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Senator SIMPSON. I believe the Thurmond bill says 16. That would not be acceptable?
Attorney General THORNBURGH. I think the sense is that when you are talking about persons of tender years, that there is a rationale that transcends the event, and most of the aggravating and mitigating factors are designed to put the individual in the setting of what the particular offense was.
Senator SIMPSON. Well, I get 1 minute back, don't I?
Senator Kennedy spoke of the GAO report on employer_sanctions. That remains to be one of the most curious documents I have ever seen, and I need to repair to my library late at night and look at the word "widespread.” Because when it was all finished, they found that there was 6.6 percent discrimination with regard to employer sanctions. And the Kennedy amendment had one word added to it that was added by me in conference, called “solely," that discrimination, that widespread discrimination be based solely on the implementation of employer sanctions. They did not come up with any determination. They used the word “substantial” which can be zero to 49. They took the 19-percent discrimination, knocked 9 percent off of it because of the fact it was discrimination based on alienage, which was not the charge, and then knocked off half of the 10 percent because that had to do with discrimination based upon the verification systems, leaving about 5 to 6 percent. I don't see how any sensible person can call that widespread discrimination. Nevertheless, we will have to wade through that.
There isn't a single American that isn't concerned about discrimination. I think it is not part of the argument to say that some are for less discrimination and some for more, something of that nature. That always puzzles me. But in any event, I obviously disagree with the report's findings, but I plan on responding. I think it is very important, two parts of the report. We should further educate U.S. employers about the law, and we should improve our worker verification system. This is what Father Ted Hesburgh, the Chairman of the Commission, felt was the premium thing, was to get a good identifier, a more secure identifier. We are going to have to go back and really review that and not get into the tangled web of national ID cards,” which is how we got diverted the last time.
But I notice in the INS budget proposal that you have $884,000 reserved for an antidiscrimination campaign. How much more funding do you think is necessary there in light of the GAO report, which came out since your preparation?
Attorney General THORNBURGH. I think we would have to defer a response until we have had a chance to fully review the GAO report. But I think the education aspect is one that truly ought to command more attention. We are working now on proposals that would use public service announcements through the television media, flyers to remind employers of their responsibilities. It is a twofold prospect that has to be pursued: one, aggressive enforcement of the law, but also aggressive enforcement of the rights of persons who might otherwise be subject to discrimination.
As I recall, one of the troublesome features of the assessment that has been made of IRCA and the employer sanction side is how many employers are unaware of their responsibilities in this regard. That is clearly an area that can be addressed better by education than by enforcement.
Senator SIMPSON. Well, just one final question, then. The interesting thing of the report to me was that they said that IRCA had worked. They said that they agreed that it has worked, that it decreased illegal immigration. They were rather positive things. And yet they spoke of the discrimination. Yet the reason it works is because of employer sanctions. So to me they really kind of twisted themselves around in that report.
Just a final point, and it had to do with what Senator Kennedy was referring to, back to the monitoring of the issue by these groups. If the system of verification in the bill proved to be ineffective, the President was to make improvements to the system with certain conditions on the issuance of new documents. And according to the report, the verification system obviously is not secure. Fraud is rampant. We know that. Some of the results show, as you say, that employers are confused. Discrimination is occurring. Employer sanctions are difficult.
I don't need any answer this morning, but what is the status of your review of the verification system issue? And when might we expect your recommendations there? We really need that now as we go forward with our legislating. If you could furnish that or if you have a comment now, but verification is the one that I am interested in at the present time.
Attorney General THORNBURGH. Let me address that just preliminarily, Senator. The problem of counterfeit and false documents is one that is pervasive and difficult to deal with in our society. I remember when I was Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division in 1975, a Federal False Identification Advisory Committee was established, encompassing all of the various agencies that dealt with documentation, and made a series of recommendations-not including, incidentally, a national identification card, but address on a discrete basis Social Security cards, driver's licenses, birth certificates, all those things which are indicia of identity, all too frequently susceptible to being counterfeited or altered in some way.
