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tation of what I consider to be the mandate of our Immigration and Naturalization Service's responsibility and our obligation to carry out the immigration laws.
I would like to have your comments in that direction.
Mr. CASTILLO. I think there is no question but that the reorganization plan, if it becomes one that shifts border partrol and inspections to Customs, would have some serious difficulties, essentially because, one, we do 50 percent of our office work at the borders, our inspectors do that, so while we have been able to reduce the backlogs in Los Angeles from 4 years to 4 months, they will go back up toward 4 years.
Second, the enforcement itself has plenty of problems as it is. If one agency apprehends them, another agency, Immigration, then has to hold them and deport them, it is like the city police referring everybody to country jail, and all of the problems associated with doing that. The problems associated would be very serious.
Chairman RODINO. Don't you think in light of the fact of the President's proposal for the resolution of the problem of undocumented aliens, it is still something that is way in the offing, it is pretty difficult, really, to assess what the impact of any reorganization plan would be, how it would work, not knowing frankly what we may be facing and what we may have to confront in either the Immigration or Naturalization Services functions or the border patrol.
Mr. CASTILLO. The President's package will be very tough to administer. It calls for, among other things, registration of several million people, an enormous workload, enormous administrative task.
If that is to be accomplished while we are in the midst of a reorganization, it could be made that much more difficult.
So I think the reorganization cannot be separated from the Presidential initiatives on new legislation. New legislation will be that much more difficult to implement if at the same time we are trying to figure out who is whose supervisor and also trying to determine what the flow of paper and people is.
It could become chaotic.
Chairman RODINO. I have one final question on which I would like your observation and comment.
Several observers, Mr. Commissioner, including the GAO, have urged that U.S. immigration policy should undergo a comprehensive reassessment in order to reflect current thinking on this subject and to develop a policy which will serve our national interest.
Will you comment, first, on the need for such a comprehensive reexamination, and what do you believe are the respective roles of the INS, the executive branch, and Congress in conducting such a review, and whether the Congress should be a partner, an active partner, in this process.
Mr. CASTILLO. I believe fully a complete reassessment is needed of our immigration policy.
There are some parts of the law that are archaic; for example, the provisions in naturalization that require that a person not be an anarchist, they describe good moral character in 1920's terms, and a number of defects in other parts of the law as well, as well as the basic question of who do we let into this country and what number.
Clearly, though, in devising such a new policy, we would be looking at it from a number of perspectives. Our essential role, though, is that of administering. The Congress has to look at the policy side, and the President has to make it consistent with his program and his human rights philosophy.
So, I think all three should be very actively involved if the new proposal is to be any better than the old one. I would think the Congress should be involved from start to finish.
Chairman RODINO. Thank you.
Mr. Butler, you come just in time.
Mr. BUTLER. I have returned just in time.
Mr. BUTLER. Thank you. During the course of testimony by the Attorney General, a question arose with reference to the border patrol. And he said one thing we need to do is get more helicopters. The Defense Department has thousands of helicopters, and we have never been able to get one.
Mr. Moorhead said, "I think if you ask the Congress for them, they will probably be happy to give them to you."
Mr. Bell said, "You have to have a law to transfer them."
I would appreciate your explaining to me the extent to which you have explored this question with the Department of Defense, and is there any legislation appropriate to accomplish this, or has somebody else asked this question when, Mr. Castillo? I don't know of any legislation that would be required.
We did ask the Department of Defense to advise us as to the possibility of receiving helicopters that they might have available. As you know, the 1979 budget authorizes one more, which will again bring our fleet up another 30 percent. We will be up to three.
Can you stand this rapid rate of expansion?
Mr. ČASTILLO. As you know, I doubled the fleet in my first year up to two. This would go up to three.
Mr. BUTLER. How many did you ask for this year, eight?
Mr. CASTILLO. We asked for more of the Department of Justice and OMB, and they denied the request and scaled it down to one. Mr. BUTLER. Do you have any recollection as to the number you have thought was appropriate?
Mr. CASTILLO. I am advised we asked for 27. We are getting one. Mr. BUTLER. Well, I guess that is progress.
