Tag Archives: border

E-Verify: National ID and the end of privacy

E-Verify: De Facto national ID and the end of privacy

By John Whitehead

As technology grows more sophisticated and the American government and its corporate allies further refine their methods of keeping tabs on citizens, those of us who treasure privacy increasingly find ourselves engaged in a struggle to maintain our freedoms in the midst of the modern surveillance state.

The latest attack on our right to anonymity and privacy comes stealthily packaged in the form of so-called job protection legislation. Introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in June 2011, H.R. 2885 (formerly H.R. 2164), the “Legal Workforce Act,” is being marketed as a way to fight illegal immigration and “open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants.” However, this proposed federal law is really little more than a Trojan horse, a backdoor attempt by the powers-that-be to inflict a de facto National ID card on the American people.

Created under the auspices of securing the borders and preventing illegal immigrants from being hired for “American” jobs, E-Verify challenges the rights of the individual, the rights of labor and the rights of industry. As such, this is not a left or right issue. Anyone who values civil liberties should be alarmed. In fact, E-Verify is being opposed by various civil liberties groups such as the ACLU, American Library Association, The Rutherford Institute, Liberty Coalition and others.

If approved by Congress, this legislation would make the federal government the final authority on who gets hired by American businesses and in the process create a bureaucratic nightmare for already over-burdened and over-regulated small business owners. In a nutshell, H.R. 2885 requires all employers to submit potential employees’ names, Social Security numbers and other data to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for authorization before the employees can start work. The data would then be run through E-Verify services, a government-run database and employment identification verification system.

In other words, the E-Verify system would require all those wanting to be employed by American companies to register the credentials of their citizenship in a government database. If you were to look at the procedure of verification, you’d know that it functions quite similar to the methods employed by companies like Fully-Verified.

What this means, of course, is that in order to be able to verify an applicant’s legitimacy, the government would first have to build a massive database to store the biographical information of the entire working population in the United States—a huge undertaking with numerous pitfalls and security flaws, as we have seen with many other government databases. But, like thecheckpeople.co.uk adumbrates, the advantages of this would be palpable in the future.

If you think unemployment is a problem now, just wait until your employment hinges on getting government clearance. Under this legislation, if a worker’s information is incorrect in E-Verify, he or she can’t work until the problem is resolved.

Furthermore, due to the sensitive information contained in the database, it would be a huge target for hackers and identity thieves, while doing little to curb the flow of illegal immigration or illegal immigrants getting jobs. Indeed, with a stolen or faked identity, anyone could bypass the system, secure employment.

This legislation poses even greater threats to privacy, free speech and free association and potentially hinders Americans’ ability to travel freely. Because the E-Verify system would apply to everyone eligible to work in the United States and will grow to include biometrics such as fingerprints, DNA and iris scans, it will be used for a host of other purposes by the intelligence community, law enforcement and corporate America.

Private employers will become extensions of the government in that they will eventually be required to verify whether employees are delinquent in the payment of federal, state or local taxes, in compliance with child support or alimony decrees, on a terrorist watch list or convicted or even accused of a crime. Employers, thus, would be enlisted as de facto law enforcement officers for the federal government. Furthermore, errors in the verification process would be practically immune from timely legal redress in violation of constitutional tenets of due process.

Rest assured that were Congress to approve this E-Verify legislation, it would open the door to a National ID. Thus, we have reached a crossroads. Either we limit the reach and power of the government (often in collusion with corporate power) or privacy as we have known it will become extinct.


Half a Million Troops Could Seal the Southwest Border

Half a Million Troops Could Seal the Southwest Border, Says Border Protection Chief

By Penny Starr

(CNSNews.com) – Sealing the border between the United States and Mexico completely is “theoretically” possible, but Americans would not want to pay “the costs that would be involved,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Alan Bersin said Thursday.

He was speaking at an event to release a report by the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP), claiming the southwest border is safer than it ever has been.