These were fairly straightforward findings, but the implementation of them has proved to be vexing at the Federal, State, and local level over the years. It simply requires too much effort and, in some cases, too much expense to create documentation that is absolutely fraudproof.
I suggest, however, that these findings in the GAO report may prompt a renewal of efforts to achieve this goal, and, if so, it will certainly have the support of the Department of Justice.
Senator SIMPSON. I thank you very much, General.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR DeCONCINI Senator DECONCINI. Mr. Chairman, thank you.
Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being here, and I want to tell you that I want to compliment you on some of your successes, particularly in the area of organized crime recently. I think you are making some major strides there.
Also, in your statement, Mr. Attorney General, I would like to turn your attention to the Border Patrol. You state that during 1989 Border Patrol agents made 5,441 drug seizures with a combined estimated value of $1.2 billion. That is almost double what it was in 1988, 3,257 seizures and $700 million. And yet I have a real problem, Mr. Attorney General, and I am not here to be contentious. What I am here for is hopefully to draw your attention to this and to give me some idea as to what we can expect, at least in the Southwest border, but there are other places besides the Southwest border where the Border Patrol plays a major role.
In fact, the Border Patrol is responsible for approximately 60 percent of all drug seizures along the border. The National Advisory Commission on Law Enforcement that you sat on, as I did, found that nearly 40 percent of the Border Patrol officers leave within the first year. Despite the staffing problems, the Border Patrol has been under a hiring freeze for nearly a year now. I don't know if you are aware of that. With the hiring freeze and its high attrition rate, by summer Border Patrol sectors along the Southwest border will be staffed at 60 to 70 percent of their authorized level under the 1986 immigration bill alone.
Despite the administration's proposed personnel cuts for the Border Patrol in the 1990 budget which were recommended, Senator Hollings and Senator Rudman and the Appropriations Committee added an additional $9 million for 200 officers for fiscal year 1990. My staff has been told by INS recently that because of budget constraints they will be able to hire only 50 of these people.
So my first question, Mr. Attorney General, Is where is the administration's commitment to the Southwest border when you receive enough money to hire 200 and you only hire 25?
Attorney General THORNBURGH. The Border Patrol is an important component of the drug interdiction effort, Senator. We realize that. We commend their ability to, in effect, carry water on both shoulders. They have an important role in policing our borders, but they have also taken on a new and important role in becoming part of the antidrug trafficking effort.
Part of the problem with regard to staffing levels is historic. It goes back to the setting of goals for hiring which involved the authorization of additional agents being hired and the failure of funding to keep up with that authorization. In the past 4 or 5 years, hiring was geared up to a level that exceeded the amount that the appropriations would carry, and appropriate adjustments had to be made as time went on.
Senator DECONCINI. Excuse me, Mr. Attorney General. Are you telling me that the $9 million would only hire 25 agents instead of 200?
Attorney General THORNBURGH. For this current year?
Attorney General THORNBURGH. No, the problem is really historic. It is, in effect, that more agents were hired than there were ap
propriations to support from 1986 on. I can give you and I will give you a detailed breakdown on that.
In fact, when I came on board as Attorney General in August 1988, the Border Patrol was deep in the hole because of overcommitment to hiring that was not within the bounds that its appropriation would support.
Senator DECONCINI. But, Mr. Attorney General, if you put a freeze on-talk about history. I have only been here going on 14 years. Under the Carter administration, they would cut the Border Patrol. We would add it in appropriations. They would refuse to put in or put a freeze on. The same thing happened under the Reagan administration except in 1986, I believe, was the only year that they increased the Border Patrol. I may be off a year. All the other times they put a freeze on.
My concern is that they are the stepchild in the Justice Department, in my judgment. And I don't know whether you agree with that, bui I wish you would pay some attention to it and see if you can help them a little bit more.
Let me just give you an example. The President's National Drug Strategy recommends 174 additional Border Patrol officers for the Southwest border. The budget summary issued by the White House requests 90 additional Border Patrol officers for the border. And under the Justice Department budget summary, you call for 174. What are we going to get?