We will now return to your answer.
Mr. CASTILLO. We did ask the Department of Defense for some help in simply securing some of those that they might have that are not being used or that would be available.
They did reply with a long list of criteria as to how you might do it, everything from painting over the military insignia and cost of revamping so it will be in effect used for civilian purposes.
And these negotiations have continued with the Department of Defense.
Mr. BUTLER. Do you see legal problems in your relationship with the Department of Defense?
Mr. CASTILLO. I have not encountered any such.
Mr. BUTLER. The need for legislation is not apparent. Does counsel agree with that?
Mr. CROSLAND. Mr. Butler, my understanding is, under the posse -comitatus treaty that we could use helicopters or equipment, but not personnel of the Department of Defense. And Mr. Castillo has asked the division of management to try to work out some relationship so we could use the equipment. There are complications.
Now, we may be suggesting transferring ownership. I don't know. We would have to do some research on that.
Mr. CASTILLO. We will discuss this with legal counsel, but we have not ourselves encountered legal problems. Our problems are more in an operational nature, liability, and transfer of equipment, and things of that sort, and then, of course, the cost of maintaining it.
But we will be discussing this since the Attorney General apparently has come up with some legal obstacles.
Mr. BUTLER. Mr. Chairman, would it be appropriate to ask for a memorandum of the state of negotiations and the possibility of things we might be doing to facilitate? There are an awful lot of helicopters in the Defense Department that, seems to me, if we had a proper approach to the problem, and a real desire on the part of the Department of Defense and Department of Justice to make this use of this available equipment.
After all, all of it belongs to Uncle Sam, so there may be some way to do that.
Chairman RODINO. It would be perfectly appropriate to make that request, and we would hope that you would supply it for the record. Information supplied in app. 5, p. -]
Mr. RAILSBACK. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. BUTLER. I did.
Mr. RAILSBACK. May I ask if your border patrol efforts have much to do with narcotics? I know that is not a primary responsibility. What has your experience been?
Mr. CASTILLO. Though we are only incidentally involved in narcotics, that is, we apprehend people, and sometimes, they are also dealing in narcotics.
We are, despite this incidental linkage, one of the major apprehenders of narcotics violators.
Mr. RAILSBACK. May I just come along the line of the gentleman's question, and indicate that I read an article over the weekend that talked about Florida, the Southeast.
It talked about the narcotics smuggling that is going on apparently involving primarily Florida. And that article pointed out that the best equipment that the United States has in trying to prevent smuggling is equipment that's actually been confiscated such as helicopters and speedboats.
You know, in reading that article, it appears to me, and I think this, the same thing would be true here. We are not giving our people sophisticated equipment, and the equipment they do have is stuff that has been confiscated. That seems ludicrous.
Chairman RODINO. The time of the gentleman from Virginia has expired.
I am going to state we have another witness to hear from, and that is the chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals, Mr. Milhollan.
I would point out the House will be meeting shortly.
Chairman RODINO. The gentleman from Pennsylvania.
Mr. EILBERG. Commissioner, a recent GAO report indicates a substantial number of recently admitted permanent resident aliens are collecting welfare and supplemental security income.
One of the ways our counselors' offices abroad implement the provisions is to require a support affidavit from U.S. citizen sponsors in cases where the intending immigrant would not be a public charge. Under present case law, these are merely moral obligations, and are not legally binding.
What is your feeling in making these affidavits legally enforceable? Mr. CASTILLO. We think the affidavits should be legally enforceable. The practice of making it morally enforceable in effect means they mean nothing. Sometimes, the very people who sign the moral responsibility statement are the ones that house them and charge them.
I would point out that we have found the majority of the persons who have become public charges are persons who entered legally. Those who enter without documents are not likely to go on welfare. Mr. EILBERG. Further, do you believe these support affidavits could by regulation be made legally binding, or would legislation to make them legally enforceable be necessary?
Mr. CASTILLO. We are supporting legislation to make them legally binding.
Mr. EILBERG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman RODINO. Thank you very much, Commissioner, Mr. Noto, Mr. Crosland. Your testimony has certainly been helpful, and we would advise you, Commissioner, that the committee members might want to refer some questions through the committee to you, which you might respond to in writing, and we would hope that you would do that.
