- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2007

The leadership of all 11,000 nonsupervisory U.S. Border Patrol agents yesterday criticized an immigration compromise by senators and the Bush administration as “piecemeal” legislation that invites future terrorist attacks and fails to secure the nation’s borders.

“Every person who has ever risked their life securing our borders is extremely disheartened to see some of our elected representatives once again waving the white flag on the issues of illegal immigration and border security,” National Border Patrol Council President T.J. Bonner said.

“Rewarding criminal behavior has never induced anyone to abide by the law, and there is no reason to believe the outcome will be any different this time,” he said.

Mr. Bonner’s comments were in response to an immigration deal reached Thursday on a multistep path to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens now in the United States in exchange for better border security and a new way of choosing how future immigrants are selected.

The agreement, reached behind closed doors after months of talks among Republicans, Democrats and Bush Cabinet officials, created little enthusiasm among negotiators, but those involved said it is the only chance for immigration reform to pass this year.

Mr. Bonner said that with the ever-present threat of terrorism, it is critical to take steps necessary to immediately and completely secure the nation’s borders, adding that “piecemeal measures” will prolong America’s vulnerability and are “an open invitation to further terrorist attacks.”

He said the Border Patrol is “totally overwhelmed” by the number of illegal aliens crossing daily into the United States. Last year, the Border Patrol apprehended 1.1 million illegals, more than 3,000 every day.

“Rather than meaningless triggers of additional personnel and barriers outlined in the compromise, Americans must insist that border security be measured in absolute terms,” Mr. Bonner said. “Sadly, the plan that the Senate is proposing falls woefully short by that yardstick and needlessly jeopardizes the security of this nation.”

The compromise is expected to be brought to the Senate floor next week, although its passage is not a certainty. Conservative Republicans say the bill rewards illegal activity, while liberal Democrats said it is too draconian toward illegal aliens and too restrictive for future workers.

Rep. John Culberson, Texas Republican, said House Republicans are in a “state of shock and disbelief” over the compromise, saying legalizing illegal aliens means amnesty and “we will do everything in our power to stop it.”

Mr. Culberson said the country “must have the rule of law and order, and it is wrong to reward people who have broken the law.”

The plan allows the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the country to receive probationary status, while the government continues to build fencing and vehicle barriers on the Mexico border, hire more immigration officers and institute better checks on employers.

Once the security improvements are complete, aliens on probation could apply for a so-called “Z visa,” putting them on the path to citizenship — after returning home to apply for a green card.

Mr. Bonner, a 29-year Border Patrol veteran, said a similar immigration proposal by the Reagan administration in 1986 granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens and solved neither the problems of illegal immigration nor border security.

He said the 1986 amnesty bill proved to be “a mistake of colossal proportions” and that it spurred a dramatic increase in illegal immigration.

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