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Pass Port and Green Cards

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
I keep thinking that sooner or later I’ll run out of things to criticize the government about. However that does not seem to be the case as about the time I start to work on some column article about life on Mars or the importance of tree bark in our lives, along comes some news blurb out of the blue that I can really sink my teeth into.

If you’ll recall several months ago, the good old United States government advised us that we could not leave or reenter the country until we had a valid passport. Obviously they had miscalculated on the number of people who did not have a valid passport.

You may have witnessed this for yourself; there was a mad rush for passport photos at your local post office with long lines waiting to submit their applications. There were stories in the newspapers about couples trying to leave the country to get married in Italy or somewhere and they were afraid they weren’t going to be able to hold the wedding as they had planned.

The response was overwhelming and the government was forced to back down. The rules were suspended and to be honest I have no idea what the current rules say or mean. I cannot figure out what documents you have to have to leave the country and then be able to return. If you want to look them up for yourself, have at it, the website is: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html. Put a _ between the cbpmc and the 2223, it would not allow me to do so on my computer. The government must put it in there to confuse us. I can’t understand what they are saying; it looks to me as if you only need a passport if you are traveling by air to the Caribbean area, but not if you are going to the Middle East and back. Look for yourself and let me know what you think, it’s confusing to me exactly what they want or how we can comply. One more thing, just what is a passport card anyway?

Well, that leads me into my next foray into the mysteries of the United States government. It seems the applications for ‘green cards’ have overwhelmed the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service department. They report that over 300,000 people are now waiting for the agency to finish up reviewing their applications. Some of the applicants have been waiting over seven years. The agency sends the applications to the FBI to perform what is known as a ‘name check’ which has to be completed before the ‘green card’ is officially issued to the applicant. The FBI states that it receives more than 70,000 requests each week with over half of these coming from the Immigration Department. The FBI says it can’t handle the volume due to staffing shortages.

So, what’s the answer? Well, the immigration service says they are going to just go ahead and issue the cards anyway and worry about the results later. One of their spokesmen made the statement that if the FBI later finds out the applicant isn’t a good person or should not be allowed into the country, then the Immigrations service can always deport them later.

Sure, and I’m thinking the NBA is going to call me and draft me as a forward for the Lakers just any time now. Not going to happen.

I’m certain any ‘green card’ holder intent upon creating havoc in this country is going to sit at home and wait for the FBI or the Immigration service to knock on his front door and gently persuade him or her to leave the country quietly. If the government can’t find them now, what makes them think they can find them later?

In your dreams.

You know, what bothers me is this…look at that figure I gave you a moment ago of 70,000 new names being given to the FBI on a weekly basis. That’s a total of 10,000 each day or 416 per hour on a twenty four hour period. That’s 6.93 per minute that need to be checked…..now let’s say it takes 2 minutes to check each one, then you’d need about 14 people per shift to clear this stuff out each week….14 people on each 8 hour shift equals 42 people a day and if these work 40 hours a week at say, $30 an hour, that comes out to about $2,620,800 a year before benefits, and supervisors. Not a huge amount of people needed to process some 3,640,000 applications each year. Less than a dollar per application.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be willing to bet those mortgage brokers who can tell you if you qualify for a loan or not in two minutes get this many or more applications each week. I know the people who handle approvals on our credit cards process more in an hour than the government does in a week. Looks to me like the government should reach out and ask some of the folks in the private sector how to handle large volumes of applications or approvals.

But, then that would be logical and would made sense wouldn’t it? So that won’t happen.
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

February 14, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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