing their jobs, they won't be humiliated the way immigration personnel often are when they try to do their jobs, but they'll actually be rewarded and praised.

Other measures that would be required beyond the simple change in the environment is resources -- things like more U.S. Attorneys and more judges in border areas, the CLEAR Act, which I mentioned before, seizing the assets of illegal aliens, however modest they are, in order to create some kind of sanction for being an illegal alien. But measures like that, and other ones, are designed to help the government actually find illegal aliens and throw them out.

The other part of an attrition policy is this creating incentives for self-deportation. Unlike at the visa office, or at the border, there is no physical place that illegal aliens have to pass, or aliens have to pass through to get access to our society. Once they're in, what we try to do is create firewalls, create virtual border crossings, if you will, and the point is to pick events that are important, essential to living in a modern society but don't happen every day. It's not like cashing your check every week at the grocery store, buying gas every few days so as not to disrupt the normal functioning of society.

And the point there is not just to find illegal aliens to arrest them, although that's going to happen. The main point is to make it as difficult as possible to get through these firewalls and to live a normal life. That's the rationale for the ban on hiring illegal aliens. People have to work, so demanding proof of legal status when getting a job would be one of those firewalls. We haven't enforced it but we have the tools to do it. Again, it's a question of a commitment to enforcing the law. There are other areas where that firewall concept needs to be applied -- getting a drivers license, for instance. That's what the Real ID Act was supposed to be about, though there's a loophole -- a significant problem in it I think that we're going to have to revisit it. But beyond getting a drivers license, registering an automobile is another firewall, opening a bank account, getting a car loan or a mortgage, getting an occupational business license. There may even be other areas, other firewalls that we could put in place.

A significant element of this firewall concept -- in other words, what makes it essential -- is secure identification. The Real ID Act was Congress's attempt to deal with that because the drivers license is our de facto national ID system, but also important is consular registration cards, what Mexico calls the Matricular Consular card, which functions as an illegal alien ID and can serve illegal aliens as a way of passing through many firewalls, and rejecting its acceptance by U.S. institutions is essential.

Attrition demands not only incentives to get illegals to deport themselves, and not only efforts to detain people trying to get in, but the corollary of that is not instituting policies that would spark even more illegal immigration. And there are two things specifically I have in mind here, and one is massive guest worker programs, which are, in effect, simply recruitment programs for illegal immigration. The president has called for an unlimited guest worker program to allow any worker from anywhere in the world to take any job in the United States at any wage. The Kennedy and McCain proposal is somewhat less sweeping but still would provide for hundreds of thousands of new guest workers from overseas every year. These kinds of programs are guaranteed to increase illegal immigration.

And another aspect of the government's proactive recruiting of illegal immigration is the legal immigration system, which in many ways is simply a permanent rolling amnesty for illegal aliens trying to launder their status and dealing with a couple of the most egregious aspects of the legal immigration system. The visa lottery and the sibling category specifically would be essential.

And finally, legalization, in English "amnesty," is something that isn't even a legitimate topic for discussion until the broken immigration system is fixed. Even then there are strong arguments against it, but once we regain control over our immigration system, it is at least a legitimate topic for debate as one possible way of tying up loose ends, but even mentioning legalization before the system is fixed is irresponsible and is subversive of any efforts at law enforcement.

And let me -- just my last point is that this isn't bitter medicine that the public needs to be persuaded to swallow. Enforcement of the immigration law isn't real popular among the elite -- there is some research on this -- but actual voters across the political spectrum support it. Alan Wolfe, who wrote, a year or two ago, "One Nation After All" -- a sociologist -- found that the differences between legal and illegal immigrants, that difference, quote, "is one of the most tenaciously held distinctions in middle class America. The people with whom we spoke overwhelmingly support legal immigration and expressed disgust with the illegal variety," close quote. Harnessing that sentiment can buttress a sober, reasoned policy of attrition through immigration enforcement.

With that, let me pass it on to Greg and then to Roy. Greg?

