What’s that? You weren’t aware that we had a “green card catastrophe” on our hands? Sorry to disappoint you but I’m afraid it’s true. As the Free Beacon reports this week, the issuance and tracking of green cards and other important documents for immigrants is apparently being handled just about as smoothly and efficiently as you would expect for a bureaucracy of that size. In other words… really badly.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued thousands of duplicate green cards to immigrants, including many that include incorrect information and allow these individuals to stay longer than permitted in the United States, according to a new government oversight report that warns the Department of Homeland Security is incapable of tracking immigrants who may pose a security risk to the United States.

USCIS, which handles immigration cases and the distribution of green cards, was found to have produced at least 19,000 green cards during the past three years that were duplicates or contained incorrect information, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.

If you click through and read all the details, this is no laughing matter at all. Before we even get to questions of illegal immigrants, we are apparently having severe problems simply managing our own paperwork. Large numbers of cards are sent to the wrong address and nobody can say where they are or who might be using them. Significant batches of applicants were approved for two year duration visits but were mistakenly sent cards which were good for ten years. The names were misprinted on others or simply didn’t have a name at all. (If you were in the black market business of selling illegal documents, an approved, official green card with no name filled in would be worth a fortune I bet.)

Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that many of these documents have expiration dates, but we are almost completely helpless in tracking down people to see if they’ve actually left the country once their approved period of visitation has expired. Obviously some people do, but it’s not difficult to believe that a lot of them know that if they simply stick around there’s a good chance that nobody will be coming after them unless they run afoul of the law. And even then, if they happen to live in a Sanctuary City, they’ll just be turned loose anyway.

Here’s one problem that’s unpleasant to contemplate: too much of our system of government relies on the honor system. That probably worked fairly well in an earlier age, but simply trusting everyone to do the right thing just isn’t an effective deterrent to crime in the 21st century. Before we begin talking about comprehensive immigration reform proposals which include increases in the number of green cards issued, it would be nice if we could get a handle on the number of people we need to be tracking under the current levels. I don’t know if that involves some sort of equivalent of a UPS style tracking system such as Chris Christie proposed or something else entirely, but we’ve got a problem on our hands. Pretending we don’t isn’t going to make it go away.

Green Card