At first it seemed like a roughly equal tradeoff.
Outsiders seeking admission to the U.S., or a change in immigration status, are delayed in getting those benefits because of the slowness of our bureaucracy.
On the other hand, a group of aliens in this country get to stay here longer because of the slowness of their home country's bureaucracy.
So fewer entries, fewer exits.
These were my initial reactions to an email from an informant who called to my attention the fact that:
. . .there are 2000 + (and counting) [Cambodians] with deportation orders/in removal proceedings. The reason the US is not able to move more expeditiously [to] deport those with deportation orders is because the country [Cambodia] STILL takes MONTHS to issue passports.
The tit-for-tat analysis dissolves quickly when you realize that most of the applicants for immigration benefits are legit, and all the Cambodian deportees-in-waiting are in the process of being thrown out of the country because they did something wrong.
Then, too there are opportunities for many well-to-do aliens to buy their way to the head of the line for benefits. This is the Premium Processing program in which the alien, or his or her employer, pays an extra $1,410 to the U.S. government for a quicker decision on an application; this is often used in the H-1B program.
So now we have a situation where some aliens can be treated quickly in the US, but the passport snarl – if that is, in fact, the problem – in Cambodia means that there is no way that we, the U.S. can use anything like Premium Processing to deport the deportables back to that nation.
Frankly, Premium Processing should be banned as undemocratic; it just another perk for the privileged, as I have written before. But as long as it exists in the immigration system, let's make use of it to advance the public interest; in this case to return the Cambodian deportees.
What I am suggesting is that the US government, perhaps indirectly, should create a version of the Premium Processing program – using the existing dollar figure of $1,410 per person – to get those specific passports we need to oust those currently paperless Cambodians.
I propose that federal funds, perhaps from DHS, be moved via the State Department's AID program, to an AID contractor in that country. The feds would amend the contract and tell the contractor to work out an arrangement with the Cambodian passport agency to produce, quickly, the needed passports for those with deportation orders. This would be a formal payment to the agency, and not a bribe to its leader (though what happens to the money after it leaves the contractor's hands will probably remain a mystery).
The agency-forced (and funded) contract amendment was something I experienced, as a contractor, many years ago. My employer had a contract with the Department of Labor to do some immigration research; the government wanted to – and did – use an amendment to that contract to secure the services of an expert it wanted to retain for other tasks. My employer probably picked up some overhead in the deal.
This passport production enhancement should be done quietly, of course, and should be stopped immediately if it turns out that something other than lack of passports is slowing the returns of the deportees.
Sometimes a little deviousness is needed. Sometimes the use of a legitimate backdoor is appropriate.
The current, all-above-the-ground technique for dealing with nations that will not accept their own deportees is to deny visas to the U.S. to key officials and their families in the recalcitrant nation. Sometimes this works; sometimes the government minister's 20-something daughter will decide to take that vacation in Paris, and not New York, for example, and the narrow visa ban is ineffective.
The State Department, historically, has little shown little enthusiasm for forcing the acceptance by other nations of our deportees. If these arrangements are with less-well developed countries this is always an uneven process; it is rare for an American resident to be deported from these countries, as contrasted with the much larger flows of people being deported from our nation to the poorer countries. So, though the deportation arrangements are even-handed, formally, in fact the movements of people under them are not.