While the administration struggles to move forward with its plan to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, the list of foreigners trying to get into the United States legally has surged to 4.4 million, over 100,000 more than last year, according to the State Department.

Those on the list either have a family member who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder, sponsoring their entry, or an employer wants them.

The list grew by 100,085 over last year. And more than a quarter of them, 1,323,978, are Mexican.

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According to a blog post written on the list by policy expert Jessica Vaughan, of the Center for Immigration Studies, unlike illegals slipping over the border, many of those on the wait list have been there for up to 13 years or more as they go through the proper process to enter the country.

Unlike with illegals, the government regulates who can come into the country legally.

"The waiting lists are needed because of annual limits on the number of immigrants that can be admitted in certain family and employment categories, and because of caps on the number who can come from each country," she wrote.

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The issue of letting more legal immigrants in is a key one for Washington as it grapples with what to do about the 12 million illegals already here.

"The existence of this massive waiting list of eligible applicants for family immigrant visas and green cards raises important questions for policymakers," wrote Vaughan.

"First, there is clearly no shortage of eligible immigrants being sponsored by family members and employers who are waiting many years for their opportunity to be admitted legally. Any move by the president to relax eligibility standards or grant benefits such as work permits, deferred action, or parole to illegal aliens is profoundly unfair and destructive to the integrity of the legal system because it gives illegal aliens preferential treatment over those applying through the legal process established by Congress," she explained.

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Fairness is also an issue, even outside the fact the administration is letting thousands of illegals into the country every year, she added.

"Our legal immigration system is promising the opportunity of a green card to millions more people than realistically can be admitted in a reasonable time frame. This seems more like a cruel joke than a responsible immigration policy," wrote Vaughan.

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4.4 million illegals to be affected http://washex.am/1G9a5SC in Washington Examiner's Hangs on LockerDome

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.