June 20, 2007

The White House Responds To CQ On Immigration And Passports

Earlier today, I wrote that the failure of the government to adequately prepare for the new passport restrictions Congress passed in 2005 reflected on their ability to tackle comprehensive immigration reform. A few minutes ago, the White House's communication staff responded in the comments section, but I'll give them a more prominent spot here at CQ to make their rebuttal:

I can see how, in order to score a quick point, it would be tempting to equate the passport backlog with the issue of Z visas.

However, you make a false analogy.

Background checks are not a significant factor contributing to the current backlog in processing passport applications. Instead, the key reason for the delay is the non-automated and very labor-intensive process of verifying that the individual is indeed a U.S. citizen. Another major reason for the passport backlog is the time-consuming process for producing the passport itself, which requires an electronic chip, a machine readable strip, and other tamper-resistant features.

By contrast, adjudication of a Z visa application does not require verification of citizenship status because the individual acknowledges at the outset that he or she is illegal. And any delays due to production of the document, of course, are irrelevant to DHS's ability to handle the background checks.

The background check at issue for the current undocumented is an automated process involving an electronically captured print that will be run through database checks.

Of the five components of the background check, four of them nearly always generate answers within 24 hours. The DHS Interagency Border Inspection System check is immediate as is the DHS immigration records check. The biometrics check in DHS’s IDENT is completed within 24 hours and so is the FBI biometrics. The current FBI fingerprint load is about 60,000 per day. Assuming checks had to be done for all 12 million over a six-month period, this adds another 67,000 name checks per day – well under FBI’s current capacity of up to 200,000 per day.

The only one of the five that sometimes takes longer than 24 hours is the FBI Name Check. 68 percent of names checks are returned within 48 hours and another 22 percent are returned within 60 days. Others may take significantly longer, but if the FBI name check is not completed within 24 hours, it will continue during the probationary period -- and if any adverse information is found, the alien’s probationary status will be terminated, and the Z applicant will be deported with no chance of gaining a Z visa. No Z visas will be awarded until all appropriate background checks begun during the probationary period are completed to the satisfaction of the Homeland Security Secretary.

I have a few thoughts about this response, as I'm sure the CQ community also has. First, I appreciate the timely response to the post. I have to say that the White House seems to have improved its communication efforts in the past few months, although I wish it would serve to support some other efforts more than the immigration bill. The improvement is a welcome development.

However, this isn't quite responsive to the main thrust of my argument. It does address the issues surrounding the 24-hour background checks, but not the main point about allocation of resources and the instant creation of a new bureaucracy that will have to handle upwards of 12 million applications almost immediately. They'll have to do that on top of revamping the existing visa system and establishing tight border security to meet the triggers in the bill within eighteen months, or 3 years, as the CBO predicts.

Where is the capacity to handle 12 million applicants, or more, when this bill gets signed into law? The State Department still hasn't fixed their system more than two years after Congress mandated the changes. Why should we assume that DHS will do better handling multiple and larger-scale mandates? Why not just do one thing at a time successfully, and then move on to the next task?

What do you think?

UPDATE: AJ Strata thinks I'm gnowing at a bone of amnesty conspiracy thinking. Actually, my original post had nothing to do with "amnesty"; it had to do with competence, and AJ missed the point. He claims that the government has the ability to process 100,000 illegal aliens a day, but where is this supposed to happen and who's supposed to do it? I'm sure that eventually they could get it done, but they don't have the capacity to resolve an extra 5 million passport applications over a one-year period despite having an eighteen-month head start on it.

Obviously, it's possible to do it, but this bill doesn't provide the resources for it -- and it's one of several mandates in the bill that have to be accomplished concurrently. That's my point, and neither AJ nor the White House addressed it.

UPDATE II: Just to make sure everyone knows, I didn't take any offense to AJ's post. I know his writing style and his point of view. I consider AJ a good friend, and disagreements on policy doesn't change that.


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Comments (52)

Posted by J. Ewing | June 20, 2007 5:53 PM

That's the reason I want to use the Social Security System as the basis for the Z-Visa (if we must have one at all). That is, the system is already there, biometrics could be added, but mostly because there are, apparently, 3 Million of these illegals KNOWN to be using fraudulent Social Security numbers, and we could just go get them.

Posted by Philip | June 20, 2007 5:53 PM

My first thought is:

"... in order to score a quick point..."

They don't know you well at all. You have never seemed the quick point kind of guy.

The WH cites a false analogy. Not exactly logical thinking since all analogies are, on their face, false. An analogy never serves to prove anything, only to examine by example. Perhaps a better analogy for them is the failed amnesty that promised the same solutions - and didn't deliver either.

If it is just a database thing why can't we have the existing enforcement laws enforced now? Seems they want the cart before the horse. And I for one do not and will not trust them.

Posted by Mija Cat | June 20, 2007 5:53 PM

It's a funny thing, Cap'n.

Their response is not persuasive to me. Reminded me of someone trying to score a point by being "right" about a small thing, and thus invalidating the larger statement.

While it may work in a court of law, it does not *persuade*.

They're still saying "Trust us, this will work", and I'm still smelling a leaky bull.


Posted by Rose | June 20, 2007 6:06 PM

Since all that background check is soooooooo simple, why haven't they been deporting those who have long vicious criminal histories a great deal faster than they do at this time?

