Contrary to popular belief, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is apparently still running for president and presenting his plans for the nation. This week that process included laying out part of his vision for handling the illegal immigration problem. His new plan (which has actually been suggested before) was to invoke the image of Federal Express and suggest tracking those entering our country like express delivery packages. (Fox)
Chris Christie said Saturday that if elected president, he will track undocumented immigrants like FedEx packages.
“I’m going to have Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, come work for the government for three months. Just come for three months to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and show these people,” the New Jersey governor said at a town hall event here.
Christie added that while FedEx can track boxes, the U.S. can’t track undocumented immigrants.
“You go online and at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is,” he said. “Yet we let people come into this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.”
Christie went on to say that when people come to visit and are given a visa, on the day that it expires someone needs to come “tap them on the shoulder” and tell them that it’s time to go.
That’s a really nice thought, isn’t it? I mean, how did nobody else think of this before? We’ll just track every person that comes into the country and send out agents to pay them a visit when their visas expire. I bet a lot of you are slapping yourselves on the forehead right about now like a scene out of one of those I Could Have Had a V-8 commercials. But how do you do that exactly? Last year the United States issued a staggering 467,370 visas. That’s a lot of shoulder tapping, not to mention the fact that you’re going to need to have a way to find out who actually left and then summon up the manpower to track down everyone who didn’t and perform the aforementioned tapping on shoulders.
In order to effectively track that many people every year we’d need some sort of Logan’s Run style surgical glass encased tracking device to be implanted in visa holders when they arrive before they are released into the public. And you can’t go all Orwellian and start doing something like that, can you? Wait a minute… could you? No. Perish the thought. But then again, you can track great white sharks online 24/7 through a simple web site and they spend most of their time thousands of feet under the surface of the ocean. But let’s not be silly… they’d never let us get away with it.
So what’s do be done if Christie’s idea was to become reality? Putting some sort of physical tracking chip in the documents which visa holders carry is a non-starter. Once it expires they would simply throw it in the trash. But that doesn’t mean that the system couldn’t be improved. Perhaps we could put the onus on the visitor and require them to check out with an immigration official as they prepare to leave the country and set up the system so that anyone failing to do so by the end of the authorized period would have an automatic bench warrant issued. Of course, that doesn’t do anything to address the personnel needed to go track them all down.
If nothing else it’s some interesting material for the candidates to debate. Who knows? There’s plenty of folks smarter than me out there and maybe one of them will come up with a workable plan. But until then… maybe that shark tracking thing needs a second look.
UPDATE: (Jazz) I heard back from the Christie campaign and they wanted to point out an interview with Chris Wallace where he clarified this.
WALLACE: All right, here we go. You’re getting some blowback this weekend because you suggested that we should track foreigners who were in this country on visas and they overstay them the same way that FedEx tracks packages and critics are saying, people aren’t packages.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: They’re not, but what my point was was that this is once again a situation where the private sector laps us in the government with the use of technology. Let’s use the same type of technology to make sure that 40% of the 11 million people here illegally don’t overstay their visas. If FedEx can do it why can’t we use the same technology to do it –
WALLACE: How would you be able to tell if somebody overstayed, I mean they don’t have a number, you know, a label on their wrist.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: No, we can do it. And we should bring in the folks from FedEx to use the technology to be able to do it. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I don’t mean people are packages, so let’s not be ridiculous.