The United States immigration laws have not been enforced and the resulting problems are obvious, according to a White House spokesman.
Tony Snow was responding to a WND question about the status of that enforcement, since there are estimates of 20 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. now, with border enforcement in a questionable state as two former U.S. Border Patrol agents are being sent to prison for shooting at a fleeing drug dealer, National Guard troops are being forced to retreat in the face of armed incursions, and other similar situations.
“With regard to your statement, ‘border guards must obey the law, too,’ question, now how have so many millions of illegal aliens been able to enter our country if the president and his predecessor were seriously enforcing border and immigration laws?” asked Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House.
“Well, obviously there was a point where, in fact, it was not enforced seriously,” Snow answered. “That’s why the president has committed more resources than anybody in history and has made further commitments about border security in the future, not only in terms of personnel, but also technology, and has made a – and, furthermore, has been far more aggressive than anybody … in terms of what we call interior enforcement, going after employers in a way that nobody else has done…”
Snow continued that the message to employers is: “If you’re hiring illegals and you’re doing it all – if you’re hiring illegals, we’re going after you, and especially if you’re doing it in a way that you have people who are here illegally who are also taking jobs that Americans might want to have,” “Snow said.
The reference to border agents obeying the law was to Snow’s response several days ago, when Snow told WND that those lobbying for a presidential pardon or other intervention from the government on behalf of two former agents sentenced to prison should review the evidence.
“They (agents Jose Alonso Compean, 28, and Ignacio Ramos, 37) eventually went before a … jury – and were convicted on 11 of 12 counts, by a U.S. attorney who has prosecuted any number of cases. But the facts of this case are such that I would invite everybody to take a full look at the documented record,” Snow said.
“This is not the case of the United States saying, we are not going to support people who go after drug dealers. Of course we are. We think it’s incumbent to go after drug dealers, and we also think that it’s vitally important to make sure that we provide border security so our people are secure,” he continued.
In the past he’s deflected questions about the president enforcing the laws that the U.S. already has to secure its borders and deport illegals who break the law to enter the United States.
Snow said the White House believes “that the people who are working to secure that border themselves obey the law. And in a court of law, these two agents were convicted on 11 of 12 counts by a jury of their peers after a lengthy trial at which they did have the opportunity to make their case,” he said.
He said questions about the fact that the government brought the man back from Mexico and gave him immunity on charges – including a subsequent attempt to bring drugs into the United States – to testify against the agents would have to be answered by a lawyer.
Snow followed up after the press briefing by faxing 12 pages of comment about the case of the border guards, including the statement from U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, as well as a guest column he wrote for the El Paso Times in October.
“Agents Compean and Ramos were not railroaded by some over-zealous prosecutor, they were unanimously found guilty by a jury in a United States federal district court after a trial that lasted more than 2 ? weeks,” he wrote in the newspaper. “The problem for Mr. Compean and Mr. Ramos is that the jury did not believe their stories because they were not true.”
“In America,” he wrote, “law-enforcement officers do not get to shoot unarmed suspects who are running away, lie about it to their supervisors and file official reports that are false. That is a crime and prosecutors cannot look the other way.”
Snow also faxed a six-page analysis of the case, with a list of unsigned myth-fact comparison statements.
Congress has approved, and Bush has signed, a law setting up a construction plan for a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico, but it still awaits funding for the work. And federal agents recently did carry out a sting on a meat-packing company, in which about 1,000 workers who were illegal were arrested.
But a report several years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concluded that immigration enforcement by that point actually had become more lax since the tragedies in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
That report from the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies concluded that there was a 13 percent increase of U.S. immigrants, more than f our million, between 2000 and the date of the report in 2004.
The center said at that point there were about 34 million immigrants in the country, both legal and illegal, but a disturbing trend was that fully half of the newcomers were illegal.
Kinsolving followed up with a question: “Why do you believe the primary problem with the border and immigration policy has not been the result of non-enforcement of existing laws largely by the executive branch of the government?”
Snow said that although there have been millions of illegals arriving in the United States, the president has acknowledged that and tried to deal with it. “And as far as we can tell, that they’d indicate that that flow has, in fact, ebbed substantially but not sufficiently in recent months in response to things we have been doing.”
There are estimates ranging to about 20 million illegal immigrants in the United States, mostly from Mexico, and they have been tracked to trouble. As WND has reported, federal agents recently ran a sting that netted the arrests of 9,000 sex offenders, many of them foreign nationals.
Estimates also show that probably 12 people a day die as a result of crimes and/or accidents involving illegal immigrants.
Do you have a tough question you’d like to ask the White House? WND’s MR. PRESIDENT! forum is your big chance.