In the last decade, a multitude of solutions have been proposed to combat the ever-growing issue of illegal immigration — taller fences, stricter deportation policies, brigades of Minute Men exercising their somewhat-alienable right to good old fashioned vigilantism.
However, in the host of band-aids different groups have tried to apply to the problem, few solutions have come close confronting the source: convoluted straits of legal immigration.
Promises of immigration reform have been made, earmarked and forgotten, and politicians continue to play the blame game.
On Monday, however, a major battle for immigration reform was won in California. Fighting endless litigations with litigiousness, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center settled a case that had been filed with the federal government in 2007.
The settlement effectively puts a kibosh on the status quo of limitless delays in the processing of requests for legal citizenship. There is also now a six-month time limit on the hundreds of naturalization requests currently in legal limbo in Los Angeles, Santa Ana and San Bernardino counties.
This case sets an important precedent for the problem of illegal immigration on the national level.
Bureaucracy has long been the nail in the coffin. According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 525,000 petitions for naturalization were filed in 2008; by the end of the year, more than 480,000 applications were still awaiting a decision.
The median number of years for the delay between legal immigration and naturalization was nine years in 2008 — a number that has increased one year each year since 2006.
Many applicants can’t even get to this point. The Los Angeles Times reported that one immigrant from the United Arab Emirates filed for citizenship in 2005, and waited three years without hearing anything. Only when she filed a lawsuit was her case addressed.
The ACLU and the NILC faced a minotaur in a bureaucratic maze, and the results are a good example for other district courts to follow.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services estimates that 6.5 percent of California’s population is comprised of illegal immigrants — extrapolated, that gives Los Angeles a population of more than 1 million undocumented citizens. The Golden State is at the forefront of the issue, and the government’s steps to combat the issue at its source are admirable. We can only hope other states take similar measures.
The only way to enforce legal immigration is to present it as a feasible option, rather than to fence with barriers and border patrols.
Lucy Mueller is a junior majoring in cinema-television production, and is the Daily Trojan’s editorial director.