The Annoyances of U.S. Immigration Law

|, which regularly disgraces its old paper namesake by being on occasion actually funny and smart, has a personal take on why people might want to just say screw trying to diligently obey U.S. immigration laws and processes. Some excerpts from the Australian writer:

It turned out my initial application was returned because, while I had attached a police certificate that proved I didn't have a criminal record, I hadn't attached fingerprints. Apparently, according to the DHS, the Australian police force is not yet advanced enough to have thought of prosecuting crimes using fingerprints. The Americans, therefore, needed a set of prints to make sure I hadn't got away with any crimes that had slipped past my homeland's investigation system…

No matter who makes the mistake, it's up to you to solve it.

In my case, the fuck up was performed by a border guard, who forgot to take a piece of paper from my passport which proved I'd left America after an earlier visit and hadn't overstayed my visa. This kind of thing is quite common. Once I figured out what had happened, I frantically collected the mountain of paperwork that would prove that I had indeed returned to my country (credit card records, work transcript, plane ticket stubs, etc) only to find that the office in Kentucky that I sent the proof to would not confirm that it had received this proof for another three months.

Note that this is not the waiting time for them to process the documents and decide whether they're adequate, but the waiting time for somebody to wander into the mail room, pick up the envelope, and confirm that it is in fact there.

in my home state of 400,000 square miles and 1.5 million people, there was exactly one doctor deemed trustworthy by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to check me for disease. This means that the sole America-approved doctor, knowing he has a monopoly and you don't have a choice, will charge several hundred dollars to listen to your chest and ask you a couple of health background questions.

But you can never be too careful when it comes to disease, right? Well, the thing is, at the time I embarked on my medical check, I had already spent three months in America on a "tourist" visit, meaning that I didn't need to apply for a visa or do anything other than show up in LAX with a passport.

During those three months, I'd had ample opportunity to breathe the air, cough on people with my foreign, disease-infested lungs, and share used needles with schoolchildren while bleeding openly into the water supply.

Author C. Coville goes on to bitch about having to have his embassy interview back in his home country rather than America, and the limbo-like inability to do such normal-life activities as opening a bank account in the U.S. while the process crawls along.

Check out Jesse James DeConto's February 2006 Reason magazine feature on the criminal aspects of our immigration law enforcement, focusing on the difficulties placed in the path of resident immigrant workers. Also, Terry Colon's award-winning classic cartoon chart from Reason magazine's October 2008 issue, showing in graphic form even more details of the immigration law bullshit that Cracked's article complains about.

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  1. “It turned out my initial application was returned because, while I had attached a police certificate that proved I didn’t have a criminal record, I hadn’t attached fingerprints. Apparently, according to the DHS, the Australian police force is not yet advanced enough to have thought of prosecuting crimes using fingerprints.”

    Nah, my years of gubermint experience tells me that it is Public Law 18073, section 2, paragraph 58 (Oh, look it up for yourself). Anyway, its the prevention of entrance of marsupials and like pouched critters.

    You have no idea how many kangaroo-men have entered this country and are hopping are women.

  2. “hopping are women”
    uh, that “hopping our women”

    1. Hopped are jeorbs?

  3. Author C. Coville goes on to bitch about having to have his embassy interview back in his home country rather than America, and the limbo-like inability to do such normal-life activities as opening a bank account in the U.S. while the process crawls along.

    “Don’t you get it? We don’t want you here.”

    1. “Don’t you get it? We don’t want you here.” You have an education and skills, we want huddled mass damn it!

      (Disclosure: My ex- is one of those damn imigrants and one of my kids was foreign born.)

      1. I didn’t know Zombie Anne Dunham posted here.

  4. Coville goes on to bitch about having to have his embassy interview back in his home country rather than America

    Well, at least it’s not like the price-controlled Australia air route is the most expensive destination from the US.

    1. From what I understand, you have to have your interview in an embassy outside the US, but it doesn’t have to be your home country’s. So many people go to the US embassy in Ottowa.

