Mountainous Paperwork Piles Would Overwhelm Agencies if Amnesty Passes

Published on May 30th, 2014

Americans have heard endlessly about the supposed benefits of passing the House immigration bill, H.R. 15. But little is said about the bureaucratic nightmare involved in legalizing 12 million illegal immigrants and welcoming more than 20 million foreign-born workers during the first decade after the bill becomes law.

As it currently stands, the immigration process is massively bogged down. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearing House, a Syracuse University nonprofit that analyzes data made available through the Freedom of Information Act, about 367,000 immigration cases were backlogged as of April. California leads all states with nearly 78,000 pending cases; Texas follows with 59,000.

Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, notes that only 254 judges serve hundreds of thousands of cases each year, all dealing with what she calls the “incomprehensible nature of immigration law.” Marks has been an active immigration judge in San Francisco since 1987 during which time Immigration Reform and Control Act legalization took effect.

Judge Marks would have experienced the difficulty of administering to the large, complex IRCA amnesties that also created six separate legalization programs for different alien groups including the notoriously fraud-ridden Special Agricultural Workers program. IRCA produced follow-up chain migration and family reunification amnesties that involved more visas and more logjams that stretched on for years. Remember that IRCA granted green cards to about 3 million aliens; today’s proposed legislation would give permanent residency to about 12 million – four times the headaches.

Congress owes Americans a detailed plan of who would handle the paperwork and how it would be processed. In the aggregate, this represents a massive administrative task that would require thousands of new employees, assuming reasonable oversight standards are set and adhered to instead of just rubberstamping applications.

Since the federal government can’t keep up with what it has on its immigration plate today, it’s inconceivable that it would be up to the new paperwork challenge amnesty would represent.

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