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Dear Editor:

It seems everyone complains and everyone has an opinion, but I have seen little in the way of anyone offering solutions. I offer a solution, and pose more questions.

I have been practicing immigration law in California for twenty-three years. I have seen the immigration system in the United States and the service given by the Immigration and Naturalization Service go from bad to worse. Presently, the INS is like a ship without a rudder, existing in spite of itself. But in their defense, I recognize that they have been barraged with the task of enforcing often nonsensical, politically motivated legislation that does nothing more than fuel the fires of inefficiency. To add insult to injury, the Bush Administration recently proposed an amnesty (call it what you like) for Mexican workers - without arguing the advisability of such a program, it was clearly a plan that, if implemented, would have broken the back of the already overburdened and broken INS.

Illegal immigration is rampant and inexcusable. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, not men, and our immigration laws prohibit illegal immigration. But who and what circumstances are to blame for the state of affairs our immigration system is in? . . .

1. Weak laws and weak and lazy enforcement of those laws, and the general attitude of many Americans, and immigrants alike, that laws are suggestions to be applied when the individual to whom they are being applied agrees with them.

2. Silly procedures, like when it takes 2 years to adjust status through an I-130/I-485 package, INS only grants Employment Authorization and Advance Parole for one year, necessitating renewal and overburdening the system, just to mention one of hundreds.

3. A bi-cameral INS, whose job it is to adjudicate lawful immigration petitions and applications on one hand (the let'em in mentality), while at the same charged with border enforcement and deportation (the keep'em out mentality) is largely to blame. Often immigration officers do the former during the daytime, then work at the airport in the other capacity in the evening. This twin task leads to a bifurcated and bloated bureaucracy that cannot adequately do both, or either.

4. A Board of Immigration Appeals that is a part of the Department of Justice, wasting time and resources in bureaucratic nonsense which takes too long leaving aliens stranded waiting for a decision that can take more than a year.

5. The list is endless . . . .

Ending illegal immigration may be easier than we may think - here's a good start.

1. Do not grant automatic citizenship to all who are born within U.S. borders. Deny citizenship to any person born within the United States who does not have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen or who has two parents who are lawful permanent residents.

2. More aggressively and effectively enforce existing laws concerning employer sanctions for knowingly hiring undocumented aliens and make it a crime, in addition to civil penalties FOR THE FIRST OFFENSE of knowingly hiring an undocumented alien. To facilitate this, provide employers easy access, by way of the internet, to complete a revised version of the I-9 form, with electronic submission directly to INS for verification of employment authorization. To accomplish this, integrate a computer cross-check system between the records of Social Security, the Internal Revenue Service and the Immigration & Naturalization Service to establish such employment authorization.

4. Make it a crime, punishable by incarceration (with work detail in the public service), deportation and inadmissibility for five years for any person found to be, or to have been, physically present in the United States in violation of previously granted lawful immigration status. Make no exceptions.

5. Make it a crime, punishable by incarceration (with work detail in the public service), deportation and permanent inadmissibility for any person who is found to have entered the United States without inspection or using false or fraudulent documents. Make no exceptions.

6. Divide INS into three separate entities - (1) Immigration Adjudication and (2) Immigration Law Enforcement, and (3) U.S. District Immigration Courts. Number one would adjudicate petitions and applications and grant immigration status to aliens as applicable; Number two would patrol the borders to deter illegal entry and seek and apprehend overstays and criminal aliens; Number three would rise from the existing administrative court to a criminal court on one hand and a civil court on the other. The criminal court would hear only law violation cases, the civil side would have administrative review first, appealable directly to an immigration court associated with the Federal District Court system, concerning all other matters

7. And the list goes on . . .

Of course there is more. If the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the government could work together in a sort of United Nations of Immigration, and if the governmental bureaucratic mindset could be altered, and if politics would be ignored, and if logic would prevail, we would have a perfect world. I do not expect that to happen . . . in fact, I don't expect anything positive to happen . . . I have been waiting 23 years.

David D. Murray
Newport Beach, CA