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Immigrants sue U.S. for citizenship.
August 2, 2006 2:28 AM   Subscribe

Would-be citizens sue for U.S. citizenship. Ten Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants sued the government Tuesday for allegedly letting their U.S. citizenship applications linger indefinitely by delaying background checks. What is the world coming to when foreign nationals try to sue the government and force it to give them U.S. citizenship?
posted by ArunK (75 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
What is the world coming to when foreign nationals try to sue the government and force it to give them U.S. citizenship?

Indeed! Blast those people who expect the government to do what it's paid to do! Blast them to hell!

Provided, of course, that their allegations are true.
posted by antifuse at 2:35 AM on August 2, 2006


What's more American than suing your way in? Hell, give 'em citizenship and a Juris Doctor.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:40 AM on August 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


Background checks can take a while for "some people", from "certain regions".
Getting it is a privilege, not a right after all isn't it?


posted by ArunK at 2:46 AM on August 2, 2006


Well...

Federal law requires the government to approve or deny a citizenship application 120 days after an immigrant passes the exam.

Immigration is a bureaucratic procedure with rules put in place to make the process as objective as possible. If the federal law mandates a decision after 120 days, then people who are made to wait more than 120 days have a cause for complaint.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:52 AM on August 2, 2006


ArunK: Getting it is a privilege, not a right after all isn't it?

In many cases, governments define the procedures for granting and revoking a privelege in laws. This is done to make those procedures objective, and to prevent or at least minimize favoritism and prejudice. They also serve to ensure that the administration of this privelege is performed in an efficient manner. These laws define the obligations of persons seeking a privelege, and the obligations of government in granting and revoking a privelege.

If immigration law says that the government is obligated to return an answer within 120 days, it must return an answer within 120 days.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:12 AM on August 2, 2006


ArunK, I don't know what kind of agenda you're trying to push (scratch that; I was being polite; I know exactly what kind of agenda you're trying to push), but it's not going to work here. These aren't "foreign nationals trying to sue their way into US citizenship." These are people who have already successfully passed through the lengthy, byzantine and humiliating procedure of obtaining Permanent Resident status, and now that they've been living here as law-abiding residents* for enough time to be eligible for citizenship, and have passed the test that allows you to become an American citizen**, they're suing to force USCIS to get off its ass and do its fucking job. What part of "Federal law requires the government to approve or deny a citizenship application 120 days after an immigrant passes the exam" don't you comprehend, ArunK?

* This is not hyperbole. I know the courts believe them to be law-abiding, because a conviction will prevent naturalization.
** I think everybody who wants to live in the US should have to take this test, whether they were born here or not. That might boost education a little.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:24 AM on August 2, 2006


"What is the world coming to...."

I'm speculating that wherever it is some folks have already arrived.

Destination: Bigotry, narrow-mindedness, hate, disregard for the law, and discrimination. Time to get off the train!


unless I'm misreading something here, but I sort of doubt it...
posted by HuronBob at 3:36 AM on August 2, 2006


posted by ArunK What is the world coming to when foreign nationals try to sue the government and force it to give them U.S. citizenship?

It's coming to the place where cliches and rhetorical questions rule the universe.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:42 AM on August 2, 2006


not to derail, but if you already have a green card, what do you need citizenship for? to vote? to get to a different lane in passport control whenever you land into a US airport? really.
posted by matteo at 4:06 AM on August 2, 2006


Say, ArunK, how long did you/your parents/grandparents/great-grandparents have to wait before they were granted American citizenship?
posted by fandango_matt at 4:06 AM on August 2, 2006


matteo, some of us still believe that voting is a privilege. And add in running for office, as well. Plus, there are lots of federal jobs that are only open to citizens.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:11 AM on August 2, 2006


Not to mention, it's a lot harder to deport a naturalized citizen than a green-card holder. Harder, but not impossible, of course.
posted by deadcowdan at 4:25 AM on August 2, 2006


I have the perfect solution. I'll pick ten mefi users who clearly feel soiled by having US citizenship and don't want it. We'll take it away from these and give it to the eager applicants. Win-win.
posted by jfuller at 4:26 AM on August 2, 2006


Aren't social security benefits only available to citizens? People with green cards have to pay taxes and social security but don't get any of it back when they retire.
posted by jiawen at 4:29 AM on August 2, 2006


I forgot about Social Security, jiawen. Thank you.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:30 AM on August 2, 2006


Matteo, This is one reason out of many, why a green card won't be enough.
posted by Xurando at 4:37 AM on August 2, 2006


According to USCIS, as of the end of May (the most recent month-end available): "Naturalization receipts in May 2006 increased 42 percent, while approvals/oaths increased 21 percent, and denials were up 14 percent when compared to May 2005. For the first eight months of fiscal year 2006, 441,759 persons took the oath of citizenship, an increase of 18 percent compared to fiscal year 2005."