“We would need on the order of about four or five hundred thousand border patrol agents to seal the border,” Bersin said, adding that such a plan would involve having agents stationed “25 yards” apart along the entire length of the border.

Bersin’s remarks came after he was questioned about sealing the border by CAP immigration policy director Marshall Fitz. Bersin and Fitz joined Doris Meissner, who served as commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Clinton administration, to discuss border security and release the CAP report, Safer Than Ever, A View from the U.S.-Mexico Border: Assessing the Past, Present and Future.

Fitz said he wanted to ask Bersin “about the impossibility of an absolute seal,” and what he characterized as unrealistic intent of 2006 legislation mandating a fence be built along the southwest border.

Fitz said for “the average American, who doesn’t think a lot about this and considers the United States the most powerful country in the history of the world,” it might not seem “unrealistic to think that we could actually seal the border.”

He said that the U.S. Congress, in passing the Secure Fence Act of 2006, “suggests that that is viable.”

Bersin responded by saying most Americans understand that a “zero crime rate” is not possible, adding that the border issue is more a political than a practical one.

“The difficulty is not that the American people wouldn’t understand it, it’s that there’s a volatility of border politics,” he said. “So that any particular incident gets blown into this conflagration that somehow things are out of control in ways that people are quite used to in their neighborhood.

“The occurrence of a crime in the community doesn’t lead people to believe that their entire community is lawless,
” Bersin said.

He said he favored the “satisfactory control of the border that I think we are moving toward.”

Doris Meissner, commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Clinton administration, said told the event her agency had changed the model of immigration enforcement. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

Meissner credited the Clinton administration, and the agency she headed in particular, with changing the model of enforcing immigration law from strictly a personnel issue to a strategy that includes a “mix of resources,” including personnel, technology and other support infrastructure.

All three panelists argued that a reduction in apprehensions along the border suggests a more secure border. The CAP report authored by Fitz shows striking differences in apprehension rates between 2000 and 2010.

In the Tucson, Arizona sector – the area all agreed has the highest number of illegal crossings – 616,346 people were taken into custody in 2000, compared with 212,202 in 2010. In the El Paso, Texas, sector the number dropped from 285,781 in 2000 to 12, 251 in 2010.

Meissner accused critics of the Obama administration’s immigration policies of “stirring the pot,” although she also admitted that in Arizona “there is not yet the level of control that you want.”

In his report, Fitz targeted Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, calling him and his allies “restrictionists.”

“The unreasonable position advanced by the restrictionists is that 100 percent of the border must be subject to the most stringent standard, i.e. controlled,”
he wrote.

“Rep. Smith is effectively demanding an absolute seal of the border – an unattainable objective – as a precondition to discussion of broader immigration reforms.”

Smith’s office did not immediately respond to a CNSNews.com request to comment on the report.




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John G. Winder, The Cypress Times

LONDON, ENGLAND – The U.S. must return to the pre-1845 borders with Mexico said British Prime Minister David Cameron today. Cameron offered up the solution in order to resolve the issue of massive illegal migration from Mexico into the U.S. and to quell the rising tide of drug cartel violence close to the shared border between the two nations.

Cameron said the proposed return to the pre-1845 borders is the only viable solution that would solve a deadlock “that has grinded on and on and on.”

“There must be no doubt that Great Britain welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity,”
Cameron said. “Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in North America, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.”

The Prime Minister’s comments were made just one day before President Obama was scheduled to arrive in Ireland as part of a desperate attempt to woo Irish-American voters.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Cameron’s actions are inexcusable.

“To propose something this radical just a day prior to President Obama’s visit to Great Britain is unconscionable. I can’t recall a scenario where one head of state has ever so purposefully embarrassed another head of state, particularly a staunch ally.”

The White House is now scrambling to change President Obama’s travel schedule in Ireland feeling that their previous plans to hang out in pubs and have the president talk up his Irish ancestry might now somehow seem contrived.

An Obama administration insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity indicated that President Obama might actually consider embracing some parts of Cameron’s proposal, however.

