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Dear Editor:

Last Friday, the Durham Herald-Sun published as an op-ed piece the following tongue-in-cheek article by yours truly. Immigration Daily readers might be interested in reading this humor piece.

Hans Christian Linnartz
Durham, NC

On 11 March, student visa approvals for two of the 9/11 hijackers arrived at their flight schools, courtousy of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. This news has led to calls to close America's borders and track down all illegal aliens.

Nonsense, say I. What we clearly need is a new visa category specifically for hijackers.

Experience has proven that the best way to keep people out of this country is by having a visa category that fits them and their purpose, subjecting them to all the rudeness, inefficiency, and ineptitude for which the INS is famous.

The death penalty for hijacking is no deterrent. Trying to live with the INS, however, may daunt even the most dedicated suicide bomber.

Here are the steps in my new Hijackers Immigration Reform Act:

First, the Congress will pass a vague and complicated Act which admits foreign visitors to the United States for the limited purpose of committing terrorist hijackings. The visitors must prove that they have at least two years experience as professional hijackers during the years immediately preceding the application. This would have to be paid hijacking work, not volunteer stuff. They would have to show that they have adequate financial support from a recognized terrorist organization. The intending visitors must also show that in the relevant market, there is an actual shortage of qualified, willing American hijackers, so that their admission under a hijacker visa would not take the job of an honest, hard-working American hijacker.

The Immigration Service will, of course, be required to verify that the intending visitors do not have "immigrant intent," that is, that they don't plan to bail out of the hijacked craft and become residents of the US. Perhaps this could be done by having them post a "hijackers' bond," which would be forfeited in the event of their failure to be killed in the intended terrorist act.

In addition, the law should say that no more than seven per cent of the hijackers admitted per year can come from the same country, insuring diversity in the hijacking pool.

This law, which would be written with all the clarity and simplicity which Congress always employs, could not go into effect without implementing regulations from the Immigration Service. Intending hijackers must wait outside our borders until the INS puts its regulation gnomes on the task.

Perhaps a year later, the Federal Register will print several reams of regulations, written with the same clarity and simplicity which federal regulators always employ. Among other surprise provisions in the regulations might be the requirement that only US-manufactured weapons be used in any hijacking or that hijackers are prohibited from carrying nail clippers.

Intending hijackers will still have to wait outside the borders, for a required period for public comment on the new regulations and forms. After the required time, the regulations will go into effect and hijackers must fill out the forms.

Ah! The forms! Intending hijackers should account for their whereabouts and employment over the last ten years, give marital history, recall their mother's maiden name, place of birth, and shoe size, and provide 12 immigration-style photographs, in which the upper right bicuspid is clearly visible.

They will have to promise not to practice polygamy in the US, warrant that they had never employed a worker at a wage less than the federal minimum, and insure that no aminals would be unnecessarily harmed during the course of their intended hijacking.

The fee for a hijackers visa will be set by INS, probably about $561.00, with faster processing offered to those who pay an additional $1,000 and complete form I-129Z. Naturally, a single mistake, even in punctuation, in completing the forms will require INS to return the forms to the intending visitor along with unclear or erroneous instructions about correcting the mistake.

Those hijackers who successfully complete all the forms and pay the fees must be fingerprinted, photographed (again), and given a retinal scan, so that all of their biometric data can be encoded on a magnetic-strip card.

The card will probably take about three years to be produced. When that happens, INS will follow usual procedure and send the cards to the last known address of the applicant's earliest listed former employer.

If, however, the intending hijacker should happen to receive the card, he can bring it right over on the plane as he enters the US. He will present it at the INS inspection booth, where the inspector will swipe it through a card reader and ask him, "Debit or credit?"

Hans Christian Linnartz is an immigration lawyer working in Durham.

Used with permission of The Herald-Sun