GREG BEDNARZ: Good morning. I'm going to do my best to give you an insider's perspective, and granted, that will be somewhat narrower than what you heard from Mark. My premise is that an attrition approach, the middle way, hasn't been tried. I believe it can work with sufficient funding -- it doesn't have to be overwhelming funding but sufficient funding -- mission definition and, for real, strategic planning. And I'm going to draw from public record info, and just for the record, from unclassified recollection.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the old INS had as series of stovepipe strategies. There was a border inspection strategy, a border patrol strategy, a deportation strategy, an interior enforcement strategy, which was really an investigation strategy. We had all these wonderful stovepipes and there wasn't a lot of crosswalk back in those days.

Focusing on the interior enforcement strategy, which -- I mean, we try to do what we know, and that's my background, INS investigations. Focusing on that, the GAO's Richard Stanna, in 2002, testified before Congress that INS faced significant challenges in staffing program areas, providing reliable information for program management, establishing clear guidance and promoting coordination within the INS. Three years later he notes a need for mission definition, strategic planning, and priority management in the DHS successor agency. The bottom line is that in order to support an attrition approach, we need a comprehensive, integrated immigration law enforcement strategy, and it should treat, one, overseas; two, border; and three, interior matters. And this is something that Mark had written about sometime back, an article on terrorism in the National Interest Quarterly.

I'm going to concentrate on the third area, interior investigations, and that takes nothing away from another area, deportation or what's now known as -- its maiden name was deportation, now known as removals. But when I entered on duty with INS almost 30 years ago, we had a little over 900 agents in INS investigations to handle supposedly the 50 states. We were only in, I believe at that time, 39 states. We didn't have a presence way back then in 11 states. INS investigations at that time was the main interior enforcement component, and in this era they share that with the Detention and Removals Office. The passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 saw the total rise to about 1,650 and then small incremental increases would see the total rise to about 2,000.

These 2,000 or so what are now called legacy INS agents with immigration expertise would be folded into what is now called the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- ICE. And that was in March of 2003. Quite frankly, the number still holds at 2,000 or maybe 2,200 investigations agents with immigration expertise. I understand that there has been cross training for the customs agents, and they are ICE agents; they do provide a common front, they do support each other, but one has to remember that the customs people still have customs work to do, too. Or I should say, the ICE agents. And I know I harken back to another pre-DHS era, so bear with me on that.

But during that pre-DHS era, the 2,000 agents were roughly -- and I say roughly because it could shift -- they were distributed to the following activity areas: all of about 200 agents dealt with fraud issues; 300 to 400 with employer sanctions issues, 350-450, criminal aliens mainly; another 300 to deal with all the alien smuggling that they faced. The remainder were assigned to drug task forces, violent gang task forces -- and we did things before MS-13 with gangs, and there is a structure there and there was a structure -- counter-terrorism and organized crime task forces. So some of these activities go back to the '60s. Some of them actually, if you go back into the archives, you'll see gang-related activity going back to 1891, the start.

So looking at just one of those activity areas, immigration fraud, during one year in the mid-1990s -- I believe it's fiscal year '96 -- we at INS received 13,000 credible cases, which we received under priority acceptance criteria. There are certain cases you can take. So those were credible. Due to resource constraints we could only complete half, or 6,500 of those cases. One of those cases, Operation Desert Deception -- and I'm sure most of you know about -- had about 5,000 fraudulent Special Agricultural Worker, or SAW, applications attached. And try to think of the math here: 5,000 -- this is one of 13,000 cases. Some were smaller but the numbers could really mount up for 200 agents.

These SAW cases resulted from the IRCA Act's amnesty provisions. In fact, there were instances where we had people who would show up that had never done a day's work in agriculture. They wouldn't know a baler from -- well, heaven knows what, but they would go stop at some place, rub dirt into their hands and then go take -- go to the interviews. And the thing I think we should always remember, whenever you have a benefit, fraud is going to result, and if you pass an amnesty, whatever you do, you need to have related numbers of agents to handle that. But in the past, I don't believe that happened, and I can tell you that Jack Shaw, who is the former assistant commissioner for INS investigations, gave detailed testimony to Congress on amnesty fraud on March 4th, 1999. It was before Immigration and Claims. I'm not going to go into that other than say search it out on the 'Net. It makes for interesting reading.