“This would actually be an acceptable solution to the President in the sense that we would finally be able to get rid of Texas and Arizona. However, the loss of critical voters in California would really suck.”

When asked about how the proposed return to 1845 borders would affect New Mexico and Nevada the spokesperson said, “I guess Harry Reid would be on his own to negotiate with Los Zetas and ‘New Mexico?’ come on is that even a real place?”

Cameron’s proposal would basically mean that California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and all of what is now the western United States would revert to Mexican rule. However, prior to 1845 Texas was an independent republic.

“Cameron obviously didn’t think this thing out fully in terms of the Texas issue,” a White House spokesperson said. “We really don’t want to imagine a scenario where Texas would become an independent nation again. The idea of a President Rick Perry along a new U.S. border would be unacceptable. We would prefer a return to pre-1836 borders. Let Mexico have Texas.PRE-1845 US MEXICO BORDER

What would a California under Mexican rule look like? A wide-eyed and seemingly confused House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Dem – CA) said, “I don’t speak Spanish. It’s already a problem for me in my state. I guess now it would be worse. However, drug cartels do need universal health care, too. Treating gunshot wounds can be terribly expensive and place a burden on the entire gang.”

A spokesperson for the Los Zetas Drug Cartel said, “This would certainly expedite our ability to get our drugs to our customers. Sure a few ranchers and home owners in the area formerly known as the United States will have to die. But hey you have to break some eggs to make huevos rancheros.”

He added that overall Los Zetas thought Cameron’s proposal was “Mui Bueno.”

Nancy Pelosi responded, “Seriously. I don’t speak Spanish.”

The above scenario is of course, absurd.


Yet this is basically what U.S. President Barack Obama did to Israel and to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week just a day before Netanyahu arrived in the United States.

President Obama proposed trading away the future and security of our staunchest ally, the Jewish race and the only democracy in the Middle East in order to solve “a deadlock that has grinded on and on and on.”

As a people we must be genuinely and deeply concerned when our President proposes policy that is so absurd as to be simultaneously both comical and horrifying.
Oh well, Sláinte!


Border is a clear line; ‘control’ is a gray area

Border is a clear line; ‘control’ is a gray area

Brady McCombs Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Editor’s note: This story first appeared Sunday as an exclusive for our print readers.

Everybody from politicians to Border Patrol officials to regular old Joes in Tucson wants the border secured.

But how we measure that is nebulous.

Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher told Congress in February that the agency’s goal has been to “gain, maintain and sustain operational control.”

While that term – operational control – has become a buzzword, it is not uniformly defined. And the Border Patrol has already discarded it in favor of new performance measures it is developing.

When Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin was asked how he defined a controlled border during a leadership vision series at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., last October, he said this:

“Border security means public safety and the sense in the community that the border is being reasonably and effectively managed.”

Arizona’s longtime Republican Sen. John McCain was asked how he defined operational control during a press conference last month in Tucson.

“Implementation of Jon Kyl and I’s 10-point plan,” he said, touting a proposal for more Border Patrol agents, National Guard troops and several new initiatives.

So how, in lieu of a uniform measurement recognized by all, do taxpayers and legislators gauge progress on border security?

There’s no clear answer.

“It’s certainly legitimate to ask, ‘What’s the return on investment here?’ ” said Doris Meissner, commissioner of the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1993 to 2000 and senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank that advocates for comprehensive immigration changes.

The federal government has invested $15.8 billion since 2005 on border security between the ports of entry, shows budget information from the Department of Homeland Security. Another $12.4 billion has been spent on border security and trade inspection at the ports.

Indicators suggest that the additional agents, fences and technology funded by that money have made the border more secure, said Rich Stana, director of homeland security issues at the Government Accountability Office.

“But that said, there is still a ways to go,” Stana said. “One of the key elements in improving border security is having a reliable measure of how you assess that.”

The question of how the government measures border security has garnered more attention in recent months, highlighted by a hearing of a House committee on Homeland Security and a Government Accountability Office report.

