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'Immigrants Past and Present'

July 17, 1986

Your editorial (July 6), "Immigrants Past and Present," prompts me to write. As a career officer of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, I am deeply offended by your constantly repeated themes of INS inefficiency and ineffectiveness. But that's not the important thing. I'm used to it now.

This nation's immigration laws and the practical effect of our immigration policy, as it is played out along our borders, say two things at the same time.

On the one hand, the law says it is unlawful to enter the United States without proper documents or a place other than a designated port of entry. Our criminal code carries penalties for illegal entry into the country. A token Border Patrol force is placed along our borders to try to prevent the illegal entry of aliens into the United States.

On the other hand, our immigration policy says in effect to those masses of people gathered along the border each night, "If you can make it past that thin green line of agents, past the border bandits, if you don't die in the trunk of a smuggler's car--you're home free. You'll get a job; we'll provide health services; we'll educate your children; we'll take care of you. Just get here any way you can."

America's immigration laws and its immigration policy are both the progeny of a Congress that seems unable or unwilling to face reality.

Reality is the arrest of more than 468,000 illegal border-crossers here in the San Diego sector during the past nine months. Reality is a burgeoning flow of aliens from countries other than Mexico; more than 11,000 aliens from 66 different countries in the last nine months.

Reality is also the message we're sending to the world because of our unwillingness to say NO to illegal immigration; a message that is drawing more and more of the Third World's distressed, discontented, and unhappy people to our back door.

ALAN E. ELIASON

Chief Patrol Agent

San Diego Sector

U.S. Border Patrol

San Ysidro

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