But during each spring call budget exercise, we begged for anti-fraud resources. And once again, to repeat it, 6,500 cases went down the road. This is well documented. It was known to the top political management at that time, and I can't help but shudder when I think about possible sleepers, embeds, whatever, in just one year, and think of the succeeding years. During the decade and a half of the 1980s to the 1990s, the INS Investigations Division made about 100 line-item requests for fraud, counter-terrorism, resident agent offices, protective equipment -- things like body armor for our gang task forces and anti-smuggling investigators. And out of that, 80 percent of these line-item requests, which were well-justified -- they were based on good metrics -- were denied, either by INS top management, the Department of Justice, OMB, or Congress.

We also saw requests back then for data mining. They've zeroed out. Purchases of evidence -- and in the middle '90s we actually saw our purchase of evidence budget plummet from in the millions of dollars to $440,000 per year, and I believe that was fiscal year 1995 or '96. At one point we were directed to remove the element title, prevent entrenchment of illegal aliens from the annual priorities. And this is my opinion that I'm going to give you -- it was my opinion, based on the conversations I had at the time, that the optics were not good and would draw attention to the unaddressed illegal alien population. That incident supported my impression that there was no desire then to support an attrition approach.

As of 1995, INS had no presence in nine states, and repeated efforts by mid-level managers to establish resident offices in those nine states were rebuffed by top political management in the 1980s and 1990s. Then the 1996 Immigration Act required each state to have at least 10 immigration officers. Once again, top management made a preliminary decision to place only non-enforcement information officers and benefit adjudicators in the unserved states. A congressional enquiry, a quiet phone call, caused the early decision to be changed, requiring that enforcement officers would also be placed in those states. I often wondered if the change would have occurred without congressional pressure.

In 1997, the Congress created quick response teams in underserved areas, which amounted to the creation of those resident agent offices that we had requested as far back as fiscal year 1988. And the Law Enforcement Support Center, which is a national resource center for state and local queries -- they can send NLETS, or National Law Enforcement Telecommunication System messages, directly, and query on aliens that they have stopped, made road stops on. It was similarly funded in the late 1990s after facing repeated denials of appropriated funds for almost a decade. I hope you're beginning to see a pattern here.

Although I've been away from INS -- well, from the then-INS for almost three years, it is my sincere hope -- and hope springs eternal and I've got to believe that the folks at DHS are trying to address this, that certainly the mid-level people and the careerists are trying to -- that they're working on strategy and related budget and resource enhancements, metrics, what have you. And the thing that -- just as with INS, whether it's deportation agents, border patrol agents, or now DHS ICE agents, CBP agents, what have you, the amazing thing is that they do so much with so little. And with incremental increases -- decent increases -- I mean, if we can spin up 30,000 people to do screening at TSA, we can certainly look at what we have in our immigration enforcement components and do something about it rather than 2,000 here, 210 there -- really ridiculous numbers, but of course that's just my opinion.

But whatever the reasons for a lack of a middle way, whether it's benign neglect or not-so-benign suppression, the DOS, Department of State consular officers, legacy INS, and legacy Customs, and border patrol agents really deserve our support, but most of all the American taxpayer deserves more than a token effort, or what I'm hearing is the smokescreen of false dichotomies, surrender to totalitarianism.

And with that said, I'm going to turn to Roy.

ROY BECK: Thank you, Greg.

MR. BECK: Well, I thank Mark for your work on this, and I think it's excellent help to help framing this. As you say, this is -- much of this has been thought about, discussed among the lawmakers who have introduced legislation over the last few years among the American leaders who have pushed for return of the rule of law, but I don't believe it has been articulated into a clear policy as you are trying to do here, Mark. And so I thank you for that.

I have a few suggestions as you work on this. One of them is an overarching theme, which is to let relief for victims drive the attrition -- relief for victims. I think that is a missing part -- a major missing part of the philosophy on what we are doing with illegal immigration.

My comments relate to three major points: number one, that the reason we want to reduce illegal immigration numbers, the illegal population in this country, is because it is a crime and it's not a victimless crime; there are victims throughout society. Number two, and that is -- is that like all victim crimes, crimes with victims or most of them, and certainly like white-collar crime, which I believe it's attuned to, illegal immigration is a business; it is a criminal business in which everybody involved in it profits from it. And so the way to do enforcement against it is to take the profit out of the business.

