A traitorous American general hanged for aiding the British during the Revolutionary War — one Benedict Arnold — said rather cynically: “Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained.” This quote came to mind in scanning the latest developments in dysfunctional immigration:

  • With a rider passed by the House to a defense appropriations bill, Congress is poised to approve the phased elimination of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell” policy. House leaders champion its action as a long-overdue recognition of the civil rights of gay soldiers. Yet the civil rights of binational gay lovers — trashed by the Defense of Marriage Act — are ignored. And a gay student born in Iran but living in the U.S. since age 3 faces deportation to the Islamic Republic (from which gays are fleeing in fear) after his arrest in Arizona for participating in a sit-in at Sen. John McCain’s office protesting the Congress’s failure to pass the DREAM Act.
  • The State Department gives its web page — www.state.gov— a welcome facelift, announcing the change in its spiffy blog; but doesn’t take steps to address or explain the technology fiasco that is its online visa application form, the DS-160.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services commendably retreats from an ill-advised “original-signature” policy that would have added to the cost of legal services for immigration stakeholders. Yet USCIS seems to do little more than listen to public complaints on its burdensome, boilerplate requests for evidence (RFEs) practices that perpetuate the agency’s vendetta against small businesses, or to fail to explain the still-unresolved problems leading up to the Summer 2007 adjustment of status “surge” and the annual waste of unused immigrant visa numbers that add far more to legal fees for represented stakeholders.
  • The Department of Labor unveils a new online tool to help employees and small businesses understand H-1B visas, but does little to accelerate case processing of its online PERM program for foreign-worker labor certifications that can now take a year or longer to complete, even in cases not requiring an audit. This is the system that was supposed to issue decisions in about a month or so, according to DOL (see p. 77328):”We anticipate an electronically filed application not selected for audit will have a computer-generated decision within 45 to 60 days of the date the application was initially filed.” Worse than that, unlike USCIS, the Labor Department refuses to expedite its decisions in deserving cases (except when ordered to speed up a case by a court) and has failed to establish a PERM hotline for stakeholder concerns.

For a modern retort to both Benedict Arnold’s cynicism and the disturbing dysfunctions of American immigration policy, look no further than a powerful video, ATTN: Mr. Democrat, included among 18 finalists in State’s “Democracy Challenge” contest, a 3-minute film by Iranian writer and director, Farbod Khoshtinat. The video includes these chilling lines: “Democracy is not to play with words and to invert the truth and still discourse on freedom of speech.” Similarly, all the spin that a PR flack can twirl will never be enough to invert the truth about the pervasive failings of our dysfunctional immigration system.