After 15 years of unprecedented spending on border security, and in tight budget times, Congress needs to know what works and what doesn’t, Meissner said.

“It’s been an article of faith that we need border enforcement and we need more of it, and certainly that’s valid,” Meissner said. “But I don’t think we’ve gotten to the point before where one could actually say, ‘Well, how much is enough?'”

Canada is easier to police...

“Operational control”

In the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Congress defined operational control as preventing “all unlawful entries” into the United States.

But Congress’ definition has not been consistent in bills, reports and correspondence since that act, the Border Patrol said in an emailed statement.

In recent congressional testimony, Border Patrol Chief Fisher said the term refers to the agency’s ability “to detect, identify, classify, respond to and ultimately resolve all threats within the theater of operation.”

Using that definition, 44 percent of the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border is under operational control, shows a February GAO report. Nearly 70 percent of the 262 miles in Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector fit that category.

The definition in the Secure Fence Act is an unrealistic standard to which no other law enforcement agency is held, said Stana and Meissner.

“It would be very expensive to create that kind of assurance,” Stana said. “You would be talking about something akin to the inner German border during the Cold War, where very few, if any, could penetrate it without fear of losing one’s life.”

The Border Patrol should be asked to manage the border, not prevent every illegal entry, Meissner said.

No matter how you define it, Fisher, Bersin and their boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, insist that operational control should not gauge overall border security.

Fisher said, “Operation control is not, in and of itself, a measure of border security.”

“Achieving border security requires a whole-government approach,” the Border Patrol statement said, “whereas the Border Patrol’s ‘operational control’ is a narrow tactical term confined to Border Patrol capabilities in a particular area of the border.”

And now the Border Patrol is replacing the outdated measure with metrics that more accurately reflect the state of border security.

“It’s not necessarily coming up with new metrics as it is about understanding how those metrics apply in today’s border environment,” Fisher said.

The agency expects the new approach to be more cost-effective, the GAO reported, which is a great sign, said Tom Barry, senior analyst at the Center for International Policy in Washington.

“They are aware their budget will be more closely scrutinized than before,” Barry said. “Part of this analysis has to be a cost-benefit evaluation, not just a numbers game. Are these billions worth it?”

The Border Patrol plans to test the new measures in fiscal 2012, which begins on Oct. 1, 2011.

stats can mislead

In the meantime, the Border Patrol is focusing on apprehensions to measure progress.

Napolitano and Bersin often cite a 60 percent reduction in apprehensions in the past six years as one sign the border is more secure.

The reduction, since it’s coincided with the buildup of agents, is a valid measure of effectiveness, Meissner said.

But it shouldn’t be used as the primary method for judging border security because the stat is insufficient and can be misleading, she said.

The same person can be counted multiple times, meaning the yearly total represents the number of arrests – not the number of people caught. And a dip in apprehensions might reflect fewer jobs available due to the economic downturn.

Using apprehensions as a measure of the Border Patrol’s efficiency would be akin to judging a baseball player by his hits without knowing how many times he’s been at bat, said Stana of the GAO.

“You have the number of apprehensions but you don’t know how many people might have been there to apprehend,” Stana said. “You have to have the numerator and the denominator to judge performance.”

New measure coming

In the last decade, the government has vacillated on what it’s trying to accomplish with its border security strategy, said Barry of the Center for International Policy.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the focus was keeping out terrorists. By 2005, it shifted to illegal immigration. In recent years, with the flow of illegal immigrants slowing, border security has become synonymous with preventing spillover violence from Mexico’s raging drug war, Barry said.

In January during a speech in El Paso, Napolitano said, “Our goal is to have a safe, secure border zone that is also hospitable to and fosters legal trade, travel and immigration. Our goal recognizes that the border is not simply a line on a map. It is an entire area, extending into both countries. Moreover, a safe, secure border zone requires vigorous enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws in the interior of our country as well.”

As it creates standards to measure progress, the Border Patrol must define what it aims to accomplish, Stana said. “If there is difficulty getting to performance measures, it may be rooted in the fact that we’re not clearly articulating exactly what it is we want to do,” he said.