Number three is the problem of the American victims and there are tens of millions of American victims. The smallest numbers of victims are probably the ones who have directly lost their jobs to illegal aliens or who can't find a job because illegal aliens have stepped into those jobs. A larger number are Americans who are working alongside illegal aliens and have seen their wages and their working conditions be depressed because of that.

Even a larger number are those who are in the overall occupations; they are seeing their occupations collapse and wages depressed. The largest number of American victims are the communities as a whole of seeing their quality of life decrease. This has to do with overcrowding of schools, deterioration of resources, raising of taxes, congestion in all forms in parks, traffic, you name it. The fact is there are tens of millions of American victims.

And I will say this that every time that I have mentioned anything about the attrition approach on TV, instead of the mass deportation approach, I get massive protests in terms of e-mails and phone calls from American victims accusing me of selling out. So I think we need to address that issue about, you know, is attrition enough to sway their very real concerns of these tens of millions of American victims.

Well, to fill in those three points, I think Greg has provided us a very good insight into the mythology that the open-borders people have promulgated, which is that -- you'll hear this a lot -- we have tried the enforcement approach, we have tightened and tightened and adopted more and more draconian measures against illegal immigration and look what we have got -- we have just added another -- another million come in every year and with the net increase of a half-a-million. So we've tried the enforcement; now let's try a different form of this, and the form is massive guest-worker programs and legalize the illegals who are already here.

Well, as Greg has pointed out, no, we have not tried massive enforcement but we have done this: we have increasingly put up barriers on the border and we have increased a lot of the penalties on the books. But we have at the same time done is emasculated interior enforcement; there are almost no workplace raids, almost no fines against employers. There may be fines in the books but nobody gets fined; there are very few deportations; and -- and this is one of the big important things -- we have pressed six amnesties since the '86 amnesty. In the '90s, there were six more amnesties between 1994 and 2000.

So our -- when you think about what plan we have had for illegal immigration, it is -- it is basically this: we will make it increasingly difficult for you to cross the border and try to ensure that those of you who do try, that more of you will die while you are trying to do it. But if you get across the border and get a good 100 miles into the interior, there is almost no chance that you will ever be deported as long as you don't commit a violent crime, and after a few years, there is good chance that there will be some kind of an amnesty for you.

That is the recipe for why we have -- the Census Bureau now says, you know, it looks like we have at least 12 million -- I think that is fairly conservative -- but 12 million illegal aliens in this country. What Mark is proposing is that we actually have enforcement; something, as Greg says, we haven't done.

I have already made the point about victimless crimes. I think it's important though to point out that there is a tremendous philosophical difference between the McCains, Kennedys, the Brownbacks, and the Bushes in the way that they look at this. It's really impossible for me to believe that they could be so callus as to understand the victimization and ignore it. I tend to think that they have convinced themselves that illegal immigration creates no victims. There is almost no other way you could justify the kinds of plans that they come up with. They have just turned a total blind eye to the victims. I think the polls show the majority of American people know the victimization; the attrition model is based on the fact that there are victims.

I have said for many years that I believe the most common -- the most true analogy for illegal immigration is burglars and burglary, and that is most burglars do not enter homes with the intent to harm the homeowner; they enter the home with the intent to take -- to increase their material standard of living and to get in and get out and, you know -- their intent is not to harm. And they do, as I said before -- illegal aliens -- they are wage thieves, they are quality-of-life thieves. These are the results of their coming here illegally but they are not the intent.

I think if we're going to manage this, we have to look at this as a law-enforcement standpoint, and there are three -- there are three keys to how a burglar decides to illegally break into a house and steal something. The number one thing is what are the rewards and magnets? You don't burglarize a place if there is not a great enough reward. So that is number one. Number two, what is the barrier's entry -- how he is used to getting in and out. Number three is what is the potential for penalty?

Now, you apply this to immigration and the issue -- as you can take I believe -- every one of the -- and I believe there are probably at least 30 significant things that need to be done for the attrition model to work like gang busters, and you can put every one of those in those three categories. Removing the rewards and the magnets -- the number one thing for removing the rewards and magnets is to make workplace verification mandatory.

