Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning to be Free—so we can make them wait nine hours for a five-minute interview…


From a Cincinnati Enquirer story titled, "Bureaucrats turn 5 minutes into 9 hours."

Instead of sitting in front of a video camera in Cincinnati, where they could talk to a judge in Virginia, immigrants and their attorneys must drive nine hours round-trip to Cleveland to sit in front of a video camera and talk to the same judge.

"It's a lot of hardship," said Doug Weigle, a Cincinnati lawyer with about 100 cases pending before the court. "In one sense it's funny, but…you can see how this could get out of control."

He said the new system is more expensive and less efficient for everyone, including taxpayers. The added travel time consumes more time, gas and legal fees for the immigrants, their lawyers, witnesses and government officials based in southern Ohio.

Consider it part of the stimulus plan, an attempt to get suddenly parsimonious Americans (or wanna-be Americans) to spend extra money to bring the economy roaring back to life! It's not all gonna be solved by buying ankle bracelets for folks under house arrest or stepping up blight designations, I tells ya.

The change took effect last month after the Department of Homeland Security, which owns the space in Cincinnati's federal building where the video hearings were held, decided it wanted to use that space for its own offices. The Department of Justice, which runs the court, then decided to move the hearings to Cleveland rather than set up a new video-conferencing center….

But the Cleveland Immigration Court doesn't have enough judges to handle all of the cases, so many Cincinnati cases still are heard via video-conferencing by a judge in Virginia. Some cases are full-blown hearings or trials, but many are routine, five-minute hearings similar to criminal arraignments.

More here.

The important thing is that the country is safer, more efficient, and more equitable to all concerned. Wait a sec. The important thing is that we make it really difficult for anybody to do anything that might actually make this a better place to live.

Click on the image above to see Reason's award-winning charticle about the near-impossibility of legal immigration.

And go here to see Reason's special 2006 issue, "Immigration Now, Immigration Tomorrow, Immigration Forever."