Easy Entry?

artial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," October 4, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Here's a scary thought: the possibility that terrorists can slip right into the U.S. because of chaos and even corruption in the immigration system.

There are now allegations that money or sex is all it takes for some illegal immigrants to get a green card (search) and that those in charge are rubber-stamping just to make quotas.

Joining us now to talk about the state of the agency in charge is former Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson.

So, Asa, I'm sure you have read these reports, the same as me, how people are being paid off, it is alleged, sometimes, they're accepting sexual favors from applicants in order to OK a green card and that they're so swamped with the applications, they really can't give any individual thoughtful consideration. What are we supposed to do about this?

ASA HUTCHINSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY UNDERSECRETARY: Well, certainly, those allegations are very serious and troublesome.

Whenever the old INS was abolished, it was recreated in the Department of Homeland Security (search) in three ways. The inspectors went to the border inspection CVP. You had the enforcement side that went to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And this that you're speaking of is the services side, those that process immigrant applications, green cards, citizenship papers. And that's where these allegations reside.

Obviously, I've met the bulk of these employees. They're good, hardworking public servants. But you always have some that cross the line. That's why we have this investigation that would be ongoing.


GIBSON: But, Asa, if the president were to get his program, in which he is going to give guest worker status to what amounts to millions of people, and there's even more people coming for these green cards than now, how can this situation get anything but worse?

HUTCHINSON: Well, that point is very, very well taken, that, right now, there is a backlog for immigration applications, whether it's a green card or citizenship papers.

If you put in a temporary worker permit, you're going to have to deal with the backlog. You're going to have to put more resources in to make sure that the background checks are done, the interviews are completed, and that they can be processed in a timely way. The American people need to understand how resource intensive the process of these immigrant applications are.

There have been 35 million background checks per year. And so, because of Homeland Security, we're doing the background checks on these service applications. But, obviously, from time to time, there are allegations of corruption that has to be investigated.

GIBSON: Asa, is the problem worse right at the border, where people are jumping the fence, or at the office, where they're jumping the green card line?

HUTCHINSON: Well, obviously, I think it is worse at the border, but that's a very important point, that we have got to provide border security at the border, but you also have to provide integrity to all of our immigration system, whether it be the service processing, whether it be the courts that handle these. And you can't impact one without impacting the others.

GIBSON: Asa Hutchinson, former homeland security undersecretary. Asa, it's always good to see you. Thanks.

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