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Anti-Terrorism Immigration Reforms

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As a somewhat belated reaction to the February 26, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center, Congress passed very enforcement-minded immigration legislation three years later called the "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) of 1996." President Clinton signed the "anti-terrorism" immigration bill on April 24, 1996.

But the second session of the 104th Congress was not through yet. The immigration reformers were on a roll. Later that same year Congress passed even greater changes to the Immigration Act called the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996." The IIRIRA, known as the 1996 Act was signed by President Clinton on September 30, 1996. It became effective on April 1, 1997. The IIRIRA cut back on relief available for criminal aliens and known foreign terrorists, and called for the mandatory detention of more classes of convicted criminals who are foreign nationals.

The IIRIRA also created very valuable "administrative removal" proceedings under its new Section 235(b), which so far have managed to withstand the legal onslaught of the pro-alien lobby (knock on wood). These provisions allow aliens to be turned back at ports of entry, with the Immigration and Naturalization Service sending them right back to their native country without being released into the United States, and without reaching the safe legal haven (the briar patch) of the Immigration Court system. The administrative removal provisions of Section 235(b) may very well be the savior of our country's immigration law enforcement system. Hopefully, administrative removals will become the future of a new streamlined immigration system in a world without the mismanagement of the INS and the needless over-lawyered bureaucracy of the EOIR. But for now, that world is just a dream.

The IIRIRA also brought cosmetic changes to the Immigration Court system by renaming the federal government's "deportation" and "exclusion" proceedings to kinder and gentler "removal" proceedings under the new Section 240 of the Act. The new name would be just about the only part of the 1996 Act left unscathed. Before President Clinton's signature dried on the 1996 AEDPA "anti-terrorism" bill and the IIRIRA immigration reforms, the legal vandals inside and outside government were already planning their campaign to "fix '96" and roll-back the immigration enforcement work of the 104th Congress.

Six Years of Slow Death

Now on the six-year anniversary of the "anti-terrorism" immigration bill (April 24, 1996), contrary to the intent of Congress, most of the immigration law enforcement teeth of the 1996 Act have been whittled away. The campaign by liberal cause lawyers waged in the federal courts and in the Immigration Court system within the Department of Justice, has taken its toll. Most of the enforcement gains of the AEDPA and IIRIRA, especially in the area of immigration detention, have been scaled back to a shadow of their former glory, or simply abolished by judicial fiat. The end result is that the criminal aliens have won. The attorneys of the ACLU and AILA have declared victory. More convicted foreign nationals with green cards have been released back into our communities. More permanent resident aliens have been allowed to keep their green cards in spite of committing a laundry list of crimes. More illegal aliens have been released on immigration bonds and ordered "removed" only on paper in their absence. But all of the legal dismemberment of the 1996 Act wouldn't have happened without the open door of the Immigration Court system and its bureaucrats at the EOIR, the BIA and the Immigration Courts. The federal courts simply carried on the carnage started by the EOIR's government lawyers in robes at the Immigration Court, granting even more relief to more classes of illegal aliens and criminal alien residents.

Other than the bright spot of streamlined Section 235(b) administrative removals, there has been little to cheer about in immigration law enforcement since the 1996 "anti-terrorism" immigration legislation. Most of the legal erosion of immigration law has been for the worse, with more criminal aliens being detained less, and avoiding "removal" more frequently for a greater variety of crimes. The detention provisions for illegal aliens and criminal alien residents are a frequent and well-worn target. So much so, that it is getting next to impossible for the United States government to deport a convicted criminal alien resident, unless the alien agrees to give up his green card and leave. The way the system is set up, with unnecessary formalism and hyper-litigation from the start in the EOIR's Immigration Court, all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States, this country literally makes a federal case out of the deportation of every single illegal alien on our shores. The winners of these legal battles are foreign nationals with no legal status in our country and permanent resident aliens who are convicted criminals. Under the current immigration law, all aliens in Immigration Court removal proceedings have the "right" to appeal their case for as long as it takes, all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States if they can, to avoid being deported to their native countries.

With three million, eight million or twelve million illegal aliens in the United States now (no one knows exactly), and countless more removable criminal alien residents, it is absolute folly to believe that the current over- lawyered framework of Immigration Court could handle even a fraction of the workload of deporting aliens. The Immigration Court system, with its endless menu of hearings and appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States, would utterly crash of its own weight if all of the removable aliens in the country were actually apprehended by the beleaguered Immigration and Naturalization Service. The EOIR's Immigration Court in the Department of Justice is a system designed for failure. It is not designed to enforce the Immigration Act by efficient and expeditious removal of illegal aliens and criminal alien residents from the



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