What to do?

Jan. 1, 2006

For this do-over we’ll have to send 12 million back over before the problem is, um, over.

This mild tongue twister has turned into a major mind buster on Capitol Hill over the past month.

For this do-over we’ll have to send 12 million back over before the problem is, um, over.

This mild tongue twister has turned into a major mind buster on Capitol Hill over the past month.

After decades of neglect—and almost five years after 9/11—Congress has decided to pull an endless number of immigrants to the side for questioning. The debate is what to do about all the illegals who have stepped over what has turned into a sacred line for a better life in the U.S. This is the same line that welcomed those that helped build the true performance muscles of this country decades ago. It is the same line that allowed my grandfather and father to step into an abundance of promise and pride. It is the same line that seems very different now.

Popping off the loudest rounds of controversy is the Senate’s version of immigration reform. If the bill passed, about 12 million illegal immigrants would have to pass background checks before receiving immigration papers. The check is not a simple mark of the pen. Names and fingerprints are compared with information in criminal and intelligence databases maintained by U.S. agencies. Those who are established workers (two to five years) in this country would have to face a process a little less painful, but perhaps a lot more senseless. The two-to-fives would have to travel back to their homeland and apply for guest-worker status. When the touchback provision is complete, they are free to return to their U.S. homes.

This whole re-do will affect an agency—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services—that is in serious need of reprogramming. It has made some progress since last year (a backlog of 3.8 million immigration applications has been reduced to 1.2 million), but the agency does lean on the FBI to conduct criminal checks. The FBI could take months on a single case.

Still, without the background checks and touchback provisions several Senators have threatened to vote against the measure. So there’s a strong chance both will be on the final paper. The House bill is a little more subdued, which leads me to believe certain measures will be picked from each.

Can we just stop what we’re doing here and focus on the present and future of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? That is where the problem is growing some ugly hair. Do you know how this agency was able to clip the clog by nearly half? By offering its workers rewards on the fastest processing times. The chance at free movie passes for a year is a grand motivational tool, but not when the challenged are skipping important security steps just to score a point. And now you are asking that number to increase by 12 million? How secure will we feel after 12 million shortcuts were taken for those 12 million available Wal-Mart dollars?

Congress’s thinking has gone off the deep end of the immigration port. If any degree of immigration reform is passed the highway and bridge industry will be scrambling to make up for the loss in labor power. Thousands of hard-working immigrants perform the tasks normal citizens pass on. Yes, some are illegal, but let’s think of a more rational way of sorting the question marks. Leave the 12 million where they are. I would like to think the FBI has a bead on the truly dangerous ones, which should be dealt with accordingly. Apply the new, tougher acts on fresh aliens. That action alone is long overdue.

About The Author: By Bill Wilson Editor in Chief [email protected]