As any non-native, legal resident of this country knows, the process of staying in the United States legally, let alone becoming a citizen, is complex, onerous and extremely bureaucratic. As an educated professional who married an American citizen, my path to citizenship was far smoother than that for most legal immigrants.
But even I went through hours of waiting in lines, waiting months and years for documents and stamps and occasional Kafkaesque situations ("Sorry, we lost your original document. You must re-submit a replacement. And, oh, make sure it is an original"). Exasperated with the persistent delays in the process, I had to seek help from a congressman at one point. It is telling, indeed, that so many congressmen tout "help with the immigration office" as a major constituent service.
My think tank colleague Yuri Mamchur, who works legally in the U.S., has spent some $20,000 in visa and application costs so far. His case is not unique. If anything, others expend even more in fees and legal costs, not to mention countless months and years spent in dealing with the bureaucracy.
Here's one of the biggest sources of the problem: A complicated, onerous, and expensive system that does not meet the needs of immigrants, would-be immigrants, or Americans (like businessmen and farmers). This is also pointed out very ably by Dafydd at BigLizards, particularly his comment at 1:28 PM on March 28. It is a system that is just not working for anyone, and more attempts to enforce it will not solve the fundamental problems we are facing, which includes a labor shortage (What part of 4.7% unemployment is hard to understand?).
With the law in such a death spiral and having gone so far wrong, is it any wonder that it is being so largely ignored - and now defied openly? Many of the President's critics adopt the attitude of "the law is the law" and invoke the "rule of law" in opposing cutting so much as a single illegal immigrant slack. But they forget that in the past, America has had laws that could only work with arbitrary or draconian enforcement (like the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit and the Volstead Act) or which were, on their face, unjust (like the Fugitive Slave Act and the Jim Crow laws). Would any of them argue that those laws should have been kept?
Something needs to be done. AJ-Strata is largely on the way there, but what is missing is a rational system that will set clear and objective standards for entry into this country for tourists, students, guest workers, those seeking asylum, and permanent residents with quotas that will reflect the needs of as many people as possible. There need to be clear standards for naturalization, and there has to be a clear code of conduct for those in this country.
Ruben Navarette has been one of the best voices on this issue, as shown in this column. To solve this issue, the country needs more people to listen to reasonable columnists like Ruben Navarette and statesmen like George W. Bush than demagouges like Michelle Malkin and Tom Tancredo.