U.S. government yet to successfully get immigration documents online

Over the last decade, the Department of Homeland Security has spent more than $1 billion in an effort to digitize the forms necessary for legal immigration into the U.S. But, after all of that time and money spent, only one out of the nearly 100 documents has successfully gotten onto the Internet, according to the Washington Post.

“DHS has already spent more than $1 billion to digitize immigration forms.”

The DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was tasked with implementing the changes to paperwork that were supposed to make forms more accessible for undocumented immigrants everywhere. The original plans called for only half a billion dollars and were supposed to be carried out to completion by 2013. But now, according to the Post, the successful conversion of the program will take an additional four years and cost well over $3 billion. Many, including those who work at the immigration agency, are not happy with the lack of action by the government. Kenneth Palinkas, who was the president of the union for workers at the immigration agency, voiced his frustrations.

“You’re going on 11 years into this project, they only have one form, and we’re still a paper-based agency,” he told the Post. “It’s a huge albatross around our necks.”

At one point, three of the immigration agency’s forms were available online, but due to technical problems, two had to be removed shortly after they were made available to the public. The remaining one is a form designed to give immigrants the opportunity to renew or replace green cards. But it’s still having problems of its own – some immigrants have experienced delays in receiving green cards or even never gotten them at all.

Thrust into the spotlight

“All kinds of ideas have surfaced about illegal immigration solutions.”

Many are quick to point out that America is a country of immigrants, but the 2016 race for the White House has featured more controversial discussions than ever about the issue of immigration. There have been all kinds of comments made about what to do with the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in the country already. All kinds of ideas have surfaced, from building a wall stretching across the U.S.-Mexico border (Donald Trump) to surgically implanting tracking chips in the feet of every immigrant (Chris Christie).

Even as recently as the latest Republican presidential debate, GOP front runner Donald Trump made more controversial comments on the polarizing subject of immigration.

“You will have to send people out. We’re a country of laws. We either have a country or we don’t have a country,” he said during the debate.

He went on to voice his support for the recent court decision to put President Obama’s plan for deportation relief on hold. It should come as no surprise that he continued by claiming that immigration was actually hurting the country’s economy, according to the International Business Times. Most of the other conservative candidates echoed Trump’s thought process. Trump was still leading the polls going into the last Republican debate.

Stalled legislation
The DHS has announced repeatedly that it would be prepared for major changes to immigration reform as a result of any new laws. For example, President Obama’s executive order would have granted millions of undocumented immigrants relief from the possibility of deportation. Many immigration activists believe getting necessary documents online and making an online payment option would significantly help the efforts of immigrants to assimilate in the U.S.

But, in a ruling that comes as a blow to many supporters of immigration reform, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the president’s plan to protect about 4.3 million immigrants from deportation, according to USA Today.