For instance, if the agency’s goal is to stop illegal entries close to the border, it could use the GPS coordinates recorded with each apprehension to measure how many were made within five miles of the border, Stana said.

The Border Patrol also could use more in-depth analysis of fingerprints.

Agents should be able to determine how many times a person has been caught, where he’s been caught before, and if he or she was voluntarily returned or formally deported, Stana said.

“Is it the same individual trying five times or is it five individuals?” Stana asked.

The agency should seek outside consultation from analysts and academics on how best to establish new performance measures, Meissner said. Not only would it help make the measures stronger, it would give the agency credibility with legislators and the public.

“If it’s viewed as purely an inside, opaque exercise,” she said, “it won’t have the same kind of influence.”

Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or [email protected]


Borders? We don’t need NO stinkin’ borders!

Federal Auditor: Border Patrol Can Stop Illegal Entries Along Only 129 Miles of 1,954-Mile Mexican Border
Thursday, March 31, 2011
By Terence P. Jeffrey

(CNSNews.com) – Richard M. Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office (which is responsible for “auditing agency operations to determine whether federal funds are being spent efficiently and effectively”), told the Senate Homeland Security Committee yesterday that the federal government can actually prevent or stop illegal entries into the United States along only 129 miles of the 1,954-mile-long U.S.–Mexico border.

That leaves 1,825 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border where the Border Patrol cannot prevent or stop an illegal entry.

Nonetheless, Stana told the committee, the Border Patrol itself says it has established “an acceptable level of control” along 873 miles of the 1,954-mile-long southwest border. This is because of the way the Border Patrol defines “an acceptable level of control” of the border.

According to Border Patrol,” Stana told the committee, “an acceptable level of border control is established when it has the capability (i.e., resources) to deter or detect and apprehend incursions at the immediate border or after entry.” [Emphasis added.]

In addition to the 129 miles where the Border Patrol says it can actually “deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries” at the border itself, Stana told the committee, there are another 744 miles where the Border Patrol says it has the capability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entrants after they have entered the county and penetrated U.S. territory to “distances of up to 100 miles or more away from the immediate border.”The 3,918-mile-long northern border of the United States is virtually wide open, according to Stana’s testimony. The Border Patrol, Stana said, reports that it has established “an acceptable level of control” along only 69 miles of this border and that of those 69 miles there are only 2 miles where the Border Patrol can actually prevent or stop an illegal entry.

Along the remaining, 3,916 miles of the northern border the Border Patrol does not have the capability to deter or detect and apprehend an intruder.

As we testified in February 2011 about our preliminary observations on this measure, Border Patrol indicated that in fiscal year 2010, 873 of the nearly 2,000 southwest border miles and 69 of the nearly 4,000 northern border miles between Washington and Maine were at an acceptable level of control,” Stana told the committee in his written testimony.

Within this border security classification, Border Patrol further distinguished between the ability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries at the immediate border versus after entry—at distances of up to 100 miles or more away from the immediate border—into the United States,” Stana wrote.

“Our preliminary analysis of these Border Patrol data showed that the agency reported a capability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries at the immediate border across 129 of the 873 southwest border miles and 2 of the 69 northern border miles,” Stana testified. “Our preliminary analysis also showed that Border Patrol reported the ability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries after they crossed the border for an additional 744 southwest border miles and 67 northern border miles.”
Stana said that in fiscal 2010 “about $11.9 billion [was] appropriated to secure the entire U.S. border (for personnel, infrastructure, and technology).”
Only about a third of this money was spent to secure the border in the vast territories between the official ports of entry (POE). “CBP reported that $3.6 billion was appropriated in fiscal year 2010 for border security efforts between the POEs,” Stana testified.

Overall, the federal government spent $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. That means the $11.9 billion the government spent on securing the entire U.S. border equaled 0.3 percent of federal spending and the $3.6 billion the federal government spent on securing the border between the ports of entry equaled about 0.1 percent.