Oh State Department, My State Department

April 10, 2005

A Kirghiz American woman's legally obtained driver's license, as well as vital paperwork stating that she was a legal asylum-seeker, were confiscated in Gladstone, Missouri by a DMV clerk when the woman tried to arrange for a driver's permit for her teenaged son. Naturally, when the DMV called the State Department to confirm the woman's story, no one could be reached. Perhaps the scariest thing here is that the DMV clerk has not been trained in immigration issues and is not accountable to anyone for her actions. The woman's paper is still missing and the clerk can't/won't tell anyone what happened to it.

If the "Real ID Act of 2005", currently before the Senate, is passed, this sort of thing will happen all the time. Intended to prevent terrorists from obtaining IDs, the act effectively turns untrained DMV workers into decision-makers regarding the status of both legal and illegal immigrants. Check out the blog from two weeks ago "Save An Undocumented Immigrant" on this issue for more information.

Meanwhile, back at the State Department, Dubya has authorized the admission of 70,000 refugees to the US in 2005, according to regional quotas. The largest allotment goes to Africa (20,000), and the second largest to East Asia (13,000).

However nice this may sound, Congress has only allotted enough money to resettle 40,000 refugees, despite the State Department's claim that they can find at least 60,000 refugees for resettlement this year. This is a setback from the climb in refugee admission since 9/11. In 2001 nearly 70,000 refugees were admitted prior to 9/11. This dropped to around 27,000 in 2002 but went back up to 53,000 last year. Because of increased costs of processing refugees, owing to new processes put in place after 9/11, holding the line at last year's budget won't mean holding the line in terms of numbers of people allowed in.

Can one hand really not talk to the other in our government? (Yes, I know that was a deliberately naive rhetorical question.) Since the State Department farms out the actual work of settling the refugees stateside to nongovernmental agencies, perhaps they really don't have a clue about the complexities and needs of people trying to settle into a new environment. You know, needs like being able to get to work, or get their kids to school, or being able to write a check. There are really two issues here: getting people into our country who need help, and then facilitating their settlement here when they arrive. It's complicated, but it's not rocket science. Why can't our government get it together?




First I would like to say I have never written or complained about our government before but I feel ashamed to be an American at this point.In 2003 we were invited to visit my wife’s family in the Philippines and the whole time there we had been treated with courtesy and respect by the people and authorities we had such a good time that we invited them to come visit us (to go to Disneyland and such and show off some of our country ) we had long discussions of how our government works the checks and balances and I was proud to say that our civil servants work for us and are held accountable for their actions unlike the corrupt system they seem to have.I did some research and found that that they would be more likely to get a visa if there was good reason for them to return to the Philippines and were financially well off so they put together a list of finances and business owned to go for a interview with all the info I ask them to collect it seemed everything was in order.I was horrified to find out the interviewer treated them like trash and refused to look at any of the information and rejected them for a visa it was so bad that he no longer has a interest to visit our country if that’s how we treat people it is no wonder many other people hate us.I feel that the people we send to the embassies represent us and should treat others with the respect they deserve as human beings they should look at all the info and if a legitimate reason for rejecting a visa is found they should be told politely .but that is not what happened these civil servants work for us and need to be held accountable for their actions but these people seem to have free rein I would like to loge a formal compliant but can not seem to as there is not a system in place so the only action I can take is to no longer vote for the administration that puts this kind of persons in place unless I can get some help with this. I will actively campaign against this kind of policy!Jerry BacaEmail: jrbaca [at] cox.net