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Border Saboteurs By: Steve Brown and Chris Coon
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The radical pro-immigration Left, which would see the United States open its borders at the expense of national security, has advanced on three fronts in recent months. The move to declare certain areas “sanctuary cities,” where city employees will not investigate or turn in illegals, has moved forward.  Acceptance of the new Mexican issued ID card, an easily forged document, has reached record highs by local, state and possibly national governmental organizations. And the granting of amnesty and citizenship to the children of illegals as well as granting them tuition breaks to state colleges, has lurched forward at considerable expense to taxpayers across the nation. Each of these threatens the safety and sovereignty of the United States in its own way.

As Frontpagemag.com reported on July 1st, the sanctuary policies of cities protecting illegal aliens has become a public safety issue. By preventing civil servants and local law enforcement from reporting illegal aliens to federal immigration officials, criminals who should have been deported are allowed to remain in our country and to commit further crimes against our citizens. This lax attitude towards such an obvious national security issue has increased fears of possible terrorist activity.

Sanctuary policies have been enacted in cities and towns across the United States, backed by leftist interest groups and open border proponents and instituted by the local governments with little regard for the harm caused. Communities such as Houston, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Long Beach California, Portland Oregon, Portland Maine and other traditionally liberal municipalities have enacted policies of non-cooperation.

On July 13 the Minneapolis city council, in violation of federal law passed a sanctuary regulation by an eleven to one margin. While it allows verification of immigrant status to determine eligibility for state and federal benefits, it prevents the social workers, police and other city employees from inquiring, trying to detect or verifying residency status. This measure, like many others, prevents law enforcement from arresting aliens for violation of civil immigration laws or from reporting information to federal authorities.

“The ordinance makes clear that city employees will not act as intelligence agents or enforcement arms for the national administration's anti-immigrant policies,” contends Frank Vardeman, executive director of the Resource Center of the Americas (a leftist,  non-profit group that is concerned with “human rights,” promotion of open borders with Mexico and other countries of the Americas and “economic justice.”)

What Vardeman fails to address is the illegality and the liability it creates for the city and for the safety of his own community.

Minneapolis has one of the largest and most varied immigrant populations in the U.S., lured there by a liberal welfare program and an obviously supportive city government. Nearly as prevalent are community activists, ethnic identity groups, pro-immigration labor unions and other political hustlers who use the legal immigrant community as a blind to push for their pet concerns and as a power base to advance their own agendas. In the weeks before the vote, these activists organized a major protest march and other events designed to pressure local officials into adopting their agenda, the “Declaration of Civil Rights for Immigrants.”

The Declaration calls for the implementation of the non-cooperation sanctuary policy, allowing illegal immigrants access to driver's licenses, and restrictions on the federal government's ability to detain and deport aliens who have violated the law and other measures that the proponents say are needed to protect the rights of all immigrants.

Among the groups behind the protests are local churches, trade unions, farm worker and civil rights organizations in addition to other ethnic-identity concerns. They include groups such as ISAIAH (a faith-based immigrant rights group), the Confederation of Somali Communities of Minnesota  (CSCM), Centro Campesino (a migrant farm worker laborer's group) and the organizers of the Immigrant Worker's Freedom Ride (a march on Washington that called for amnesty and citizenship for migrant and seasonal workers). Comparing their cause to the fight against Jim Crow laws, they hide behind the rhetoric of the civil rights movement in an attempt to dictate immigration policy for the United States.

“Most of these absurd anti-immigration policies were in effect long before 9/11. They have nothing to do with national security; they have everything to do with excluding people from the full benefits of citizenship in order to exploit your labor and keep you powerless. Yes, Jim Crow laws are still at work today,” Jim Kielkop, an ISAIAH spokesman proclaimed at the June 28th protest.

Speaking to the throng. Saeed Fahia, director of CSCM said, “We have left a country [Somalia] that was at war with itself. However, we have found ourselves in another kind of war, that of deportations, profiling, and discrimination.”

