Illegal immigration into the United States has drastically increased throughout the twentieth century. There are millions of immigrants in our country who are currently living under the threat of deportation because of their undocumented status. The most considerable challenge for policymakers is distinguishing apparent immigration problems from authentic problems. Congressional members have taken an approach that focuses exclusively on border security, which has not been successful thus far. If Congress continues to pass laws without taking into consideration the fundamental contradictions of existing state affairs, then the state affairs will not undergo any change. In order to achieve results, an immigration reform must be comprehensive. The United States of America needs an immigration system that recognizes the hardships and contributions of the people migrating to the U.S., keeps families together here in this country, and creates a rational process of citizenship for new Americans.
How we treat immigrants should reflect the values of fairness and equality that define the United States as a country. People come here for the promise of freedom and opportunity. However, immigrant workers are exploited and discriminated against. These so called “illegal aliens” happen to contribute to the development of our nation in many ways, such as paying taxes, creating new jobs by opening businesses, and making scientific discoveries that transform entire industries. For example, as of 2010, nearly five hundred companies had at least one founder who was an immigrant.
These companies include AT&T, Verizon, Kraft, Comcast, Intel, Google, Sun Microsystems, United States Steel, Qualcomm, eBay, Nordstrom, and Yahoo (“Immigration Reform” 1). Although it is true that immigrants do more contributing than anything else, many Americans refuse to believe in this fact. Usually, those seeking to reside in the United States are part of racial or ethnic groups that are minorities in this country. Therefore, anti-immigration views and behaviors are often affiliated with racism. This effect is partially due to the fact that previous attempts to regulate immigration were based on racism or nativism. Procuring the participation of previously excluded groups is the key ending discrimination.
Any policy that keeps family members apart for decades at a time should not be an American resolution. Due to our current immigration system, family members can sometimes wait ten to twenty years to be reunited with loved ones (Bruno 5). Our American values teach us that families are sacred and serve as the building block of our communities. Separating husbands from wives, sisters from brothers, and children from parents creates worthless suffering that negatively affects the prosperity of our communities. Immigrants who are waiting for the approval to come to the United States are not allowed to visit in the mean time, which means they cannot legally visit their family members who reside in the U.S. for many years.
Lili Farhang, the co-director of Human Impact Partners, explains the importance of keeping families united with this statement: “The lives of children with undocumented immigrant parents or guardians in the United States are saturated with fear, fear that the people they love and depend on will be arrested and taken away from them at any moment without warning. Many of these children were born here and are U.S. citizens. But under current immigration policy, their families can be torn apart with an arrest and deportation with little regard for their wellbeing or futures” (Farhang 1). With that being said, it is clear that our country needs an immigration reform that maintains and protects family unity to reverse the damage caused by the current American policies.
The United States immigration authorities often receive more visa applications than they can process within a reasonable amount of time. For the most part, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reviews each application on a first come, first- served basis. If an immigrant is an applicant for a visa or green card that does not allow unlimited amounts to be given out each year, then a certain amount of waiting will be incorporated into the process. For example, if an individual is applying for a green card as the married child of an American citizen, then he or she is placed in the third preference category of family-sponsored visas, and can expect to wait at least ten years before receiving a visa. There is nothing anyone can do about this except to carefully monitor the progress and notify the National Visa Center (NVC) of an address change. The possibility of an immigrant’s file being misplaced is also another important reason to track the changes in progress.
This happens all too often, and many times the individual is not notified of the misplacement (Bray n.p.). Many Americans do not understand the immigration process and expect all immigrants to wait their turn in line for a green card or visa. However, what they also don’t understand is that for many people who have no college degree or close relatives who are U.S. citizens, there is absolutely no way for them to migrate into the U.S. legally without reform to the legal system. For individuals living in poverty and desperate to support their families, illegal immigration is the most appealing option. Therefore, enforcement policies should focus on establishing a safe and orderly system of entry into the United States once immigrants have met reasonable requirements, such as background checks or tax payments.
Immigration policies affect all aspects of American society. In one way or another, regardless of their status, immigrants have always played an essential role in the growth and development of our nation. Immigrants have contributed an estimated ten billion dollars a year to America’s economic growth (Bray n.p.). The hard-working individuals who contribute to this country should be encouraged to standardize their status. Unfortunately, the immigrants in the United States are increasingly becoming targets of discrimination. Families are being torn apart and children are being forcibly separated from their parents. In consequence, our nation’s immigration policies must be consistent with the ideals of equality and freedom that defines the American people.
Bray, Iona. “Why Immigration Cases Take So Long.” AllLaw. Law Topics. Online posting. Bruno, Andorra. “Unauthorized Aliens In The United States: Policy Discussion.” Congressional Research Service, 8 May 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. Farhang, Lili. “ Family Unity, Family Health: How Family-Focused Immigration Reform Will Mean Better Health for Children and Families.” Human Impact
Partners 22 June 2013. PFD file. Haugen, David. Illegal Immigration. MI: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Print. “Tackling the Toughest Questions on Immigration Reform.” Immigration Policy Center 29 Jul. 2013. PDF file.