A Dallas newspaper reported on an Albanian citizen who is facing removal to his home country four years after first applying for asylum in the United States. While the article does not go into many details about this case, it does indicate how the gentleman entered the United States with a false Italian passport sometime after 1998; settled in the United States long enough to own several businesses; filed an application for political asylum; had his asylum application denied in 2003; and now, in 2007, has had his appeal denied by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

End of story, right? Wrong! His attorney has decided to appeal the Board’s decision to a U.S. District Court. In the interim, Congressman Louie Gohmert introduced a private bill allowing this gentleman to remain in the United States until 2009.

A final decision in this case will not be made until the next decade and as for the eventual outcome …who knows! I wish I could say this case is the exception, but sadly it is not. Thousands of cases are clogging the immigration removal process, languishing for years because of hearing continuances, numerous opportunities for appeal and review and congressional intervention.

I don’t know how much of the taxpayers’ dollars are spent on cases like this, but I would venture to guess the amount is staggering.

I laugh and then cringe when I hear talk about efforts to increase immigration enforcement in our country. Don’t misread me; we need to enforce our immigration laws and remove people who have violated those laws after they have had their day (not days or years) in court. However, the current immigration removal process is complicated and fragile. Any number of events and actions can delay the process for inordinate amounts of time or stop it dead in its tracks.

If comprehensive immigration reform gets a second or third life (I have lost count), Congress must make a serious effort to streamline the immigration removal process. Without this kind of reform, immigration enforcement efforts will continue to be hampered.