Niiiice work by Isikoff and Hosenball here, with a quote from anti-illegal stalwart/NRO contributor Mark Krikorian to boot. How much gum is there in the works of America’s immigration bureaucracy? You have no idea:

NEWSWEEK has learned that an application for asylum filed in 1989 by the family of three suspects in the New Jersey plot stalled inside the federal bureaucracy for 16 years due to a paperwork “backlog.”…

As a result, for nearly two decades, American authorities were aware that members of the family were inside the United States, and that they had probably come here illegally. While the asylum application was under consideration, the government effectively suspended any effort to deport family members as illegal aliens, the source familiar with their immigration history said…

A U.S. official familiar with immigration procedures said that the asylum claim may have bogged down because Congress had limited the number of asylum-seekers who could be granted permanent resident status to 10,000 a year. The official said this limitation meant that even if asylum seekers’ claims of persecution were legitimate, waits of 16 years or more for a green card were not unusual.

However, another official familiar with the Duka case history said that the family asylum claim got stuck for 16 years at INS because of a bureaucratic paperwork backlog of more than 100,000 asylum applications. The official said asylum claims routinely sat in “filing cabinets” for a decade or more.

Wait for the punchline:

The Duka family’s immigration record shows that in 1995—six years after the family’s initial asylum application was filed with the government—the family tried to take advantage of a new immigration lottery system that granted lucky applicants permanent residence status based partly on ethnic diversity. But this application also apparently ended up in some kind of bureaucratic limbo.

Geraldo was on GMA this morning yammering on about how law-abiding illegals are, to which Glenn Beck responded by citing the Duka boys. With the audience expecting a “well, only a very few of them are terrorists” defense, GR threw the change up by noting that the border fence Beck supports wouldn’t have stopped the Dukas, who entered via JFK airport. Which brings us to the Newsweek quote with which I’ll leave you:

The source familiar with the Duka case said that the three Duka brothers—Dritan, Eljvir and Shain—are believed to have first entered the United States illegally in 1984 by crossing from Mexico at Brownsville, Texas.