Attorney General THORNBURGH. I think what we have called for is 202 Border Patrol agents, but, again, the freeze was necessary in order to bring the staffing level down to the budgetary limitations. We can't pay people who are on the payroll if we don't have the money to pay them. What we are seeking this year are 202 additional Border Patrol agents, and in addition
Senator DECONCINI. Well, you are talking about support staff, Mr. Attorney General. Here in your budget, the budget increase of 200 positions, it is 174 Border Patrol agents. That is on page 66. But my concern here is that you are calling for 174; the strategy is calling for 174; and the budget request is only 90. So did you lose? Are we only going to get 90, or are you going to prevail and get a budget change here to get the 174?
My concern is that I want to see you get them, and I just don't know what we can do to help you get them.
Attorney General THORNBURGH. The disparity may be as a result of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Program, which includes as a separate appropriation agents from a variety of different agencies.
But let me just mention one thing, Senator, just to allay your concerns that the border is going to be neglected. The President's national drug control strategy, pursuant to direction of the Congress, identified five major high intensity drug trafficking areas which are going to receive special attention. One of those is the Southwest border, not surprisingly.
Senator DECONCINI. I understand that.
Attorney General THORNBURGH. But we are now in the throes of trying to staff up an operation with an additional $25 million, an additional $50 million being sought in the fiscal year 1991 budget, to meet the very shortfall that you describe. Now, how that will shake out in terms of specific allocations amongst DEA, FBI, Border Patrol, whatever, I can't tell you at the moment.
Senator DECONCINI. Under the budget, your budget does target some additional DEA and FBI, particularly DEA, and I applaud that. My concern is to get your focus on the Border Patrol.
Let me just quickly go to the Border Patrol vehicles. I don't know if you are aware that they lack a tremendous amount of vehicles on the Border Patrol. Your budget calls for a hefty increase of 600 or 2,000—I can't remember-vehicles for the DEA and little or none for the Border Patrol. And it really troubles me that we don't get some attention to the vehicles. They cannot do their work down there without the vehicles, and I just would hope that you would personally take a look at that.
Attorney General THORNBURGH. I am told the budget calls for $8 million for new vehicles for the Border Patrol. I don't know how that translates. It depends on the vehicle, I guess.
Senator DECONCINI. Well, if you have time to go look at the Border Patrol in the Southwest border area, you will see some of the most dilapidated equipment. You will see trucks that they have to take out with electric windows that don't work because they get dirt in them, and, you know, in the summertime, if the air-conditioner doesn't work or something, it is pretty miserable when you can't put the window up or down.
This is the kind of equipment-I am truthfully telling you this; I have seen it—that your Border Patrol people are having to use.
Attorney General THORNBURGH. Let me give you, as I indicated, a report on the problems with respect to staffing, because I think it is a little too complicated for even
Senator DECONCINI. OK. I appreciate anything you can give me.
Attorney General THORNBURGH. And the second thing is we will certainly review, and I will ask Commissioner McNary to specifically review the vehicles.
Senator DECONCINI. Mr. Attorney General, I want to submit to you some letters in support of Terrence Burke as not only the Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, but for the Administrator position. I don't know if you are aware that the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association supports your consideration of putting him there, and the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, and the Pima County Sheriff's Department, just to mention a few-and, of course, this Senator. And the reason this Senator is—and I hope this is not held against him—that he was the DEA agent in charge in Arizona, and we had never had such good coordination with DEA taking the lead in cross-deputization. Before you and Customs worked out this massive thousand agent cross-deputizations, Mr. Burke was able to make it work in Arizona. I hope you know that. I hope you take a look at this man, because in my opinion to fill John Lawn's shoes is going to take a big man. And Terrence Burke is that man. He is just outstanding.
I thank you, too, and compliment you on your efforts to crossdeputize some of these other law enforcement agents. I realize it has taken a long time, but it wouldn't have happened without you and Commissioner Hallett and Commissioner von Raab and Terry