Last Updated: Apr 5th, 2006 - 13:55:05
We Can Control Our Borders
Interview of William King by William F. Jasper www.thenewamerican.com/artman/publish/article_3025.shtml
January 23, 3006
Email this article
Printer friendly page
Stop the FTAA
One of America's foremost authorities on immigration responds to questions about the problem of illegal aliens and the necessity of controlling our borders.
William King is one of America's foremost authorities on immigration, combining decades of field experience in the Border Patrol and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) with additional decades of study and speaking on the issue. After stints in the U.S. Coast Guard and the United States Army, William King joined the Border Patrol in 1957. He saw service as a Border Patrol agent on our northern and southern borders and many of our major coastal ports, including New York City, Miami, and San Diego.
Mr. King served as the Border Patrol's chief agent for the El Centro sector, and was director of the Border Patrol Academy and acting director of the Immigration Academy. He was one of the four INS directors nationwide in charge of administering the amnesty provision of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).
Since his retirement, William King has remained active on border and immigration issues, speaking regularly to political and civic groups, participating in debates and on conference panels, and appearing on radio and television programs.
The New American: Various immigration amnesty proposals are being floated now. Twenty years ago you were very much involved, at the top level, supervising the IRCA amnesty. What was your experience?
William King: The IRCA amnesty was the largest project the INS had ever attempted. I was asked to come out of retirement to help set it up and administer it. We had to assist in writing the regulations and procedures; lease, open, and equip 112 amnesty offices nationwide; and train 2,000 new people. I was program manager for the western region - the largest - which included California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and Guam. We had 1,741,000 illegal aliens who applied for amnesty and were processed in our region alone in the first year. Nationally, there were 3.1 million applicants. About 2.7 million were finally approved. Which is another way of saying that 2.7 million aliens who were living here in violation of our laws were rewarded with the most coveted prize in the world - free access to America and the road to citizenship - ahead of all those millions of others who were doing the right thing by standing in line and applying for immigration through legal means, and complying with our laws.
TNA: Few Americans have any recollection of that amnesty or realize how immense it was. Or, I should say, how immense it is, because, incredibly, it is still ongoing. As the Los Angeles Times reported on December 26, as many as 100,000 to 250,000 illegals who were rejected for amnesty in 1986 still had until Saturday, December 31, 2005 to appeal their denial and reapply for amnesty.
King: I said many times when the IRCA amnesty started: "There are lawyers yet unborn who will become millionaires as a result of this law." And I was right, sad to say. We saw right from the beginning, that even as incredibly generous as this amnesty was, there were left-wing "immigration rights" activists and their activist lawyers and their media friends who portrayed the amnesty as stingy and heartless because it didn't include everybody who they claimed deserved to come here. So, they brought lawsuits challenging the restrictions. And the politicians caved in and allowed this. And, as you just noted, it is still going on 20 years later! I and many others also warned that the amnesty would surely encourage many more to come here illegally in anticipation of future amnesties, especially if we did not really get serious about border and interior enforcement. We were proven right on this as well.
TNA: The bait that was used to get support for the amnesty was the promise that this would be a one-time event, that we would get control of our borders and also begin serious enforcement in the interior, right?
King: Many of us who had served in the Border Patrol and INS came out of retirement to help with the amnesty because of that promise. We didn't want or like the amnesty; it violated everything we had worked for and what this country stands for. We didn't completely trust the politicians to carry through on their promises, but the situation was so bad - our borders were being literally overrun - and we decided that if this trade-off was what it would take to reestablish secure borders and sane immigration policies, we'd do our best to run the amnesty as efficiently as possible.
Well, we were betrayed from day one. The increases of funding, personnel, and equipment for border enforcement were totally inadequate, and interior enforcement never really happened. The big item in interior enforcement is employer sanctions, cracking down on employers who knowingly hire the illegal aliens in violation of the law. Employment is the big magnet that draws the illegals here. Hiring illegal aliens has become so widespread and openly acceptable because no administration - from Reagan to Bush to Clinton to Bush - has made any serious effort to enforce the law.
In fact, it has gotten worse from one administration to the next. I've read reports - and I believe they're accurate - that for 2004 the Bush administration only filed three notices of intent to sanction employers: three! There are thousands of blatant examples of employers hiring illegal aliens. We don't have to prosecute all of them; but we do have to prosecute a reasonable number of them, so that the message goes out that we are serious about the law. Right now the only ones being penalized are American workers and the law-abiding employers who hire American citizens, instead of cheaper foreign workers.
TNA: A common defeatist refrain is that it is now impossible to solve this dilemma through enforcement - that we can't deport that many people and keep more from pouring in.
