18 October 2005

Listen To What I Say and Not What I Do?

Secretary Michael Chertoff proclaimed in his Senate testimony today that his Department of Homeland Security has a zero tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants. But, his statements about how the system works now were even more illuminating:

[Thousands of] Mexicans who are caught entering the United States illegally are returned immediately to Mexico. But other parts of the system have nearly collapsed under the weight of numbers. The problem is especially severe for non-Mexicans apprehended at the southwest border. . . . Today, a non-Mexican illegal immigrant caught trying to enter the United States across the southwest border has an 80 percent chance of being released immediately because we lack the holding facilities.

I simply don't believe him when he says that DHS practice will dramatically change within the year. But, what is he going to tell the Senate? It is the policy of DHS to ignore the law it is charged with enforcing? Wouldn't be prudent. A few more people will be sent home immediately after crossing the border, and our uneasy state, which Bush campaigned on normalizing, but has taken no action to bring about, will continue as usual, laced with perhaps a bit more anxiety on the part of undocumented workers. Ken Salazar, Colorado's rookie Senator, has an unfortunate practice of taking government officials and nominees at their word, but the rest of us believe that actions speak louder than words.

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