“Illegal” Immigration Need Not Be

EspañolIn response to “Immigration Reform? Hundreds of Protests Nationwide Say No Way José” (July 21, 2014) by Fergus Hodgson.

The problem of “illegal” immigration is created entirely by arbitrary immigration controls created by the government that have no basis in social or economic reality. Caps on skilled immigration have remained virtually unchanged for years, and what little changes have occurred generally actually reduced these caps. The worldwide cap on green cards allocated to economic migrants with no university qualification is 5,000 per year.

The vast majority of green cards issued go to people with family ties to the United States — i.e., parents, spouses, children, and siblings of US citizens and lawful permanent residents. Even then, in many of the family reunification visa categories, the “line” is so long that it might not as well exist. There are people today who have been in the line waiting for their green cards for 20 years; lawyers calculate that at current processing rates, someone applying today for a green card in some of these categories would face a wait lasting anywhere from decades to centuries.

There is simply no realistic legal provision for most people, skilled or unskilled, who would like to immigrate to the United States to legally do so.

You cannot police people’s ambition to earn a fair wage for their labor or desire to live with their family. US immigration laws are out of touch with reality and prevent most people who would like to legally migrate from doing so. Amnesty is not an ideal solution, but only because US immigration laws should never have created the problem of 12 million “illegal” immigrants to begin with.

Most of the 12 million clearly cause no problems to American society beyond those that any randomly drawn set of 12 million US citizens might. There should be a clear and just process for them to regularize their status. As for the millions who would like to migrate to the United States but cannot, the law should provide them legal channels to do so, instead of walling them away in their home countries or forcing them to live in the shadows where they keep the government-created problem of “illegal” immigration alive.

John Lee
Arlington, Virginia

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