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Dear Editor:
Like Mr. Skip Tollifson, I too retired after 27 years of government service and saw then as I continue to see the injustice of the BCIS, BICE and BCBP in their everyday decisions. I occasionally do immigration consulting for attorneys and experience the arbitrary and capricious decisions of immigration officers that rest not on what the law allows, including discretionary authority, but on their fundamental belief that they have the power to decide a person's fate and that of an entire family tree by the flick of the pen. To give you an example, a gentleman married a woman from Mexico and adopted her two teenage children. She is ineligible to file for adjustment because an immigration inspector at a border port decided that the woman was not entitled to enter and initiated expedited removal proceedings against her knowing that she was married to a US citizen. A family cannot stay apart for long so she reenters the USA and filed prior to 4/30/2001. They are invited to the Dallas office and she is immediately arrested, the order of removal is reinstated and swiftly transported to Mexico. They thought that the interview was for the purpose of granting her permanent residence status. A year later, after contacting BCIS and petitioners attorney (but without them responding to the requests made) she is interviewed at Ciudad Juarez, Mexico where her hopes are again severed without recourse for 10 years and then she must request a waiver. As a practice, and before going to her interview, the petitioner calls on his doctor to get a letter of his mental state and physical condition. The outcome darkens his hopes. He learns that he has advanced cancer of the liver and colon. He is undergoing therapy and the doctor gives him six months with a possibility of extra time with proper therapy. Does immigration care? As before the split, it remains heartless, the humanitarian parole is denied twice in Washington with the same canned language. In the meantime a man goes through chemo daily and once a month is hospitalized for five days straight, as he loses hope of ever seeing his wife again before his last breath. I have always been a fair man and believed in the words of Commissioner Meissner whose motto was 'enforcement with compassion'. I was once investigated because I responded to the people's needs as if they were my own. I was accused of giving preferential treatment to Hispanics. I was asked why I made the decisions I made and I told them that because the issues presented were in the gray area of the law and because the law did not say that I couldn't. Mr. Tollifson hits the nail on the head when he says the DHS is still plagued by many incompetent managers and officers who remain in authority and nothing will change. If anything, things have gotten worse and the Bureau appear to be losing respect. This is not to say that there aren't a great number of good employees within the aforementioned Bureaus. I know many but they are not the decision makers. It seems that now everyone points to the top as an excuse not to do the right thing. The government is separating families. I see it daily. Families told that a wife or husband, father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter has been banned for 10 years or life because of one or all of the following: Illegal presence of over 1 year and attempted reentry, reentry after deportation, false claim to US citizenship. Was this the intent of Congress? How would our lawmakers feel if they were suddenly told that they could not see their family for ten years or for life; a family begun one or 20 years before? Is this fair? Is this a law that we the people of this country want? I never did and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. How can we change this attitude? What can be done to eliminate these obstacles against the masses of aliens living desperately apart or risking their lives to get back to their loved ones? Who has the answer?

Victor W. Johnston
(INS OIC retired 2000)