Bush Assails Democrats

Over Impasse on Estrada

President Bush used his harshest language yet in a confirmation fight as he accused Democrats yesterday of extra-constitutional behavior for blocking Miguel Estrada from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

"I will stand by that man's side until he is sworn in as a judge," Bush told a White House briefing for the Latino Coalition, a public policy group for Hispanic business owners and professionals.

Bush attacked Senate Democrats for keeping Estrada's nomination from a vote by staging what is effectively a filibuster.

"Some Democrats in the Senate are flaunting the intention of the United States Constitution and the tradition of the United States Senate, itself," he said. "Alexander Hamilton wrote that the purpose of the Senate confirmation was to prevent the appointment of unfit characters. No one can possibly call Miguel Estrada 'unfit.' "

Bush's language, and his appeal to ethnicity, reflected the stakes for both parties in a battle with ramifications for future nominees.

Justice Department Report

Faults INS on Deportations

The Immigration and Naturalization Service is ineffective at deporting illegal immigrants and fails to properly expel foreigners who may include potential terrorists, a Justice Department report said.

The report by the department's inspector general found that only 13 percent of all undocumented immigrants who have been ordered out of the country, but not detained, have left. By contrast, the INS has removed almost 94 percent of illegal immigrants with "final removal orders" who are in the agency's custody.

The report said that, as of June 2002, about 355,000 undocumented immigrants not in INS custody, but who had been ordered out of the country, had not left.

In its review, the inspector general examined three subgroups of foreign nationals and found that the INS was also ineffective at expelling those belonging to potential high-risk groups. For example, only 6 percent of undocumented people from countries identified by the United States as "sponsors of terrorism" who were not under arrest, but had been ordered deported, ever left.

Don't Forget Afghanistan,

Karzai Appeals on Capitol Hill

Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed yesterday that the rebuilding of his country be kept a U.S. priority, even if the United States goes to war with Baghdad. "Don't forget us if Iraq happens," Karzai said.

He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it would be "very unwise to reduce attention to Afghanistan," given the possibility that would-be terrorists might try to regroup at the Afghan-Pakistani border.

"We are nearly at the end of the forest, not outside of it," Karzai said. He said that President Bush gave him assurances in a call last month, and that he expects to be reassured when he meets with Bush today.

He also expressed solidarity with the Iraqi people. "We would wish for them what we wish for ourselves: to be free, to be liberated, to have access to a better life," Karzai said.

-- Compiled from reports by

staff writer Mike Allen and

the Associated Press