Two years ago Congress extended voluntary workplace verification, the SAVE program, to all 50 states; it's working great, but it only works for the companies that want to obey the law. The companies -- the employers that are the scoundrels don't have to use it so it is a tremendous disadvantage to the patriotic, law-abiding businesses of this country. So it's even -- we should even the playing field for most businesses in the country and make sure every employer does the workplace verification.

I want to emphasize two more things about magnets and that is -- Mark mentioned them but we often don't think about this -- and that is chain migration and lottery categories. The two categories of legal immigration that the bipartisan joint national commission on immigration reform said it should be eliminated, and they said it should be eliminated because these people are brought in for no purpose, no national purpose, no economic purpose, not any regard to their skills or whether we need their skills.

But they also should -- these two categories are huge generators for illegal immigration. Every year, 10 million foreign nationals apply for the lottery; 50,000 win the lottery, but like most people who play the lottery, they start to have an idea that they could win someday and this builds in a sense of entitlement. So you have got tens of thousands of -- I would say tens of thousands of people in this country who have played the lottery and decided that they will go ahead and move here because they get a chance to win some day.

Chain migration -- there are millions of extended family relatives that are on the waiting list; some of them are on a waiting list that will probably last 20, 25 years, but once they are on that waiting list, they believe they are entitled, they have met the criteria to be in this country, it's just they haven't come up on the list. So we have got hundreds of thousands of people in this country who are on the chain migration list who have decided to come on in. We should get rid of these two magnets; they serve no national purpose and they increase the rewards or the magnetism that brings people in.

One more thing about removing magnets -- and you have touched on this Mark. Every time I mention this I get a lot of ridicule but I say that one of the three most important things that could happen for attrition to take place is for the president of the United States to go on TV and actually make an address and say to those of you who are in this country illegally, I want you to know you are not welcome and we want you to get your affairs in order and in an orderly we want you to move back home because you're not supposed to be here.

And to carry that a little further, a federal advertising -- public service advertising campaign in the languages of the major illegal alien groups to make that clear. Most illegal aliens believe that our federal government wants them here because almost every utterance that comes from our -- (audio break, tape change). That is the magnet.

In terms of increasing the potential penalty, three quick things; one of them, the Clear Act has this and that is a mandate that the federal government has to cooperate with local governments. Most of the media attention is the opposite; it's about whether the local government has to cooperate with the feds. I don't think that is a very important part of this. The really important part of this is that the feds have to cooperate with the locals.

We have local governments all over the country begging the feds to pick up illegal aliens that they have run into and detained, but the feds will not pick them up unless they kill somebody. So if we had a situation where the illegal aliens thought that they could randomly run into local law enforcement at any time and suddenly find themselves in deportation proceedings, and that the federal government would respond, that would create a tremendous amount of voluntary -- certainly a lot of concern among the illegal immigration community and I think it would push people to voluntary leave.

We have got to -- also, we have got to take the profit out for illegal aliens. We can't just have them be picked up, sent back home, come right back; they have got to lose a lot of money in the process. That is why we need to have forfeiture of assets; we need to have fines that the second time and third time they are picked up -- start to sound a little draconian but the point is they are involved in a criminal enterprise, take all of the reward out for them.

Now, of course, the primary criminals in the illegal immigration racket are the employers. We have not -- I think part of the problem is we have got good fines and penalties and -- you go to jail but nobody wants to send a businessman to jail. I think that probably we need to redirect our attention not so much to the penalties as to disrupting their businesses; that is, everything that the federal government does with business ought to be done in terms of how can we just do things like fly helicopters over businesses if we know there are illegal aliens, that kind of thing -- in other words, constantly disrupt businesses like you disrupt open drug markets.

And then here is the point that I don't believe has been -- there is nowhere in the law yet -- no bills have been introduced -- I think it is very important -- that is -- it's how we relate to the victims themselves and that is, do they have to wait for 20 years for illegal immigration to disappear? Well, maybe that is what it will take for the country as a whole, but if you're a community that feels victimized by illegal immigration, the law should be such that you can be rid of illegal immigration in the next year. That is -- that is why the Clear Act works so well; it allows any local community to decide we are going to make it so that illegal immigrates simply don't want to stay in our community.

We have got to create a situation in which businesses can file complaints and ask for relief from the fact that they have unfair competition from businesses that hire illegal aliens. That is, let the victims themselves determine where the DHS is doing workplace raids. If you have got an occupation where all of the businesses are happy competing with illegal labor, then -- and you don't have enough troops to do all of the workplace raids, put the raids where the victims are asking for it.