In May alone, they took in roughly 80,000 new applications, approved nearly 59,000 and denied 11,000 already-pending applications.

In the first eight months of FY2006, they denied 79,133 naturalization applications.

As of May, there were 497,622 applications still pending.

"get off its ass and do its fucking job"
WTF? You make it sound like the barista is making them wait an extra 30 seconds for their latte. Do you comprehend the magnitude of the task -- half a friggin' million people to do criminal, residency, employment, and educational background checks on! It's amazing that they can clear and naturalize nearly 60,000 cases a month.

Now, let's consider the denials -- 79,133 people in eight months who, for whatever reason, didn't qualify for citizenship yet applied anyway. Now why would they do that? A portion of them are likely simple and possibly innocent mistakes committed by nice folks we'd love to welcome as U.S. citizens -- let's be laughably generous and say 90% (71,220) fall into this category. That leaves eight thousand people, or 1,000/month, that we decidedly do not want as citizens.

And along comes the ACLU, CAIR, and some blog commenters whining, "Your Honor, make them get off their asses and do their fucking jobs! Sixty thousand clearances a month isn't fast enough. And while your at it, Your Honor, we want you to grant blanket citizenship to all applicants who've had to wait more than four months. Yeah, yeah, we know that'll make citizen's of thousands of criminals and other unsavories, but we don't care, do it anyway."

Hey, here's a thought. Maybe some of the critical mouths could quit their unconstructive bellyaching and actually do something about this evil backlog of applications!
posted by CodeBaloo at 4:59 AM on August 2, 2006


CodeBaloo, did you RTFA? The problem isn't the delay between application and approval. That's always going to take months, because of the background checks you mentioned. The problem is the delay between approval and the oath. These people have already been cleared. USCIS has said, "Congratulations, you're eligible to be a US citizen, and you will become one in the next four months!" I, for one, like my government to keep its promises. If they can't handle the 120-day turnaround, they need to change the law, but first they need to put their money where their mouth is and get these people the naturalization certificates they're owed.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:17 AM on August 2, 2006


But on the flip side, the LA Times story paints a bit more complete story of the complaint. I don't know about the other plaintiffs, but by this story, Mr. Aziz seems to be a citizen (more so than many Americans) in every respect but name and has every right to be upset.

BTW, FofB, the lead to the MSNBC story reads, "[...]allegedly letting their U.S. citizenship applications linger indefinitely by delaying background checks," and the LA Times story says, "[t]he lawsuit, to be filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accuses government officials of illegally delaying their background checks and allowing applications to linger indefinitely".
posted by CodeBaloo at 5:23 AM on August 2, 2006


FofB, what does "CodeBaloo, did you RTFA?" mean? Yeah, that's what I thought it meant. ;)
posted by CodeBaloo at 5:26 AM on August 2, 2006


If you have a "Green Card" you DO get your Social Security, but only if you remain on US soil. According to U.S. law, the constitution applies to "Green Card" holders. In other words, these persons have most of the same rights as citizens and can petition the government not to be harmed. This isn't something crazy they dreamed up, that's what the law is.
posted by loafingcactus at 5:33 AM on August 2, 2006


Hm. I seem to have been burned, or at least lightly singed. Ah, well, it happens to the best of us. In any event, I need to go to work now, where I will fill out pages upon pages of immigration paperwork, contribute to making the backlog even larger, and probably explain to at least a dozen clients that no, there have been no developments in their cases, and we'll let them know as soon as USCIS actually does anything.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:39 AM on August 2, 2006


All this for two weeks holiday a year
posted by A189Nut at 5:42 AM on August 2, 2006


What is the world coming to when people post single-link newsfilter items to MetaFilter?
posted by LarryC at 5:54 AM on August 2, 2006


matteo, voting from my perspective is a huge advantage to citizenship. I pay the same taxes as anybody else in the U.S. but I can't even elect my local government let alone national government. It also bars me from certain jobs in the private sector.
posted by substrate at 5:57 AM on August 2, 2006


What is the world coming to when the display of certain MeFites' latent xenophobia is so prominent on the front page?
posted by jckll at 6:08 AM on August 2, 2006


If these people are suing for citizenship, they've already amply demonstrated that they are fit to be US citizens... they know how things get done states-side.
posted by clevershark at 6:25 AM on August 2, 2006


Willing to be a US citizen is soooo pre 9/11.
posted by NewBornHippy at 6:36 AM on August 2, 2006


WTF? You make it sound like the barista is making them wait an extra 30 seconds for their latte.

of course, if any other government agency was being this incompetent in processing red tape for citizens, you'd be saying "what the hell is wrong with our government these days?"

god forbid that we actually have a government that works in this country
posted by pyramid termite at 6:53 AM on August 2, 2006


ArunK, I find your comments on this story pretty offensive. I hope Matt just deletes this whole mess.
posted by caddis at 7:11 AM on August 2, 2006


