One startling figure is the number of agents. While it is true that there are 15,000 employees in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, only about 7,000 are ICE agents who have to deal with more than just immigration issues. To put this in perspective, there are five times as many New York City police officers. Whatever we do, we are asking much from a very small number of agents.
Most everyone agrees that one key element in immigration reform is to adequately close the border. That may sound simple when people talk about the four “border states.” But my INS agent argued that America really has 50 border states. Any state that has a seaport or an international airport should be considered a “border state.” The terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11 arrived here through one of our ports of entry, not by crossing our border with Mexico.
Another element of the immigration reform package being proposed is to “create a non-forgeable document.” That is a laudable goal. But what name do you put on this document? If the person who is here is undocumented, that means there is no authentic documention as to his or her true identity. At the very least, a face-to-face interview with an agent should take place before such a document is issued. But we are dealing with millions of people who are “undocumented” and only have 7,000 ICE asgents.
What will be the impact on the job market? Each year the United States admits more than 1.1 million lawful immigrants into the country. In other words, about 100,000 new lawful immigrants arrive each month, and that does not even count the illegal immigrants coming to this country. At a time when we are only adding about 100,000 new jobs each month, we are adding immigrants to the workforce faster than we are creating jobs. I’m Kerby Anderson, and that’s my point of view.
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