By Maria del Carmen Amado
Lilia, who asked that her last name not be revealed, submitted
her application for residency in 1991. But she has still not received
her Green Card. Stories like hers are common among the more than
one million of immigrants with cases pending.
After eleven years of negotiations, the Mexican mother from Jalisco
has been informed by the Immigration and Nationalization Services
that her record will be investigated for the first time. It will
be treated according to the new measures that are part of the process
of the immigration services incorporation into the new Department
of Homeland Security, a process which has damaged millions of undocumented
immigrants, according to one report by the New York Immigration
"Five years ago I had an interview, and handed over everything
they asked me for and they havent finished up with my passport,"
said Lilia, whose unstable immigration status "has damaged
During the presentation of the study, the director of the New York
Immigration Coalition, Margie McHugh, said that the reorganization
of the Immigration and Naturalization Service will increase the
delays of negotiations over immigrant status for millions of workers
and their families in the United States.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service initiated the period
of transition with thousands of positions unfilled. Fifty percent
of the departments labor force is composed of temporary and
contract workers, and a quarter of employees are on the brink of
retirement, maintains the report. The law that creates the Homeland
Security Department was signed in November by President George W.
Bush. Considered the largest governmental restructuring since the
Department of Defense in 1947, the measure taken after the September
11th attacks divides the responsibility of the Immigration
and Naturalization Service into two agencies; the Bureau of Citizenship
and Legal Services.
McHugh said that the departments fragmented personnel will
consider more than ten million applications per year in a new agency,
where this type of work will have the lowest priority. "The
INS applied to hire 534 employees, but they were not given anything."
According to Guillermo Chacon of the Salvadorian-American National
Network, "there will be sad and hurtful parties for millions
of immigrants this year. Although we are in support of national
security, when immigrants get hit like this we have to protest because
these same immigrants contribute to the American economy."
Chacon, along with the immigration coalition, asked president Bush
to fulfill his campaign promise to reduce the application process
for immigration status by six months, avoiding more suffering for
immigrants. Since John Alvarado of El Salvador has turned in his
application, the only thing he has received is "to pay higher
costs without receiving a green card."
"Things could get worse for millions of immigrants and unfortunately
our report shows that things are going to go from bad to worse,"
Translated from Spanish by Joshua Brustein
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