Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., the most outspoken member of Congress on the issue of illegal immigration, wants an investigation into why a study of aliens crossing the border was discontinued by the Bush administration after initial results indicated the president’s proposed “temporary worker proposal” plan encourages illegals to enter the U.S.
Tancredo and watchdog legal group Judicial Watch released previously undisclosed documents relating to the Border Patrol’s 2004 survey. The survey asked illegal aliens whether they had heard of a U.S. government amnesty plan for illegal aliens (61 percent had) and whether the amnesty plan influenced their decision to cross the border (45 percent answered that it did).
According to a statement from Tancredo, memos from the Border Patrol and the White House obtained by Judicial Watch suggest the survey was conducted for political reasons. The poll was initiated on the day Bush announced his immigration plan, which critics refer to as an amnesty plan, and it was supposed to run for six months.
Three weeks later, however, a memo apparently from a Border Patrol source (titled “Casa Blanca Additional Info”) said the survey was producing only 38 percent “positive responses.” The survey was stopped days later, Tancredo notes, and Department of Homeland Security spokespersons received a memo titled “White House Approved Talking Points” that instructed them “not [to] talk about amnesty” or about the president’s proposal.
“Do not talk about amnesty, increase in apprehensions, or give comparisons of past immigration reform proposals. … Do not provide statistics on apprehension spikes or past amnesty data,” Border Patrol agents were told in the memo, according to Judicial Watch.
“This is a bombshell,” Tancredo said. “The White House and DHS leadership must immediately address the survey and the way the information request was handled so that the American people know that their government isn’t playing politics with national security data.
“I have said all along that the president’s immigration plan is amnesty, regardless of what the president calls it. We now have proof that illegal aliens understand that it’s amnesty as well, and that it is an enticement to cross the border.”
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff today, Tancredo wrote:
“Given what we know already, there are many questions that must be answered about the survey, DHS and White House management and the effects of the proposed amnesty plans.
“It is crucial that the American people know that their government is not letting politics get in the way of national security.”
Judicial Watch says it filed a Freedom of Information Act with the Department of Homeland Security in February 2004. When Homeland Security stonewalled, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit in June 2004. In May and June 2005, Judicial Watch forced the release of approximately 1,000 documents, including the surveys.
Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Kristi Clemens told the Associated Press the Judicial Watch report “is based on inconclusive findings and information taken out of context.”
Related special offer: