The INS, America’s welcome mat

You would think after the Sept. 11 attacks that we would be worried about who comes into our country. Apparently that is not the case.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has proven its incompetence once again. The head of this government agency that functions on our taxpayer dollars is James Ziglar, a political appointee of President Bush. He is the former managing director for Paine Webber. How this makes him a qualified individual for leading our immigration department escapes me. His ineptitude has lead to yet another tragedy: the Washington snipers.

One of the snipers, John Lee Malvo, was a stowaway picked up by the Border Patrol in Washington state. According to the law, “stowaways are to be removed from our country without a hearing.” The INS department in Seattle dismissed the recommendation of the Border Patrol three times and released Malvo to roam the country. We all know what happened next.

The incompetence of the INS does not stop there. Think back to a few months after the Sept. 11 attacks. The INS sent out renewed visas to some of the dead hijackers. Right now there are more than 8 million illegal immigrants in the United States. As of today, we have no aggressive plan to stop these people from entering the country.

So who gets the blame for the inept INS? Let’s start at the top. We saw the agency head towards a downward spiral during the Clinton years. President Bush came into office and has done nothing to fix the problem. It just keeps getting worse.

Attorney General John Ashcroft does not seem eager to investigate what went wrong with sniper suspect John Malvo. James Ziglar is resigning in December because he cannot handle the task. The Senate just sat on a bill that would have abolished the INS and created a Homeland Security department to take over the responsibility.

It is time to crack down and for the government to start protecting the homeland. There is a legal way to immigrate into this country. Anyone who disobeys this policy should be sent home immediately. This includes the current case of 200 Haitian illegal aliens that were running around South Florida last week. Anyone from any country who does not follow the rules should not be allowed to stay. If they come here because of harsh conditions in their own country, they should contact the United Nations. Helping these poor countries improve should be a main focus of the U.N.

A major step in the right direction would be to militarize the borders. Why do we have so many troops in South Korea and Germany when we really need protection here at home? There is no way the Border Patrol can effectively cover the thousands of miles that must be watched constantly. The military will be a deterrence and will intimidate people from attempting to enter the country illegally.

I am not against immigration and I’m not proposing that we shut down the borders. However, we must enforce the law and start getting rid of people that should not be here. The incompetence of the INS has cost America enough innocent lives.

Anyone who disagrees with this proposal should ask themselves this: What would you say if one of your loved ones was murdered by someone who was not supposed to be here in the first place?

Ryan Gorman is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.