The world is coming to your house with a large mallet.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 7:13 AM on August 2, 2006


A lot of Americans seem to view the citizenship process as essentially like joining a fraternity. Since the essence of joining a fraternity is suffering arbitrary humiliations doled out by a bunch of dimwitted assholes in hopes of becoming one of the assholes yourself, it's hardly surprising that nobody cares how efficiently the system works.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:20 AM on August 2, 2006


CodeBaloo is on the mark. FoB - it seems like the article is about delays in the investigative process. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Background checks (at least for DoD clearance) take a while. And, from what I understand, the agencies involved are seriously backlogged and overworked. Also, I heard from our investigator, that 1) there was a major re-structuring in their organization [as of this year they are also doing homeland security checks] and 2) their budget was used up in April.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:36 AM on August 2, 2006


Pyramid Termite -- Most government agencies mire citizen's in red tape. Ever had to visit your motor vehicle department? Ever filed for a FOIA petition to a federal agency? Ever had to go to civil or criminal court, even down to the municipal level? Ever tried to get pet item discussed and acted upon in your city council, county commission, or state congress? It took the San Diego social services department two years to get around to my post-adoption records case... and that was a simple matter of pulling the file and seeing if anyone from the birth family had previously submitted a confidentiality waiver. Red tape and delays are just part of the bureaucracy.

According to, one of the sites, only about 1% of USCIS applications reach "backlogged" status. Considering the sheer volume to be processed, one in a hundred's really not bad.

There's a lot of work to be done. And contrary to your implication, the various governments in this country do a lot of work already. Again, it's pretty easy to sit back and point out the problems and not contribute a lick to finding a solution. As is often quoted, "The credit in life goes not to the critic who stands on the sideline and points out where the strong stumble. But rather, the real credit in life goes to the person who's actually in the arena."

The credit goes to those who are actually working to bring immigrants to citizenship (what was it... something like 60,000 in a single month?), not to those who simply cast stones from the sidelines.
posted by CodeBaloo at 7:43 AM on August 2, 2006


Becoming a US Citizen is much easier than becoming a US Permanent Resident, it's just a matter of time. Depending on how one became a US PR, one can apply for naturalization either three or five years after becoming a PR. Becoming a PR is a long (sometimes > 2 years), expensive and bureaucratic process, however one does it. Becoming a citizen simply requires one to already be a PR, to speak a basic level of English, pass a simple history/civics exam and not to get in any criminal trouble since becoming a PR.

To become a PR requires one to demonstrate a clean criminal record in one's original country and since being in the US. Part of the process is an FBI background check. By the time they apply for citizenship, immigrants have already been investigated. The background check upon applying for citizenship is only to make sure they haven't been a criminal since becoming a PR.

When taking the naturalization exam and interview (they happen together on the same day), and assuming they are passed, the immigration officer might already know the background check result, in which case a date for the oath ceremony can be set. The oath ceremony is postponed if the background check is not yet completed. The immigrant becomes a US citizen only upon taking the oath.

The FBI and USCIS don't publicize what is involved in the naturalization background check but, given the numbers involved, it's likely just a check of a name against a database and therefore need not necessarily take many months. I'd be very surprised if it was as involved as a security clearance for a federal job. A federal job clearance takes more than a year, whereas the entire naturalization process is currently taking under six months in most cases, according to USCIS' own reports.
posted by normy at 7:50 AM on August 2, 2006


(Anyone notice that ArunK threw his little stinkbomb out there early this morning, and then vanished? Seems to be Trolling 101; fortunately, a reasonably good discussion has come out of it, one that's taught me a few bits about the immigration process that I didn't already know.)
posted by delfuego at 7:53 AM on August 2, 2006


Thanks for that, Normy. I was under the impression that the more extensive background check was the second, not the first. I agree, then, that the second must only be a cursory NCIC kind of thing. It'll be interesting to see what comes out if this makes it to trial.

Taking your account as the true process, the only reasonable explanations I can imagine are either there has been some quiet directive from somewhere on high to delay the granting of citizenship for certain classes of applicants, or something flagged during the second background check to warrant a closer look.
posted by CodeBaloo at 8:07 AM on August 2, 2006


some quiet directive from somewhere on high to delay the granting of citizenship for certain classes of applicants

If I may regain a small amount of authority in this thread, I don't know if such a thing exists, but it would not surprise me at all. I have seen accidentally leaked USCIS memos instructing the examiners to be extra hard on LPR applicants from specific countries-- absolutely illegal, but impossible to stop.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:22 AM on August 2, 2006


According to, one of the sites, only about 1% of USCIS applications reach "backlogged" status. Considering the sheer volume to be processed, one in a hundred's really not bad.

1% waiting after six months is not bad. 1% waiting after a year is a problem. But the lead name in the suit has been waiting for three years, and should be an automatic acceptance given an excutive order by Bush.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:26 AM on August 2, 2006


if you already have a green card, what do you need citizenship for? to vote?

