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June 19, 2006


‘Bush Lied! People Applied!’

In his address to the nation, President Bush said that the 15 million illegal aliens he’s planning to pardon “will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law.”

But here’s the thing: There is no line.

As John Derbyshire has pointed out, there are already 79 different visas offered by U.S. immigration, including 20 guest-worker programs. So take the president and the Senate at their word on the overwhelming need for a 21st program. That makes 80 different types of immigration status. Throw in American citizenship and there are 81 categories of legal person in the United States.

Suppose you go to a USCIS (as it’s now called) office and there are 81 officials behind 81 wickets, and you’re there because you’re applying for a Work Authorization Permit Type 73. The receptionist doesn’t say, “Ah, yes, Permit 73. That’s Clerk 73. Go and stand in Line 73. There’s 15 people ahead of you but she should get to you before the end of the day.” That’s not how it works. Instead, those 81 people are working on whatever they’re told the priority is. Sometimes 60 of them will be working on green cards and 21 will be working on citizenship applications. Then they get the word from high up that there’s an urgent need to process incoming citizens, so the 60 of them drop the green-card pile and scoot over to waving in new Americans — as they did in 1996, when the Clinton administration mysteriously decided it wanted a whole bunch of additional voters in place before November.

What do you think the priority will be when 15 million illegal aliens requiring adjustment of status are plunked into the waiting room? My wife had her green card stolen the other day and called 1-800-BUREAUCRATIC-HELL to find out what she had to do to get a new one. She couldn’t get through to anyone who could assist her, but in the course of two or three hours on hold she had plenty of opportunities to hear the outgoing message about how, if Congress passes the guest-worker program, USCIS are looking forward to helping persons interested in applying for this “benefit,” as they put it.