      This doesn’t change the fact that it’s an amazingly stupid rule.

      1. Down in this end of the country, they go to Mexico, but same principle.

      2. You can have your immigrant visa (IV) interview in any country where you’ve resided for at least six months.

  5. That dirty Australian is taking some nice Amurrikin boy’s jerb! He should be ashamed! Go back where you came from, you funny-talking yob.

  6. The Annoyances of U.S. Immigration Law

    You say “potato”, and I say “potahto”.
    You say “annoyance”, and I say “callous abrogation of inalienable individual rights.”
    “Potato”, “Potahto”, “annoyance”, “callous abrogation of inalienable individual rights.”
    Let’s call the whole thing off.

    1. Let’s call the whole thing off.

      Can we do that? Is there a switch somewhere that just turns this crazy experiment off? I’ll embark on an Indiana Jones-style adventure to flick that switch, just gimme a dusty, faded map to it. I’ll need a sidekick and a hot blonde to help me complete the task.

  7. Well, at least it’s not like the price-controlled Australia air route is the most expensive destination from the US.

    And the LA-to-Sydney flight is soooooo enjoyable. Why would he complain?

  8. Back in the day, the soldiers I knew who had enlisted to facilitate their citizenship applications held that the Vietcong were much friendlier than the immigration folks.

    1. Damn, you would think that they would at least make it easy for someone who came and fought in a fucking war for them.

  9. The main problem is that ICE is a big JOKE. They are about as useless as the TSA!


    1. Nothing is as useless as the TSA.

      1. I challenge that contention. As evidence I point to:

        Tony, Chad, Dan T, Lonewacko

    2. Nah, the TSA is clueless. ICE is evil.

  10. He better not terkk rrrr jjjjjerrrrrrbbbs!

      1. Seanbaby? Man, I haven’t heard that name in a long time.

  11. This article and the Reason cartoon by Terry Colon always remind me what an absolute mess it is for anyone to enter this country in the legal fashion that has all the Tea-Parties out on the barricades. It’s nigh impossible and entails years of bureaucratic red tape and more money than you’d ever think possible.
    I wish someone had some real solid info that supports the benefits of open immigration (in addition to various types of it – worker, student,etc.) and campaigned for some simplification of the current laws.
    I’d also like to have a flying unicorn.

    1. I wish someone had some real solid info that supports the benefits of open immigration

      It’s in the same book that contains evidence that limited gov’t works.

      (How do you get evidence for something that has never happened?)

      1. *barf*

      2. US borders were a lot more open in the past than it is today. The US had what amounts to open borders (while naturalization was restricted, immigration wasn’t) until the the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. The quota system wasn’t enacted until 1921 and the US essentially had an open border with Mexico until 1965 (with periodic deportations, especially under FDR and Operation Wetback).

        1. See Jason Riley’s Let Them In for more information.

          Or watch this lecture for a preview.

    2. People don’t want to hear about all of that. They just want to keep the funny-colored people out, and have a non-racist excuse to do so.

  12. (Disclosure: My ex- is one of those damn imigrants)

    My furnur ex-, while we were sill married, already had a green card and we had lived in the States for a number of years. My job took me back to the UK. After living in Western Scotland for nearly 7 years, the job ended and we returned to the states. Even though she already had a perfectly valid green card (which is really is, or at least at was, white) she had to reapply for a green card with all the requisite paperwork, back-ground checks, medical exams and multiple visits to the Embassy in London (at the time I could visit Orlando for less than I could go to London). After all of this hassle, which included her surrendering her green card, she was given a sealed brown paper envelope at the embassy with strict instructions not to open it. Later, we fly into Boston. The ex- hands the envelope to the immigration guy. He rips the envelope open and hands her the same green card she already had. She kept that same green card until she became a citizen 6 or so years later.

    1. Even though she already had a perfectly valid green card (which is really is, or at least at was, white)

      “Do you HAVE a green card?”

      *puzzled expressions*

      “Is that just a bit of card, that’s green?”

