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APRIL 9, 2002

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Ms. Ranking Member Jackson-Lee and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee.  Thank you for allowing FLEOA to testify on such an important and vital subject.  I respectfully request my written submission be admitted to the record. 


The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association – FLEOA, is a voluntary, non-partisan professional association.  FLEOA currently represents over 19,000 federal law enforcement officers and is the largest association for federal officers of its kind.  Several years ago, FLEOA joined with all of the major state and local national police associations to form the Law Enforcement Steering Committee.  The Law Enforcement Steering Committee includes the following prominent and important organizations: Fraternal Order of Police, National Troopers Coalition, Major Cities Chiefs of Police, Police Executive Research Forum, the National Association of Police Organizations, National Organization of Blacks in Law Enforcement, the International Brotherhood of Police Organizations and the Police Foundation.  In becoming a part of this group, federal agents were able to add our voices to those of the over half a million state and local officers already commenting on the issues that our Association considers to be of greatest importance.  I tell you today, as I have told our membership and the Law Enforcement Steering Committee for the past several years that the continuing revitalization of immigration law enforcement is one of our highest priorities.  That revitalization will be accomplished through passage of the recently introduced Immigration Reform and Accountability Act, H.R. 3231.   FLEOA pledges to do everything possible to ensure swift and successful Congressional action.


I want to take a moment to comment on the INS’s Restructuring Proposal.  FLEOA supports the Administration’s desire to improve the INS through restructuring. The INS proposed restructuring is a good effort toward reform, however it is FLEOA’s concern that it may not solve the growing problem.  Commissioner Ziglar has brought to the forefront that which FLEOA has been imploring be enacted for many years and we appreciate the job that he has done so far.  It is not Commissioner Ziglar’s fault for the fact that INS suffers from mission overload. We commend Commissioner Ziglar on the job that he has done this past year, for he has done more it this past year on restructuring than the previous 8 years. Still we urge to review the elements of HR 3231 to better enhance the INS Field level of operations.  It is FLEOA’s belief that HR 3231 will go further to improve the INS.


Many of the issues FLEOA has raised in the past are now receiving attention.  Chairmen Sensebrenner and Gekas, along with Misters Harold Rogers, Lamar Smith and Silvestre Reyes have been proponents of reform for years, while INS has languished.  The restructuring of the INS MUST be carried out, in order to improve the INS. FLEOA supports H.R. 3231.


      Based upon the tragic events of the past months and the recent negative media reports that highlight problems with leadership and accountability within the INS, such as the New Jersey “Bergen Record’s” report in January that INS Headquarters brought in “a psychologist to troubleshoot a broad range of problems at its Newark Investigations Branch”.  The report described the office as dysfunctional and beset by frequent conflicts.  It stated further, “many employees dread coming to work, and that they feel unsupported”.  The report concluded that many INS Special Agents reported “emotional and family problems, that they related to the job”.  There was “an almost unanimous belief that the branch’s problems were due to leadership or lack thereof”.


       In March of this year, CBS’ 60 Minutes broadcast a report in which it noted that “few if any federal agencies have a worse record than the INS when it comes to mismanagement, corruption, inefficiency and ineptitude”.  A few days after that report it was reported that the INS notified a Florida flight school that student visas for two of the September 11 hijackers had been approved. 

      It is our view that the INS has lost the confidence of the American people: this is not new to us.  Back in 1991 a GAO report entitled “Immigration Management: Strong Leadership and Management Reforms Needed to Address Serious Problems,” made the INS undertake an administrative reform in 1994, which was flawed.  Again in 1997, the GAO issued another report, titled “Immigration Management, Follow-up on Selected Problems”, this again prompted INS to reform itself in 1998. Does anyone here believe that the INS attempts to reform itself has worked?   Since the GAO report in 1991, there has been a succession of negative and critical reports in regard to the INS by numerous other governmental and private entities.  Based upon this, it is FLEOA’s view that the INS can only reform itself if Congress plays a substantial and aggressive role. 