Voting matters to some people. Other reasons to take citizenship include:

(1) If you're young-ish, it's cheaper over the long run than renewing your green card every 10 years.
(2) Eligibility for most jobs requiring US citizenship.
(3) You never have to deal with USCIS ever again, as long as you live.
(4) You can go back to your country of origin and take an interesting job for five years, and then come back to the US without having to go through the @#$@# hassle of getting a green card again. Or you can take a job in a third country without jeapardizing your US residency.
(5) You avoid the potential problem of the US restricting immigration procedures, refusing to renew green cards, making citizenship much harder to obtain, etc.

I don't doubt that this is politically motivated, but I became a lot more sympathetic to the delays in USCIS processes the first time we went to the Dallas office and saw how utterly tiny it is in relation to the number of people it serves. I do not want to think about how gargantuan their case-loads must be.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:29 AM on August 2, 2006


I applaud these folks for sticking it out and following the legal citizenship process.
posted by drstein at 8:35 AM on August 2, 2006


1% waiting after six months is not bad. 1% waiting after a year is a problem. But the lead name in the suit has been waiting for three years, and should be an automatic acceptance given an excutive order by Bush.

It look me 18 months after applying from putting my materials together, to fingerprinting, to interview, to ceremony. I come from a nation which is very friendly with the US.

If there is a delay, I can't imagine what the process is like if you're from a country the US doesn't like, but I can see several bottlenecks where your application can easily get tied up with one or another bureaucrat with a chip on his or her shoulder.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:39 AM on August 2, 2006


The credit goes to those who are actually working to bring immigrants to citizenship (what was it... something like 60,000 in a single month?), not to those who simply cast stones from the sidelines.

i vote and i work to pay taxes for all of this

how DARE you say that i'm merely casting stones from the sidelines? ... i and tens of millions like me are PAYING for this ... i and tens of millions like me will be voting this november to determine who will be running this government

those who defend our government's performance with arrogant elitism do so at their own risk ... if people get frustrated enough with it, they WILL change it because that is our right to

and it'll be people like you who get shunted off to the sidelines to throw stones then ...

i'm so sorry that the idea of a government that works well offends you so much ...
posted by pyramid termite at 8:54 AM on August 2, 2006


These aren't "foreign nationals trying to sue their way into US citizenship." These are people who have already successfully passed through the lengthy, byzantine and humiliating procedure of obtaining Permanent Resident status, and now that they've been living here as law-abiding residents* for enough time to be eligible for citizenship, and have passed the test that allows you to become an American citizen**, they're suing to force USCIS to get off its ass and do its fucking job. What part of "Federal law requires the government to approve or deny a citizenship application 120 days after an immigrant passes the exam"

Well said.


(1) If you're young-ish, it's cheaper over the long run than renewing your green card every 10 years.
(2) Eligibility for most jobs requiring US citizenship.
(3) You never have to deal with USCIS ever again, as long as you live.
(4) You can go back to your country of origin and take an interesting job for five years, and then come back to the US without having to go through the @#$@# hassle of getting a green card again. Or you can take a job in a third country without jeapardizing your US residency.
(5) You avoid the potential problem of the US restricting immigration procedures, refusing to renew green cards, making citizenship much harder to obtain, etc.


(6) and you can travel much easier to most any country you would like without waiting forever for the visa to pass.
posted by pwedza at 1:11 PM on August 2, 2006


Sorry for starting this flame war. Matt you can delete this thread if you want. All I meant to say is that suing the government is somewhat of an extreme measure, with all of the issues going on with immigration recently.

(Anyone notice that ArunK threw his little stinkbomb out there early this morning, and then vanished?
There's something called sleep that all of us require.

posted by ArunK at 1:13 PM on August 2, 2006


I hope they bring all of their shoes, and glasses, so they have them. Sue everybody.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:31 PM on August 2, 2006


not to derail, but if you already have a green card, what do you need citizenship for?

It'll make travel a whole lot easier - if you're a green card holder from, say, Bangladesh (to take my other half's nationality as an example) you need a visa to travel just about anywhere. Which if you travel a lot is a giant waste of time & money, and involves long queues and dealing with beaureaucracy. Get Us (or Canadian, or Irish, or . . . ) citizenship and that goes away right quick.

All I meant to say is that suing the government is somewhat of an extreme measure, with all of the issues going on with immigration recently

CSS-LULAC among other cases have been wending their way through the courts for years.
posted by jamesonandwater at 2:31 PM on August 2, 2006


not to derail, but if you already have a green card, what do you need citizenship for? to vote? to get to a different lane in passport control whenever you land into a US airport? really.

