Colleen Long and Elliot Spagat’s cogent Jan. 6 news article ("Border crisis masked by wall battle") did not include the most important element needed in bringing sanity to the issue of illegal immigration. The lack of required verification of documents presented by work applicants is the linchpin in creating a sane and effective policy.

The vast majority of illegal immigration both by surreptitious entry and overstay of non-immigrants is motivated by economic factors. This is based upon by my 27 years of experience as a special agent with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 21 of which was served in Rhode Island.

The Immigration and Reform Control Act of 1986 created a false ray of hope by stipulating that all job applicants provide identification and a valid Social Security card to obtain work. Congress also suggested that a verification system would be studied and later implemented. Initially after the passage, the number of illegal border crosses dropped but radically increased when it was discovered that verification by employers was not a requirement.

Phony document vendors and greedy employers benefited by the lack of verification.

Presidents and Congresses failed to amend the inchoate immigration law with a mandated verification of documents provision. As the years have gone by, the issue of illegal immigration has only darkened. We are now faced with a politically combustible issue that could have negative consequences.

Stanley Bisikirski

North Kingstown