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?