FEBRUARY 12, 2008
In a major policy shift that defies security measures passed by Congress after the 2001 terrorist attacks, tens of thousands of immigrants will be granted permanent U.S. residency without FBI background checks.
The Department of Homeland Security will make the exception to ease an application backlog at the agency that issues green cards, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To speed up the process the federal government will compromise national security by issuing green cards to nearly 50,000 immigrants before the FBI completes their background checks.
U.S. residency applicants have long been required to pass an FBI fingerprint check and law-enforcement database screening, but after the 2001 terrorist attacks Congress rightfully strengthened the requirements to include an in-depth FBI background check.
Poor management and coordination at the FBI and USCIS have created an insufficient system that has caused lengthy delays in clearing applicants who have met other requirements for permanent residence. Because the FBI background check has caused delays of more than six months for some immigrants, civil rights groups and immigration judges have complained that the wait is unjust.
The government’s solution, then, is to compensate for one federal agency’s incompetence by compromising national security. After all, federal officials say the immigrants have been living in the U.S. anyways and they deserve the benefit. Keep in mind that among the many perks of a permanent U.S. resident, are free travel without restrictions and the right to sponsor relatives for legal status.
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