Lawmakers who love lawbreakers

Posted: Oct 04, 2002 12:00 AM
Democrat Sen. Bob Torricelli of New Jersey is not through yet. While media pundits are busy writing his obituary, the Torch and his colleagues continue to make America safe for lawbreakers. On Sept. 23, Torricelli and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., introduced a Senate bill guaranteeing "relief" to a Middle Eastern family in Houston that has deliberately evaded a federal deportation order for four years. Palestinians Sharif and Asmaa Kesbeh and their children entered the United States on tourist visas from Saudi Arabia in 1991. After illegally overstaying the visas, they applied for asylum. Their asylum applications were denied by a U.S. immigration judge. They appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals and lost. They appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected their claims twice . The Immigration and Naturalization Service ordered them deported in 1998. The Kesbehs got more than their fair share of due process. But they still wouldn't take no for an answer. Instead, they demonstrated their contempt for our immigration system by illegally settling into the American mainstream, establishing a retail business (selling American flags of all things), obtaining Social Security cards and driver's licenses, and enrolling their kids in local schools. Their business flourished. Their children became "honor students." But all the while, the Kesbehs knowingly violated the deportation order sent to them by the INS. Earlier this year, it seemed the law would finally catch up with the Kesbehs. As part of the Justice Department's post-Sept. 11 initiative to track down hundreds of thousands of deportation absconders, the INS took Sharif Kesbeh and his eldest son into custody. The agency also moved to deport Asmaa Kesbeh and all but one of the couple's daughters to Jordan (the youngest was born in the United States). Arab-American and Muslim groups predictably protested (will they ever support our deportation laws under any circumstances?), followed by sympathetic media reports. Next, Texas Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, champion of oppressed lawbreakers, stepped in. In the spring she introduced a special "private relief" bill to prevent the Kesbehs' deportation. When the bill failed to make it out of committee, she appealed to another pro-illegal alien Democrat, Sen. Teddy Kennedy of Massachusetts. Kennedy lobbied his good friend, James Ziglar, President Bush's INS chief, who reportedly helped delay the family's impending deportation. Meanwhile, Torricelli introduced formal legislation on the Kesbehs' behalf after meeting with Arab-American representatives last week. Torricelli's bill, S. 2991, would award permanent residence status to the Kesbehs and six of their seven children -- allowing the family to jump ahead of the line of green card applicants in their native country who have waited their turn patiently to live the American dream. Thanks to Ziglar's intervention, the INS postponed the deportation for six months while the Lee and Torricelli bills work their way through the House and Senate. The agency released Sharif Kesbeh and his son last week. Yes, the Republican-appointed INS commissioner joined Torricelli, Daschle, Kennedy and Jackson Lee in undermining the laws he's supposed to enforce. Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, an Arab-American, also joined the fray last week, complaining that the Kesbehs' hadn't gotten a "fair" hearing. (Never mind that the family got four of them.) Isn't it nice to see such bipartisan cooperation on behalf of lawbreaking noncitizens? Believe it or not, the Kesbeh case is just one of dozens involving "private relief" bills seeking to award legal permanent residence to foreign lawbreakers who believe they are entitled to cut in front of everyone else around the world who has properly applied for a green card. Colorado Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell has introduced a similar bill on behalf of illegal alien Jesus Apodaca, a Denver high school student who criticized his state for not giving him an in-state tuition discount for college. The White House and GOP Colorado Gov. Bill Owens back the bill. And they have distanced themselves from fellow Republican Tom Tancredo, the Colorado congressman who bravely calls attention to the dangerous effects of an immigration system that haphazardly enforces its laws -- rewarding the line-jumpers, making martyrs of defiant deportation fugitives and making fools of those who follow the rules. Ted Kennedy, Tom Daschle and Bob Torricelli helped make a corrupt and crooked mess of our immigration system. But they didn't do it alone.
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