With this level of rhetoric, and faced with an increasing population of immigrants, both legal and illegal, city leaders capitulated to these radical's demands in defiance of federal law.

In New York, the city council has introduced a bill to reestablish that city's sanctuary policies, which a court order forced liberal Republican mayor Mike Bloomberg to rescind in June.

Citing public safety concerns, proponents claim the repeal has led to numerous deportations of illegals and has kept aliens from cooperating with local law enforcement. They also fear that the obligation to report immigration status will hinder the ability of some to avail themselves of medical services. Succumbing to the political pressure, Bloomberg's office has stated that he is “considering modifying the order.”

To help discourage these policies, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-CO, on June 24 introduced an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill cutting funding to any state or local government that restricts immigration enforcement and the flow of information to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs (BICE). Revealing just how politically charged the debate surrounding illegal immigration has become, the amendment failed by a vote of 102-322 .

Commenting on the lack of support, especially among his fellow Republicans, Tancredo said “This is the kind of thing that will become an issue at re-election time.  I really don't know how anybody can defend that vote.”

This overwhelming defeat of a measure designed to punish cities that thumb their nose at federal law raises serious concern about the political will needed to adequately address homeland security issues. As the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) comments on their web site, “No local government has the authority to interfere with the federal government’s authority to set immigration laws, and they certainly do not have any legal basis to bar employees from helping to enforce the laws of the United States.”

Spokesman Dave Ray of FAIR told Frontpagemag.com that the problem lies at the federal level. “We're lacking firm leadership pertaining to homeland security and this is another example. American communities are working at odds with the federal government in the attempt to enforce our borders for the common good. State and local governments complain that not enough is being done to stop illegal immigration but then pass laws that entice illegal aliens into entering the United States. With sanctuary policies, and other efforts such as granting drivers licenses to illegal aliens, state and local governments not only fail to help the situation, but in fact become part of the problem.”

Local governments have been forced into compliance with the threat of with holding funds on issues far less cut and dry. Under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution immigration policies are a federal matter. Allowing these municipalities to flout the laws and deliberately impede the ability of authorities to enforce them without some penalty only encourages this dangerous practice. As seen in the Minneapolis vote, pro-sanctuary ideologues will assume they are above the law.

This reckless stand by lawmakers who fear hostile reaction from some in the immigrant community seriously undermines BICE's ability to protect the nation and by default says to those seeking illegal entry into the country that they face little challenge.

Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-GA, told a Center for Immigrations Studies (CIS) panel in June, shortly after the failed vote on the Homeland security amendment “Our illegal immigration laws are in shambles. We simply say to the world ‘Look, don’t cross our borders against federal law; you’re breaking the law if you do.  But if you get by, don’t worry about it; nobody is going to pay any attention to it.’”

He raised concerns over the possible number of terrorists that could exist in a population of over eight million illegal aliens:

How many of those have to be terrorists before we get to another 9/11? Is it one out of a thousand, one out of a hundred thousand?  How many? It may not be but 500; I don’t know. But they’re here. Who’s paying any attention to that? When the City of Los Angeles says, whatever you do, patrolmen on the beat, don’t call the INS; don’t talk to anybody that is here illegally. Ignore it. When the City of New York does the same thing, when the City of Houston does the same thing…what’s going on? When we have a vote two nights ago to penalize cities that will not talk to…the federal government about enforcing the federal law, and we get  [only] a hundred votes to penalize those cities because they’re breaking federal law?  What in the world is going on in this country?

Along with sanctuary policies other efforts have been made recently to further erode federal immigration law. The growing acceptance by banks and some states' agencies of “Matricula” ID cards, over 1 million of which have been issued by the Mexican government, severely undermine the ability of Homeland Security to prevent the use of banks as a way to launder money by terrorists and illegals alike.

