Study finds many illegal immigrants entered U.S. legally

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    Stephanie Diamond Member

    Jul 11, 2004
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    By Howard Fischer
    capitol media services
    Tucson, Arizona | Published: 05.22.2006

    -- More than 40 percent of the people in this country illegally got here by crossing the border legally, according to a new study.
    The report issued Monday by the Pew Hispanic Center said somewhere between 4 million and 5.5 million of unauthorized migrants got legitimate visas to enter this country and simply never went home when the visas expired. That is out of an estimated 11.5 to 12 million illegal immigrants in this country.
    Another 250,000 to 500,000 had border crossing cards -- permits which allow them to come here legally for short visits to shop or work -- but also chose to stay.
    By contrast, anywhere from 6-7 million entered illegally, many through the Arizona desert, and successfully evaded the Border Patrol.
    The report comes as the Senate approved an amendment Monday to authorize all governors to have the National Guard units under their command do their training in Arizona or the other three border states along the U.S-Mexico border.
    That 83-10 vote shows significant support for the plan by President Bush to put up to 6,000 National Guard troops along the southern border to supplement the Border Patrol. Those troops, who would stay two years or longer, are designed to be a stop-gap while new Border Patrol officers are hired and trained.
    And both the president as well as state lawmakers are pushing for electronic systems to spot people coming across the border.
    But the study suggests that even if additional people and technology managed to stop all unauthorized entries, there would still be more people arriving legally but eventually adding to the population of illegal immigrants.
    Chris Simcox, a founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said the report does not mean that his organization should stop its occasional patrols of the border or scrap plans to start building a fence this coming weekend.
    But Simcox said it shows that border security alone will not solve the problem. What is needed, he said, is for the federal government to live up to its promise made after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to implement systems so the United States knows who is in this country.
    The Pew report backs that up. It says despite some new federal laws the government "has no means of determining whether all the foreign nationals admitted for temporary stays actually leave the country."
    Simcox's solution? Seal the borders.
    "We shouldn't be letting anyone into this country until we have the system secured," he said. Asked whether it was realistic to cut off tourism and business travelers, Simcox said the alternative is to "play Russian Roulette with our lives."
    The report also did not dissuade Rep. John Allen, R-Scottsdale, that National Guard troops are needed along the border.
    It was Allen who earlier this year pushed through legislation mandating that Gov. Janet Napolitano station Guard units in Southern Arizona. She vetoed the measure -- but only, she said, because the mandate interfered with her power as the Guard's commander in chief.
    He said the Pew report underlines the fact that at least half of the problem is people crossing the border illegally.
    "And there also is the risk of drugs coming across and those who wish to do terrorist acts," Allen said. But he said there also needs to be more emphasis on tracking those who enter this country legally but overstay their legal welcome.
    "All the 9-11 people (involved in the attacks) overstayed some sort of legal access," Allen noted, apparently without fear of being detected or deported.
    "But you know, you can't fix everything with one swash," he continued. "So we're going to have to make sure we deal with that next."
    The U.S. Senate amendment spelled out that no tour of duty for Guard units could exceed 21 days. It also says that troops are to be used to support Border Patrol activities and are not to be involved in "search, seizure, arrest or similar activity."

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