- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

The federal government earns poor marks for its handling of immigration policy since the September 11 terrorist attacks, those on both sides of the immigration-control debate agree.
Supporters of stricter immigration laws say the government has ignored problems exposed by the attacks, even though polls indicate the public wants changes.
"While the American people are still clamoring for a more secure immigration system, our political leaders have chosen complacency and special interests over real change," said Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The federation released the one-year performance report at a news conference on Capitol Hill yesterday and gave the government an overall grade of "D."
"While some progress has been made, much of it has been spotty and haphazard, and many of the improvements won't be fully implemented for years," the report says.
Peter Gadiel, whose son worked on the 105th floor of one of the World Trade Center towers and died when the towers collapsed, said he feels the government's response to those like him urging tighter restrictions has been: "Drop dead."
"It's a year after 9/11 the 9/11 families recognize that our Congress and president have failed to respond," he said.
But immigrant advocates are just as unhappy with the government's response, arguing that it drives a wedge between immigrants and government particularly law enforcement at a time when those ties are critical to combating terrorism.
"When you connect the dots on what this administration has done since September 11, you've got a community of newcomers that now feel alienated and criminalized," said Angela Kelley, deputy director of the National Immigration Forum.
She said immigrants have maintained their level of volunteering to serve in the U.S. military they traditionally volunteer at a higher rate than the native-born population. She also said there has been a 65 percent increase in applications for naturalized citizenship since September 11.
Eliseo Medina, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, which bills itself as the largest union of immigrant workers, said immigration-control advocates are using the terrorist attacks to push for an agenda that has nothing to do with security.
"Many immigrants were victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center," he said. "The way to honor their contributions to America is to provide a clear path to legal status for taxpaying immigrant workers who help keep this country strong."
In its evaluation, FAIR gave the government good marks for new information-sharing programs and for proposals to address foreign students who wish to study in the United States, but gave a grade of "F" for progress on deporting those who have overstayed visas or are ignoring deportation orders.
The group also applauded the government's renewed effort to require alien residents to report changes in addresses within 10 days but immigration advocates said that has fostered a siege mentality among immigrants.
Ms. Kelley said the rule criminalizes the "very people we need to have a relationship with."
Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican and head of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, who agreed with FAIR's evaluation, said there's a total disconnect between the two sides in the debate.
"It's like trying to talk to someone on Venus, and we're on Mars," he said.


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