Once you get your citizenship, you can never be kicked out, regardless how many crimes you commit. Non-citizens can get kicked out for some minor stuff like possessing weed, etc.
posted by delmoi at 2:40 PM on August 2, 2006


Oh yeah, and James is also correct. A US passport is a ticket to just about everywhere else in the world.
posted by delmoi at 2:41 PM on August 2, 2006


It's exactly the whiny, prima donna, foot-stomping, I-pay-your-salary, spoiled child entitlement attitude we see above that is responsible for all the extra work that our various levels of government must do at the expense of the "real" stuff government should be focusing on. I wonder how many man-hours would be freed up for work on things the government should be doing, such as naturalization, if we eliminated all the gimme-gimme-gimme crap folks claim they "deserve"?

Again...
In the arena-----------------------|-------------------------La-Z-Boy Critics
My hat's off to those actually in the arena actually doing something to bring these folks aboard, not those on the sidelines who do nothing beyond casting stones of criticism.
posted by CodeBaloo at 3:17 PM on August 2, 2006


posted by CodeBaloo It's exactly the whiny, prima donna, foot-stomping, I-pay-your-salary, spoiled child entitlement attitude we see above that is responsible for all the extra work that our various levels of government must do at the expense of the "real" stuff government should be focusing on. I wonder how many man-hours would be freed up for work on things the government should be doing, such as naturalization, if we eliminated all the gimme-gimme-gimme crap folks claim they "deserve"?

Such as?
posted by fandango_matt at 3:25 PM on August 2, 2006


I'm guessing you're looking for examples of the gimme-gimme-gimme stuff that's draining resources away from the work government should be doing, such as immigration, providing for domestic tranquility and national defense, regulating taxation, and such.

Okay, how about all or a portion of {*draws a deep breath*}...
Providing a US public education for foreign nationals bussed daily across the border and back, handing out cash to those who don't need it but take it anyway 'cuz they "deserve" it , providing food for those who can afford it themselves but don't bother 'cuz they "deserve" it free or subsidized from the government, providing healthcare for those who can afford it themselves but don't bother 'cuz they "deserve" it free or subsidized from the government (including foreign nationals who come across for the sole purpose of taking advatage of this free healthcare handout because a certain element of our society has hamstrung its government by not allowing it to demand proof or entitlement), providing housing for those who can afford it themselves but don't bother 'cuz they "deserve" it free or subsidized from the government, providing school lunches and breakfasts whether the family can afford it themselves or not, providing free work training for those who could get it for themselves but don't because they feel it's the government's "job", providing energy for those who can afford it themselves but don't bother 'cuz they "deserve" it free or subsidized from the government, paying salaries of people who get hurt at or fired from work despite the fact that private business and the employee should be responsible for that, insuring retirement benefits availability instead of investments being the responsibility of the individual, and going after deadbeat parents on behalf of those who should be doing it themselves but feel they "deserve" having the government do it... just to name a few.

Now, of course, given individual differences in ideology, there are bound to be many of those about which people will argue the necessity and/or scope. That's not the point.

The point is that people whine and whine and whine that the government isn't providing enough of the ever-increasing amount of crap to which they are "entitled" -- more and more free goods and services so that the individual doesn't have to actually take responsibility for his or her own life -- then have the nerve to sit in the La-Z-Boy and complain when resources are spread so thin trying to accommodate their prima donna desires that government can't do, efficiently, the jobs that our government is actually supposed to do. And do they, then, offer to jump in and help their country out or otherwise lift a finger (off the keyboard, at least) to contribute to a solution? Nope. Goddesses forbid! They expect the government to magically {*poof*} create the funding and manpower out of thin air and instantly be able to cater to their every whim, no matter how much of that should be their own responsibility.

That is the "such as".
posted by CodeBaloo at 4:16 PM on August 2, 2006


Oh yeah, lest we forget, the government is supposed to be the end all and provide all while the very same whiny entitlement critics spew an incessant barrage of "this country sucks"!
posted by CodeBaloo at 4:22 PM on August 2, 2006


So you're saying that USCIS would process naturalizations faster if only those dirty fucking kids didn't get free lunches from school boards, which would presumably start processing naturalizations with consummate skill if only they weren't so busy handing out free lunch to ungrateful kids whose welfare mommas are too busy getting their Cadillacs polished and getting free boob jobs from Uncle Sugar to go to work. Gotcha.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:30 PM on August 2, 2006


If you're of the school it seems, I already know the stock reply to this, but I'll throw it out there anyway.

Choose the right word in brackets to make this a generally true statement based on all the recent hype from those of a particular political ideology:

"Undocumented workers" do the jobs that Americans [CAN'T / WON'T] do.

Okay. Now with that answer fresh in your mind, please reread my comment.

BTW -- "Uncle Sugar"... I like that. Think I'll start using that phrase, too. Thanks.
posted by CodeBaloo at 4:48 PM on August 2, 2006


ROU_Xenophobe --
You seem to be asking if I believe that if we eliminated the welfare mommas who are getting their Cadillacs polished and free boob jobs who have ungrateful kids, we'd free up man-hours that could be used by the USCIS to process applications more efficiently. Is that correct?

