Immigrants Face Harsh Requirements

Jamie Riley

Some find it easy to support current immigration laws.  Why should we allow illegal immigrants to come into the U.S. and take the jobs that were meant for good ol’ apple-pie-eatin’ Americans? After all, we need to maintain our status as one of the most powerful countries in the world. We shouldn’t give anyone who could possibly hinder our chances a shot, right?  If you share this opinion, please consider a new one.

In a different light, one might have a change of heart.  Imagine if these illegal aliens had a face, a name, or a family. For example, Francesca who spent her childhood hiding from authorities because her parents didn’t meet the citizenship requirements. Or Esperanza, a woman who is currently fighting so that her husband won’t be deported to Mexico.

Putting aside any petty selfishness, it is hard to stop a hard working person from being a part of this country. In recent years, the U.S. deported at least 13,000 immigrant parents, while their legal children remained in the U.S.  By denying these parents citizenship, we are breaking up families and separating loved ones from each other.  Nothing about this reflects American or even humane values.

Webster’s Dictionary defines an illegal immigrant as someone who has entered without authorization or inspection, has stayed beyond the authorized period after legal entry, or has violated the terms of legal entry.  Prospective citizens face enormous difficulties.  One has to obtain a Visa and then apply for a Green Card.  It can take years to obtain legal citizenship.
It costs $675 to apply for an application to become legal, the price having risen since 2002.  Even after one pays the application fee, an applicant may have to incur considerable legal expenses in order to successfully continue the process.

The current laws bar an immigrant from becoming a citizen if he has been convicted of a crime, has ever lied to an immigration officer, consular official or government official, has married in order to obtain legality, or has been absent from the U.S. for a long period of time after becoming a permanent resident.  Being convicted no matter the charge, failing to pay income taxes, or failing to pay child support can prevent an immigrant from obtaining legal status.  Also, an applicant must be able to read, write, and speak English.

Although I certainly don’t support violent criminals becoming citizens, I don’t think the non-violent acts or conditions of marrying for citizenship, income tax delinquency, or lack of education should prohibit entry. Legal citizenship shouldn’t be denied to a person who is poor and uneducated.

Immigrants usually do not have the money to pay these fees and have not had the opportunity to learn English.  A person who gets behind on his or her taxes shouldn’t be compared to someone who is convicted of a violent crime; he or she simply may not have the means to pay.

Furthermore, a person who marries in order to obtain citizenship should not be condemned.  No one wants to live in a loveless marriage; so anyone who is determined enough to endure this relationship should not be categorically denied citizenship on this basis.  Such a person’s motivation results from an overwhelming desire to have a chance at a better life.  If we pride ourselves on being in the land of opportunity, how can we condone such difficult requirements for legality?

These harsh requirements and abundant prohibitions have not controlled the influx of immigrants to our country.  Rather, the number of illegal immigrants in the US has continued to increase.  If we could make it easier for immigrants, we could limit and possibly eliminate illegal immigration in the future.

These harsh laws may stem from the government’s interest in protecting the superior American attitude of society.  Many Americans think that, because of our influence in the world, we stand out as a superior country to those smaller and less-privileged nations.  Some say that they don’t want to legalize these “inferior” foreigners.

Other opponents of immigration want to support the U.S. labor force. However, illegal immigrants have traditionally held some vital low wage jobs in America because these are all they can participate in.  We simply should not have the right to deny citizenship in order to benefit our own greedy intentions.  By using immigrants as a cheap labor force we are taking advantage of their desperation.

Illegal immigrants are given lower wages compared to legal U.S. workers.  Why should they be robbed of a fair wage?  Furthermore, highly skilled immigrants have contributed to American innovation and prosperity.

I can’t live in a country with unfair immigration laws in this day and age.  We are encouraging illegality and broken homes.

To deny a hard working individual entry into our country reeks of unfairness and unreason.  We must create fair requirements for immigrants so that we can truly enjoy Jefferson’s proclamation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.