The Corner

The White House Response to The Corner

Nicholas D. Thompson from the White House is back and responding to two Corner posts from yesterday (they actually came in before now but got caught in a cyber black hole. First, in response to Andy’s “Re: Chertoff Friday” :

In response to Andy McCarthy’s comment about delaying legalization, just to reiterate, the temporary worker and Z visa programs cannot begin until benchmarks for enforcement are met. These benchmarks include constructing 370 miles of fencing and 200 miles of vehicle barriers at the border and increasing the size of the Border Patrol to 18,000. The government MUST meet these benchmarks before the Z visa and Temporary Worker program is launched.

I would also like to point out that there are currently 13,000 Border Patrol agents, and increasing their number to 18,000 will be double the number when President Bush came into office. Already we have seen the number of apprehensions for illegally crossing the Southern border down 27% from this time last year, so 5,000 more agents will certainly help with enforcement. The administration has also increased worksite enforcement, making 3,667 administrative arrests and 716 criminal arrests in FY 2006, more than 7 times the number in FY 2002.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Nicholas Thompson

Office of Strategic Initiatives

The White House

For more information on triggers and border security in the immigration plan, please see Myth/Fact: Ten Key Myths About the Border Security and Immigration Reform Agreement

And second, in response to Mark Krikorian’s “Paper Barrier” post:

In response to Mark Krikorian’s post of the excerpt from Kris Kobach’s article in the NY Post, I would like to point out that the argument a gang member qualifies for the Z-visa as long as he “simply” signs a “‘renunciation of gang affiliation’” is absolutely, egregiously wrong.

First, just to be clear: Any former gang member (or other applicant) convicted of a wide range of criminal conduct or otherwise determined to be a danger to the security of the United States is not welcome in the Z-visa program — whether s/he has renounced their gang affiliation or not. The range of crimes that disqualify applicants from the Z-visa program extends into the thousands and perhaps the tens of thousands, and includes: any felony; any three or more misdemeanors; any aggravated felony; any serious criminal offense; crimes involving moral turpitude (with a narrow exception for certain misdemeanors committed before age 18); and violations of a law relating to a controlled substance.

Even if a gang member (or other applicant) has not been convicted of a crime, s/he is still ineligible for the program if the Government concludes that s/he is sufficiently dangerous. For example, among those ineligible are any gang member (or other applicant) about whom there are “reasonable grounds” for regarding as a danger to the security of the United States; who the Government knows or has reason to believe seeks to enter the U.S. “solely, principally, or incidentally” to engage in unlawful activity; or about whom there are reasonable grounds for believing has committed a serious criminal offense outside the U.S. Again, these bars to eligibility apply whether or not the alien is currently in a gang, was never in a gang, or was formerly in a gang and renounced their affiliation.

Actually, “simply” signing a renunciation of gang affiliation gets the applicant no advantage whatsoever in the Z-visa process. It does not exempt the applicant from the requirement of a clean record, as discussed above. Nor does it exempt the applicant from the requirement to hold a job, pay a fine, pay fees, or anything else expected of a Z-visa applicant. Nor does it exempt them from the requirement while in Z-visa status to maintain employment, meet English requirements as a condition of renewal, stay out of trouble, or do anything else required of other Z-visa holders.

Finally, the bill provides sweeping new powers for DHS and DOJ to use in cracking down on alien gang members. This bill would, for the first time, give the government tools to keep out gang members who are not themselves criminals or security risks. Specifically, the bill would bar any alien if DHS, DOJ, or a consular officer “knows or has reason to believe” that the alien “has participated” in a gang, or “knowing or having reason to know” that the alien’s participation “aided” or “supported” the illegal activity of the gang. No conviction is required; indeed, no criminal activity is required. If you have associated with a gang and helped “aid” or “support” its illegal activity, you are not going to be allowed into the country. Also, renunciation of gang affiliation will not get you off the hook on this one, either; the phrase “has participated” means that if you’ve done it at any point in the past, you are barred.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Nicholas Thompson

Office of Strategic Initiatives

The White House

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