They've just made the case that the CAPACITY to do right by American Citizens HAS INDEED BEEN THERE ALL ALONG, and they are simply REFUSING to obey the People, PRETENDING they ~JUST don't understand~ THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, or the importance of the SECURITY OF THE USA FOR THE PEOPLE, or Government BY THE PEOPLE, period!

I'm seeing signs in the news that the people are losing patience with bureaucrats who think all these issues are to be run only by bureaucrats according to their own whims.

Posted by BoWowBoy | June 20, 2007 6:09 PM

Ok .......let me get this straight ............the length of time it takes to process a passport application ......and .........make a determination that the passport applicant is indeed an American citizen .....is the reason why the backlog exists at the passport office and also the reason why the new passport law has had to be postponed .........right ........???

In their own words from the executive branch of the U.S. Federal Government .............. "the key reason for the delay is the non-automated and very labor-intensive process of verifying that the individual is indeed a U.S. citizen".

Are we to believe that the process for determining the home country of an illegal alien is to be more efficient ......?? Or ...........are we just gonna believe him when he says he is from Abania, Yugoslavia, Korea, China or Brazil ........(as we did a couple of years ago before catch and return applied to all illegal aliens and not just Mexican Nationals).

If that is the case ...........we still won't know where these Z Visa applicants are from really ....will we .........??

Unless you go back to the country of origin and document who the person is ........we may be just legalizing warm bodies from whatever part of the world they may be from.

If we are to just take the illegal aliens word for their past history ....then it will only take minutes to issue a Z visa.

But ....if we are to go to the illegal aliens stated country of origin and verify their identity .......... making sure they are who they say they are ...........and not a murderer, not a gang member, or not from an Islamic Fascist Country and/or an extremist individual who wants to do us harm .................I'll wager to say that the verification process will take every bit of the same amount of time it takes for our own Department of State to verify that an American citizen is who he or she says they are.

I'll venture to say that in most cases if it is conducted thoroughly ....it will take more time.

Posted by Rose | June 20, 2007 6:12 PM

That's the reason I want to use the Social Security System as the basis for the Z-Visa (if we must have one at all). ...

Posted by: J. Ewing at June 20, 2007 5:53 PM

Do you REALLY think they need more help devising ways, means, and reasons to AVOID obeying the WILL OF THE PEOPLE in this issue?

Any con artist knows when he gets THIS kind of concession from you, that he is 95% of the way HOME FREE with YOUR life savings.


Posted by firedup | June 20, 2007 6:14 PM

Meanwhile, what happens to the citizenship applicants waiting patiently in line already who came here the honest way, and see the dishonest illegals being rewarded with legal status?

It stinks. The White House knows very well they could solve this through effective employer verification compliance and deportation.

Also, what ever happened to sponsorship? Why not put out a call for individual citizens to step up and sponsor illegal immigrants?

To be honest, the White House is the last place I would listen to for truthful information about the shamnesty bill.

Posted by Ari Tai | June 20, 2007 6:40 PM

Anyone know the 2005 or 2006 U.S. foreign arrivals numbers? Last number I remember was about 60 million (which means 60 million (eventual) checks against one db or another). The department of commerce numbers appear almost a decade old (at 50Million)

see: http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/view/f-2000-203-001/index.html

Seems a good sized PC, even a big laptop should be able to do these checks.. Put a couple of terabytes of disk at every visa-approval officer's desk, distribute the watch list using something simple (peer to peer encrypted over the open internet), let the applicant enter all the data, use contractors to verify, have one government overseer per location, insist on a delivery of documents to a mailing address (fedex or ups even better and keep their delivery and signature logs), that then need to be activated at, say, a post office.

for a laptop being "fast enough" see: ftp://ftp.research.microsoft.com/pub/tr/tr-2005-39.pdf

and a terabyte disk now costs less than $500, see:

Granted, the government-industrial-complex has no history of doing anything this simple or cheap, but if t-mobile (a german company, no less) can replace my lost SIM and have it activated and routing calls in literally the time it took me to insert the sim and turn on my phone (after entering my phone number and scanning the bar-code on the sim card), call it 10 seconds, even a government contractor can be expected to do something as trivial as process a million transactions a day for a small fraction of the federal budget (a few billion).

Posted by Nate | June 20, 2007 6:44 PM

Even if everything they said above were true, the fact is they are unwilling to enforce existing laws unless and until they have a guarantee that the illegal aliens will be allowed to stay in the country. It's just that simple and we all know it. They simply refuse, even though the vast majority of Americans want the laws enforced. So, they can talk till they're blue. I won't hear it.

If they want me to believe what they say, they need to show me they understand what "Rule of Law" means. Something like ...

1. Build an actual fence. Really.
2. Starting Jan 1st, any employer who can't prove an employee's name actually matches their SSN does not get to use said employee's wages as a business expense.
3. Cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities and states (like mine) that won't comply with the Real ID Act.

It would also be nice they'd stop insulting us.

1. I'm not a bigot just because I want the law enforced.
2. I'm not for the status quo. I just want the law enforced.
3. I understand there will be an impact on the economy. The principle of remaining a nation of laws trumps that too. I want the law enforced.
4. I DO want what's best for America, which, especially when it comes to immigration, is to have the law enforced.

Until I see something like that I'm deaf to anything coming out of the Bush administration. I'm not even going to think about them.

They don't exist.

I'll just bide my time sending e-mails and faxes to Senators. Every single day. I encourage you all to do the same.