Short answer: a tentative "absolutely".

Unfortunately, I can't answer more definitively than that because you failed to provide a crucial element. You obviously have some firm knowledge that these welfare mommas who are getting their Cadillacs polished and free boob jobs who have ungrateful kids you mention do exist and are actively receiving government handouts, since you stated that so matter-of-factly. Else you'd have no point and look the fool, right?

So, before I can figure out how many man-hours can be diverted to the task of processing naturalization applications, please provide a figure (your educated estimate will suffice) regarding how many welfare mommas who are getting their Cadillacs polished and free boob jobs who have ungrateful kids you feel are currently leeching the system.

From there, we can continue our friendly exchange of ideas. Thanks in advance.
posted by CodeBaloo at 5:17 PM on August 2, 2006


Well, I don't know that we need to eliminate them. The last experiments with the elimination of undesirables showed that it took a fair amount of manpower. The camps and trains won't run themselves, you know.

You honestly believe that if school boards or state medical agencies had less to do, that would make USCIS, a completely unrelated agency, somehow more efficient? Goodness.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:28 PM on August 2, 2006


Ahh, the old (so common it's humorous, actually) standby: a weak Nazi parallel. A little early to play that card, donchya think? After all, playing the Nazi thing so early in the conversation might give a reader the impression you're arguing from a weak position. Oh well, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Anyway, everything I listed is a federal entitlement program. Therefore, federal resources are being expended to administer them. So yes, those resources could be reallocated to help more effectively administer some of the federal government's real responsibilities... including the USCIS.

BTW, you forgot to include how many welfare mommas who are getting their Cadillacs polished and free boob jobs who have ungrateful kids you believe are currently leeching the entitlement system. Just an oversight, I'd bet, 'cuz I'm sure you would never throw that out there solely for shock value with no support whatsoever. Oh wait... you did make the Nazi parallel...
posted by CodeBaloo at 5:44 PM on August 2, 2006


And, BTW, by resources used to "administer" these over-the-top federal entitlement programs, I'm not talking about freeing up ten, or even a hundred, "suits" to go "supervise". I'm talking about freeing up, perhaps, tens of thousands of government employees that could be reassigned to, among other necessary entities, the USCIS. So, goodness yes, I do think it'd make an impact.
posted by CodeBaloo at 5:54 PM on August 2, 2006


Which federal entitlement programs, exactly, do you consider "over the top", and why? Also, exactly, what do you mean by that phrase, "over the top"? I'm genuinely curious.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:09 PM on August 2, 2006


Fandango_matt, a sampling of the programs I'm referring to were listed a few posts up.

"Over the top" = above and beyond; beyond its scope; unnecessary

First, understand that "over the top" in my eyes may not be over the top in the view of others. In fact, that's a near certainty. That said, I use "over the top" to refer primarily to entitlement programs providing goods and services that should rightly be provided by the individual citizen, except in cases where the citizen is not capable of (as opposed to unwilling to) providing for themselves.

I'd also put in the "over the top" category some programs in which citizen resources (human, fiscal, and material) are used to benefit citizen's of other nations. There's really no way to word that so it doesn't get twisted and used against me, so I'll give examples. To me, humanitarian aide is not "over the top". But, given my proximity to the southern US border this is one of my favorites, this is "over the top"...

Every morning, a U.S. public school bus drives about 40 miles to the border with Palomas, Mexico. There, it picks up Mexican kids -- not U.S. permanent residents, not even Mexicans living in the U.S. illegally, rather Mexican kids living in Mexico with their Mexican parents who live, work, and pay taxes in Mexico -- and busses them to Luna County (NM) public schools where these kids receive free education and meals. Then we bus these kids back home to Mexico every afternoon. In fact, one of these kids shot and killed a fellow 7th-grader (a U.S. citizen and rightful recipient of U.S. public education) a few years back and, thanks to our "friends" at the ACLU and LULAC, you continue to pay for this practice today!

And we, the taxpayers, are funding this -- all of it, the bus, the driver, the food, the school, the teacher's, the school board, the dept. of education employees... all of it. Our government is expending resources administering this. And that just a single local example.

Or take, for example, all the people who will eagerly take a free handout from Uncle Sugar, but refuse to take a job at McDonald's because 1) it's beneath them, and 2) they have a better lifestyle on the handouts than they'd have if they actually worked. This idea was the impetus behind asking ROU_Xenophobe to choose the correct word that completes the sentence about undocumented immigrants above.

Or maybe it's the woman I see in Albertson's grocery store wearing Rockie's (expensive) brand jeans, sporting new custom nails and a bunch of bling, using her cell phone to talk to her friend about a show she saw on cable TV last night and where they'll go clubbing tonight, and finally, getting into her "tuner" car... after using a food stamp card to pay for her groceries.

