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March 1996, Volume 3, Number 3

INS: Budget and Apprehensions Up

The Immigration and Naturalization Service announced February 8, 1996 that much of the department's FY96 budget of $2.6 billion will be spent to prevent illegal immigration. The INS budget was $1.5 billion in FY93.

The INS will hire 500 new Border Patrol agents for the San Diego sector, augmenting the over 1,660 agents already stationed there. The INS will also link its fingerprint IDENT system to its case ENFORCE system to more quickly identify aliens previously caught. The INS has been fingerprinting all persons apprehended in San Diego since October 1994, and now has 550,000 fingerprints in its computers.

In January 1996, apprehensions along the US-Mexican border were up 66 percent from January 1995, to 169,500. About 40 percent of the apprehensions were in California, 25 percent in Arizona, and 33 percent in Texas. The largest increase occurred in Arizona--apprehensions more than doubled between January 1995 and January 1996.

According to Mexicans attempting to illegally enter the US, the cost of being smuggled to Los Angeles is about $500, up from $200 to $300 in 1994. Many unauthorized Mexicans hope to earn about $1,000 per month in the US.

The INS will more than double the number of workplace inspectors, from 317 to 701, and target employers in garment, agriculture, and other industries known to employ unauthorized aliens. The program under which employers voluntarily submit information on newly hired aliens to the INS will be expanded from 200 to 1,000 employers in the Los Angeles area.

Los Angeles has already seen a sharp increase in worksite inspections. On February 5, the INS arrested 23 suspected illegal aliens in two clothing factories in eastern Los Angeles, then hit a popular gathering site for day laborers in the city of Industry. Some aliens were apprehended as they visited a mobile county health clinic.

Some critics worry that more interior inspections will lead to discrimination against Asians and Latinos. INS Commissioner Doris Meissner says that the INS is emphasizing border enforcement to prevent illegal aliens from entering the US, and targeting only employers who hire illegal aliens. Meissner has said that interior enforcement is a vital part of the illegal immigration issue and is "critical and importantly linked to border enforcement."

The Mexican government met with top INS officials on February 21 to discuss their concerns that increased border enforcement could lead to the use of excessive force and abuses of the human rights of Mexicans apprehended in the US.

On February 13, 1996, President Clinton signed the executive order that bars companies that have knowingly hired illegal aliens from receiving federal contracts for one year. Of the 1,029 employers fined by the INS in FY95, 576 committed paperwork violations, and 453 had knowingly hired illegal alien workers--only the 453 employers would be affected by the new order.

Being fined does not automatically mean loss of a federal contract. Instead, the INS notifies the federal agency involved with the contractor, and the federal agency may--but does not have to-- take the INS violation into account when it decides whether to renew a contract.

Many observers expect construction and food service firms working under federal contracts to be most affected by the executive order. On February 11, 20 illegal workers were arrested while helping to construct a new federal office building across the street from the INS office in downtown Atlanta.

The INS announced that additional funds will be made available to handle the one million applications from aliens who applied to become US citizens in 1995. The INS launched a CITIZENSHIP USA initiative in cities with many of the naturalization applications, including Los Angeles and New York.

A poll of 412 adult Latinos in California released by the Tomas Rivera Center, found that one-third favored more restrictions on immigration, and 40 percent supported the issuance of a national ID card to deter illegal immigration. Most of those polled support tough measures to deal with crime, yet many mistrust the police.

A Roper poll of 1978 adults in December 1995 found that 83 percent of respondents wanted fewer immigrants--people were asked whether the estimated 1.1 million entries in 1994--800,000 legal and 300,000 illegal-- should be reduced. Some 54 percent said they wanted less than 100,000 immigrants per year. About 20 percent of those polled wanted to stop immigration, and two percent favored more immigration.

The Christian Science Monitor ran an eight-part series in February about life on the US-Mexican border. The second article explored the impact of increased border enforcement on residents in eastern San Diego County. As the INS pushes illegal immigrants toward the remote eastern San Diego County, residents are becoming more passionate about stopping immigration at the border.

Thaddeus Herrick, "Poll shows Hispanics conservative," Houston Chronicle, February 22, 1996. Terrence Stutz, "Texas Hispanics in poll back affirmative action," Dallas Morning News, February 22, 1996. Patrick McDonnell, "INS braces for deadline to get new green cards," Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1996. Howard LaFranchi, "Americans Tangle in a Border 'War,'" Christian Science Monitor, February 20, 1996. "80 percent want less immigration," Associated Press, February 18, 1996" Latinos express diverse views," Associated Press, February 17, 1996. "Calif. Hispanics support welfare limits," UPI, February 17, 1996. Howard LaFranchi, "US Border Patrol Sharpens Strategy to Thwart Aliens," Christian Science Monitor, February 15, 1996. "Clinton ups the penalty for hiring undocumented workers," San Diego Union Tribune, February 14, 1996. Sam Howe Verhovek, "With detentions up, Border still porous," New York Times, February 13, 1996; William Branigin, "Influx of immigrants Meets Beefed-Up Resistance at US border," Wash