      1. Look here el fago, watch my lips:
        Where were ya born?

        I was BORN IN EAST L.A.
        Man, I was BORN IN EAST L.A.

        Oh yeah, you were BORN IN EAST L.A.
        Let`s see your green card.

        Huh? Green card?
        I`m from East LA

        Alright, then who`s President of the United States?

        Oh, that`s easy, man.
        That guy that used to be on Death Valley Days, John Wayne.

    2. She was lucky they let her keep her old green card. Otherwise it would have been months waiting for a new one in the mail. They actually did her a favor.

      If a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) stays outside of the U.S. for more than 12 months (to say nothing of _seven_ _years_ in Scotland), they lose their LPR status, even if the green card itself hasn’t passed its expiration date. That’s why she had to go through the whole IV application process again.

      Hey, if you’re going to be a Legal Permanent Resident, then you have to _reside_ in the country.

      ICE and TSA and State don’t make these rules up, they have to implement the legislation that Congress passes and the president attests into law. How well that implementation is carried out varies widely over time and space.

  13. Tey trrrrk urrr mrrrrbbbbss.

  14. The ex- hands the envelope to the immigration guy. He rips the envelope open and hands her the same green card form 27B/6 she already had.

  15. Are you operating on the assumption that the visa system is designed to do anything other than deny people visas?

    Cause it isn’t.

    1. Not a bug!

      1. It’s to protect the workers from them furners!

    2. Lots of people get visas to visit or live in the U.S. But they have to qualify for them under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

      Not everyone qualifies, and the qualifications themselves are set by Congress.

      1. At the behest of labor unions.

  16. None of this will really matter once the U.S. government defaults or hyperinflates the dollar in a few years, since no one will be trying to come here to take our nonexistent “jerbs.” Mexico might want to consider finishing that wall, however.

  17. I just got my green card. It took out family 9months. It helped that we were sponsored by our US company, and I had an L1A visa to start with.
    4months in, they wanted a ton of paperwork. I spent a month gathering data, interview with ex-boss who had left the firm, 10 years worth of proof of income, taxes, etc. I handed the lawyers a 150page dossier, and they dully added 150pages more with flowing charts and all. I was bracing myself for a tuff interview, but two months later the green card arrrived. I doubt they read one single additional page from my initial large application, but I bet they were happy with the high quality paper, colorful graphs and all that crap. Just my story. Can’t wait to become a citizen of this wonderful contry and be able to vote!


    1. they dully added

      That’s not fair. Just based on RC, lawyers are hardly dull/boring.

      1. LOL I realize now it should be duly, right? That was funny.

      2. There’s a Law of the Intenetz for that.

    2. I doubt they read one single…

      I don’t doubt it at all. There is no way they read all of the stuff that needs to be submitted. It is just a hurdle to prove your interested.

      BTW, the citizenship ceremony is great. There were several hundread furnurs becoming citizens the day my now ex- became a citizen. Red, white, yellow, black and brown people, no matter, everyone in the place had a wet eye when the judge slammed his gavel down and declared then all citizens.

      1. I SHOULD be inspired by that picture. Instead, I’m just channeling barfman.

      2. I know it’s going to be very emotional for me and my wife…

        1. My favorite shot of a citizenship ceremony:

…..278b_ortiz citizen.JPG

          1. uh, add a ‘ ‘ after ‘ortiz’

            1. dammit – % 2 0 (but run them all together)

  18. Based on the experience of my one immigrant friend, the best way to go seems to be to come on a student visa, overstay that visa, then get married to an American.

    1. That is the easiest way by far.

      1. One easier way (or at least was in the early ’80s), marry a US servicman while they are stationed overseas. The now service wife is “fast tracked,” though the fast track still leads up a steep hill. The first time the ex- got her green card was when I was a squid. The second time I was a civilian and the second time was a bigger hassle.

