Immigration Law

Congress OKs Few Green-Card Pleas

Thirty-six bills granting permanent residency to specific illegal aliens have won approval in Congress since 1996, but Malik Jarno wasn’t among the lucky ones.

Jarno’s lawyers say he is a mentally retarded orphan whose parents were killed for opposing the government in Guinea. He flew to the United States as a teen on a ticket and stolen passport purchased by a friend in France who grew tired of caring for him. After arriving here, he spent three years in federal custody. The ABA Journal wrote about his plight and that of other youths detained as illegal immigrants in a March 2004 feature “Children Without a Country.”

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., has twice sponsored bills to keep Jarno here, without success, the Washington Post reports.

More than 500 such private immigration bills have been introduced in Congress in the last decade. Few are being approved in the midst of continued debate on immigration.

Some note that the decision on who gets special treatment appears arbitrary, and they oppose such legislation as a result. Law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University is among the critics.

“Awarding special treatment often leaves the legal or administrative problem untouched,” he told the Post. “If a person was unable to get relief, then new avenues of relief should be created for all such persons.”

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