King: That's nonsense, although I do believe that most of the current proposals for enforcement are doomed to fail, because they are not realistic in terms of the manpower and resources needed. Of course we can regain control of our borders, if there is the will to do so. We are a nation of laws, and if we are to continue as such we must enforce the law, especially when it is so obviously crucial to our security and survival.
I've been saying for many years that the only way to gain control of our borders, first of all, is to deploy military personnel along our southern and northern borders to augment and assist the Border Patrol. Then, as soon as the borders are secure, take half of the Border Patrol agents off the borders to work on interior enforcement.
Three years ago, after the September 11 attacks, retired senior INS Agent Jim Dorcy and I put together a petition to President Bush signed by 125 retired veterans of the Border Patrol, INS, various law enforcement agencies, and military services, pointing out that the only feasible short-term solution is to use the military. It's gotten nowhere because both parties have refused to face up to the ongoing emergency situation that we face.
We have the best educated, best trained military force in the world with the most highly sophisticated equipment, and they are currently serving and protecting the borders, the sovereignty of other nations, while our own remain neglected. That is criminal neglect, irresponsible, insane. The 9/11 attacks showed what just a few determined terrorists can do when we allow them easy access to our country, and here we are letting millions of people come in unchecked. How many are terrorists? We have absolutely no way of knowing.
Now, I have been in charge of our Border Patrol Academy, and I know how long it takes to train an agent, and I know that even if the White House and Congress were 100 percent behind genuine enhancement of the Border Patrol to the levels needed, we'd never make it there because the academy just doesn't have the capacity to do it. Our Army and Marine Corps have the manpower, vehicles, and helicopters necessary to assist the Border Patrol in sealing our borders. I truly believe that if we do anything short of that we are fooling ourselves, and, ultimately, we will pay a terrible price for that.
TNA: What is your opinion of private efforts like the Minuteman Project?
King: I applaud them. They were accused of being vigilantes, but that was false. As private citizens they acted legally and responsibly. They simply observed the aliens coming across our border from Mexico and notified authorities. The mere presence of several hundred of these citizens visibly manning the border dramatically cuts the alien smuggling traffic in the sectors. So don't tell me that it can't be done. Imagine what a few Army units with a couple helicopters could accomplish.
TNA: What is "self deportation," and how does that play into this?
King: Well, that refers to the fact that we don't have to actually arrest and deport all of those here illegally. As soon as we get serious on employer sanctions and deportation, many illegals - potentially several millions - will leave of their own accord because they will not have jobs.
TNA: Have you been surprised at how aggressively President Bush has pushed for even more open borders?
King: I'm absolutely appalled! In my 49 years of experience, President George W. Bush is the worst president by far on immigration. And I say that as a conservative Republican who voted for him! Let me qualify that: I voted for him once; I couldn't vote for him the second time around. Not that his predecessors - going back to, and including, John F. Kennedy - were actually good on this issue. Our immigration crisis has been steadily building from one administration to the next, both Democrat and Republican. But President Bush is a total disaster. Look, one of his campaign promises was to add 2,000 agents per year for five years, a total of 10,000 new agents. That was his promise. But in his budget, what did he authorize? Only 210 agents, which doesn't even make up for losses due to attrition! We're going backward. Now he's asking for 1,000 for this year, which is half of what he promised.
Besides the drastic manpower shortage, the administration is hamstringing the Border Patrol by not allowing the agents to do their jobs. You may recall the huge furor about a year ago when the Border Patrol agents here in Riverside County [California] went out and arrested a bunch of illegal aliens in factories and other area workplaces. Instead of getting commendations, they got condemnations. Now, in order to raid a workplace, agents have to essentially go all the way to Washington to ask permission, so it doesn't happen. They are restricted to the border areas. So, the smugglers know they just have to get their aliens past the border a few miles and they're in free. The American people have to let Congress and the president know that the Border Patrol and Customs must be unshackled so that they can do their jobs of protecting this country.
There is another thing that only the president can do, which is to send a message to President Fox of Mexico that we will not tolerate his government continuing to interfere in our sovereign affairs. Nor will we accept Mexico's promotion of the violation of our borders and our laws by the Mexican people. President Bush has repeatedly winked at these very serious offenses by the Mexican government. Even worse, he has joined with President Fox of Mexico and Prime Minister Martin of Canada in calling for this new NAFTA "security" partnership, which, essentially, would merge our three countries and eventually do away with our borders. And as your magazine has so capably reported, the Free Trade Area of the Americas [FTAA], which President Bush supports, envisions eventually extending that arrangement to the whole hemisphere, like the European Union. That would open the door for tens of millions of Latin Americans to migrate to the United States.
Tagged for later.....