Blame Congress
I never thought I'd write to defend the INS bureaucracy--which frustrates the public and its own hard-working members--but the article "Borderline Case" [July 24] by Rebeca Rodriguez contained so many misleading statements of immigration law that it might do more harm than good. The article tells of a young woman with a severely ill U.S. citizen child in the process of obtaining a green card through (I presume this, and it is important to know through whom) her permanent resident husband's filing in 1993. It is stated that the INS is simply backlogged on her case and is only now working on 1992 cases.

This has nothing to so with INS bureaucracy. The delay is caused by a quota system passed by Congress that limits the number of people who can get permanent residence per year. INS cannot process her petition (both before and after the latest changes) even if they pulled her file up front and placed it on the commissioner's desk. And while the changes in the seven-year residency for "suspension of deportation" do hurt her chances (which do appear strong), it is reckless to suggest that "she would be able" to stop a deportation under that provision, because it is "discretionary" and an immigration judge could still say no. Further, it requires her to turn herself in for arrest and deportation proceedings, a severe risk in itself.

Additionally, the article appears to imply that new legislation requires Maricela to leave. Now, unless she benefited from a special program called Family Unity Voluntary Departure, which the article does not state, she always has been in a status that required her to leave immediately. That's what it means to be an "illegal alien." The new law simply puts punishing delays on reentry on those who wait until after September to leave, whether or not "they get caught." Finally, the article states that Maricela is halfway to U.S. citizenship. She is going for lawful residency, not citizenship. It may take an additional five or more years after residency before applying for citizenship is an option.

Ironically, one of the few good changes proposed in the recent laws was to speed up the quotas for those in Maricela's category. This was defeated because it was part of a larger, unpopular set of limits on legal immigration. Another irony is that the current provisions putting punitive delays on her processing actually do punish her more for complying with the law and leaving rather than "laying low" until her quota number comes up. But that's the price we pay for our strange cyclical hysterias about immigrants, which result in legislation that is only a compromise with reality.

Matthew Hogan
Via Internet

Bad form
I thoroughly enjoy reading the Dallas Observer. I rarely go a week without reading the magazine. In a recent volume of the magazine [July 17], I saw something that really puzzled and upset me. On page 68, there is an advertisement for a bar called Martini Ranch. In this ad, there is a baby holding a martini in one hand and a cigar in the other hand. I was really angered by this poor and tacky slogan for a bar! I understand that this place should have an advertisement, but not in such poor taste!

As a non-drinker, I am very sensitive about placing kids in ads that have to do with alcohol and smoking. I thought that the Observer editors and/or staff members had good, sound judgment, especially when it comes to sensitive issues like this one. I am not at all pleased with this particular ad and would like to see someone with "brains" to realize the message this ad conveys. Like I said, I love the magazine, but if I keep seeing ads like this, I will stop reading it. You know it's bad enough to see young kids addicted to alcohol and drugs, and what this ad does is promotes and/or draws even younger children to that ugly lifestyle. I should say that I'm a recovering alcoholic. This is why it bothered me so much.

Name withheld

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