Terrorists Welcome: All others Line up and Wait
INS is the ‘Weakest Link’ in protecting the United States
by Howard Melamed
09/15/01 1st Draft
I am sure you will share with me in my disappointment and frustration with our Immigration and Naturalization Service. Once again as with other terrorist attacks within our great country, the INS let us down. The latest events indicate that not only did some of the terrorists come into the United States through our front door, but the INS gave them visas and Green Cards without the proper investigation and without the same hassles they put good people through.
One of my Canadian friends is a business owner in South Florida and a Coral Springs resident. He was born in Canada, lived 40 years their, and decided several years ago to immigrate to this country because ‘Business was so good in Canada he moved his family 1800 miles south”. (I hope you laughed). He is was granted only an E-2, which means that as long as he has an investment and business in the United States he could stay and live in this country. His business employs 10-12 Americans. He owns a home in Coral Springs and his kids go to Coral Springs schools. He pays taxes just as if he is a citizen like you and I. However, the INS has made it a nightmare for him in his goal of obtaining a Green Card and becoming a US Citizen.
A few years ago, he had to renew his E-2 visa. He went to the INS office on 77th street in Miami, and obtained all the necessary paperwork. Everything was accepted by the INS and they gave my friend the signed and sealed paperwork extending his E-2 visa for another 5 years. They stamped the Canadian passports of his entire family indicating that they were allowed to stay in the United States. My friend’s passport was stamped but the INS officer forgot to initial it, which is a requirement by the INS to do so. A few weeks later my friend’s mother passed away in Canada and the entire family traveled there for the funeral. A few days later the family tried to fly back home, but was stopped by the INS at the airport in Canada. Even though everyone in the family had their passports stamped and initialed properly, they looked at my friends passport and denied him entry. They instead stamped the passport as ‘Invalid Entry, must Re-file’. He was not allowed to come home.
With his attorney, he re-filed the documents. The INS bureaucracy moved at a slow pace. Meanwhile, his business continued to operate without him, and his kids missed school. I took care of his dog. During this time, the bank had to have their mortgage paid, FPL still billed him, and the property taxes were due. Even taxes to the County State and Federal governments were being paid, just as if he was here. Just as if he was a United States Citizen. The INS finally notified him that if they continued to process the paperwork at their office in Texas, it might be as long as 6 months before he would be allowed into the country. His attorney found another way and 4 weeks later, the only way that he was able to get back home, was through another country, where there is an immigration processing center at a US Embassy. So off he and his entire family went to another land. After 3 long days, he and his family were finally allowed to return to his Coral Springs home, with all the paperwork properly stamped and signed. I picked him up at the airport in Miami. He was exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster he was put through. He almost cried. Aside from dealing with the death of his mother, he had to deal with the INS. Despite the treatment the INS gave him, he holds no grudges. Instead he longs for the day when he can stand before our Flag and Pledge Allegiance just like of us.
My friend is no threat to the National Security of the United States. He pays his taxes and employs Americans. His kids go to our schools and he spends his money on goods and services supplied to him by the U S of A. He will never collect welfare. He is a “Good Citizen” Yet, he still cannot get a Green Card from the INS.
On the other hand, Mohammed Atta and all the rest of the terrorists, got their papers easily from the INS. They were not examined properly and they were not investigated despite being from a middle eastern country. Nobody form the INS cared about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s when it came to the terrorists.
It all reminds me of Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther Movie. The INS was hassling the blind beggar with the monkey in front of the bank while the bank was being robbed by the criminals.
While the United States beefs up our security at the airports, let’s only hope that they look into the fiasco over at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The INS is our first line of defense and they should take their jobs seriously. They are our weakest link in the chain of protection.