The United States Immigration Debacle, Part 4: The Immigrants

 

In keeping with the idea of looking frankly at the United States Immigration debacle we would be remiss if we were to leave out the immigrant’s role in this whole immigration problem.

 

The United States receives a majority of it’s immigrants from south of our border with Mexico. Most of us tend to lump all latinos within the same “Mexican” label because it’s less work. We don’t have to ask where they came from, we just assume it’s Mexico. Most of the news, statistics, hate and overall attention is focused on the immigrants from Mexico, but just to set the record straight I found some information on the DHS website.

 

Estimated Illegal Immigrant Population for Top Twenty Countries of Origin

and Top Twenty States of Residence in 2009:

 

2009 %

All countries …….. 10,750,000    100

Mexico …………….   6,650,000      62

El Salvador ……….     530,000       5

Guatemala ……….     480,000        4

Honduras. . . . . . .     320,000        3

Philippines ………..    270,000        2

India ………….. ..        200,000        2

Korea ………….  ..      200,000        2

Ecuador ……………    170,000        2

Brazil …………..  …    150,000         1

China …………………..120,000         1

Other ………. …..     1,650,000       15

 

 

 

Irregardless  which country they come from, they all of them come here to make a better life for themselves and their families, in much the same way we in the United States go to college to do the same.

 

Many would-be immigrants have been told by relatives and friends that there are jobs waiting for them in the United States. Our businesses are hungry for affordable labor to produce an affordable product for the cost-conscious American consumer. Business owners and managers ask the people who work for them if they know of anyone else who wants a job. It’s always nice when someone comes with a referral, otherwise there are plenty of applications that come through the back door every week.

 

Just like all the other segments of our society, if an illegal immigrant has a job now they are fortunate. If they don’t, the chances are slim they will get one any time soon. After a month or two of looking for work and not finding it, they usually go home. Immigration is a function of supply and demand. The economy is at work at all times– good and bad.

 

Many of the immigrants from Mexico used to come and go back and forth with the crop seasons, or if they worked in industries other than agricultural, they would go back to be with family for the holidays. Because going back and forth between our two countries not as easy as just hopping on a plane, they usually stay for a few weeks or months and return to the U.S. when they need the money.

 

Our enhanced border enforcement since 9/11 with our added fences, ground sensors, drones and more, has been more problematic for this type of job migration and we are now seeing a community of undocumented immigrants that are trapped here, separated from their families and fearful that if they go home, they will not be able to return. If they also know that if they are fortunate enough to come back, the job they had will not be waiting for them and finding a new one will take a long time, maybe longer than they can wait.  Fences and security enhancements work both ways; they keep things out, and they keep things in.

 

So why do immigrants come here illegally if it is so difficult and dangerous? Lets look at what is involved in coming here, both legally and illegally.

 

There are two ways you can enter this country:

legally with a visa and passing through any U.S. inspection point.

 

Illegally, without a visa by circumnavigating official entry points.

 

Since there are a myriad of visa types & recipient classifications,

as well as different applicant ceilings for different countries, etc. I will compare the most basic and popular application: a work visa for permanent legal status. (green card)

All information provided here will be as of 2/9/12, and is for information purposes only. If you are looking for information regarding yourself or someone you know I recommend you speak to an attorney who specializes in immigration law.

 

Legally would require:

filling out the paperwork for an immigrant visa and submitting it to a U.S. Consulate in Mexico and pay your $400 fee.  Then you wait for an appointment for an interview in Cuidad Juarez where the data is checked and your status determined. As of this writing the applications submitted through July 15 1987 are being processed for interviews. (1987. That’s not a typo.)  Click Here to see the wait list today. When you receive your interview date you need to have a biomedical scan to check for communicable diseases and assist in identification $226 Dollars covering the medical examination ($178 for minors under age 15) Then you go to your appointment in Cuidad Juarez on your appointed interview date. If your application is approved you can pick up your immigrant visa at a DHL office, and you may enter the U.S. Your non-resident immigration visa will be mailed to your U.S. address usually within 3 months and you will have six months after entering to apply for your status to be changed to permanent legal resident. (green card) There is a lottery where 50,000 people are drawn at random and given the opportunity to apply for a green card. It is random. It may take several years.

 

Illegally would require you to: try to evade border security, which since September 11, has been beefed up quite a bit. There are fences, ground sensors, mobile immigration officers, drones, and more. Often you will pay a Coyote @$3000 or more to help you get across the border, and your success is by no means guaranteed. You may have to jump fences, swim rivers, use a tunnel, travel some pretty deadly country.

