In a post 9/11, post 9/11 commission world, one would think that the processes of the sharing of information and the logjams of communication within our bureaucratic infrastructure would have been of paramount concern when drafting new legislation in the Senate.
Not so, last week the Senate passed by 62-36 what they thought was a credible solution to our immigration and migration problem without recognizing the importance of the security background check processes when they disallowed the sharing of information between agencies due to confidentiality reasons.
Liberal Senators argued that sharing information between government agencies would discourage some aliens from coming forward and applying for "a path to citizenship".
Excerpts from The Washington Times -
Immigration agency head slams Senate's alien bill
By Stephen Dinan - THE WASHINGTON TIMES - June 1, 2006
The Senate immigration bill makes the same mistake as the 1986 amnesty by restricting the ability of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to share information on illegal alien guest-worker applicants who are criminals and terrorists, the agency's director said yesterday.
Emilio T. Gonzalez, whose agency would have to administer a guest-worker program, said not allowing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to share information on someone who applies means they cannot begin the process of removing criminals and national security threats, even after they are rejected from the guest-worker program.
"It is important for us to be able to act on what we get when we run a background check on somebody," Mr. Gonzalez said in a briefing with reporters in which he weighed in on the Senate immigration bill, which would offer a chance for citizenship to millions of illegal aliens, expand legal immigration and start a new foreign-worker program.
Yesterday was the second time Mr. Gonzalez met with reporters since taking over as director on Jan. 4, and he is juggling an ongoing backlog reduction at the same time he is preparing his agency for new instructions from Congress. He said much press attention has been given to the guest-worker program, but the Senate bill also includes a major increase in legal permanent residents, or "green card" holders, which his agency will also have to process.
He said his agency will need at least six months and maybe as much as a year to register current illegal aliens for a foreign-worker program -- far longer than the Senate bill envisions.
On the issue of information sharing and confidentiality of applications, Mr. Gonzalez said the law usually allows his agency to share information when its employees come across an application that raises questions. But he said the 1986 amnesty included confidentiality provisions that prohibited sharing information from those applications, and he said the Senate bill makes the same mistake.
"We ought not to be kept from using that information," he said
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, offered an amendment to change the confidentiality requirements. His amendment failed on a tie vote, 49-49.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and a key backer of the Senate bill, fought Mr. Cornyn's amendment. He said the underlying bill struck a balance that still allows law enforcement to go after cheaters, while at the same time not discouraging illegal aliens from coming forward.
"Our bill removes criminals and those trying to game the system. But it also protects the confidentiality of honest people applying to stay here and work. Otherwise they will remain in the underground economy and never apply, and that hurts American jobs and wages," he said.
His main worry was that sharing information would discourage some aliens from coming forward because they would fear making an innocent mistake that would hurt them later.
At MAXINE, we believe "simple is, is what simple does" - Fence First ... Then Enforce Existing Law! - And start sharing the information between agencies to increase our security as it was recommended in the 9/11 commission report.