I don’t claim to be an expert on immigration, but here’s my take on what’s happening. First of all, the main problem I see is with the terribly high wait times for processing, up to 12 years, to be allowed to enter legally. That means as of today, the INS is processing applications submitted in 1995. I was 10. Clinton was president. In his first term. The techno remix of Cotton Eye Joe was #1 in the U.K. The WB Network debuted.
That’s a long time ago. Here’s the problem with that. Most immigrants, in my experience, immigrate out of necessity. Necessity does not wait 12 years. A starving or sick child, or overdue rent, does not wait 12 years.
So at least the INS is doing something about it. They’re raising fees. From AzStarNet.com, “The agency expects the increased fees to lead to a 20 percent reduction
in average application processing times by the end of fiscal year 2009.” That means in 2 years, they’ll be processing applications from 2000. Yes, an improvement. But still lacking.
Even more bizarre is the plan to allow illegal immigrants to become citizens. Sounds good, right? But first they have to pay a huge fine (they could bring a family member up mojado for the same price), and then they have to return to their country of origen, where they will apply for citizenship, and then wait.
The flawed thinking here is that there is an American Dream. This is not really the case. People almost never make it big. Also, most immigrants do not want to stay. Their family, their home, their heart, is where they came from.
So what should be done? My basic ground rule for any immigration reform is this: people need to be treated humanely. Second, the US government needs to realize that the reason many people immigrate is a direct result of the US’s international policy. NAFTA’s impact on immigration is one that I can see very clearly. Also, wars also have a significant impact. We need to deal with the roots, and not just complain about people coming.