Immigration Policy Scores Low in Report; Both Sides Rap Government response.(NATION)

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The federal government earns poor marks for its handling of immigration policy since the September 11 terrorist attacks, those on both sides of the immigration-control debate agree.

Supporters of stricter immigration laws say the government has ignored problems exposed by the attacks, even though polls indicate the public wants changes.

"While the American people are still clamoring for a more secure immigration system, our political leaders have chosen complacency and special interests over real change," said Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

The federation released the one-year performance report at a news conference on Capitol Hill yesterday and gave the government an overall grade of "D."

"While some progress has been made, much of it has been spotty and haphazard, and many of the improvements won't be fully implemented for years," the report says.

Peter Gadiel, whose son worked on the 105th floor of one of the World Trade Center towers and died when the towers collapsed, said he feels the government's response to those like him urging tighter restrictions has been: "Drop dead."

"It's a year after 9/11 - the 9/11 families recognize that our Congress and president have failed to respond," he said.

But immigrant advocates are just as unhappy with the government's response, arguing that it drives a wedge between immigrants and government - particularly law enforcement - at a time when those ties are critical to combating terrorism.

"When you connect the dots on what this administration has done since September 11, you've got a community of newcomers that now feel alienated and criminalized," said Angela Kelley, deputy director of the National Immigration Forum. …