Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Mini-Amnesty" for potential terrorists?

The latest report by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (which I used to head), noted in today's Washington Post, is but the latest evidence that the Adminstration's latest border security proposals are unserious and politically motivated.

Part of the reason that our borders are insecure is that we have too few Border Patrol Agents and too little effective technology to help us patrol them. The President's speech on Monday night at least rhetorically addresses these problems, though, again, I would have preferred that he give the Department of "Homeland Security" the manpower (i. e., more Border Patrol agents) it needs to get the job done, rather than our already dangerously overstretched military.

But, another part of the reason is that the relatively few illegal aliens we do catch are all too often released for lack of detention space to house them until they can be deported to their respective countries of origin. According to the DHS OIG report, 36% of the 774,112 illegal aliens caught in the past three years were released on account of the lack of detention space. To end the "catch and release" program, as the Administration has pledged to do by the fall, would require adding 35,000 beds, but the White House has proposed spending only $386 million, which would pay for only 6,700 more beds. What's really troubling about this is that, as result of the shortfall in detention space, illegal aliens are released before the Department of Homeland Security can determine whether they are criminals are, worse, terrorists!

The Senate passed a measure on Thursday that would add 20,000 beds, and a House bill to be voted on next week would add nearly 5,000. Let us hope for the sake of national security that the Administration and Congress will finally get serious about every aspect of border security by providing enough funds to end this "mini-amnesty" program for potential terrorists once and for all.

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