How to fix the U.S. immigration system? A create-your-own recipe thread

It’s become even more glaringly obvious over the past few months that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service is a big, fat mess, and that much of the time it has proven unable to handle even the more basic parts of its huge and unwieldy mission. The reasons for this are quite complex, ranging from lack of consensus over what its mission should be, to its split and constantly shifting enforcement priorities, to disastrously inadequate computer systems, to underfunding…you get the picture. The results: waiting times of up to 2-3 years for benefits which would be approvable in a matter of minutes if anyone ever got around to looking at the applications; lost applications; ridiculous amounts of fraud perpretrated upon an overwhelmed system; terrorists who receive student visas months after their bloody and quite public deaths; huge disruptions to the lives of ordinary folks who need decisions from INS to do things like go to their home countries in family emergencies; we’ve all read stories like these in the media.

So what’s the best way to fix this mess? Various proposals are currently banging around Congress right now, and it’s becoming clearer that some kind of major restructuring is about to be legislated; the House and the Senate are just inthe process of hashing out the details. I’ve got my own opinions, some of which I injected into what became an inadvertent hijacking of the “are USA pissed at Iran?” thread over the past couple of days.

What I’m curious about, though, are all your opinions as reasonably well-informed laypeople; how can INS balance its enforcement mission and its benefits adjudication mission, given the resources available? How could they have done things better in the past, and what could they change to do things better in the future? Should part or all of the agency’s mission be divided among other agencies? Or is the system so broken that it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up?

If you respond, I’d like to know whether you base your response on a specific personal experience, particularly if it’s one that hasn’t been widely reported in the U.S. mainstream national media (since I read most of those). And thanks for participating in my maiden thread.

I was going to respond eventually in the Iran thread, I swear! :slight_smile:

As I see it there are really three separate functions for INS, or its functional replacement. First is the screening of people who want to come to the US. Secondly, the agency must deal with the needs of legal aliens who are in the US. Green cards, visas to return home, etc. Third the agency must continually seek out immigration offenders and deport them without delay. People who have overstayed their visas etc. should be deported immediately and without exception.

In response to your question I began initially to think of how we could reform our screening process to target potential trouble makers, but it then occurred to me that so long as our boarders and coasts remain * relatively unguarded and porous, that no amount of scrutiny will prevent the bad guys from coming in. i.e. if we improve our screening at airports, the baddies will just start coming in over land through Mexico, or by boat from the islands. I would suggest that we greatly increase the role of the Coast Guard in patrolling our ports and the role of the Navy in patrolling our coasts. I would consider the use of the army, or a quasi military force far exceeding the current boarder patrol, on our boarders, and consider building fences and walls to exert greater control over who gets in to the country along populated and highly traveled areas. I would authorize, but not require, the use of deadly force to stop people from entering illegally. In order to accommodate migrant workers I would expand or create a registration for migrants and consider relaxing restraints on green cards. I am not* anti-immigration, but I think we do need a better way to control who comes in.

I would create one division to focus primarily on screening those who apply for residency, like student visas, or attempt to enter through airports or at manned boarder crossings, on business or vacation. I would coordinate their efforts with the FBI, INTERPOL, the CIA, NSA and any intelligence or law enforcement groups who might be able to offer advice or information.

I would create a separate division to coordinate domestic alien relations. It would be concerned only with the civil issues, visas etc. of those who are here legally.

I would create a third division to coordinate with local law enforcement to arrest and deport anyone who had committed a crime while here or who had overstayed their visa. Further, I would require resident aliens to carry a national ID card at all times, and require them to check in with local authorities at least once a month so the INS can keep tabs on where they are. I would require resident aliens to register their bank accounts and credit cards with the INS. If an alien missed their check-in, their name would then be placed on the deportation list, and INS would immediately gain access to their financial records and be able to freeze their assets.

I’m sure I could come up with some additional draconian measures, but this is a start. I want to respect the rights of aliens as much as possible, but I also think that aliens are visitors in our country and they are here at our pleasure. We have a right to exert more control over their comings and goings than we would over citizens. The above may go too far, but it is along the lines of what I would consider. Now, of course the question remains, How to pay for it all???

Resident aliens are not visitors. They are residents.

Dear Everyone, especially Rhum Runner (who is the only person to give any concrete ideas so far, beyond kvetching, which although certainly valid, is not what I was hoping for!),

When I posted yesterday originally, I ran into problems, and so apparently my thread was posted in duplicate. I’m trying to have the Humble SDMB Administrator consolidate the threads, but in the meantime, please check out the other half, and my further clarification posted there.

Eva Luna

At this point probably the easiest thing to do is to close this thread and direct everyone to the other one.

This one.

your humble TubaDiva