- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

The troubles plaguing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which Stephen Dinan reported on Monday, should make Sen. Arlen Specter reconsider his faith in the agency that would administer a guest-worker program for immigrants.

In Mr. Dinan’s exclusive article, a Government Accountability Office report “shows [CIS] doesn’t have a handle on fraud, doesn’t do enough to deter it, and won’t have a fraud-management system in place until 2011.” The GAO found that the rampant fraud is a result of the backlog of applications, which “placed additional pressure on [CIS] to process applications faster, thereby increasing the risk of making incorrect decisions, including approval of potentially fraudulent applications.” Moreover, multiple offenders are able to game the system, because neither the CIS nor Immigration and Customs Enforcement regularly penalize those caught committing fraud. In other words, they keep submitting fraudulent applications until one gets through.

Such is the sorry state of CIS today, before a guest-worker program is in place. That is, before the agency is inundated with millions more applications in addition to its current workload. Sen. Charles Grassley, who requested the GAO report, was being too kind when he labeled the notion — expressed by guest-worker proponents — that somehow CIS is entirely competent to administer the president’s program “unrealistic.” The word is “impossible.”

Mr. Grassley sounded a similar tone last week, when he told members of the Judiciary Committee that they would be “shocked” to learn about the internal fraud and abuse at CIS. We don’t doubt that many of them would, a fact that says much more about amnesty-advocates’ disconnect with reality than CIS. Conservative lawmakers especially should know better than to assume a government agency will operate as designed.

Our greater fear, however, is that many of them aren’t shocked at all. It’s no secret that there are members of both parties who would prefer that the whole immigration debate just went away. It’s far more convenient politically to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform like the Specter bill and declare the problem solved than to make the necessary decisions to actually solve it. Indeed, Congress is in danger of repeating its mistake from 1986, the last time the immigration problem was “solved,” and some lawmakers couldn’t be happier.

The GAO’s dismal report card on CIS is one more reason why a guest-worker program should not be considered in any form — at least not until the agency is reorganized. And certainly not until we strengthen border security and enforcement. Doing so now would only kick the immigration can farther down the road.

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