Thursday, March 16, 2006

Forty thousand guests who won't leave

What comes to mind when you hear that China will not accept 40,000 of its own citizens back, people who are in the United States either illegally or past the expiration of their visas?

The US has accused China of refusing to take back almost 40,000 Chinese immigrants who have been denied permission to stay in the country.

The United States Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff described the situation as "intolerable".

He said although China had taken back 800 citizens last year, that only made a small dent in the numbers.


According to the Homeland Security Department, the American government has spent an estimated $667m in detention costs on the Chinese, AP reports.

Mr Chertoff said other countries were also refusing to take back their citizens but said the numbers from China far outweighed those from other nations.

He suggested that financial decisions and a lengthy process could be behind China's reluctance to take back its citizens, but also blamed "a low priority" by the Chinese authorities.

Now let's take a quiz based on Mr. Chertoff's assessment. Which of the following answers do you most agree with?

A) Financial decisions and "lengthy process" are to blame for China's foot dragging.

B) Chinese authorities have given the matter a "low priority".

C) None of the above.

If you answered "C" then you, like the Oklahomilist, are probably a paranoid but patriotic protector of the American borders. China has the money, it doesn't have the "want to." And rather than being a "low priority," we would suggest that China believes keeping more of its nationals in the U.S. is a "high priority."

There are many potential reasons, ranging from outright sinister (embedded agents?) to fairly mundane (China has enough trouble-makers on its own turf?).

These reasons are irrelevant. A nation that cannot protect its own borders is a nation that isn't going to be featured much longer in the history books of tomorrow. That's why the current administration's myopia on policing the borders (and all other points of ingress) is so hard to figure. Immigration control is fundamental.

Personally we have no beef with individual Chinese. Well, that's not entirely true. We frequently enjoy several beef dishes down at the China Star restaurant, and we bless the day the owners of that bistro came to our shores.

But there are only so many restaurants required, unless there are a lot more Chinese on the way.


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