INS Commissioner Ziglar offers hope to aspiring legal immigrants in the aftermath of Sept. 11

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INS Commissioner James W. Ziglar, speaking at the National Immigration Forum on February 1, 2002, said:

] As you know, I was recruited for this job. However, had I known what I know today, I would have pursued the job. This job provides its occupant with an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of millions of Americans and millions of potential future Americans, and, in the process, to help shape the future of our Nation. My enthusiasm for this job has been fueled further by the realization that the overwhelming majority of INS employees are -- counter to the widespread criticism I heard -- hard-working professionals who are deeply dedicated to fulfilling the awesome responsibilities given to them by the American people.

]] Meeting our responsibilities to the Nation has never been easy, and the tragic events of September 11 have made it even more difficult. These events have profoundly changed the climate and culture in which INS and other agencies operate. I came to this job with the philosophy that the United States ought to welcome immigrants – to do everything within our power to ensure that our country remains a beacon of hope and freedom for people around the world. Even in the face of deadly terrorist attacks, that belief not only is unshaken, it is stronger.

]] I have said it before, and I will say it again, and again: The events of September 11 were caused by evil, not by immigration. Therefore, efforts to enhance our national security must focus on identifying and thwarting those who are intent on tearing us down, not on preventing the many millions worldwide who are eager for an opportunity to join us in building our Nation. We can and will protect ourselves against people who seek to harm the United States, but we cannot judge immigrants by the actions of terrorists.

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