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I Understand Illegal - It's Immigration I Don't Get

Category: Immigration
Posted: 11/04/07 13:19, Edited: 11/04/07 13:20

by Dave Mindeman
Whenever the subject of immigration comes up in a conversation, you can count on a certain response from the conservative side of it: "What part of illegal don't you understand?"

To which I reply.... I understand illegal perfectly. It's the immigration part that doesn't make any sense.

Recently I went to Ellis Island in New York harbor. They have a new museum that goes into great detail about a time in our history when immigration was accepted and encouraged as part of this nation's growth.

At the turn of the century, immigrants endured hardship and enormous financial gambles to get a chance at a new life. Thousands of people entered that harbor -- few were turned away.
Many of the people who make up the current vigalante groups and the hard core base of anti-immigrant feelings are direct decendants of families that made that hopeful journey.

But that was a century ago.

Now we have a country that encompasses the continent and a population that keeps growing amid concerns about resources and jobs and economic means. We can no longer take everybody and therein lies the problem... how do you choose?

Whenever we have to make choices like this there should be an obligation to fairness and equal opportunity. If we are a country of opportunity... shouldn't that opportunity be equally available to all?
Our current immigration system is a hopeless maze of impossible legal hurdles and preferences. Your entrance to America can ultimately depend on what you know and who you know.
The nomenclature is incomprehensible. Green cards, student visas, EB-1 thru 4 Visas, H1-B Visas, Resident Alien, K-3 Classification, V-NonImmigrant Status, etc...etc...

Classifying actual immigrants apart from Visitors with visas and temporary workers is just one of the myriad of problems that the current immigration bureaucracy can't seem to track.

And the most crucial problem... the wait times. People are put on waiting lists that go on for years. If a decision on your citizenship status could take 10 or 15 years, what do you have to lose by entering the country illegally?

There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about illegal immigration. We do need to fix this. But another concern about this issue is the underlying ethnic and race issues.

When you hear the word illegal immigrant, what is the first visual picture that enters your mind? It is hard to imagine someone other than a person of hispanic origin. The rhetoric and the media make that image a part of the lexicon. And it is also the reason that our first knee jerk reaction to this problem is to build a wall.

We need to fix the problem; but that means an overhaul of a useless bureaucratic mess. To think that we can solve it by enforcement alone is somebody's dream and somebody else's nightmare.
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