 

You may even have to brave the elements as this trip could take you many days and people have been known to die of exposure from extreme heat or cold.

 

You would have to bring enough supplies with you to survive the ordeal, but not so much that it would hamper your progress or make the journey impossible.

 

After you get here you must purchase counterfeit documents to get employment. Most business owners/managers ask for this and many of them check to see if they are valid. Expect to pay $150 – $300 or more depending on who is making them, if they know you or a relative, if they are busy, and who knows what else.

 

Then you have to find a place to live until you can save up enough money until you are able to share the rent.

 

Don’t forget about clothes, deodorant, etc. You wouldn’t have brought very much with you.

 

Finding a job for anyone is not easy right now, and this goes for immigrants as well. Many employers have had to cut back their employees as the demand for their products or services has shrunk. Add that to many employers who have always feared the repercussions of not following Federal hiring guidelines only hired people who are legally authorized to work here. Your fake documents may work for a few weeks, but when your employer receives a letter from the government stating that your documentation doesn’t match what they have on record, you are on the road again and looking for work. You will do this until you find an employer who doesn’t check or who doesn’t even ask, and that is if they are hiring at all. It used to be that agricultural industries would hire anyone willing to work, but with the added efforts by several anti-immigrant states, you won’t dare show up for work their because it could mean a quick trip home.

 

We should not have had to compare the two different methods in the first place, but as you see when you do look closely at the realities of life for an undocumented immigrant, with a twenty-five year waiting period just for an interview to get into the country, and who knows how many years longer to be a green card application lottery winner, it is understandable many people choose the illegal way. With our immigration system set up the way it is, we are actually making the the choice to enter the United States legally an impossible luxury they can not afford.  A sensible, intelligent person can be expected to stand in line and wait your turn for a few weeks, or months, and perhaps even a few years, but at some point the wait gets a past little inconvenient, then past really inconvenient, and for the past twenty years it has been beyond laughable.  From their perspective, this is what they are up against.

 

So now the legal way is not a real way, and the illegal way becomes the necessary way.

And if you would add into all this the eleven million people who are here illegally already, if they were to go home today and apply for a visa and get in line, like the other poor souls, taking our quota system in place right now the wait gets 18 years longer. 43 years is a long time to ask someone to wait to come here to earn a better life for yourself and your family. A 15 year old waiting 43 years will be 58 years old by the time he gets here legally. Five more years and he may have become a Green Card lottery winner, just in time for retirement. Do we really want that?

 

To wrap up the experience for an undocumented immigrant it would be safe to say it’s not something you would take lightly, or want to bring your family along either. This explains why the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are single males between the ages of 15 – 34. It is best to start your family when you are already in the U.S.

Once here you can start your new life. but the risk is still not over; it never will be. You will be looking over your shoulder for flashing red lights and have nightmares of being separated from your family, which is a distinct possibility at any time, every day.

 

That really is the whole agreement in a nutshell. They have to get here any way they can, be fortunate to land a low paying entry level job, then If they got caught, they will get sent back to their home country. If they are lucky, they could get back quickly enough to keep their job, which would allow them to keep their apartment, and if they had a family, to keep their family from being homeless, hungry and unsure of their future. If they can’t get back across, they would either be separated from their family indefinitely, or be forced to move the whole family back home where the kids might not even know the language, or anyone there. That’s a pretty high price to pay for trying to make a better life, but this was implied before they ever reach our border. This is the compact we made, each of us understanding the role we play.

 

This agreement has worked in lieu of a legal fix to the situation, which year after year after year, has become more difficult to repair. They were happy they had a better life. We were happy we had a better life. Everyone was happy, until they get caught, and then they were very unhappy. We are completely oblivious to their problems because there was always someone waiting in the wings for their job and we were never really inconvenienced all that much. That part of the agreement never affected us consumers. We just complain about how lazy they are, or how much free medical and free social services and free education they are taking advantage of while they are here illegally. I can’t really blame them myself. If I were to have the short end of the stick on this arrangement, I’d be trying to make it a little more even myself. While I’m not condoning fraud, I’m just saying you work with the hand you’re dealt in the best way you can. We all do.

 

Next week we’ll wrap this whole mess up into a nice and tidy little package so we will have a fair and balanced look at our situation, and hopefully we’ll be able to come up with some solutions that will give us the security we need, the lifestyle we desire, and an economy that will grow stronger, supply more jobs, and maybe even give the poor people from south of the border a little more to look forward to, and less to be afraid of, like not having to live under the radar and outside the law.

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