The Treasury Department recently approved their use, although mounting pressure from those who recognize the dangers involved has caused the matter to be reconsidered. Treasury is still debating the issue. The FBI, the CIA and Homeland Security officials warn that “Matricula” ID's are virtually useless as a means of positively identifying a person. Forgeries are common, and the control of how they are issued is lax. In January, Tancredo submitted H.R. 502 seeking to halt any acceptance of these cards, but the legislation is still in committee.

Acceptance of these policies could have “chilling implications,” Ray observed. “The 9/11 terrorists needed access to ID's, they needed to be able to move money easily and be able to take up residence while waiting for their terror attack. What state and local governments are doing is providing would-be terrorists the tools to commit another strike against innocent American families.”

Yet some signs of progress have developed. On July 14th, the House passed a bill designed to force the State Department to demand that Mexico provide detailed information regarding those issued the card. If signed into law, and if the Mexican government goes along with the request (two very big ifs), it could provide Homeland Security with much needed information to help track illegals in this country.

Tancredo, who voted for the bill, told Frontpagemag.com that he sees this action as “a necessary step to help our nation deal with the unprecedented and massive distribution of ID cards issued by the Mexican government to illegal aliens now in our country.”

“While the Mexican government has a right to issue these cards to its citizens, it also is reasonable for our government to have a roster of these individuals and their places of residence” the Congressman remarked. 

Federal law already requires immigrants to have their immigration papers on them at all times to serve as identification. Acceptance of these cards as a primary form of identification, no matter the perceived benefit, only provides further cover for illegals. Immigration experts say the only legitimate use of the ID's would be as a secondary form of identification.

Another attack on America's ability to control its borders has come from those seeking to grant citizenship status to the children of illegals. Under the guise of granting amnesty to allow access to in-state tuition benefits and other financial aid for state colleges, immigration advocates are lobbying congress to support H.R. 1684, the Student Adjustment Act. The bill, which would also allow states to determine residency of illegals, further undermines the supremacy clause.

“In a world of limited resources where state budgets are gouged by deficits, instead of helping citizens with the limited funds they have, they are helping those who have broken our laws and crashed our borders,” Ray commented. “Look at the situation in California with its huge budget deficit, are they willing to gouge legal residents with higher taxes and higher tuitions to benefit illegals?”

Still under committee deliberation, this bill enjoyed vocal support from the same radical local officials who have enacted sanctuary laws. Sanctuary haven San Francisco recently passed a referendum in support for it and its companion legislation to be introduced later this year in the Senate by Utah Republican Orin Hatch (the DREAM act).

If signed into law, it would grant permanent legal residence to middle school, high school and college students who have been in this country for at least five years. By lowering the bar for citizenship, it rewards parents who risk their children's lives bringing them into the country illegally. Upon turning 21, those granted immunity would be eligible to become “anchors” for their families, granting citizenship to their parents and siblings.

“This is allowing the nose of the camel under the tent,” Ray said, “The bill is an attempt to offer amnesty to the children, who could be considered the most sympathetic group imaginable and using the American sense of justice for doing what is fair."

But like past instances of limited amnesty, it creates more problems then it solves. Because the argument is based on what is “fair” you soon have, as Ray concluded, “Eight million aliens shouting ‘What about us?’”

These multi-level assaults on our national sovereignty can be discouraging for those who seek to limit the ability of illegal aliens entering our country and to bring common sense reforms limiting legal entry. However, Ray sees some degree of hope.

“It's true that there are set-backs, but I believe there is much to be hopeful about,” he said. “The transfer of immigration duties from the Department of Justice to Homeland Security is a watershed moment.”

While director Tom Ridge's department is still organizing itself, it is putting together a team that sees immigration as a national security issue, which Ray sees as “the right-minded view to have with the issue.” Our nation’s porous borders are easily penetrable by terrorist elements, both in the North and the South. With most other venues of illegal immigration closing, this presents one of our top security threats. We must not allow political correctness to threaten our security.

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