P.S. I want the law enforced.

Posted by KJBtruth | June 20, 2007 6:56 PM

I'm afraid I don't get it. Why is it so labor intensive to verify that I am an American?

I have a valid SSN.

loans. college. etc etc.

hmm... I still don't get it.

Posted by olddeadmeat | June 20, 2007 6:58 PM

Greetings Cap'n:

Been reading but not posting, but laid up today, so here I am.

Interesting that the White House felt it should respond to your post and the comments.

A couple of thoughts:

Immigration enforcement poses some other problems for conservative and libertarian thinkers.

First - having seen/been involved in moderately sized technological implementations, and having followed many technological fiascos in the federal government, I have serious doubts about the success of any new implementation in support of immigration enforcement.

Consider this comment: "the key reason for the delay is the non-automated and very labor-intensive process of verifying that the individual is indeed a U.S. citizen."

To change this process to an automated and efficient process would demand an expanded bureaucracy, a new government database, and a new techological implementation.

I thought creating government databases and empowering bureaucracies was a province of "progressive" thinking.

Are conservatives prepared to embrace big government? The Border Patrol is hideously underpaid and already undermanned. Its best recruits are often poached by other law enforcement who can offer better working conditions and better wages and benefits.

Also, federal bureaucrats typically have good benefits but comparatively moderate wages - this is not conducive to the kind of people you need for a good technological implementation.

So I submit the Conservative attitude toward the nature/purpose of the federal government may need some reflection.

Another thought - historically, nations/empires that have tried to keep the rest of the world out have tended to fall behind or just plain fall, whereas nations that were good at assimilating populations of immigrants tended to succeed. (Notice how the Roman empire is remembered why several others that followed it are virtually unknown.)

Commenters are invited to cite their favorite examples to support/rebut the above.

More: the current process for becoming a citizen once you have been born is incredibly slow/time consuming. A portion of the illegal immigration problem owes to that issue. Why don't we handle marijuana and immigrants the same way - legalize them both and tax the heck out of them?

Lastly, Nate, I am an employer, and I already comply with all the rules in front of me. The lady that cleans our offices is a legal immigrant and has been granted citizenship (she invited me to the ceremony) and her family are darn nice folks. I respect and obey the law, but businesses have no time to play part time Border Patrol unless you are willing to pay me for it, and right now I'd have to hire an investigator to do what you want me to do - the mechanisms to do that validation are not in place to handle the volume that would result.

So Nate, will you pay the higher taxes to expand the bureaucracy to enforce the laws or do you just want to shift burdens to someone not you?

Cheers to all,

Posted by Mrs. Davis | June 20, 2007 7:02 PM

Sounds a lot like the response Sean Hannity got from Tony Snow yesterday. It looks like the Bush Admin has decided to field a rapid response team to the conservative new media. Perhaps they would be better served by going after Carter, Reid and Pelosi.

Posted by Nate | June 20, 2007 7:11 PM

Mrs Davis,

"So Nate, will you pay the higher taxes to expand the bureaucracy to enforce the laws..."

Yes. I want the laws enforced.

Posted by mathman | June 20, 2007 7:21 PM

The White House response is from an imaginary land. I am old enough to remember the amount of money spent on the Post Office programs to computer read mail addresses. I am old enough to remember the large amounts of money spent on the national air traffic control system. I am old enough to remember endless computer systems which did not work.
This is a mythical program. As described in the legislation, it cannot possibly work. Is contacting foreign governments not labor intensive? Where will we get the individuals who are fluent in the local language? How will we guarantee that the representative of the foreign government will provide us with correct information? Will foreign governments even go along with this whole program?
And the proviso that we cannot expel foreign felons is repulsive in the extreme.
And the proviso that those immigrants who are already legally applying for citizenship must go back to their own countries is sick.
And the proviso that Z visa holders will be able to take advantage of Social Security and Medicare is off the charts in terms of fiscal responsibility.
And the notion that these instant legal immigrants will be instantly able to vote sickens me.

Let them prove that they know what citizenship is all about first. I had to learn about citizenship before I could vote, and I was born here!

Posted by harleycon5 | June 20, 2007 7:56 PM

Ok, so they say this system will be automated and highly efficient, or in words that seem to assume so. Since when has ANYTHING the govt does gone in a highly efficient manner? Umm, never...thats the answer.
Lets look at the likely scenario:

Name: Juan Lopez
Country of origin: Mexico
Social security number: 000-00-0000 (the same as millions of other illegals)
Background check: Wow, we don't seem to have anything in the database about Juan Lopez, ss # 000-00-0000, so I guess he MUST be ok, right?

Decision: Juan gets the Z visa since he has not got anything in the database that seems to be a problem. Who made the database in the first place? Wouldn't such info have to be researched? Wouldn't this require a huge database and thousands of researchers?

Of course the answer is YES, but the truth is apparant. This will be a stamp-the-hand system at the best.

What we should take from all this is that the Bush Admin is trying to make us think that the database they speak of ALREADY exists.
Does it?
Captain it would be nice to know;)

Suppose the name is fraudulant, as is the Social security number. How could ANYONE know? You would have to check out the multitude of places each individual had worked at, many who will be less than likely to admit they paid "Juan" under the table and never paid SS. Either way, this is impossible under a 24 hour check, true? We would be taking their info and running it, being unable to check it's authenticity OR accuracy.