Mr. CASTILLO. Be happy to respond.
Chairman RODINO. Thank you very much.
Our next witness is the Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals, David L. Milhollan.
Mr. Milhollan, thank you for coming, and we welcome you here. I know you have a prepared statement. Will you please proceed.
TESTIMONY OF DAVID L. MILHOLLAN, CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS
Mr. MILHOLLAN. Perhaps in line with the chairman's prior request that the statement be cut down, I would be very happy to do that. Chairman RODINO. We will certainly place the statement in the record in its entirety, and you may proceed.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Milhollan follows:]
STATEMENT OF DAVID L. MILHOLLAN, CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF IMMIGRATION
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you today to testify regarding the discharge of those functions and responsibilities of the Board of Immigration Appeals relative to the Immigration and Nationality Act which have been delegated to the Board under Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 3 and 292. My Executive Assistant Mary Jo Grotenrath, is with me here today.
Before discussing the details of our operations, I wish to express to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the Committee, my gratitude for your interest and support during these past three years in which I have served as Board Chairman.
As you know, the Board itself is composed of a Chairman and four Board Members. An Executive Assistant/Chief Attorney Examiner, directly responsible to me, assists in carrying out the Board's functions and responsibilities, and is available by regulation to serve as an Alternate Board Member when necessary. The Board's supporting staff consists of an Administrative Officer, sixteen attorney examiners and eighteen secretarial and clerical personnel. With a total authorized working force of 41, we shall be at full strength as soon as we fill two existing clerical vacancies.
The Board performs the quasi-judicial function of providing, in all but a few cases, the final administrative remedy for the review of certain decisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. With reference to the few exceptional cases just mentioned, the regulations provide for referral to the Attorney General of individual cases at the direction of the Attorney General, the Chairman, or a majority of the Board or at the request of the Commissioner, Immigration and Naturalization Service. In the past year no such cases were referred.
The vast majority of appeals involve orders of deportation rendered in formal due process hearings by Immigration Judges across the nation. The Board also determines appeals from orders of Immigration Judges regarding the exclusion of aliens applying for admission to the United States. Other cases involve appeals from denials by District Directors of the Immigration and Naturalization Service of petitions for preferred immigrant status provided by law for close relatives of United States citizens and permanent resident aliens, and cases involving administrative fines. In addition, the Board interprets the immigration laws; establishes guidelines for the exercise of the Attorney General's discretion in connection with relief from deportation particularly in regard to applications for adjustment of status, suspension of deportation, and voluntary departure; and strives to carry out the Congressional mandate that the immigration laws receive uniform application throughout the United States. Furthermore, the Board has authority, with the approval of the Attorney General, to prescribe rules governing proceedings before it, and to regulate the conduct of-and disbar for causeattorneys, representatives of organizations and others who appear in a representative capacity before the Board and the Service.
Finally, the Board renders decisions on applications by organizations and individuals for recognition and accreditation seeking to practice before the Board and the Service.
In fiscal year 1977 the Board docketed 2,458 cases involving 3,057 aliens and over 4,000 issues. In this same period it rendered decisions in 2,527 cases involving 3,300 aliens. Of these decisions approximately 110 were designated for publication as precedents. Oral arguments in 475 cases were heard at the request of one of the parties, usually the alien respondent (in deportation or exclusion proceedings) or petitioner (in visa petition proceedings).
Appeals from Board decisions in deportation proceedings, as you know, are directed to the United States Circuit Courts, by-passing the United States District Courts. At the beginning of fiscal year 1977, 463 petitions for review of Board decisions were pending in the United States Courts of Appeals for the various Circuits. In that year the appellate courts upheld Board decisions in 255 cases and reversed or remanded in 29 cases. Another 103 cases on review were withdrawn by the petitioners. At the end of fiscal year 1977, 496 petitions for review were pending in the Courts of Appeals.
In addition, the Board in fiscal 1977 made determinations on 25 applications for recognition by organizations and 60 applications for accreditation by individuals desiring to represent others before the Board and the Service.