Since shortly after President Bush announced his plan for a de facto amnesty for illegal aliens, the Border Patrol has seen an increased number of illegal aliens streaming across our Southern border. Border Patrol union officials told HUMAN EVENTS last week that official figures show that apprehensions of illegal aliens are up nationally by 10% to 11% over last year. The President announced his immigration proposal on January 7. “The aliens are asking about the amnesty,” said T.J. Bonner, a senior Border Patrol agent, who serves as president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), the patrolmen’s union. The “official figures” on apprehensions, he said, “were 10% to 11% higher than a year ago.” Border Patrolman Shawn Moran, spokesman for San Diego-based NBPC Local 1613, confirmed Bonner’s figures. In a January 26 interview with HUMAN EVENTS Moran said that in the San Diego sector specifically, “we have two to three times the number we had a few weeks ago.” Last week, he said that since that earlier interview, “We have been told not to be too specific because that’s operational information.” “A lot of the illegal aliens are asking about the amnesty,” said Moran. The Border Patrol rank and file are angry about Bush’s plan, which would allow the estimated seven to 12 million aliens living illegally in this country to stay on renewable three-year work visas if they have jobs and are willing to pay a fine. On NBPC Local 1613’s website last week, a headline blared: “President Bush sold out the American people and every DHS [Department of Homeland Security] agent.” Asked if he agreed with the headline, Moran replied, “Yes. These illegal aliens are being encouraged to come here.” Bonner expressed similar views. Asked how he felt about Bush’s amnesty proposal, he said, “Betrayed and insulted. This is how our union members feel when leaders such as President Bush want to pardon lawbreakers. Is that why 100 of my comrades have given their lives over the years? Why are we doing this job? Why not disband the Border Patrol?” “Should we just stop doing what we’re doing?” asked Rich Pierce, executive vice president of the NBPC and a 24-year veteran of the Border Patrol. “I don’t want to look like we’re picking on the administration.” Congressional leaders have even worse plans, he said, describing a plan sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R.-Neb.) as “a disaster.” That proposal would allow all non-criminal illegals with jobs to formally apply for permanent residency. All three Border Patrol officials cited the long-standing government policy of releasing into the country most of the non-Mexican illegal aliens that the Border Patrol catches trying to sneak into the United States. “We have no detention space,” said Pierce. “I’ve been in Florida since 1985. That’s been standard. If we have no bed space, we set a court date for them to appear and let them go. And 75% of the time, we don’t have bed space.” Asked if that means 75% of the aliens caught are released into the country, he said, “If they’re not known criminals or from certain countries, like in the Middle East, they are usually released.” Most of these illegal aliens never show up for their court dates. “Ninety five per cent of that 75%, you never see again,” said Pierce. Bonner confirmed that illegal aliens who are caught are often let go if they are not considered a danger. “Yes, in many parts of the country,” he said. Asked which parts, he said, “Pretty much the whole country. They’re doing that with people from Mexico, too.” Moran said that Mexicans caught along the border are overwhelmingly deported to Mexico, but nationals from other countries are often not even required to post bond. They are “released on their own recognizance,” he said, unless they are “considered dangerous.”
More illegal immigrants hoping to take advantage of Bush's amnesty plan have been streaming across the Southern border, unaware that the plan is not law.