        That is not to say that a person marrying a service member overseas does not have to meet the “minimum” critieria, as I know of one case of a shipmates whose wife was not allowed into the States becuase of a drug conviction and another who had married a woman who already had some kids, including a downs sydromn kid. They’d leyt everyone in but the downs kid. He was a Navy chief and he finally got all of his family into the country when Jimmy Carter got personally involved.

  19. The “wider gates, taller fences” argument should be amended to “wider gates, taller fences, less paperwork”.

  20. Of course, part of the problem here is (other than the stupid complicated rules) is understaffing of the immigration office. The solution, therefore, is larger government. But I’m sure nobody here wants to hear that.

    1. Uh, if you simplify the process, the rules and the paperwork, you don’t need to add yet more bureaucrats. Also, you could take the entire TSA and transfer them to immigration, and nobody would miss them. Of course, most of them are probably illiterate, so that’s a potential problem.

    2. Increasing staff is ok, if it is necessary for the government to perform a legitimate function. If we need to increase the budget for the immigration department to fix this, I don’t mind.

    3. 3 years ago when my wife and I were going through the immigration process, the feds jacked up the prices significantly. They justified by saying they were updating their computers, etc, etc… to improve the process. 3 years later…

  21. I wonder how the Geico gecko got in and got a green card. No fingerprints for him.

  22. So far, all the regular citizens, both liberal and conservative, that I’ve spoken to like the idea of trippling the immigration quotas. The politicians I have communicated with, both Democrat and Republican, were not too enthusiastic about the idea.

  23. Strange little rant. Speaking as a US citizen, I’d say that anyone who can’t put up with senseless and glacially slow government procedures may want to reconsider any wish to immigrate to the US. We ALL – citizens new, old, or prospective – have to put up with this crap, and the smart money expects it to get much worse in the future.

    From a historical perspective, we can see that smaller and less grandiose governments did indeed work, and relatively well. All earlier US governments were smaller, excepting the WW1 era under Wilson, which was a pre-Mussolinian “progressive” nightmare.

    1. The US government’s procedures and actions (in general) are far, far superior to the procedures and actions of most other countries. For example, bribe taking is quite rare in the day-to-day processing of things like immigration paperwork (or drivers’ licenses, or business licenses, or whatever).

      If one wanted to avoid crushing bureacracy, moving to the United States would be a good move.

      1. You truly have NO IDEA what you are talking about. American bureaucracy is among the world’s most dreadful, worse than any of the other G8 nations*. While that sucks if you are trying to immigrate to the US, I find it reassuring — Yanks suck at government, and that’s a good thing.

        *I’ve gone through US and Canadian immigration systems; Canadians are rock stars compared to American drones. Ever lined up at a US Post Office, circa 1982?

  24. Why are there so many illegal immigrants? Ya think the fact that it is nigh impossible to become a legal immigrant may be part most of the problem?

  25. Your tale of woe is nothing new, nor remarkable. From my experience and everyone I know who has ever had to deal with them, the Immigration & Naturalization Service, or whatever the hell they are now, is the absolute worst of the absolute worst incompetent government slackers. And their attitude is abominable – they appear to have been fired as concentration camp guards for nasty attitude.

    I don’t think the agency is salvable. The only course of action I could suggest is to round up the entire lot of INS scum, from the Director to the janitor, shoot them all, and burn down the buildings. They’re that bad.

    Why are they that bad? Because they don’t have to care. Who are you going to complain to?

  26. I was once in the US legally and had a legal right to extend my visa. When I went to the INS to do so I’d say it was probably the worst day of my life…and they never actually extended it. After that I just avoided the INS and stayed illegally (and paid taxes!) and I never had a single problem.

    Note to Feds: this story’s really about a friend of mine. And the IP address from which this comment was written is spoofed.

  27. I’ve met many people who’d make excellent citizens and want to become American citizens (I’m a physicist at a major university) but can’t jump through the hoops held up by the INS. The INS is also horrible in its treatment of visitors; a Malaysian friend was locked up and sent back to London because he did not have, when he arrived at the Philadelphia airport, a document *which the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had forgotten to give him* – despite the fact that that he was an enrolled student here. (A policeman intervened and insisted he be allowed one phone call, which the INS did not want to give him.)

