- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2002

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar yesterday said the United States "needs to find a way" to satisfy growing labor needs, but stopped short of advocating an amnesty program for illegal aliens now in the country.
In a speech to the Cato Institute, Mr. Ziglar who will leave office at the end of the year said several potential plans are being discussed by key government officials for immigrants now in the country, and that any final decision would be made by the administration and Congress.
But Mr. Ziglar noted for the mostly pro-open-borders Cato audience that the September 11 attacks on America "were caused by evil, not immigration" and he said Americans "should not judge all immigrants by the action of terrorists."
He said the defeat of terrorism depended on the identification of those who would do harm to the United States and not by stopping would-be immigrants looking for work. The INS commissioner said there was a growing concern among U.S. employers about their continued access to an adequate labor market.
President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, and the House Republican leadership all have proposed now-pending bills that would grant permanent residency status to thousands of illegal aliens in the United States.
The bills would allow certain illegal aliens to remain in this country to apply for legal residency under various conditions. The most popular plan seeks to grant amnesty to immigrants who have been in this country since December 2000, have a qualifying relationship with a family member or employer, and are willing to pay a $1,000 fine.
Also speaking yesterday was Daniel T. Griswold, associate director of Cato's Center for Trade Policy Studies, who said the U.S. government's border-enforcement policy had failed. He said the legalization of Mexican migration would help the economy, spur investment, and free resources and personnel for the war on terrorism.
"Since 1986, the numbers of tax dollars appropriated and agents assigned for border control have risen dramatically, yet by any real measure of results, the effort to constrict illegal immigration has failed," he said.
About 200,000 illegal immigrants are believed to be eligible under the more-limited House proposal, aimed mostly at Mexican nationals. That total is a far cry from the original proposals by Mr. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox, who talked at one time about amnesty for as many as 3 million illegal immigrants.
The U.S. Hispanic population, estimated in the 2000 census at 35.3 million, represents 12.5 percent of the total U.S. population, an increase of 60 percent since 1990. It compares with 36.7 million blacks counted in the 2000 census and represents a growing voting bloc for both Republicans and Democrats.
Immigration analysts said the Hispanic population is expected to pass that of American blacks this year, reaching 56 million by 2010, more than 15 percent of the total population. By 2020, the number is expected to jump to 70 million, or 21 percent of the U.S. population.
Most of the Hispanic population growth is expected in the pivotal electoral states of California, New Jersey, Texas, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania.
Mr. Ziglar has proposed the creation of a temporary-worker program for a substantial portion of illegal aliens coming from Mexico. He has said that such a program, combined with cooperative law-enforcement arrangements with Mexico, would be important to the U.S. economy and would substantially reduce illegal immigration.
He told reporters earlier this year that a temporary-worker program could enable the U.S. Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies "to focus on the bad guys coming across not on the flow of people who just want to get into this country to work."
Mr. Ziglar also has noted that there are more than 7 million people in this country who have an illegal status, adding that they contribute to the economy of cities such as Las Vegas.
He believes there are not enough resources at INS, the FBI or any law enforcement agency to round up millions of people and order them deported, so the country has to find a way to deal with the problem.


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