- The Washington Times - Monday, May 28, 2007

A veteran U.S. Border Patrol agent who served as the Western regional director for an amnesty program authorized by Congress in 1986 says that while the law imposed sanctions on employers for hiring illegal aliens and promised increased border security, it delivered neither.

Instead, William King Jr., who headed the amnesty program in the West for the now-defunct U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), said the law inadequately punished employers who hired illegals, gave amnesty to 3.1 million aliens and their relatives, and fell significantly short of its stated goal.

Mr. King, a 27-year Border Patrol veteran and former sector chief, said that based on his 50 years of “continuous experience in immigration law enforcement” and his “oversight of the 1986 amnesty program,” he fears the immigration reform law being debated in the Senate will not succeed.

“I just can’t believe they’re trying to do this again,” he said. “We seem to be suffering from collective amnesia about why amnesty programs have never and will never work. They’re using the same language, the same logic and, I assure you, will reach the same conclusion: failure.”

“They should know it’s not going to work and the American people are going to pay the price,” he said.

An estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens are in the United States and 9,000 more cross into the country every day — about 375 every hour. Only about one-third of them will be caught, according to Border Patrol estimates.

“Because of the number of illegal aliens in the country and the massive potential for fraud today, the result of this new law is going to be three to five times worse than it was in 1986,” he said. “There is no way around it and all Americans should stand by for the inevitable rush on the border because of the promise of amnesty.”

The Senate is debating an immigration reform bill that calls for stricter border security, grants legal status to millions of aliens now in the country and increases penalties for employers who hire illegal workers.

It is similar to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which was supposed to reduce job prospects for illegals by imposing stiff fines and other penalties on employers, mandate increased border security and establish a one-year amnesty program for illegal aliens in the country. A total of 3.1 million illegal aliens and their relatives were legalized under the 1986 law.

The White House said the new measure does not confer amnesty to illegals, contains tougher border security triggers, requires an employment-verification system and substantially increases penalties on employers for hiring illegals.

Mr. King disagrees. He said the Senate bill, coupling amnesty with a failure to secure the border, will encourage an influx of illegal aliens as the 1986 law did.

“Whatever you want to call it, the truth of the matter is that the bill offers amnesty and based on its size, it is not workable,” he said. “I doubt there are enough employees in the entire Department of Homeland Security to process the numbers of people that would be considered eligible.

“It’s time Congress and the administration find the strength of purpose to do what the American public has been calling for for decades now, and that is to secure our borders and to develop realistic interior enforcement programs,” he said.

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