Monday, April 11, 2005

Fortress America (Not)

The US immigration policy of hassling allies and encouraging lawbreakers is now beyond parody. Here are two adjacent stories from today's Washington Times. First, on the Minutemen.

Illegal aliens dodge sentinels along border

NACO, Ariz. -- Minuteman Project volunteers, manning outposts along a 20-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border, have managed to block a major corridor used by migrants headed north. Those intent on illegally entering the United States, however, found new routes east and west of here.

Minuteman organizers and volunteers say they are upset that President Bush authorized funding for a total of 210 new Border Patrol agents for fiscal 2006, instead of the 2,000 new agents approved in the intelligence overhaul bill that he signed in December. Most of the 2,000 agents were to be assigned to Arizona.

I sympathize with the Mexicans - they just want to feed their families - but the the apparent deliberate laxity that lets them in contrasts with the next story.

EU frets that U.S. will enforce visa pledge

The European Union predicts that only six of its 25 members will make a deadline (October 2005) for including biometric data in new passports, raising the prospect that visas will be required for the first time for millions of trans-Atlantic visitors to the United States. Britain and Japan, the top two travel originations, are among the affected countries.

The story is from UPI, who don't know that Japan isn't a member of the EU. Hmm. Anyway, the good news is that the 6 countries that will be ready are all staunch US allies!

Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg and Sweden.

And only minor counties will be impacted!

"Another extension is necessary," said Rick Webster, government affairs director of the U.S. Travel Industry Association. "The bottom line is that, despite their best efforts, neither Britain nor Japan will make the deadline -- that is the number one and number two markets for travel to the United States." Mr. Webster said that by some counts, as many as 2 million travelers might be unable to visit the United States visa-free next year unless the deadline is extended.

A Brit family getting US visas has to take a day off work & go to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London. They'll have to wait in line for hours, without protection from the crappy London weather. When they finally reach the front of the line. they'll encounter clerical folks who are pure 1980s-style US Post Office - rude, incomprehensible & indifferent (they're all tenured). And the Brits will have to pay about $125 for each visa.

And that's the good news - those with old style passports will still get to be photographed and fingerprinted on entry to the US.

Rather than go to all this hassle and expense, Brits won't bother - there are plenty of friendlier tourist destinations.

So, there you are - illegal immigrants and potential terrorists flood in while pesky Brits and Japanese are kept firmly at bay.

Experience teaches that train wrecks of this kind are caused by fools rather than knaves. But one does wonder - are the State Department, INS and Border Patrol run by evil Dimocrats?