Does anyone else here smell a dead fish?

Posted by Brian from Hillary Country | June 20, 2007 8:07 PM

So let me see if we've got this straight...

- US Gov plays Bob Barker with Immigration Law - for decades - which shockingly (for some) results in tens of millions of illegal aliens taking the invite to "come on down..."

- Meanwhile, Joe & Jane Taxpayer (Legal US CItizens BTW) now have to shell out 100 clams for a Passport to go to...Toronto...and wait months for native craftsmen to delictately produce this rare document.

- US Gov refuses to show much more than a passing interest in controlling who's coming across the US/Mex Border - almost 6 yrs after 9/11 and about 30 million illegal aliens later (excuse my heinously insensitive terminology but i'm a victim, afflicted with keeping-it-real syndrome).

- Granny (legal US Citizen) gets a body cavity check at the airport while Omar the Bomb Maker gets a smile and 'have a nice day' from the newly minted TSA grocery clerks...err...Airport Security.

- US Army mired (but surging) in the quagmire of Iraq, trying to make sure we don't have to fight the 'bad guys' over here.

- How would we know if the 'bad guys' were coming across the border? Would they apply for Passports or Z-Visas once the Immigration Reform Bill is passed? It they did, would DHS have them deported to Iraq? It would only make sense...

- Finally, beset with a notion to "do something to protect their phony-baloney jobs, immediately...immediatley...immediately" (thx Mel Brooks), Dubya and McCainnedy opt for the "all the other kids are doing it" excuse and - Shazam - foreigners breaking US Law would be legit. Brilliant! (hmmm...if we all were to stop paying our taxes...maybe we would get such leniency - Not! More like a trip to Gitmo and...another body cavity search...).

I think we've got the Administration's Weltanschauung down. Kafka would be proud.

Posted by Weight of Glory | June 20, 2007 8:10 PM

This is silly! It is about as silly as Chertof on Rush today explaining that the only thing preventing the building of a fence to close "smuggler's gulch" is an engineering difficulty regarding the ground not being level! Do you guys remember the fella who lit off a bomb in the Las Vegas parking garage, killing one man and wounding a woman? About a week-or-so later I read a story that they still hadn't determined his identity, because he stole the identity of a Panamanian business man. Now, I am sure that the FBI, ATF, DHS, and local police were all on that case, trying to determine who this guy was; and it still took them weeks to learn his identity. Am I to believe that Immigration services is going to be able to determine the true identity of millions of Z visa applicants within 48 hours! My goodness, they talk about the super efficient powers of Govt. as if we were Liberals!

Posted by Bill Faith | June 20, 2007 8:14 PM

Dear Eduardo,

We just completed your FBI Name Check based on the application you submitted three weeks ago. Please report to the nearest DHS office so we can begin the deportation process.


Dear DHS,

Good luck finding me.

I added a link to my 2006.06.20 "No Illegal Left Behind" Roundup  

Posted by feeblemind | June 20, 2007 8:33 PM

If the WH is reading this, your explanation no longer matters because you have lost credibilty. I no longer believe what you are saying. And I voted for Bush twice.

Posted by Joe Doe | June 20, 2007 8:41 PM

"I can see how, in order to score a quick point, it would be tempting to equate the passport backlog with the issue of Z visas. "

Wow - I see a completely different analogy.

US citizens with credit history, jobs, tax stubs, fixed address, bills, relatives etc etc - it takes them many months to get a passport.

Illegal alients, with no clear ID, phony work history (why would anyone trust a company hiring illegal alliens - beats me), coming from thin air speaking aliena - it takes them 24 h to get proper legal papers.

Yes, that is a quick point indeed - as long as you are an illegal alien - if you stay in line and pay your taxes, is just a tedious exercise in futility.

Posted by Keemo | June 20, 2007 9:22 PM

My 2-cents....

1) I'm glad to see the WH respond your post CE. Putting aside the cheap shots Bush & others have taken at us recently; it's nice to have an open discussion, & I hope this will continue. All good things need a starting place.

2) Our government needs to tackle these incredibly important issues with extreme caution and care; one issue at a time rather than trying to solve the whole ball of wax with one single bill.

3) Start with border protection first. Have open and honest debate regarding the procedure's while building the fence that has already been debated and approved. This is the only method by which our government will win the trust of the majority of Americans. Those who think the fence is a stupid solution; a solution that won't make a difference; these folks must allow protocol to move forward, as we have debated this issue and a vote followed.

4) Legal immigration must also be addressed and modified; allowing for legal immigration to take place on much faster and easier terms.

5) Those who employ illegal aliens must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Right now, all of you government people look like a bunch of elitists, pandering for votes at the expense of the middle class while refusing to engage with your citizens. G.W. Bush telling us "see you at the signing" was an arrogant & rude "in your face" statement; amongst others made. Elected officials serve at the privilege of the people; you must always remember that simple principle.

I welcome the attempt of the WH to engage with us here at CQ, & hope this will continue on a daily basis as we go on from here. Immigration reform is long overdue; we must get it right this time; government must then uphold the policy once it has been created and voted into law. Government has failed it's people on this issue repeatedly over the past 40-50 years. For any of you to get all bent out of shape because we don't believe you will actually solve this problem; well that is the elitist crap I have already mentioned. Personally, I have lost 90% of my faith in my government. I would welcome a big change with that percentage; make it happen...

