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IMMIGRATION WATCH : Negativity Brigade

August 05, 1993

The idea being pressed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is simple and promising. If we want to have meaningful immigration reform, we can generate the money to do it through a $1 fee on each person coming into the United States from Canada or Mexico. Such a toll would raise more than $400 million annually, which could be used to hire agents and buy equipment and helicopters.

However, the attractive simplicity in this idea, which echoes a 1982 proposal by Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.), was no longer apparent after the bureaucrats from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Customs Service and the State Department got through with it. During a congressional subcommittee hearing they spent lots of time giving Congress endless excuses for why the toll could not be done.

"Too difficult to implement" . . . "will cause gridlock," they said. If the nation were to believe these naysayers it would be condemned to perpetual paralysis. Congress needs to hear how something can be done.

The naysayers need to come up with real solutions to the real problems. Last month the INS was rebuked by the inspector general for failing to take advantage of federal laws that allow the agency to collect fees for inspection services. Once again, it appears it was easier for the bureaucrats to do as little as possible.

Feinstein's proposal makes sense and deserves support. At the least, taxpayers have the right to expect public servants, before finding excuses, to at least try to find ways to make public policy proposals work.

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