     As a National President of FLEOA, I represent many of the outstanding men and women who enforce our Nation's Immigration Laws.  These men and women risk their lives every day in an ever-increasingly dangerous line of work.  In fact, in July of 1998, the first female Border Patrol agent was slain along with a male trainee Patrol agent while attempting to arrest a deranged murderer in San Benito, Texas.  Ironically, the INS has yet to implement a key provision of the Immigration Act of 1990 that would provide general arrest authority to extend protection against legal liability to INS officers in such situations as this.  That is correct, I said 1990!  This tragic anecdote is not a mere criticism of the status quo but rather an indictment.  I offer this by way of example of the total inefficiencies of that current bureaucracy.  In essence, the work environment for immigration law enforcement has changed drastically; the statutory mandates as well as funding for immigration law enforcement have similarly undergone dramatic changes, yet the INS remained stagnant, at best, and highly resistant to those very changes.


I read, with interest, the statements of former Senator Spencer Abraham in the New York Times on January 17, 1997.  At that time, he outlined his priorities for the Senate Immigration Subcommittee when addressing the Cypress Semiconductor Corporation in San Jose, California.  I could not agree more that it makes “ little sense to have a single agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, responsible for keeping out illegal immigrants and, at the same time letting in legal immigrants and refugees”.   Furthermore, he then suggested splitting the INS into two agencies.


This statement came six years after the 1991 GAO report noted above in which the GAO noted that, INS leadership had allowed the INS organizational structure to become decentralized without adequate controls.  The field structure designed to carry out INS enforcement functions was bifurcated between districts and Border Patrol Sectors, resulting in uncoordinated, overlapping programs.


On March 31, 1998, the Honorable Harold Rogers questioned then INS Commissioner Doris Meissner regarding the recommendations for restructuring by Booz-Allen, the INS Contractor, and stated, "Did you look at two different agencies within Justice to achieve on one hand, enforcement; on the other hand, service matters?" Mr. Rogers went on to point out the systemic formula for failure that even the Booz-Allen study would perpetuate when he stated, "There is an inherent conflict with having this all in one agency ... Even though you may have two separate chains of command, it eventually winds up on your desk."


The GAO noted in a 2000 report entitled, “Alien Smuggling: Management and Operational Improvements Needed to Address Growing Problem”, that without improvements in its Investigations and Intelligence Programs, INS ‘s ability to disrupt and deter increasingly sophisticated and organized alien smugglers and dismantle their organizations will continue to be hampered.  It should be noted that within this report the GAO noted that organized crime groups contribute to alien smuggling and present a growing problem to the INS.  The GAO noted further that these groups have taken advantage of the Visa Waiver Pilot Program as well as engaging in other types of visa fraud to gain entry into the United States for their clients. 


The GAO noted in a report published in 2001,  “Overview of management and Operational Improvements Needed to Address Growing Problems”, that the INS mission involving the carrying out of two primary functions-enforcing immigration laws and providing services or benefits to eligible legal immigrants translated into competing priorities at the program level that needed to be balanced for effective program implementation.  The GAO noted that too often the INS placed emphasis on one program over the other that resulted in ineffective enforcement or poor benefit delivery.


Representative Rogers captured the essence of the problem in stating, "The missions and jobs they're charged with are too big and too important to be botched, and that's what they've done, botched their job".  I respectfully submit to this distinguished Subcommittee today that the events of September 11, 2001, are proof positive that such an integral part of our homeland defense must be professional in every sense of the word and thereby successful.


Two separate bureaus within Justice for immigration enforcement and benefit disbursement, administered by a new Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs will provide the essential specialization to resolve, "mission overload.”  At the same time, enforcement and service will have the requisite communication and coordination through oversight by the Justice Department. 




            Immigration law enforcement must be both professionalized and depoliticized.  We must no longer confuse effective immigration law enforcement as being anti-immigration.  Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, but first and foremost, we are a nation that respects the rule of law above all else.  As Robert F. Kennedy said “the fight against crime is in the last analysis that same as the fight… to preserve that quality of community which is at the root of our greatness”.  Immigration law enforcement should be looked upon as the safeguard for those who seek shelter and a better life in America.  Effective immigration enforcement will lessen the ability of unscrupulous alien smugglers, document vendors, employers and immigration consultants to jeopardize our safety, or to pray upon the immigrant’s desperation in seeking a better life in America.


In the 1991 GAO Report, the GAO identified changes in the evolving INS enforcement mission.  The report noted, "During this period INS saw its enforcement mission evolve from one aimed primarily at interdicting aliens at or near the border to one with increased emphasis on investigative work and drug interdiction." GAO recommended the consolidation of " ... all field enforcement functions, including Border Patrol and District enforcement functions under a single official within a geographic area."