Posted by JH | June 20, 2007 9:29 PM

THe White House is very correct is many of its assertions. I don't think people realize how advanced many of your police departments are in your home town.

What the White House is talking about is not fantasy land. Years ago when I was a Asst DA where I processed tons of Criminal defendants through the system. Because of limited space and how the system works one was starting to look at plea deals for various people. I would have a full extensive rap sheet soon after they were arrested. The Fingerprint technology or the database that goes through is not fantasy land either.

Your local Police Department at booking runs checks using prints etc and gets information back very quickly. This is the reason why some people don't get to leave even if they make bond because they have a hold from another jurisdiction. IF there are complaints about this bill , I would suggest the 24 hour background check is the weakest thing to attack.

One other thought. The Govt is quite used to doing things such as this that will require the taking in of a large amounts of data from people. In fact they do it every ten years in the Census when thousand upon thousands of everyday citizens are used to do long forms and get data from people that not complile a form.

I urge people not to just assume the govt is incompetent in all these matters. There are thousands of people working in Federal Law enforcement that do this every day. They are far from incompetent. I ahd the pleasure with working with them and tseeing the technology close up.

Last thought. This is just part of the process. There is a house bill on the other side. Not every thing has to be picture perfect in this bill. It will be fiddled with in the House via the Strive Act. Then it goes to conference. That is how legislative sausage is made my friends.



Posted by Lod Whorfin | June 20, 2007 9:42 PM

I agree with you Ed. Implement the system you already have before you add another.

Posted by RBMN | June 20, 2007 10:04 PM

Considering the amount of data the NSA collects and sorts everyday, it's not a matter of if government agencies can do quick checks (or as Chertoff calls them, the first cut.) It's just a matter of determination. And it's not over once they have their Z-Visa card in their wallet. The card is just the tamper-proof link to a certain record in a computer database, and the record can be changed to "invalid" at anytime based on new information, making the card as worthless as a stolen credit card. That's the second cut.

Posted by Charlie | June 20, 2007 10:11 PM

Then pray tell, dear White House, why is it taking 12 weeks these days to get a passport *renewal*?

Posted by Joe Doe | June 20, 2007 10:11 PM

"That is how legislative sausage is made my friends." Make sure is halal first - then you can serve it with your friends in the government that would probably get a promotion once this law is passed.

I doubt that the message posted by Ed is a valid White House's communication of sorts. If the WH is that bad at communicating / arguing - we are all doomed indeed - might as well pass the removal of border law. It seems to me is just some Oracle contractors that feel that this will extend their juicy contracts - however, this has nothing to do with databases and the speed of searches. This has to do with checking primary papers on which identification can be asserted. Birth certificates, correlation in foreign public school records etc - that is a very tedious process, as many such papers are issued by all sorts of agencies, churches, etc.

The question is not how fast the government can give someone a new identity - that takes a minute probably. But then the passport should be printed on the spot - my low-end HP printer spits about 20 pages every minute - sure the big government printers can print the passports at amazing speed After all, they already have all the personal data validated - just ready to print.

Of course, we all know that there will be no checks ehatsoever - here Jose, take the visa and good luck. Then it will become a little more complicated, as Jose has a choice - go on the taxpayer sugar, or go on the minimum+ salary. Which will create demand for another wave of illegal immigrants in both cases.

I am afraid that this will change the definition of positive action at some point - and have no doubt that the blacks will be the first ones to suffer because of this (not all of them, of course - but not all of them are proud Obamas). In all this reinvented Socialism, something has to give - and it will not be Soros, Bush, Clinton or Kennedy gangas.

The funny part is that the overall effect would probably be that those H1-B will not be coming to the shores anymore - at least not the top ones. Why would they come to the former USA - they have this half-hell already at home, yet they know the dangers in their jungles. I know lots of Chinese going back to China these days (MBAs mostly) - simply because there are better opportunities.

Posted by brooklyn | June 20, 2007 10:51 PM


MR. AJ STRATA is excellent Captain.

Seems in my humble opinion, it is somewhere in the middle.

You are expecting perfection, displacing frustration, being overtly negative in your perception regarding the Bush Administration, and they are of course, far from perfect and could greatly improve on some issues.

However, the big problem, which a number of the high profile Conservative pundits have been really problematic, is the swift conclusion, that if the Bush Administration disagrees in policy, they are being negligent in some fashion.

It seems if some don't agree fully with some Bloggers, then they quickly demean and vilify.

There are honest disagreements, and it doesn't make some less Conservative, or 'traitors'.

This mindless hysteria on the Right has grown to sadly to mimic some of the LIberal extremes.

Very regretful indeed.

Posted by Les Nessman | June 20, 2007 10:59 PM

"..adjudication of a Z visa application does not require verification of citizenship status.."

Say what!? The White House is going to eat those words, soon. If that is the WH's position on this subject, someone should press them to expand and explain this idea. Watch them backtrack and spin.

So we're just going to take Abdul Irani's word for it when he claims he is Juan Costa Rican?

Posted by AJStrata | June 20, 2007 11:19 PM

Captain Ed,

Thanks for the final comment. I am glad you know my style and no while tough I am not trying to be disparaging. The fact is the resources to do the checks are there now. The ony part you need is to schedule the prints and applications. And as I showed the capacity for that is there too.

The IAFIS system is the system that will do the checks. The new fingerprint machines actually take the prints electronically. It takes 10 minutes ot get printed (I know from my NASA badge processing).

