It was an exciting first, and highly-anticipated event—I had arranged for a group of prominent immigration reform activists to meet with INS District Director Thomas Schiltgen on February 8th.
We gingerly entered the huge Federal Building in San Francisco, stood in line with a throng of nervous foreigners busily yakking loudly in every language but English. After being thoroughly searched, we made our way upstairs to a large conference room. Director Schiltgen and several of his agents soon entered the room.
Introductions and pleasantries exchanged, Ms. Yeh Ling-Ling, Director of the "Diversity Coalition on Immigration Moratorium," opened, stating the intent of our group's presence was to "express and show community support for the INS." Ms. Yeh proceeded to say, "Too many times, radical pro-immigration organizations have professed to represent the feelings of the immigrant community. As a Chinese immigrant who came to America in 1981, I knew no English, but took the time to learn. Through hard work, I have become a successful American citizen, and I am very proud. I know first hand, most all legal immigrants resent those immigrants who have come here illegally. Also, many of us strongly feel future numbers of legal immigrants coming to America should be sharply cut back, even a moratorium invoked."
There were many subjects touched on that memorable day, but Yeh Ling-Ling's heartfelt words most vividly stay in my memory. Here was a former immigrant bravely telling it the way it is and should be.
One of the many concerns I brought to Director Schiltgen's attention was the brazen behavior and public policies of radical Marin community groups such as Triunfo and the Canal Community Alliance (MCF). Triunfo, you may recall, gentle readers, was one of the groups represented in that other recent INS meeting, set up by Marin pro-immigration advocate Alan Barnett of the Marin Coalition for Immigrant Rights. (IJ, November 25, 1995)
I pointed out that Triunfo, who has offered an employment agency for their workers, has been wantonly posting flyers in public places warning and covertly advising San Rafael's illegal immigrants to the daily enforcement activities of the INS. Director Shiltgen acknowledged my concerns, stating his agents will continue to make and increase future sweeps of San Rafael's Canal area, and other Bay area communities.
"As the INS 1996 Budget has increased 24 percent in one year, we will be hiring 91 new district agents—41 for detainment and deportation, 20 for criminal alien matters, and 30 more agents (triple present complement) for increased employer/employee sanctions enforcement." Schiltgen went on to say, "A 350-bed Bay area detainment center will also soon be designated and opened."
Many other areas were discussed that day, such as why the INS has largely delegated the official duties of testing legal aliens for U.S. citizenship (language, history and civics exam) to radical national pro-immigration groups such as LULAC (League of United Latin-American Citizens) and MALDEF (Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund)? Kind of like the foxes guarding the henhouse—as a result many unqualified and undeserving legal immigrants are being granted the privilege of U.S. citizenship "on the cheap and wholesale." As this policy was Washington-based, Director Schiltgen just shook his head.
Throughout the meeting, the spirit of cooperation and support pervaded the room. We were there, representing the huge silent majority of Americans who desperately desire and want our existing immigration laws to be strengthened and strictly enforced. On their part, Director Schiltgen and his agents were those brave men attempting against overwhelming odds to do their jobs—no amount of adverse political and radical liberal community pressures would deter them from their duly-appointed mission.
The meeting ending, a group photo taken, a final shaking-of-hands, we all felt something important had been accomplished. Setting a precedent for future cooperation and information exchange.
Make no mistake, in the near future, national and local INS enforcement activities will visibly heighten. Illegal immigrants and those greedy, slithering employers who knowingly hire them, beware:: the long arm of the law is fast closing in and I, and many other citizens can only cheer!