The consolidation of enforcement functions will not only alleviate the problem of overlapping enforcement programs, but will enhance the ability to maintain consistent service and enforcement postures throughout the United States.  The variances in District Office policies relating to service functions should be greatly reduced when District Directors are relieved of the responsibility of carrying out simultaneous enforcement efforts.


Enforcement efforts will be more uniform in application, and the overlapping functions of the Border Patrol and Investigations can be substantially reduced or eliminated altogether.  This can be accomplished through development of Enforcement Sectors and the integration of enforcement components within that structure.


          The establishment of integrated sub-units at the field level would ensure an appropriate level of specialization while maintaining flexibility, and would facilitate a cooperative and balanced approach.  Frankly, the establishment of a Chief Enforcement Officer who supervises all enforcement components in a particular field enforcement sector and reports to the Bureau of Immigration Enforcement Headquarters Director is an idea whose time has come!  This concept begs for congressional attention.  It is needed to overcome the inefficient and incredibly confusing status quo - or even the half­-steps that are envisioned under an internal benefits-versus-enforcement split within INS.


The first component is the BORDER PATROL:

The Border Patrol is the largest enforcement component within INS, with considerable growth in the recent past to approximately 9,000 agents on duty.  Under the new - immigration law enforcement bureau concept, a Deputy Chief for Border Patrol Operations would report to the Chief within a respective Enforcement Sector.


The next vital component is INVESTIGATIONS:

The Investigations Division is the general and criminal investigative arm of the "Enforcement Sector," and should be responsible for all complex, protracted investigative activities.  It is FLEOA's recommendation that the Investigations component operate in a manner similar to that of most major federal investigative agencies and police detective bureaus.  Furthermore, this component should adopt hiring, training and promotion standards similar to other federal investigative agencies. This division would be overseen by a Deputy Chief for Investigative operations, reporting to the Chief of the Enforcement Sector.


      The Investigations Division employs approximately 1,800 special agents today for the entire interior of the United States.  The Administration, itself, estimates that for every one alien apprehended by the Border Patrol, two get through and that approximately 42% of the current 11,000,000 illegal alien population entered the country with a valid visa and simply overstayed that visa.  Budget increases for the Investigation Division under the Clinton Administration's were modest, by anyone's standards. The net result, no Special Agents added, at all.


     While the Border Patrol has grown to over 9,000 Patrol Officers, the Investigation Division, by comparison, remains at approximately 1,800 Special Agents.  The number of INS Special Agents is clearly inadequate, considering that the Investigations Branch is the only INS law enforcement presence in large interior, non-border areas such as New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angles and Chicago.


     Furthermore, since September 11, INS agents have been asked to take on more responsibilities concerning matters of national security.   The approximately 1,800 Special Agents have been asked to conduct investigations on suspected violations of the INA, including terrorism, alien smuggling, trafficking of aliens, apprehension of criminal aliens and numerous other criminal violations. The INS also has 127 Special Agents assigned to Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) in nearly 60 cities across the United States.  With only 1,800 Special Agents throughout the United States, mission fulfillment is difficult at best.


Congress must begin to strike a balance between enforcement on our borders and enforcement in the interior.  Clearly, the catastrophic attacks of September 11 demonstrated that a total focus on the first line of defense will not lead to victory.  Word of mouth travels rapidly back to the source countries that one must merely make it across the border in order to attain this new form of unsanctioned amnesty.  In short, we will never restore domestic tranquility until we begin to establish meaningful rather than token control over our borders and the U.S. interior through comprehensive immigration law enforcement. 


DETENTION AND REMOVAL is another key component:


The Detention, Removal component is responsible for the care and custody of the alien population detained by the Enforcement Sector; it is responsible for managing the alien docket and bond control, and for arranging removal of aliens from the United States. 


Since September 11, the duties of Officers assigned within this component have also become more sensitive, duties such as maintaining liaisons with foreign consulates and embassies, detaining individual illegal aliens with possible ties to terrorist organizations and assisting with locating over 300,000 aliens who have failed to depart the United States, have taken on a greater significance.     The Deputy Chief for Detention and Removal Operations would oversee this unit, and would report to the Chief Enforcement Officer.