Look, this is a red herring. It can be done in under 6 months easily with what we have. The capacity is there. I do not expect everyone to know IAFIS and how it works. But when the administration answered the question and I showed the capacity the myth was busted.

We can process the 12 million people, who will walk in over some period of months if they are confident in their criminal records. That is not the problem and never has been. Once the haystack steps aside we still have a lot of needles to find and process and deport.

But all of this is better than what we have now - the silent amnesty and no checks. Cheers good captain. As usual you are the more honorable blogger between us. Your patience is much deeper than mine.

Posted by RBMN | June 20, 2007 11:23 PM

Re: Les Nessman at June 20, 2007 10:59 PM

He means that if you're an American citizen, eligible for a passport, why would you be applying for a Z-Visa? Nobody who applies for a Z-Visa is presenting themself as an American citizen. Nobody has to confirm that you were born in Knoxville, TN. And a probationary Z-Visa doesn't do much for you except let you can keep the job you already have--until they take it away your Z-Visa for some reason. Z-Visas--easy come, and easy go. Passports not.

Posted by FredWM | June 20, 2007 11:28 PM

Of course, they can make a decision in less than 24 hours. And I'll tell you exactly what that decision will be:

"We have no idea who this guy is, so it's OK to give him amnesty."

How exactly can you come to any other decision concerning someone with either multiple false papers, multiple identities or no paperwork at all, who comes from a small third world village and has never been finger-printed in his life?

Posted by RBMN | June 20, 2007 11:52 PM

Re: FredWM at June 20, 2007 11:28 PM

The FBI also keeps fingerprints from unsolved crimes in a database. False names don't protect you from that.

Posted by RBMN | June 20, 2007 11:55 PM

Re: FredWM at June 20, 2007 11:28 PM

If you're already in the system under a different name, then you're also screwed.

Posted by FredWM | June 21, 2007 12:16 AM

But only if they were in the data-base to begin with. Plenty of people use fraudulent documents exclusively and never had their fingerprints taken anywhere. For example, see NBC's Lisa Myers recent report on how easy it is to get into the US. And every one of these people would turn up blank in any system on the planet.


Posted by FredWM | June 21, 2007 12:53 AM

The problem is that many people are not in any system on the planet. They first tell you a name that might or might not be theirs, with someone's documents that might or might not be authentic and a story that might or might not be true. And you have to decide in 24 hours? Based on what?

For example, see NBC's Lisa Myers recent report on how easy it is to get into the US right now. It only costs $ 500 and the documents are not fraudulent. (They are just not yours.)


So after the same "lookalike document" has been used 50 or a 100 times how exactly will the FBI be able to say who you are? Remember, most of these people have no fingerprints on record. And as for being in the system under another name, just yell "they stole by identity!"

Posted by Adjoran | June 21, 2007 1:12 AM

No one has explained how the government is going to do this - ari's enthusiasm for the power of technology is warranted, but he forgets we will have civil service employees operating these machines, and government purchasing regimes guarantee whatever we buy will be nearly obsolete upon delivery.

This poison pill in this clause (there are a couple more, too) is that if the applicant doesn't get REJECTED as ineligible by the government within 24 hours, he gets the Z-visa, which allows him to be here and work here. It's not "amnesty," but it sure looks and acts like "provisional amnesty," and it gets harder to tell it from the real thing all the time.

Now, let us suppose, with a wink and a nod, that our fine government bureaucrats could process the expected AVERAGE number of applications on a daily basis within the time limit. I'd have to give odds against it, but let's just say they could, for the sake of argument.

Handling an "average" workflow is great, but this work is predictably NOT going to "average out" over time. The initial influx of applications will be HUGE, far beyond any known capacity to process within 24 hours. To ask, as Ed has in my understanding, specifically HOW this could be accomplished is an eminently fair question, and one which no one has even seriously attempted to answer.

Posted by Joe Doe | June 21, 2007 5:50 AM

The question is not if "THEY" - the almighty ganga in charge of our lifes - CAN do it; sure even if they are many years late, they can issue whatever is necessary - eventually. Yet if they are convinced that are oh so capable, why cannot build a damn fence after many years and billions onf dollars - simply because the new post-industrial elite has no desire to do so. Or why just not deport them all - or even better, fine the employers operating as such.

I see this law as passed already - coming to a shore near you; even the ones gated will eventually have to come to the South American jungle that was just seeded. Then sometimes later, the privacy laws that obstruct any checks whatsoever - we would not want to hurt sensibilities of all these people doing jobs that the Americans will not. Well, Jeorge has its legacy already.

Posted by MarkD | June 21, 2007 7:26 AM

Imagine for a moment that say, 100 Al-Quaeda sleepers get z visas. Then they get caught. The Amnesty bill will give them the right to be here. The Supreme Court has said that citizens get access to court system. What about the hypothetical AQ sleeper agents?

This bill is insanity codified.

Posted by AJStrata | June 21, 2007 7:36 AM

I see the deniers still looking for perfection (and probably the tooth fairy). IAFIS is massive and is the largest criminal ID system in the world. It will find a criminal record. But no one can find a criminal without a record.

So the argument is since we cannot find criminals without records we should do nothing about the onese we know have records and we still cannot get deported by our FUBAR's existing (yet magically effective) laws??

