Let's state the obvious—the federal government isn't good at deporting illegal aliens and criminal alien residents.
But it's very good at deporting certain aliens. Thus the young Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez managed to survive shark-infested waters alone on the way to Florida. But he was no match for the full weight of the Department of Justice, then-Attorney General Janet Reno and the former INS. Little Elian was sent back in Cuba in no time.
His fellow countryman Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez also arrived by sea. But he went on to pitch for the Yankees in the World Series.
Recently, the INS made short work of deporting the extremely politically-incorrect Ernst Zündel, a German citizen who calls himself a Holocaust Revisionist and whom his enemies call a Holocaust-denier. Zündel is married to a U.S. citizen and had applied for legal permanent residence. He was arrested on February 5 at his home in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and taken into INS custody. He had allegedly overstayed his visa and failed to appear for a deportation hearing. The Zündels say he was never notified, and he certainly had every incentive to comply with U.S. law. But he was deported anyway and sent to a Canadian jail – he was once a Canadian resident - pending deportation to Germany, where his opinions are punishable by jail. The whole process took less than three weeks.
Remarkable, considering the huge deportation abyss of the Immigration Court system - and the normal likelihood of relief due to marriage to an American citizen.
The Zündel case shows that the feds can deport aliens - when they set their mind to it.
But they just don't set their mind to it very often. As Michelle Malkin searingly documented in her best-selling book Invasion, the former INS deported illegal alien Rafael Resendez-Ramirez many times - but all unfortunately without spotting that he was wanted for a serial killing spree.
In the ongoing saga of smuggled Chinese entering the United States illegally, only a few aliens passing through the Snake Road ever face deportation. The exception that proves the rule: those unlucky enough to have traveled on the Golden Venture freighter that suffered a well-publicized beaching in New York City are still here, in legal limbo, after ten years in the Immigration Court system. Many were detained in INS custody for years.
Future Beltway sniper terrorist Lee Boyd Malvo and his mother Uma James weren't kicked out of the country under the Immigration Act's section 235(b) stowaway category. They were released from INS custody so they could attend future Immigration Court hearings. As it turned out, of course, young Malvo had other plans besides going back to Seattle for court.
Almost everyone agrees that the federal government should be deporting more terrorists. But, thanks to the delays of the Immigration Court system, deportation wasn't anything like imminent for at least these infamous five terrorists when they committed their crimes: Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, Mir Aimal Kansi, Abdel Hakim Tizegha, Ahmed Ajaj and Ramzi Yousef.
Out-of-control illegal alien street gang members and murderers also manage to evade deportation. The violent illegal alien Ingmar Guandique wasn't deported. He went on to become a suspect in the murder of Washington D.C. intern Chandra Levy.
The illegal alien gang rapists of Queens, New York - formerly known as "Mexican immigrants" - weren't deported soon enough. Instead they were safe – quite possibly because New York City has declared itself a sanctuary for illegals.
Joseph A. D'Agostino of Human Events has reported that the former INS only deported one percent of all illegal aliens in the country – who may total as many as 11 million. But it looks like that one percent doesn't include too many Somalis, Iraqis or their alien smugglers.
According to the former INS' statistical yearbook, the federal government removed 184,775 illegal aliens and criminal alien residents in the year 2000. But over 800,000 illegal aliens were entering the country illegally every year during the late 1990s. Not much of a track record there.
Who will be the next famous illegal alien to be deported?
Or the parents of Jesica Santillan, who smuggled her in to get a heart-lung transplant, ultimately at taxpayer expense?
Don't hold your breath.
But the point is this: the new Department of Homeland Security does have the power to deport any illegal alien it wants.
It simply has to summon the will.