Or, it's the 18-yr-old woman on medicaid in the ER where I work. She had four kids already, no job, no significant other, and was pregnant yet again. When the doctor challenged her as to why she got pregnant again with no means to raise her child, her answer (Honest to god!) was that each time she has another child, her government benefits amount increases by an amount greater than it costs her to raise the child. I was there! She was bragging about how clever she was! She was having kids for personal profit at my expense!

Or, also from the ER where I work, over the top programs allow four or five (maybe more) pregnant foreigners a week to sneak across the border, and have their baby at no charge. Well, not at no charge, just no charge to them. That's just at our one hospital. And who picks up the several thousand (or tens of thousands) dollar medical tab for each one of these "free" deliveries -- tens of millions of dollars a year at our one hospital alone? Or how many resources are expended to offer this "over the top" entitlement?

Of course, there are legitimate uses for such programs. If someone truly cannot pay for food -- meaning they've cut every luxury they can think of and still can't feed his or her kids -- then, of course, I want my government to step in and do something. If there's some emergency that's beyond the expectation of planning for by the individual, say a natural disaster, then, of course, I'd want my government to step in. So to those who'll surely paint me an heartless ogre (or more likely, a Nazi, LOL) don't bother.

From less of an "abuse of the system" standpoint -- though resources saved by eliminating such abuses would help elsewhere tremendously, including at USCIS (but, again, thanks to litigation by our "friends", we're left powerless to stop the abuse) -- let's take unemployment benefits. It should be the individual's responsibility to plan in advance -- via savings, private insurance, learning a second "backup" skill -- for such an event as getting hurt or fired. I don't believe it's in the government's scope to handhold its citizens from cradle to grave.

My argument is simply that we throw so much at unwarranted entitlements that, if we cut back those programs, we could bolster some of the warranted duties of government. And that many who are campaigning (in their own way) for the continuation and expansion of these unwarranted entitlements are, ironically, simultaneously complaining about the lack of resources available for such tasks as processing naturalizayion applications.

Hope that clarifies my thinking a bit, Matt. I'm off to work, but will try to check back soon. Have a good evening.
posted by CodeBaloo at 7:43 PM on August 2, 2006


I'm talking about freeing up, perhaps, tens of thousands of government employees that could be reassigned

Yes. Because in the real world, people really do work for this monolithic entity called THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and can just be "reassigned" to perform completely different work in completely different agencies. This is sometimes a cause of consternation for NOAA scientists who've been reassigned to dish out slop in VA hospital cafeterias and federal prison guards who find themselves assembling thermonuclear warheads at Oak Ridge.

All that you're saying is just "If we took away this stuff I don't like, we could force the people doing it to do stuff I like better." Well, yeah, sure. We could take people who are doling out filthy, evil subsidies to people you don't recognize as needy and force them to process naturalizations, as you suggest. We could also shut down all of the gun factories in the US and force their employees to process naturalization forms at gunpoint if we really wanted to, or gather up all of the mimes and make them process naturalization forms instead of miming. All of these are equally looney.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:06 PM on August 2, 2006


Thanks for the obviously carefully-considered reply. It's clear, especially in your use of the NOAA and prison guard examples, the way you can so readily tell me what I'm saying, and the way you can bring gun factories into the discussion that you're willing to carry on a calm, level-headed discussion.

It's clearer now why you had to resort to the ol' Nazi standby so early in the discussion.

Funny, but I couldn't help but notice that you never gave a figure for the number of those welfare mommas who are getting their Cadillacs polished and free boob jobs who have ungrateful kids that you offered up earlier.

Hmm, wonder why that is?

I also couldn't help but notice you never addressed my challenge for you to complete the "can't/won't" sentence and reread my position in that light.

Hmm, wonder why that is?
posted by CodeBaloo at 8:27 PM on August 2, 2006


It's exactly the whiny, prima donna, foot-stomping, I-pay-your-salary, spoiled child entitlement attitude we see above

excuse me? ... all i asked was for the government to do an efficient job and to follow its own laws ... because, you know, that's what they're supposed to do when i pay my taxes to them

if you have such contempt for your fellow citizens, especially those who are actually paying for all the social ills and abuses you list, perhaps you should stop working for the government ... or move to another country ... or see a therapist about your delusions of superiority and inability to control your arrogance and anger ... and while you're at it, quit acting like such a damned martyr because you're in this glorious arena of yours

free clue ... judging from your posts, it's NOT making you a better human being
posted by pyramid termite at 8:35 PM on August 2, 2006


Funny, but I couldn't help but notice that you never gave a figure for the number of those welfare mommas who are getting their Cadillacs polished and free boob jobs who have ungrateful kids that you offered up earlier.

8,328,247. I do research in this field, but I can't disclose my sources because of HIPAA regulations about the free boob jobs (actually they're paid a small stipend during recovery). I *can* say that the measurement methodology involves so-called "flouridation" of drinking water.

I also couldn't help but notice you never addressed my challenge for you to complete the "can't/won't" sentence and reread my position in that light.