And then, finally, set up a situation in which groups of workers who are being victimized can file for relief from their occupations. Use the force multiplier of all of these victimized businesses, all of these victimized workers. Let them become a major part of the DHS forces to bring about a much more rapid attrition. Thank you.

MR. KIRKORIAN: Thank you, Roy.

I am happy to take questions for any of us. State your name, who you are, where you're from, that sort of thing so we can ask -- you first, sir, and then you -- yes. Yeah, go ahead. No speeches please. I need a very short statement with a question mark at the end.

Q: Well, just what do you think of the -- (off mike) -- what do you think of the -- (off mike) -- of very violent members of gangs -- (off mike) -- gangs in the United States?

MR. BEDNARZ: Well, it's obviously a response -- it's a law enforcement responsibility and at this point, the amount of resources devoted to gangs are very small but the solution to that is target some resources, ask for them, and that is -- apparently at this time I know the DHS/ICE is concentrating on MS-13. There are other gangs other than MS-13 out there; there are a lot of them and it's not just Latin gangs. Over the years, we have dealt with -- you name the country, it had a gang; it had non-traditional organized crime. So even though I have been gone for three years, the bottom line is that it's a resource issue; they are targeting, but we also need feedback and reports from the agency on this.

Q: Thank you.

MR. KRIKORIAN: I would just like to add something to it quickly and that is that as important as going -- devoting immigration enforcement to your major sort of obvious criminal problems, that isn't going to really get at the whole problem because this is the insight of broken-windows policing: if you're only waiting for somebody to murder or rape, you are never going to be able to prevent crimes in the future. The idea of broken-windows policing, which is what Giuliani did in New York, was to reassert control over all, to go after people jumping over the subway turnstiles, and drinking in public because you're going to, number one, uncover a whole lot of real bad guys; number two, restore a sense of order and end this climate of impunity where people figure they can get away with this kind of thing.

Q: Thank you.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Yes, ma'am, and then you.

Q: (Off mike) -- you said groups of workers who feel that they have been -- (off mike) -- you mean suing the government?

MR. KRIKORIAN: Well, if you could sort of kind of repeat the question.

MR. BECK: Yes, the question was my comment on groups of workers who are victimized by illegal immigration -- to be able to file for relief and the question was -- I mean, sue the government. What I think we need is we need administrative procedures in which they file -- not suing the government but basically filing, putting the government on notice, and having a responsive government -- that you don't have to sue the government; the government will actually do something.

But I do -- there is a sort of a suing nature of it because what we do know is that the federal government for the last 25 years has colluded with the criminal enterprise. They have made hundreds of little decisions and sometimes major decisions to keep the flow of illegal labor going to illegal businesses. I do not trust -- I do not trust any law that could be passed that the federal government would enforce it if it means hurting the businesses that want the illegal labor unless we put something in there that allows businesses -- aggrieved businesses and aggrieved citizens, aggrieved workers to have a formal process of filing and -- these need to be highly publicized. And, yes, in the end -- in the end there needs -- there probably does need to be something that allows for suit. But my hope would be that it is an administrative process.

MR. KRIKORIAN: First you -- no, yeah, Chip.

Q: Some people say the devil is in the details -- (off mike) -- it sounds like salvation is in the details here. And I wondered -- you mentioned 30 things that need to be done. I would like to see that list. Do you have a list like that?

MR. BECK: You would like to see a list of 30 things too --

Q: Thirty things that -- (cross talk).

MR. BECK: Yes, 30 things. It may be 27, it may be 31, but --

MR. KRIKORIAN: You don't need to list them all now.

MR. BECK: No, I am not going to. (Laughter). But I think that that is exactly where -- I saw this panel when Mark suggested he was going to put this panel on as being a little bit different than some of the panels where it is the finished product; it's a beginning. It's a long way along in the thinking but to put these lists together and I would hope that maybe in the next two or three weeks, we will be able to have some things on websites that -- we'll certainly at Numbers USA be doing something like that.

Q: And I would like to see it broken down into --

MR. BECK: The three burglary categories.

Q: Well, the ones that could be done by executive -- (off mike, cross talk).

