News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Friday, October 19, 2007

A broken immigration system gets worse

Wonder why we have so many undocumented workers? This recent editorial from the Fresno Bee underscores our dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy.

Green card plan needs to be thought through

Don't you sometimes wonder what science-fiction world our government officials are inhabiting? These are clearly worlds without mathematics, reason, physics.

It's from just such a world that we get news from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reporting that the feds are planning to make immigrants who carry old-style green cards without expiration dates pay for new cards that must be renewed every 10 years.

Each new card must be applied for. Each carries a price of $370, requires a criminal background check, photos and fingerprints. If the background check shows a conviction that could include even misdemeanors -- deportation.

This is a federal agency that is already falling so far short of its mission there is no way to fix it, and now it wants to add more responsibilities to the list of things it cannot do well.

This is the agency that takes weeks just to process passports for law-abiding citizens who want to lie on a beach for the weekend.

Let's say a magical meteor struck, a miracle happened and the agency could efficiently process the new green-card applications, take photographs and fingerprints, manage the money, investigate hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants, prosecute even misdemeanor lawbreakers and deport the unworthy.

The court system is already clogged up -- who will pay for the increased manpower and buildings needed for hearings and appeals?

Stepping out of science fiction into the real world for just a moment, with our porous borders, how long before these deportees are right back, only this time living in the shadows, working for cash and removing themselves from the tax rolls out of fear?

Clearly, in this science-fiction world, the officials lack oxygen. Breathe, people, breathe!

® 2007 Fresno Bee