Monday, June 26, 2006

The Ignored Legal Immigrant

Ricardo Lu has a poignant and important opinion piece in today's Tennessean regarding the inadequacies of current U.S. immigration law.

If I had married a girl from back home the day after I got my green card, she would not even be allowed to visit me in the United States until what's called her "priority date" comes due — not because the bureaucracy is slow, but because Congress promises more than it delivers.

Yet if I had remained a "temporary" U.S. worker and married, I could have brought my wife here immediately. And if I had chosen to break the law, now Congress would be debating how best to give me what I had already taken without asking.

Lu's point that the current debate largely ignores the inadequacies of current U.S. law governing legal immigration is well taken. One might add that while Lu mostly blames the laws, not the bureaucracy, the INS is hardly an example of government efficiency. Anyone who has ever known a legal immigrant has heard stories about the red tape associated with that system.

One might also add that part, not all, of the present problem with illegal immigration arises from the inadequacies of U.S. immigration law. Those shortcomings are not addressed by either enforcement only approaches or by amnesty proposals. The United States needs both to carefully confront the problem of determining the numbers of immigrants that we want to enter the country and to improve the efficiency and reasonableness of the process for those who want to stay.

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