While Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano touts the U.S. border as being more secure than ever, the Department is quietly ordering Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to scale back border inspections. In a news report out of Texas last week, current and former CBP agents are saying the standard daily presence and routine checks normally conducted by CBP officers at transportation hubs are a thing of the past. According to the Associated Press, field offices nationwide began receiving secret orders to scale back the inspections soon after Secretary Napolitano announced the administration would begin to grant administrative amnesty to illegal aliens in deportation proceedings.
The routine bus, train, and airport checks typically involve agents manning transportation hubs within 100 miles of the border and questioning individuals when warranted. Border agents now report that instead of conducting random checks, or checks based on suspicious behavior, agents have been ordered to only conduct checks based on actual intelligence indicating a threat. One agent told the Associated Press that “instead of checking buses or trains, agents have spent shifts sitting in their vehicles gazing out at Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, where few illegal immigrants cross.”
The elimination of inspections was immediately apparent to individuals at the border. One manager of a Greyhound Bus Station in New York reported that Border Patrol Agents halted inspections on September 12—the day after the 10th anniversary of September 11. Travelers arriving at a McAllen, Texas bus station last week also immediately noticed the absence of CBP officers checking persons and items entering the United States.
Despite reports coming from agents all over the country, Customs and Border Protection officials in Washington, DC, still refuse to acknowledge a shift in policy. “We are refining the way we operate by managing risk,” said CBP Spokesman Bill Brooks. Brooks insisted that local commanders still have the authority to aggressively pursue illegal aliens near the border and at transportation hubs. immigrant rights groups.” Meanwhile, the ACLU hailed Homeland Security’s order to scale back border inspections. ACLU spokesman Doug Honig said, “If the Border Patrol is indeed not boarding buses and trains and engaging in the random questioning of people, that's a step in the right direction.”
Changes in visitor visa program
Earlier this month, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Mike Lee introduced a bill that would make it easier for foreign nationals to enter and stay in the United States. Among other things, the bill proposes several changes to the B-visa (visitor visa) program as well as the visa waiver program. Visitor visas include B-1s (temporary business travelers) and B-2s (tourists). In general, foreign nationals do not need to obtain a B visa if they are from a visa waiver program country.
In addition the bill proposes creating a new non-immigrant visa for foreigners who spend at least $500,000 in cash to purchase one or more residences in the United States. While remaining in the U.S., the visa recipient must maintain ownership of residential property worth at least $500,000 and reside here for more than half the year. The visa grants authorization to visit the U.S. for a three-year period and may be renewed every three years under the same conditions. The ability to buy one’s way into the country provided for in the bill is similar in principle to the employer immigrant visa program, which grants a green card to aliens who invest a minimum of $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise that creates or preserves at least 10 jobs.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but no hearing has been scheduled yet. The Schumer-Lee bill has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Travel Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
California County Now Accepting Mexican ID Cards
Sonoma County, California became the latest county in the nation to extend an invitation to illegal aliens last week by announcing that ID cards issued by the Mexican consulate can be used as valid identification within the county “Today is a great day,” Sonoma County Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Dueñas said. “We're now going to accept the matricular consular ID.”
The proponents of this move argue that it keeps illegal aliens from being deported through Secure Communities and will free up time and resources that local law enforcement has spent on immigration enforcement. These proponents complain that many of the illegal aliens in the county turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through Secure Communities were not actually convicted of the crime for which they were arrested, or that they were convicted of only “minor crimes.” In other words, they were simply illegal aliens. By making the Mexican consular ID card an acceptable form of identification in Sonoma County, immigration advocates hope to help illegal aliens who get pulled over and need ID, but do not have any other criminal history.
Although Mexican nationals will still need to apply to their consulate to obtain this ID, the Mexican government hopes to set up a satellite office in the area to instruct individuals on the application process and issue cards for them.
My Thanks to Federation for American Immigration Reform for the use of its legislative updates