MR. BECK: That is a good one for CIS.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Well, I have to say you could check out the May 23rd edition of the National Review for a breakdown of some specific items in a piece that I wrote for the cover story.


Q: My name is Andrew McDevitt. I am with the American Payroll Association. I represent 21,000 payroll professionals and my membership is tasked with the complying with the employment tax laws, recording W-2 information into your IRS, Social Security, enforcing child support laws, making sure garnishments are completed for child support enforcement. And what I heard on the panel earlier is the possibility of employers playing a larger role in the immigration enforcement laws. I want to hear more about that and how that would impact that, and how we could do that with the least administrative burden because the folks that I represent, they want to comply with the laws that they are tasked at complying with in their own employer's environment.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Well, the question was how can employers that want to comply, which frankly is most of them -- how do they actually comply? And the fact is that since 1986 there hasn't been a good way for employers to comply with the immigration requirements. In 1986 Congress for the first time ever prohibited the employment of illegal aliens but pulled its punch and didn't mandate the development of some way for employers to actually know who was legal and illegal and they fell back on looking through a flurry of documents easily forged, insecure documents in many cases, and then, to top it all off, said that employers that looked too closely at the documents would be sued by the Justice Department for discriminating; in fact, many employers have been fined for looking too closely at documents in the immigration process.

So I would have to submit -- and I would love to hear other thoughts on this -- we need to expand on the voluntary verification system that exists now; it's an online system that the immigration service has been playing with. I am sure there are improvements that could be undertaken in this. So clearly the capacity needs to be ramped up but the businesses that have used this have been happy with it, and making that mandatory and expanding it seems to me the first step in helping business do what frankly they want to do anyway, which is just incorporate this into their normal hiring procedures so they don't have to become immigration agents any more.

Q: And I think what I am seeing out there is -- I mean, the larger employers have means -- (inaudible) -- doing this but the medium and smaller employers -- there have to be some tools that make it easy for them -- that this -- the government is really going to take a serious stance on this to have the opportunity to make sure that they get he appropriate things to ensure that they are trying to comply with the laws that aren't set.

MR. KIRKORIAN: Well, that is why there is a -- I mean, you can now go to and sign up for the pilot program.

MR. BECK: The comment about is it a -- especially smaller- and medium-size businesses need a process that works well. Numbers USA is a small business; we have 12 employees and we have joined the SAVE program and we have had a couple of hires, we have used it. It is kind of important that we not be hiring illegal aliens. (Laughter.) And I can just say as a small employer, it's a perfect system. It just took a few minutes to join the program and then when we actually hired somebody, it was -- I don't think it even took a minute. I mean, it was -- (snaps fingers) -- just like that. And it's the reassurance that you have got -- that you have done something that the federal government has basically said you have done what you need to do.

We believe, by the way, that a lot of the paperwork requirements that have been out there and the document fraud expertise that -- we think we need to change that. I mean, I think overall, we need to make it easier for businesses so that businesses have less to do because really most businesses are not the problem here; we need to know -- as you say, most businesses want to obey the law. Make it easy for them to do but make sure that the net is cast for everybody.

MR. KIRIKORIAN: Let me just add, we also signed up for the verification program at CIS but we're even smaller and haven't hired anybody -- (laughter) -- in the interim yet.

Yes, sir, you in the back and then -- no, no, no, he had his hand up first, sorry. You will be next, sir; you, sir, in the light green shirt.

Q: Okay, my name is -- (off mike). Both you and Roy Beck talked about how the illegal -- how illegal immigration enforcement -- (off mike) -- you also mentioned how most Americans support illegal immigrants. And you talked about the negative effects that -- (off mike) -- I can't think of any of them -- (off mike). So to what extent do you think that fighting illegal immigration -- (off mike)?

MR. BECK: The point was it sounds like -- to the questioner -- that most of the things that we said that were wrong with illegal immigration could also be applied to legal immigration and how does all of that fit together, and it is a very perceptive comment because I believe it's true because the main problem with illegal immigration is not that the people are illegal but that they are present, period; it is the numbers. And so the fact that we have -- we're brining in over a million legal immigrants a year and then around a million illegal immigrants a year that are settling, that is around 2 million people. It is the 2 million people in the workplace.

