- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

In defense of Eduardo Aguirre

I am writing in response to Michelle Malkin's column "Clueless sentries at migration gate" (Commentary, March 4) as a friend and former colleague of Eduardo Aguirre's. As a recently departed Republican member of the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, I am familiar with Mr. Aguirre's dedicated work in his roles as vice chairman and acting chairman at the Ex-Im Bank and his track record and reputation as a businessman in Texas, where he served as a top executive for Bank of America. He is anything but the "clueless financier" Mrs. Malkin calls him.
As vice chairman, Mr. Aguirre brought managerial expertise, energy and a fresh private-sector perspective to that job, in which he served effectively as acting chairman during the illness and after the passing of John Robson. In this capacity, Mr. Aguirre personally developed and unveiled a historic reorganization of this 68-year-old federal agency a reorganization dedicated to customer service and fulfilling the agency's ultimate mission of preserving and creating U.S. jobs. Further, I saw up close how he headed an agency that operates on an international stage national security often being an overlaying concern working quietly and effectively with foreign heads of state, Cabinet members and congressional leadership to move key action items forward.
How appropriate, then, that President Bush would consider giving Mr. Aguirre the even more herculean task of bringing innovative thinking and a fresh managerial perspective to the newly established Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Moreover, Mr. Aguirre's personal experience as a Cuban teenage emigre to the United States gives him a perspective and sensitivity that will be invaluable in administering the bureau's responsibilities to future generations of would-be Americans.
In conversations with several career professionals at the Ex-Im Bank, I have heard true regret expressed that their time with Mr. Aguirre has been cut short by his acceptance of this new position. But they understand that now, more than ever, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service needs someone with Mr. Aguirre's skill and determination.

Former Republican member
Board of Directors of Ex-Im Bank (1999-2003)

Michelle Malkin's attack on Eduardo Aguirre illustrates the extent to which polarization has infected the politics of immigration. Rather than focus arguments on the complex issues inherent in balancing the compelling national interests in immigration policy, advocates on both sides resort to character assassination instead.
In this case, Mrs. Malkin attacks Mr. Aguirre as a "politically connected banker" whose nomination reflects a "disastrous mix of political correctness and political cronyism," dismissing his considerable professional experience and accomplishments. For decades, these kinds of attacks have been used to derail needed reforms of the nation's immigration system.
For the past 25 years, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has been under attack from Congress, advocacy organizations and the public for management and programmatic failures. In reaction, INS commissioners of both parties have attempted to carry out reorganizations of the agency, each widely perceived to have failed. In January 1999, the General Accounting Office issued a stinging assessment of INS management, suggesting that the agency's latest reorganization in 1994 had only created widespread uncertainty within INS itself as to organizational roles and accountability.
However, neither Congress nor successive administrations acted decisively to implement effective reforms until September 11 and off-year electoral gains in 2002 gave President Bush a mandate regarding the war on terrorism, finally breaking the deadlock on immigration reform. In December, Congress ended the debate over the separation of the enforcement and service roles of INS by abolishing the agency and transferring its functions out of the Justice Department into two independent bureaus within the Department of Homeland Security. The Bureau of Border Security was created to assume the law-enforcement functions of INS, while the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services was created to assume the previous service roles of the agency.
The Border Security director must have a background in law enforcement; the director of Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services a background in management. Accordingly, Mr. Bush has nominated Mike Garcia, a former federal prosecutor with an extensive track record in prosecuting terrorists, and Mr. Aguirre, an accomplished banking executive with managerial experience in both the private and public sectors, to lead the immigration enforcement and service agencies. This appears to strike the right balance.
It took about 75 years to stop talking about INS reform and act on it. As Mrs. Malkin points out: "On March 1, INS officially ceased to exist." I suggest we wait more than three days to proclaim its successor a failure.

Former member
U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (the Jordan Commission)

Pirated history

The article "U.S. was alone in 1812 against Barbary pirates" (Nation, Sunday) distorts the historical record.
First, it must be remembered that in 1812 a few pirates were the least of the European powers' worries. For they were dealing with a tyrant of a far bigger caliber, Napoleon. As can be read in any good encyclopaedia, both U.S. expeditions to the Barbary Coast served solely U.S. interests ending the paying of tribute to pirates and none ended piracy in the Mediterranean Sea.
The end of piracy was accomplished by the European powers after they got rid of Napoleon in 1815. An Anglo-Dutch flotilla under Lord Exmouth finished off the dey of Algiers in 1816. Around 1830, France ended piracy by Algiers, and cooperated with Great Britain and Austria to stamp out Moroccan piracy. In all of these expeditions, which really ended the Barbary pirates to the benefit of all countries, the United States did not take part. If The Washington Times is going to cite history, it should not distort it.

Guntramsdorf, Austria

Dropping the ball on the Senators

Deborah Simmons' column "Let's not play ball" (Op-Ed, Friday) contained one bold assertion and one factual inaccuracy that diminished her position that the proposed New York Avenue stadium site is a bad idea.
I would happily listen, even yield to her argument against the site, as I do not live in the District. And I acknowledge that her position against public financing of a stadium has other very respectable proponents. Both issues can and should be debated by D.C. residents in the coming months.
Mrs. Simmons' statement, however, that there is no baseball tradition in Washington is highly suspect, and especially so when she supports her point by pointing to the presence of the Senators for a mere 12 seasons, 1961-72.
Mrs. Simmons is either very young or very new to Washington, and it seems safe to say she is very likely not a baseball fan. If she were, she would know that the Washington Senators of the era she cited was a replacement team, a consolation prize to local fans for the loss of the "old" Senators, who had moved to Minneapolis after the 1960 season.
The Senators dated back to the formation of the American League at the beginning of the 20th century and actually won a World Series in 1924. Were Mrs. Simmons truly a baseball fan, she would also know that the "new" Senators essentially a perennial bottom-dwelling team until the arrival of manager Ted Williams in 1968 drew attendances at RFK Stadium on a par with the Baltimore Orioles, just 40 miles or so to the northeast, a team that was one of baseball's elite during much of the 1960s and 1970s. This was before the Metro existed, and it was also a time in which there was a lot less spending money available in the local population than there is today.
I do not dispute Mrs. Simmons' positions. However, I submit that someone who wishes to present a spirited argument and claims, even in the face of one's position, to be a baseball fan, should at least get her facts straight.

Shady Side, Md.

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