So, this weekend has been full of stories about authorities detaining and deporting hundreds of undocumented immigrants.
And what I’m hearing is this…
“That’s what you get when you break the law”
“Key word: Illegal.”
“They’re Criminals!” Get them out.”
And the always popular,
“I would have no problem if they just came here legally.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that’s kind of the problem.
Look I think border enforcement is great. Laws are great. Doing things legally? That’s how I roll.
But, that being said, when it comes to immigration, it’s a little more complicated than you might think. Especially if you were born here and have never tried to get in legally or otherwise.
So, as an immigrant myself, I’d like to break it down for you and you can extrapolate as need be.
I was born in Toronto where I finished University and Graduate school before I was accepted to a conservatory program in New York.
I came here a on a student visa where I couldn’t legally work so my parent’s supported me.
When school was over I wanted to stay in America but to do that I had to qualify for a work visa.
The Permanent Resident/Work visa options are as follows:
- Be directly related to an US citizen or green card holder.
- Secure employment from a US company that will sponsor you pay the fees and prove that you are more qualified than any American applicant.
- Be a justified and vetted refugee. OR/
- Win the visa lottery which, by the way, is only open to people who are coming from a country that with a low rate of US immigration. So, like not Canada or Mexico.
There are also EB Green cards for for people with advanced degrees & skills with a full time job in the US or are an entrepreneurs investing in a new US companies.
So, like a genius heart surgeon, scientific researcher or computer programmer or say, the founder of google.
I visas are for temporary work in the international press
L’s are for international companies sponsoring senior employees.
O’s are for foreign workers with “extraordinary talents” (this one is often referred to as the rock star visa).
P’s are for internationally recognized athletes and entertainers who do their thing stateside and then leave.
Q’s are for exchange students.
R’s are for religious workers in non-profits.
And finally, there are H visas for foreign workers in specialty occupations with sponsoring employers.
I ended up with an H1B visa and when all was said and done I had to find a sponsored agency, justified my specialness and pay about $10,000 while jumping through hoops.
But I could stay and work for 6 years.
Are you starting to see my point?
I was a white, Christian, educated, english speaker with 6 years of post graduate education and a family willing to pay my rent and bills and I still struggled to find a way to come to this country legally.
How is someone from say, south of the border, without my privileges who is simply trying to improve their family’s lot in life supposed to do it?
Where’s our service industry visa? The permanent resident farmer visa? The domestic worker visa?
The “we will work for less money than Americans because it’s still better than we could do in own country” visa?
I understand we want people to come here legally. I’m just asking how? How do you do it if you can’t qualify to even start the process?
Why would our legislation choose to rip apart families and blame immigrants for seeking a better life rather than penalize companies who hire undocumented workers and encourage them to come here in the first place?
And, 11 million people? That’s a lot a people to take out of an economy.
Even if we could find enough American workers who were willing to do seasonal farm work, or work behind the scenes in the restaurant or build buildings without union support - we’d still have to pay them minimum wage which would drive all the prices up.
How do you feel about $17 strawberries or paying $300/m for your gardener. Certain states would literally grind to a halt without them so, we need to think it through. It's not as cut and dry and just "Get em out of here!"
I get it. I lost a lot of my friends back to Canada and Europe and Asia because they would legitimately take jobs from Americans but, the illegals that people criminalizing? They’re taking jobs American’s won’t do.
Rounding up criminals is one thing but I would suggest we look at this “illegal immigration issue” a different way.
A way that doesn’t include road checkpoints, raids on family homes and orphaned children. Where you can’t be stopped and searched simply based on how you look
A solution that includes fining the companies looking to save a buck rather than punishing the people trying to earn one.
A country where anyone who truly wants to be here has the opportunity to do it “legally”.
Because you can’t insist people play by the rules if they aren’t allowed in the game.
Is it really cheating if you not allowed to play?