And people wonder why I nicknamed the opposition to the bill 'amnesty hypochondriacs'! If IAFIS is 95% accurate (that means it clears the 80+% who are free of violent crimes and and find the 15% or so who do have records) that means the problem we have is not 12+ million people to sift through but only 600K. Still a large number - but a HUGE step forward.

My guess is it is much more effective than 95%. But here't the flip side. In my example of above (way conservative on the numbers of violent criminals in the population) we find 600K a problem left to deal with, but we find 1.8 million criminals ID'd and on the way out. So I asl again? Are we going to do nothing because we are never going to get a 100% solution and NO ONE can identify a criminal who doesn't have a record.

One last reminder: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty". Remember our cultural foundations. Only the Europeans assume guilty until proven innocent.

Posted by AJStrata | June 21, 2007 7:44 AM


That was an interesting fantasy. But a Z-Visa is not a shield from being picked up as an enemy combatant and shipped to GITMO.

And for the person who claims IAFIS is old and outdated technology - clearly you do not know what you are talking about. As I said I know the sytem design and I know people who worked directly on it.

Do a search on IFIAS and you will see it is one of the country's and world's engineering marvels.

All these are hypochondriac-like denials you see when a real hypochondriac keeps making up excuses not to take their medicine (it will never work, I am different, it is a different problem.....). They are rationalizations to do nothing when nothing is the last thing we need to do.

Posted by BoWowBoy | June 21, 2007 7:58 AM

The name and number of the senate amnesty bill has changed. It is a new bill but the same old amnesty.

News from the Heritage Foundation: ( this changes nothing, except the increased need for everyone to make 2 calls to each senator each day)

"...an altogether new bill (S. 1639) has been introduced by Senators Ted Kennedy and Arlen Specter.

It seems to incorporate the previous legislation, with some amendments. After it is read into the Senate calendar on Wednesday, the Majority Leader will be able to proceed to consider this legislation anew at any time; debate is likely to follow later this week, with a final vote very soon thereafter.

This schedule will afford lawmakers even less time for consideration and deliberation than they had before. It will deny them the various procedures long associated with America's deliberative lawmaking process--hearings, testimony, committee debate and amendments, floor debate, and the possibility of further amendments. Instead, according to reports, this legislation will proceed based on an altogether new and expedited procedure designed for the sole purpose of forcing the bill's many ill-conceived policies over legitimate minority objections.

As it has before, for the sake of open deliberation and public education, The Heritage Foundation is making this legislation publicly available to encourage widespread debate and discussion. Heritage Foundation analysts will be reading this legislation and considering its implications--as will everyone outside the confines of the narrow group that conceived it--as quickly as possible.
Download S.1639: The Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (PDF, 20 MB)

Posted by Keemo | June 21, 2007 8:22 AM

With all due respect AJ; we need to get this RIGHT this time. Really smart & experienced people have studied this bill over the past several weeks; a large percentage of these people have written brilliant pieces explaining in simple terms how bad this bill is and how much potential for long term damage is contained within the bill.

Breaking the bill down into much smaller pieces; open debate on each piece prior to the vote, will allow for our best chance to eliminate transparency and get this legislation correct once and for all. The argument "something is better than nothing" is simply weak. We have waited 40 years for something to occur, a few more months is not an unreasonable request.

OMT: Having Ted Kennedy co-author this bill was a huge mistake simply because this man has failed at this policy for several decades. Having John McCain co-author this bill was another huge mistake simply because of McCain-Feingold. The American people DON'T have faith in either of these two men's ability to create good legislation.

Posted by RBMN | June 21, 2007 8:44 AM

Re: Keemo at June 21, 2007 8:22 AM

Keemo wrote: "Really smart & experienced people have studied this bill over the past several weeks"

Yeah, studied by a lot of lawyers who don't understand computer science, and maybe flunked calculus before they ever got to differential equations. No offense to them, but they think like paper-pushers.

But they must be aware that getting a Z-Visa does not automatically give aliens the rights of a citizen. It just lets them stay until we decide we don't like them for some other reason. Then the Z-Visa is cancelled. No soup for you!

Posted by Keemo | June 21, 2007 8:58 AM

Understood RBMN; and for what's it worth, I appreciate your comments here at CQ. You have been consistent and well balanced with your comments. I look forward to reading your thoughts on all issues discussed here.

I'm in favor of breaking this bill down into much smaller pieces; I feel this is the best way to eliminate transparency and close loop holes. The more the public understands about this proposed law, the harder it will be for our politicians & lawyers to work around these laws in the future.

Posted by tommy | June 21, 2007 9:10 AM

So let me get this straight. The position of the Executive Branch of our government is as follows: Citizen, we need to check you out thoroughly before letting you out of the country. Alien, we will accept anything you tell us before letting you into the country, and once you are in the country and have legal status you have all the rights granted under the bill of rights as may be expanded, from time to time, by civil rights groups and the judiciary. As a consequence, our ability to track you or follow up on you will be greatly hindered. Assuming we are competent to track you or follow up on you. Thus creating another problem for those trying to protect us from terrorist attacks.

It seems that each day the people of this country are divided more clearly into two groups: those with obligations and those with rights. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the rights that I have, but I understand that there are many obligations that come with those rights. Is it really wise to let a group of 10 to 20 million folks who are currently violating our law, be allowed a path to citizenship that is simpler and quicker than obtaining a passport? They may get the idea that the U.S. is a nation of rights only where things are supposed to come easy, and can you really blame them for getting this idea?

