According to West,
In short order, the system will be overwhelmed. Whatever minimal fraud detection and prevention safeguards might be erected won’t last long in the face of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of applications and petitions to be adjudicated. What that means is the information provided on those applications and petitions, and whatever supporting documents they may have (if any), will essentially be taken at face value.
West argues that this situation will be made worse by the fact that DHS is likely to try to meet the workload demands by hiring private contractors rather than additional government employees. West fears that with the enormous numbers of applications, criminals and terrorists will have an easier time moving along a path to citizenship.
West raises some important questions, but he may be overstating his case by foretelling a national security disaster. This observer is not sure that a major terrorist attack is made more likely by a guest worker program. West is certainly right, however, that the federal government is likely to implement this legislation on the cheap – and this will create confusion, unfairness, and some danger.
This issue illustrates a number of themes that The Eisenthal Report has discussed repeatedly over many months. For the Bush administration, politics is paramount and policy is a secondary consideration. Whether a policy makes sense strategically – or is even workable – matters far less than satisfying key constituency groups. We have seen this with Iraq – and we are likely to see this with immigration reform.
I favor immigration – and immigration reform. It is too hard for people to come to this country legally – and there are too many people here illegally. As I have written before,
immigration brings fresh blood into the United States; we’re already seeing a drain of intellectual capital that is related to the difficulties that talented people from elsewhere have in negotiating our immigration system.
It would be regrettable – and dangerous for the long-term health of our country – if immigration reform is carried out in a series of ill-conceived and poorly executed programs. Rather than the threat of a terrorist attack, my fear is that a poorly executed set of reforms would sour the public on immigration – even more than it is now. Openness to new Americans – and the vitality that they bring – would likely suffer.
We would have the resources to make well-conceived and well-executed immigration reforms if the current administration had not been following fiscal and military policies that have weakened – and continue to weaken – this country. The Bush administration tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 have added hundreds of billions of dollars to federal deficits and debt. They have left the United States government without the fiscal flexibility necessary to implement needed programs, such as immigration reforms, in ways that make sense. At the same time, we have pursued a policy in Iraq that has cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars – another element that has weakened this nation’s ability to move forward.
January 20, 2009 cannot come soon enough for this observer.