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Citizenship: Follow rules & you lose
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It is easier to become a lawyer than  to get a green card.

Sergio C. Garcia’s father — a native of Mexico who secured a green card during the 1986 amnesty program — applied for a green card on his son’s behalf 20 years ago.

Garcia, now 37, is hopeful to get his green card by the time he turns 41.

Meanwhile he attended and graduated from high school, college and law school and accomplished the tough feat of passing the bar on the first try. He practiced law for 15 days until his immigration status came into question. Then after the California Supreme Court said they couldn’t help since the law was clear undocumented immigrants could not secure professional licenses, Garcia set about to gain legislative support to change the law.

He’s now a legally practicing lawyer but he still doesn’t have his green card.

Meanwhile the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement acknowledged last week that 70 percent of the illegal immigrant families caught after crossing the border and held in custody and then released on the promise to show back up for appointments to determine their status have failed to do so.

The message is clear. Follow the rules and you lose. Don’t follow them and Uncle Sam turns you loose.

Why should it take the federal government 20 years and counting to process the green card application of the son of a legal permanent resident who is a stellar example of an immigrant contributing to society? Meanwhile the government turns loose families into this country who have crossed the border illegally on the promise they show back up for possible deportation hearings.

It is the same government that for a $1 million investment that creates at least 10 jobs — the price is lowered to $500,000 in economically stressed areas — will give you a green card. The EB-5 immigration program gives permanent residence within two years and citizenship status after five years.

Let’s recap.

You go through the channels and work your behind off trying to legally be in this country and it takes 20 years and counting to get your green card request processed.

You enter this country illegally, you are caught and then released on the promise to show up for a hearing but never do.

Or you can buy legal status as an American citizen.

In other words, government policy makes crime pay while money talks and hard work gets you nowhere when it comes to obtaining citizenship.

None of this is new.

It’s been this way for decades.

Yet we return men and women to Congress election after election who can’t fix the problem. And it’s not any problem. It’s at the core of what makes someone an American and what doesn’t — citizenship and legal residence status.

They do propose solutions. One extreme wants to take the door off its hinges and the others want to slam it shut so hard that it’ll knock plaster off the wall.

There is no middle ground. And there is no effective policy in place. Either it is catch and release or they get caught in a bureaucratic web that pits their bid for a simple green card in a race with death itself.