24 hour background check--hardly

Houston Chronicle:

Dr. Joseph Vadas, a legal immigrant from Hungary who has practiced medicine in Texas since 1978, seems like an unlikely national security threat.

The 73-year-old Woodlands physician wears an American flag tie on special occasions, has a framed picture of Ronald Reagan in his home study and boasts about delivering more than 1,400 Texas babies. "I've never lost a baby. I've never lost a momma," he says, grinning.

Yet, after 29 years as a physician in Texas and a legal permanent resident, and more than two years after filing his naturalization application, Vadas is still waiting for the FBI to finish his background check so he can become a U.S. citizen.

Like hundreds of thousands of other would-be citizens and green-card holders, Vadas' application has quietly stalled in the FBI's Name Check Program, a part of the immigration process U.S. officials say is critically important, yet remains understaffed nearly six years after 9/11.

Prakash Khatri, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ombudsman, said in his annual report this month to Congress that the FBI name checks "may be the single biggest obstacle to the timely and efficient delivery of immigration benefits."

As of May, USCIS reported that 329,160 FBI name check cases were pending, according to the report. Of those, about 104,600 — or 32 percent — had been in the system for more than three months but less than a year. Sixteen percent, some 51,497 applicants, were pending between one and two years. About 17 percent of applicants had been waiting more than two years.

In May, USCIS officials in Houston reported in court filings that nearly 1,200 applicants had been waiting more than 18 months for their immigration-related background checks to clear.

The problem has become so pervasive that hundreds of would-be citizens and green-card holders are suing the federal government to expedite their background checks. The plaintiffs in Houston include a former member of the Texas Army National Guard, a Chinese osteoarthritis researcher, a Russian petrophysicist and a Peruvian doctor-in-residence.

...
Is there any wonder that the proponents of the immigration reform bill have no credibility on the issue of the 24 hour back ground check for people signing up for legal status under bill? Why should those who came here illegally get a better deal than those who are doing things legally? This is one reason why many see the bill as an amnesty.

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