    But two days ago I called a Syrian friend in Brooklyn and since I know he loves this country, asked him why he never became a citizen. It turned out that he had tried, and had seemingly done well in his interview. Then after it “ended”, the interviewer began chatting with him in a friendly fashion: “do you have a girl friend”? My friend didn’t, and was separated from his wife. He thought “what”s going on? Is he thinking I’m homosexual?” So he said “yes”. “Do you have sex?” (“Damn. What business is it of his? I better tell him yes, I don’t know what he’s thinking.”) “Yes.” “Well, you’re an adulterer, you can’t have citizenship.”

    I was one of the witnesses for my thesis director and his wife. The interviewer, after having stressed how he was going out of his way to be helpful, asked me about the wife “is she faithful to her husband?” I suspect that there is something wrong with at least some of these interviewers, beyond general incompetence.

    Fire – them – all.

    I am very, very happy my parents managed to make it here before it got so bad.

    1. Probably, he was using his wife (I assume a US citizen) as his “ticket” to getting citizenship (which is the easiest process). The INS needs to determine whether or not such a marriage is a “real” marriage, or just a scam to get citizenship. So, the fact that he was seperated from her (and his sex life) was extremely relevant, and that line of questioning was too. The fact they were seperated probably means he didn’t meet the requirements for citizenship.

      1. If the guy is applying for citizenship he already has legal resident alien status or he wouldn’t be able to even apply in the first place.

        The status of the Syrian guy’s marriage is totally irrelevant, he was denied citizenship on the “grounds of “moral character”. Yes we still have laws that are based on where you ding your dong. Welcome to the glorious world of US immigration and naturalization law.

  28. Typical government action, especially when run by lefties (although the repubs are not much better on immigration). Do everything you can to make life tough for highly skilled, responsible, honest, legal immigrants, while doing nothing at all about unskilled illegals, then giving them amnesty. And people wonder why foreigners dont obey our immigration laws.

  29. My brother got so disgusted with the process he and his foreign born wife moved back to her country on principle. He lives in Greece now — yes, he has a job, and most of his company’s customers are not based in Greece so the current mayhem there is not affecting him.

    Another friend from Indonesia tried to get over her just to visit. Granted, he is a devout Muslim — but the kind of devout Muslim whose parents sent him to Catholic school so he wouldn’t be bigoted.

    Anywho he and his wife got visas easily, but his 3 year old daughter’s visa was mysteriously denied.

    1. The Americans who oppose a liberal immigration system (or at least a SANE one) will never know what they are missing — new businesses started, jobs created, cultures amplified, overall energy of the country improved etc…

  30. Conservatives should call for the elimination of restrictions on immigration. They have used free market rhetoric to justify pro-business policies, attacking organized labor, opposing social-welfare programs and undermining government regulation of business. Conservatives denounce restrictions on international trade. Restrictions on living or working where are among the greatest intrusions against liberty. Instead, we hear calls for walls, barbed wire, surveillance cameras, armed troops to keep people from living where they please.

    1. Unlike libertarians, conservatives aren’t stupid. As long as the U.S. is a welfare state, there will be restrictions on immigration.

  31. The U.S. immigration system is a dismal failure. Bureaucracy? Irresponsibility? Time delay? Hypocrisy? The U.S. immigration has all of these AND MORE. YAY!

  32. Uribe’s appointment is proving rather controversial at GU. Students at Georgetown’s Law Center have decried Uribe for human rights abuses under his watch: Georgetown should not “legitimate him and his legacY.

    In addition to this, you may want to visit Triple” E” Immigration Services, a known for its expertise when it comes to immigration consulting. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, our company is acknowledged for its efficiency service in handling immigration concerns. Our team of competent and experienced Certified Canadian Immigration Consultants (CCIC) is ready to answer any of your inquiries.

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