A common misconception is that people termed "illegal immigrants" have in fact immigrated illegally because they are too lazy or too uneducated to do it the legal way through the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
What many do not know, however, is that the INS is one of the most mismanaged, unorganized, and bureaucratic federal agencies in existence. It has had so many problems, several past presidents have tried to reform it.
President Bush has pressed for reform of the INS after two visas were granted to two of the September 11th hijackers months after the terrorist attack. After overwhelming House support of a breakup of the INS, reform may be well within the near future.
The INS is important because it affects the lives of thousands of people who want to become American citizens. Citizens from many other nations throughout the world do not enjoy the same international preeminence that an American citizen does.
While Americans can get a visa to most countries of the world, the INS makes it very difficult for foreigners to get American citizenship. Two such cases demonstrating the inefficiency and unaccountability of the INS have occurred within my own school.
A teacher on my campus has a husband who has been waiting for his Green Card for nearly five years. His mother is near death, but if she dies, he could lose his chance for a Green Card while he is in Mexico at her funeral.
Red tape and slow bureaucrats have stalled the man's application. If the INS requests that he come in for an interview while he was out of the country, he would be deported as soon as he returns.
Another student at my school had to cross the border "illegally" because her mother, who legally immigrated several years before, was unable to get a visa for her children. Despite her father's status as a successful entrepreneur in Mexico City, this girl did not have the substantial amounts of property or money to come over legally. She decided to cross the border instead of face the possibility of never seeing her mother again.
Thus, I have observed the shortcomings of the INS. The agency widely discriminates between families of some countries over others. If this student was from Europe or another more "favorable" country, chances are her mother would have been able to get child visas.
When asked whether she would return to see her father, this student replied, "I can't imagine going back now. It's just too late."
What, then, will be the outcome of the House of Representatives vote to split the INS into two agencies: one that processes immigrants and visitors and the other to protect the nation's borders?
If the agency is simply split, with each half using the same resources and technology that it previously used, then the only outcome will be two very inefficient government agencies.
What needs to occur is a thorough restructuring that will bring accountability back into the two agencies, allowing them to provide for the needs of those people who simply ask them to do their job.
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