Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Broken System

At the age of 12, Jose Vargas immigrated to the United States from the Philippians. Here is his story:

The Right’s response, predictably, is that he should go back to where he came from. Oh, and he’s no different than the 9/11 hijackers.

Sooner or later the conservatives in America will have to deal with the illegal immigration problem. And “deport them” so they can come in legally is not a sufficient answer – not the least because it’s fundamentally dishonest. They can't come back, and it's not only because of of the ten year bar on readmission, but because of the backlog behind that.

One report from 2009 explains:
In 2007, the Bush administration estimated that 3.5 million to 4 million people had been approved for family-based immigrant visas, but had not yet received them as a result of annual statutory limits on visa issuance. In 2009, the DOS Immigration Visa Control and Reporting Division revised those estimates up to 4.9 million, and provided a detailed breakdown of the backlog figures.
The 4.9 million figure includes 2.7 million awaiting consulate processing outside the United States and an estimated 2.2 million (many of them on temporary visas) who are in the Untied States awaiting permanent visas. . . . It is likely that a high percentage of persons who have been approved for visas wait in the United States (often in unauthorized status) with their sponsoring family members until their visa numbers become current.

For numbers slightly more recent, we need look no farther than the Department of State’s monthly Visa Bulletin for June 2011. In many of the family entry categories, for example, the waiting list stretches back over a decade:
  • Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: waiting list back to May 2004; for applicants from the Philippines (Vargas' native country) it’s February 1996
  • Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents: waiting list back to August 2007; for applicants from the Philippines it’s August 2007
  • Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents: waiting list back to April 2003; for applicants from the Philippines it’s June 2000
  • Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: waiting list back to June 2001; for applicants from the Philippines it’s March 1992
  • Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: waiting list back to March 2000; for applicants from the Philippines it’s May 1988
Of course, applicants can and often do apply for lottery admission, since it can be faster than waiting in line. But that program recently canceled the status of 22,000 who were admitted due to a technical glitch.

Being here illegally is in many cases a documentation crime. And in the case of children, it’s one committed by their parents. In any other field, such an oppressive licensing scheme would be condemned. Why not here? Is a ten year bar on reapplication, followed by a ten to twenty year wait to much to ask to make up for a lack of documentation?

And I complain about a visit to DMV.
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