Undocumented aliens do the jobs that [people hire them for].
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:45 PM on August 2, 2006


It is universally the case that a debater who bases their arguments on "entitlement" is bluntly trying to get the listener to willingly give up something concrete for nothing at all, or something so ephemeral that it may as well be nothing at all: the debater's good esteem. The inherent insult in such a tack should be obvious to those who aren't predisposed to agree. Sticking to concerns about distribution of resources, rather than Reagan-era welfare-mom yaps, is a better way to go about it, especially if the debater can manage to confine his thoughts to a paragraph or two.
posted by furiousthought at 8:48 PM on August 2, 2006


8,328,247.

you can't fool me, dude ... that's an odd number, not even
posted by pyramid termite at 8:53 PM on August 2, 2006


Let me guess... you don't drink pure rain water, do you?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:06 PM on August 2, 2006


downwind of chicago? ... not very bloody likely
posted by pyramid termite at 9:50 PM on August 2, 2006


"manage to confine his thoughts to a paragraph or two"

Hehe, great advice.

Pyramid_termite -- it seems there's been some misunderstanding. I don't work for the government. I just have never cared for folks who simply point out problems from the sideline and contribute nothing to the solution. The same contempt would be present, say, for those who'd denigrate the soldier, but who'd never consider becoming one themselves.

In this particular case, it seems to be the very people who encourage diverting resources away from agencies such as the USCIS (in favor of already-bloated and abused programs) who are first in line to criticize, for example, the pace of progress at the USCIS. Then, when it's suggested that some of the bloat and abuse be ended, those very same people are the one's arguing against fixing the problem.

Arrogance and anger? Arrogance: I hate to admit it, but I've heard it from enough people that perhaps it's true. Maybe I am (if only a touch) arrogant depite lacking the standing. Something I need to work on, I guess. And anger: Limited and directed anger, yes. But more often, it's simply frustration with the type of tail-chasing behavior I mentioned in the preceding paragraph.
posted by CodeBaloo at 10:53 PM on August 2, 2006


That's an extraordinarily narrow view.

If we're just bandying about stereotypes, the liberals you're imagining who complain about USCIS processing times are hardly silent on federal priorities, and also complain about "bloated and abused" military procurements, and about useless wars in Iraq, and about tax cuts that benefit only the wealthiest sliver of the country and that the rest of us have to pick up the slack for, and so on. They want to "fix the problem." They just understand it in a different way than you do.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:15 PM on August 2, 2006


That's an extraordinarily narrow view.
posted by CodeBaloo at 11:44 PM on August 2, 2006


Whoops... hit the wrong button.

That's an extraordinarily narrow view.
It is. But I like to think of it as "focused" rather than "narrow" -- makes me feel better about it.

They just understand it in a different way than you do
Fair enough. I think a big contributor to my view is that I see these abuses, personally, every day. Because I'm in healthcare and live in a poor part of the country on the border, the stuff I see daily is primarily social program and immigration issue-related abuses as mentioned previously.
posted by CodeBaloo at 11:53 PM on August 2, 2006


well, ok, then ... it seems to me that part of the problem we're having with illegal immigration is the byzantine process people have to go through to get into this country legally ... although there's a lot of controversy over it these days, that controversy is partially caused by the neglect people have shown towards the issue in the past ... it has not been a priority

on the one hand, we've got red tape to offer those who want to come here legally ... on the other hand, i was hearing on npr yesterday about agents of the government who attempted to enter the country with false ids ... every one of them succeeded ... we have a system that penalizes people for following the rules and rewards them for flaunting them, at least in the short run ... and if they don't get caught, in the long run, also

this kind of confusion and incompetence is in every level of our government ... last year with hurricane katrina, we saw just how bad it could get ... people can argue about goals and priorities all day, but i don't know that it matters much if our government can't do anything well ...

the most worrying part of it is it just doesn't seem to be the government anymore ... this kind of bumbling seems to be spreading to business, too ... increasingly, i'm getting the impression that the people who run things in this country don't know what they're doing ... and all the people who abuse the system certainly aren't helping
posted by pyramid termite at 6:41 AM on August 3, 2006


Has anyone else caught the irony of CodeBaloo's complaints about armchair management of government while he is the most prolific contributor of armchair management in this thread?

1: We are only talking about 1% of all cases. Some of which have been on hold for more than 3 years. To me, this suggests that something other than simple lack of manpower or funds is at stake here.

2: If this 1% of all cases is biased in regards to ethnicity and religion, then we are looking at a potential violation of civil rights laws and constitutional equal protection.

3: Open and public discussion of how governments do business is a central part of the democratic process. It is the reason why we have first amendment protections of freedom of press and association. The first step in any change process involves a lot of talk raising awarness of a problem. As an example, Ida B. Wells spent decades lecturing and writing about lynching before the government took action.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:43 AM on August 3, 2006


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