A Regretable Anniversary for Immigration

By: Daniel Nardini
Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary
Whatever we all may have thought about the former Immigration and Nauralization Service (INS), at least its main concern was immigration. It may have not been the most efficient agency of the U.S. government, but it was far from being the inept, incompetent institution that it was made out to be. I know this from the experience from friends of mine who tried to bring their spouses to the United States. The former INS worked quite well for them, according to their testimony. Yes, I had some serious criticism of the INS, and I felt that at the time it was legitimate. The INS in my view could have been more efficient, or the agency could have been split up into three separate agencies to better efficiently handle the volume of immigration at the time. All of my arguments became rather academic when September 11, 2001, occurred.

The U.S. government did overhaul the whole immigration system—in my opinion for the worse. Immigration was transitioned to the newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security came into existence on March 1, 2003, ten years ago. Instead of the U.S. government trying to make immigration more efficient, it instead subordinated it to national security. This has further resulted in greater delays for U.S. citizens trying to bring in their spouses or foreign-born children into the U.S., greater delays for those trying to gain legal residency in this country, and yes more illegal immigration because the whole system has become even more back-logged than it was previously. Now, ten years later, the debate over immigration reform is slowly shifting towards trying to make the system work better and be more flexible towards the needs of this country.

However, the security part is still being emphasized by the more extremist right wing who either pretend to see wild terrorists under their bed, or who have an unconscious racists warped in their thinking about what immigration is. One recommendation I made a long time ago, and which I think is still valid, is to take immigration totally out of the hands of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and create a new department that handles immigration alone. The major problem with Homeland Security is that it will always place security above everything else, and hence it is truly unfit to deal with immigration—the lifeblood of this country. The main emphasis for Homeland Security should be national security, and nothing else. Whether we will see anything like this kind of change remains to be seen. But it is sad that America took a dive off the deep end into terrorism hysteria and anti-immigrant xenophobia that eventually created what the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is today. Now as a nation we have to fix an immigration system we have broken even further.

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