This isn't very encouraging:
One of President-elect Barack Obama's top immigration advisers oversaw a Clinton-era program that awarded U.S. citizenship to thousands of convicted criminals and failed to conduct adequate FBI background checks on foreigners during a push to reduce a backlog of naturalization applications.
[. . .]
CUSA saw 1.2 million foreign nationals become U.S. citizens in 1996. Many of them later were identified as convicted criminals. The program was endorsed vigorously by President Clinton but attacked by critics as an election-year ploy to speed naturalizations for political gain, noting that the program targeted INS districts in heavily Democratic Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and San Francisco.
Meanwhile, we are still dealing with immigration "reform" from the Reagan era:
For two decades, Anaheim businessman Erkan Aydin has taken on a task unimaginable for most immigrants like himself: trying to convince the U.S. government that he was here illegally.
Aydin, 50, arrived in the United States from his native Turkey with a valid student visa in 1981, but fell out of legal status when he failed to enroll in school, he said.
The customer service representative has a powerful reason why he wants to be considered an illegal immigrant. It would make him eligible for the amnesty offered to 2.7 million illegal immigrants under the 1986 immigration reform law.
Thanks to a recent legal settlement, the chance to apply for amnesty is finally open to Aydin and tens of thousands of others who entered the country on a valid visa but fell out of legal status between 1982 and 1988.
[. . .]
The settlement marks Schey's third and final class-action lawsuit over the 1986 amnesty law. The previous lawsuits, both settled in 2003, resulted in more than 150,000 immigrants being allowed to apply for amnesty.
In the first lawsuit, Schey successfully challenged U.S. policy that effectively barred from amnesty applicants who traveled outside the United States roughly between 1986 and 1988. Although Congress specifically allowed a "brief, innocent and casual absence" during that period for, say, holiday visits, immigration authorities at the time essentially declared that anyone who left and reentered illegally was not "innocent" and therefore became ineligible for amnesty.
In the second lawsuit, Schey argued against the rejection of amnesty applicants who had returned home and reentered with a valid visa. Immigration officials at the time held that the reentry was legal, breaking the continued illegal residency required for amnesty. Schey argued, however, that the reentry was illegal because the immigrants would have to have lied about themselves when they applied for the visa to return.
That's one incredible story. Able to follow any of that? Amnesty was offered to illegal immigrants. But if they did anything legal in the meantime, like leave the country and come back with a valid visa, that broke the chain of illegality. So they had to prove to the government they were illegal so they could stay here legally. What a country!
Here's betting that this is one problem that won't be better after Obama's presidency. Whatever amnesty reform plan he comes up will be haunting the country until mid-century. That's unless, of course, the economy tanks so much that this becomes a Third World country. See you in Tiajuana!