It seems immigration, legal and illegal, is too numerically overwhelming for the federal government to handle properly.
recently praised the Labor Department and Labor Secretary Elaine L.
Chao for the decision to change the wage and visa application rules
governing farm laborers in an attempt to reduce the demand for illegal
immigrants. This was a positive step after the debacle last year of the
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, in which Americans were
told illegal immigrants live among us in the shadows and that the
federal government has no way of knowing who they are. The Labor
Department's proposed changes acknowledge that most of the agricultural
workers in this country are illegal immigrants.
But how are
Americans supposed to trust the federal government to enforce the
border and deport those who arrive illegally when it is incapable of
checking those who are here legally? This is an egregious problem,
highlighted earlier this month when President George W. Bush"s
administration announced it will grant permanent residency status to
tens of thousands of legal immigrants without first completing their
required background checks against the FBI investigative files because
the backlog of legal immigration cases is too large and growing rapidly.
change in status will affect an unknown number of applicants whose
cases otherwise are complete but whose FBI checks have been pending
more than six months. The backlog has left many legal immigrants in
limbo. I applaud these immigrants for following the rules and applying
to live here legally. They are not the problem; the federal government
Part of the problem is that the system of background
checks is inefficient. The FBI stores more than 86 million
investigative files which electronically complete the background checks
for about 90 percent of legal immigrants within three months. The
remaining 10 percent can take years to finish through paper-based
searches for any mention of an applicant"s name in records stored in
265 locations across the country.
What type of signal does
this send to those who may be criminals in their home country or who
seek to destroy America for ideological reasons? The signal is loud and
clear: Those with criminal records, including violent ones, or who
would mount terrorist attacks against us can beat the system because
the federal government is too uncoordinated and lethargic to check
their backgrounds. This is a serious threat to our national security,
not because all these legal immigrants have criminal intentions but
because it only requires a few to slip through to wreak havoc on our
cities and country.
The decision to grant permanent residency
status to tens of thousands of legal immigrants without first
completing their required background checks is a disservice to American
citizens, as much as the lengthy wait period is for legal immigrants,
many of whom may have jobs and families in limbo hinging on the outcome
of their residency status. The federal government is failing both
Congress has approved more money to speed the FBI
name checks. Unfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
the agency handling the background checks for permanent residency
status, plans to use the increased funding to hire more FBI
contractors. As has come to be expected from the federal government,
this is an outdated way to handle the matter. What USCIS should do is
mount an intensive campaign with the FBI to make all FBI files
electronic, so it will no longer require so much time and manpower to
dig through paper files across the country. But such a common-sense
idea rarely occurs to bureaucrats.
The federal government needs to get a handle on immigration, both legal
and illegal, and to do so soon. It has failed the American people on
this issue more than any other and will continue to fail unless we
demand an immediate overhaul of the current system. And that does not
mean more bureaucracy.