If illegality was the main problem, then amnesty would be the answer because then you just have legalized the people but the fact is is that the competition is -- and the victimization is still there for the part. Now, I mean -- there is no question illegal immigration is much worse than legal because in that case the illegal aliens are at fault. The problems from legal immigration, the legal immigrants are not at fault at all; they are simply taken advantage of something we offer, but the problem is we need to have a -- as the Jordan Commission, the bi-partisan commission, said in the mid-'90s, we need an immigration policy on illegal and legal that bring the numbers -- the numbers down -- Numbers USA -- that is why we call ourselves that -- (chuckles) -- but it is to bring the numbers down to a level that does not create unfair competition for American workers and does not unfairly add to congestion and other infrastructure problems for the American people as a whole.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Let me just add to that and then we'll take a couple of questions and wrap it up. But the point though is that there are some legal immigration categories that are uniquely structured to promote more illegal immigration. That is why I specifically highlighted the lottery, which actually generates new flows of illegal immigration from places where they didn't exist before, and that is the whole point to the visa lottery because it is designed to promote immigration from places where there isn't much immigration from.

And then the chain migration idea -- if you adopt a young child from China, that doesn't promote chain migration. If you have a category that brings in the adult sibling of a U.S. citizen who is married and has his own kids and his wife has parents and his wife has her own siblings, that then creates chain migration in which -- can in fact -- is an engine for illegal immigration in a way that maybe other legal immigration categories aren't.

Let us just take two more. Sir, you in the back first. Yes. In the green shirt, in the green sweater.

Q: My name is Brian (?). I am retired. I was chief of border patrol in the '80s -- (off mike). The point Greg made about -- I was in the immigration service in '86 when -- (off mike) -- issued and Greg's point about -- (off mike). The thinking at that time as I perceived it was that we were going to go after sanctions, we were going to go after -- (off mike) -- and in fact, as chief of the border patrol -- Greg mentioned he had picked two out of hundreds -- there are about -- (off mike) -- is totally inaccurate.

I assigned 600 of the border patrol uniform to do interior -- (off mike) -- that is how enthusiastic I was, but I retired in '90 and -- (off mike, laughter) -- I opened up interior border patrols in Houston, Dallas because I saw -- (off mike) -- and I worked it out with Jack Shaw, the head of investigations, that together we -- that was the magnet that was pulling -- the jobs were puling the people in so as we deterred that, I opened the station -- (off mike). But there was a policy at senior levels that wanted to negate any actions that Greg -- (off mike).

MR. KRIKORIAN: And I think the important point here is that the 1986 amnesty had a deal at the center of it which is essentially what McCain and Kennedy are trying to sell, which is enforcement in exchange for an amnesty. In other words, that there is a grand bargain -- that is the way the 1986 measure was proposed, and what happened was it was a bait and switch -- is that the amnesty happened up front; the promises of future enforcement never materialized and frankly --

MR. BECK: They aren't even promised in the McCain-Kennedy -- (laughter, cross talk) -- the promises studies.

MR. KRIKORIAN: The promises are much thinner -- (laughter). Studies and focus groups and interagency task forces -- I mean, it's a -- so the point is it's a similar attempt but it's even thinner than the previous bait and switch. And as a wise man once said, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Q: Unfortunately (?) I believe that at the time. (Laughter.)

MR. KRIKORIAN: Well, I understand. Let's take one last question. Yes.

Q: Greg -- probably in an allied area -- how do cities, say, such as a Denver, get away with creating sanctuaries that effectively harbor illegal aliens, and also, from the standpoint of the other cities where police forces are absolutely forbidden for having the interface with the INS as it relates to the removal of the illegal aliens?

MR. BEDNARZ: Well, I can't really go to the motives of how or why but the fact is we have to deter that, we have to fight it in the future. If that means embarrassing people, well, so be it, but there is no question that in the future we will have to push for state and local and for the federals to come back and pick people up when they get the call and they have the resources to do it.

Q: Thank you.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Greg. I can't speak for the other guests but I am happy to be accosted afterwards if people have further questions. I appreciate everybody's coming and all of our work -- let me just give a last plug -- the Center for Immigration Studies' work is all online at for anybody who is interested. Thanks a lot.