January 7, 2009

The ongoing American immigration farce

By: David Donadio

John Lingan of SpliceToday has written one of the clearest calls yet for immigration reform:

It took 19 months, a few thousand dollars, multiple doctors’ visits, and the help of a private lawyer for my wife Justyna to finally live and work in the United States legally. Our story was enraging and expensive, but it’s sadly not unique; of all the problems facing our country right now, legal immigration is perhaps the most under-recognized and embarrassing, but it should also be one of the easiest to fix. And yet our government drags its feet on this issue, perpetuating a broken, money-sucking system that’s fundamentally un-American in its disdain for motivated foreigners.

Read the whole thing.

I’m still awash in deadlines at the moment, with some seemingly being added after the fact, so can’t offer much by way of comment. But all this reminds me of my experiences getting a driver’s license in the District of Columbia. By the time you’re done providing the DC DMV with the pound of flesh and all the forms of identification it requires, in most places you could probably qualify for a security clearance.

I can’t quite remember the circumstances (or maybe I’ve succeeded in repressing the memories), but I needed to go get proof of my Social Security number because I didn’t have a Social Security card. So I went to the drab, anodyne SSA building at 21st and M St., between Farragut and Foggy Bottom, where I was reminded of the reality of life in much of the rest of the world: presenting my papers and waiting in line. I was fumed enough having to wait as it was, but as I sat in the waiting area cooling my heels, it occurred to me that most of the people around me were immigrants. As we were all corraled into our respective groups, it soon became clear that they were going to have to wait a lot longer than I was.

There are plenty of justifications for U.S. immigration policy on paper, but when you actually see what the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free are forced to endure in order to come to our country, you feel deeply ashamed. The reality bears little resemblance to the boats into Ellis Island in the documentaries.

And frankly, if you weren’t crazy enough to hijack a plane and fly it into an office building, after two hours at the Social Security building, you just might be.