The final components of the Enforcement sector are INSPECTIONS and INTELLIGENCE:


The Inspections component is responsible for the inspection of applicants seeking admission to the United States at air, land and sea ports of entry. As with the others, the Deputy Chief for Inspection Operations would report to the Chief Enforcement Officer.


The Intelligence component within the Enforcement Sector should play an integral role in support of the other enforcement components.  Intelligence officers should be integrated into each field enforcement component unit.  The Deputy Chief for Intelligence and staff would be responsible for the collection of information, analysis of information, and reporting of intelligence product upward through the organization and outward to other components. The Deputy Chief for Intelligence Operations would report to the CEO.


Among INS Investigators and Deportation Officers, problems of status and morale emerge from the dual mandate requirements of the INS.  Problems also surface in the areas of organizational relations, as well as notions about professionalism that affect recruitment, retention, training and worker expectations.


Due to the lack of interior resources and management apathy, INS Special Agents leave the agency at an unprecedented rate. An informal inquiry in just one District, New York City indicates that in a three-year period 53 Special Agents have resigned from the INS.  Of the 53 Special Agents, 43 indicated that they were departing the INS to take employment with other federal agencies.  Numerous others have been interviewed for other federal law enforcement positions.  Furthermore, there is a general lack of recognition within INS of the importance and expertise that its own Special Agents and Deportation Officers bring to modern day law enforcement.   It is significant to note that the average grade (pay) level of an INS Special Agent was the lowest of all agents in the Department of Justice, including the FBI and DEA agents, although all are GS-1811 investigators.  This is a relevant factor, which affects the morale of all Special Agents.


In October 2001, INS Commissioner James Ziglar addressed Congress regarding recruitment and retention challenges facing the INS.  Commissioner James Ziglar noted that “ the INS has faced hiring and retention challenges over the last several years as it has been increasing its enforcement personnel”.  “This year alone, based upon anticipated congressional action on the President’s FY 2002 budget request, the INS will hire and train between 3,000 and 3,500 new Border Patrol Agents and Immigration Inspectors”.  The Commissioner in his address stated that to increase the retention rate among Inspectors and Border Patrol Officers, he would request an increase in the pay level for both the Border Patrol and the Immigration Inspector positions.  These same problems exist in the Investigations and Deportation Branch regarding retention and recruitment.


  Mr. Chairman, I would respectfully submit that upon creation of the standalone enforcement bureau, it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel but merely adopt tried and true successful practices of modern day law enforcement entities.


Implementation of Enforcement Sectors would facilitate a cooperative and balanced approach to enforcement of our nation's immigration laws.  In turn, you will then begin to see the accountability and productivity that our citizens not only deserve but also, are demanding of immigration enforcement.   There are far too many casualties from September 11 to demand anything less.


The Main Justice bureaucracy must change at the same time that the independent immigration enforcement bureau is created through legislation.  Specifically, there is no office at the Justice Department exclusively charged with immigration policy development.  That must be rectified under the oversight of a new Associate Attorney General who would coordinate and facilitate communication between the various Justice components involved in this issue. 

The Department of Justice clearly has the clout to serve as a major forum for immigration policy making, but it rarely exercises such authority.  The immigration issue is based upon law and should not be dictated by the politics of the moment.  FLEOA would stress that the Director of the new Enforcement Bureau must be guaranteed freedom from political interference.  FLEOA would further stress that the individual selected for this position have prior demonstrated leadership abilities obtained from an established Federal Law Enforcement Agency, such as the FBI or the U.S. Attorney’s Office.


Mr. Chairman, FLEOA strongly urges Congress, through the appropriate Subcommittees, to adopt into legislation the already carefully considered recommendations of both chambers for a substantive and complete reorganization of the INS.


Without the creation of a distinct bureau for immigration law enforcement with the requisite federal law enforcement chain of command, it is unlikely that the legislative innovations against international terrorism passed by the 104th Congress in 1996 and the current Congress several weeks ago will ever be used to their full potential.  Only through streamlining the bureaucracy, overcoming institutional inertia, and establishing balance through a separation of functions, can modern day immigration law enforcement be successful.


On behalf of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and the many dedicated men and women who risk their lives enforcing our immigration laws, I appreciate your time and attention, and the opportunity to share our views.  I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.  Thank you.