That said, the illegals that I come in contact with are the hardest working folks in our community. My limited experience is that they want to work, and are people who understand obligations. Very good candidates for citizenship. Lets please get this right, and not create another class of folks who think “What are my rights?” first.

For the Republicans who seem most interested in protecting their “right” to cheap labor, what do you think will happen to your cheap labor once they are citizens?

Posted by GarandFan | June 21, 2007 10:04 AM

When all is said and done, they LIED to us in 1986, they are LYING to us today.

There are amply laws on the books to address the problems today, there is just no will to use them.

There are systems in place to identify illegals, yet the gov't has created roadblocks for agencies to share information.

Gee, does that sound familiar?

Posted by RBMN | June 21, 2007 11:10 AM

Re: Keemo at June 21, 2007 8:58 AM

I just think that some people, not you, not Ed, are so pathologically cynical about everything, about government, I don't understand how they get up in the Morning. What's the use? I can't put my head around that attitude. Life is something not perfect. You adapt.

And I have to admit to myself, that if I was a 25-year-old Mexican peasant, I would probably take my 10,000-Peso life savings and try to get to Denver, or to Atlanta, and try and find a job too. And if I did that, would I feel like a dangerous criminal, that deserves to be hunted down? No, I wouldn't. I should be identified and fingerprinted though.

These people did break the law, but MOST of them are not bad people. They're poor people, tired of having no opportunity to move up. If I was in their position, I'd probably do the same thing. What's their risk? Getting sent home? I'd risk it too.

Posted by Mark | June 21, 2007 11:26 AM

AJ has an agenda and that is to convince everyone that this is a good bill and this will save the Republican party or ruin the party. Check out his web site and look how he twists everything on the immigration bill. All he does is call everyone who does not agree with him ''amnesty hypochondriacs'. He had one post where he cried that the Anti-amnesty republicans were the ones who killed Coleman's "Sanctuary City" Amendment. Well it turned out it was the same Republicans who wanted to shove this amnesty bill down our throats who voted again with the Democrats to defeat the Coleman bill. I now only go over to AJ site to get a laugh on how he has twisted the latest immigration news to his thinking. He has become just like the MSM twisting stories to fit their agenda with one difference the MSM does less name calling.

Posted by LouisianaLightning | June 21, 2007 11:50 AM

Re: RBMN at June 21, 2007 8:44 AM

Keemo wrote: "Really smart & experienced people have studied this bill over the past several weeks"

Yeah, studied by a lot of lawyers who don't understand computer science, and maybe flunked calculus before they ever got to differential equations. No offense to them, but they think like paper-pushers.

RBMN I am a computer person (BS Math, MS Comp Sci, 25+ years in aerospace)

Being a computer person, you know of GIGO? Garbage-in-Garbage-out. No matter how good a system is, if you feed it crap, the results will be crap.

I believe that's the major complaint of the proposed system. Do you think good data will be gathered in 24 hours to accurately determine if a person should get a z-visa?

Once they have the z-visa, you are correct, it would be easy to revoke it, BUT how many weeks/months/years will it be before the accurate data gets into the system so that things can be corrected?

Posted by Paul Milenkovic | June 21, 2007 12:05 PM


The need for the Blue Passport is not to let you out of the country -- it is to let you back in.

It should be considered a good thing that they are sweating the issuance of passports, if that is the correct explanation of the backlog. Being issued a Blue Passport is being given a gold-plated citizenship document, no? If they were lax with passport issuance, that would be a major backdoor for an illegal alien to get employment, vote, everything else.

Not saying they should be lax with the Z-Visa, but again, being bureaucratic and taking a long time with the passport issuance is probably a Very Good thing.

Posted by Paul Milenkovic | June 21, 2007 12:18 PM

I just thought of something with regard to the Z-Visa.

I have gotten visas to visit different countries (Japan, Croatia), and these visas were either stamped or attached to my passport. Will the Z-Visa be issued to an alien who is not holding a passport? Should the Z-Visa be issued to anyone not holding a passport?

Now I know there is all of this debate about "touchback" provisions and all of that. But something tells me that it would serve U.S. interests to only provide a visa to a person that another country will acknowledge as a citizen. If a Mexican citizen not holding a passport wants a Z-Visa, let Mexico decide whether that person needs to return to Mexico to get the passport or if Mexico will issue that passport through a U.S. consulate office.

If the Z-Visa holder is required to have a valid passport from their home country, that is at least a powerful acknowledgement that such a person has a home country apart from the U.S. where they are visiting or residing for work or other purposes. If a Mexican wants a Z-Visa, should not Mexico at least acknowledge that said person is Mexican and not Guatamalen or Equadoran?

Again, if you are issuing Z-Visas to "stateless" persons, aren't you in effect granting them permanent residency because where do you send them to if they violate the terms of their visa?

Posted by LuckyBogey | June 21, 2007 1:21 PM

I have been a reader of AJ's site for a long time and I actually used to comment often on his site. AJ has written excellent viewpoints on many topic areas. However after Harriet Miers and AJ's "pure" comments against conservatives, there is simply no reason to leave comments which are different than his. If I were to give him a nickname, it would be son of Linsday. His RINO commentary is good reading and provides insight into the mindset of our moderate friends in the GOP. In order for the GOP to win the next election, we need someone to bring all of us together into the big tent.