Why Don’t All These Damn Illegals Come in the Right Way?
I came into the United States illegally when I was four years old; at age fifteen, my mother found out I was eligible for the Visa-U due to an incident in my childhood – now, almost seven years later, I am a lawful permanent resident and have three more years until I can naturalize. I was extremely lucky in gaining this documentation. Many others are not as fortunate. In fact, 1.3 million people are under the DACA program, and an estimated total of 11 million people are undocumented in the United States. They could be deported within the next hour. However, this piece isn’t meant to delve into their story, but to answer an all too common inquiry: “Why don’t all these damn illegal aliens come in legally?” That’s a valid question. Let’s put ourselves in a common scenario. In this story, we will be an 18-year-old man named Jose residing in Monclova, Mexico. Jose wants to come to the United States, but he has to do it legally – he wants the security of knowing he is welcome and won’t be kicked out any moment. Jose does not have any family members living inside the U.S. though; his entire family is in Mexico. He wants to be the first to emigrate. Unfortunately, 48% of all new green card holders in 2016 were “immediate relatives” of a U.S. citizen; to be an “immediate relative” you must be an Unmarried Child 21 or under, a Mother or Father of a U.S. Citizen, or a Husband or Wife of a U.S. Citizen. The advantage of this category is that it will keep you from suffering in immigration backlogs as visas are always available under the immediate relative category. What’s the next option for Jose? Family-based preference! 20% of all new green card holders in 2016 entered through this category; this is subject to immigration backlogs and has limited visas. To be eligible, one must fall in one of the four categories: Unmarried Sons or Daughters of U.S. citizens (F-1), Spouses and Children, Unmarried Sons or Daughters of Lawful Permanent Residents (F-2), Married Sons or Daughters of U.S. Citizens (F-3), Brothers and Sisters of adult U.S. Citizens (F-4). Too bad the second biggest category is unavailable to Jose. Okay, what are the other options? Jose’s avenue to a green card is 68% blocked at this stage. Well, he has a chance of entering the U.S. through employment preference; this accounted for 12% of new green card holders in 2016. Unfortunately, Jose isn’t employed by a company willing to sponsor him to the U.S. as he just got out of high school. He could try to secure this in a few years, but there are no guarantees. What else can he start the process with? Ah, yes, asylum or refugee status. In 2016, 13% of new green card holders were adjusting their status from asylum or refugee seekers. Unfortunately, Jose is simply a fresh high school graduate; he’s lived a hard life as it tends to be in Mexico but wouldn’t fall into this obscure category. His town is relatively safe, and he isn’t being hunted by the cartel or gangs. That’s 93% of his path blocked. An additional 3% in those who gained green cards in 2016 also came from rare situational visas that get promoted after a requisite number of years such as the Visa-U; this wouldn’t apply to Jose. The last avenue that could quickly get Jose a green card is the Diversity Lottery; this accounted for 4% of all new green card holders in 2016. The requirements to be admitted are the following: high school education or the equivalent, two years of training/experience in an occupation that requires that level of expertise, and two years of work experience in that aforementioned occupation within the last 5 years. Jose doesn’t meet that, so we’ll wait a few years in the scenario. --four years elapse-- Jose is now 22 years old and finally meets the requirements for the Diversity Lottery. He files his application! Now, let’s take a look at his chances of getting his green card and coming in legally. In 2018, there were 14.7 million qualified applicants like Jose; however, the U.S. only takes 55,000 people, 5,000 of which must be allocated to certain applicants under the Nicaraguan and Central America Relief Act of 1997; this act does not include Mexico. That narrows it down to 50,000 spots. Jose has a .34% chance of getting in. Unfortunately, in 2018, and the past few years, Mexico has been listed as an ineligible country, thus making Jose’s chance of getting in through that program a whopping 0%. What avenue is left to Jose? He could get a temporary nonimmigration visa and visit the U.S. but he will be illegal if he overstays. He can get a student visa, but that doesn’t necessarily open a pathway to citizenship. The only viable way would be getting skilled enough to be sponsored by a company in the future…or he could woo an American woman and get married. But you see, Jose isn’t some poor man trudging in a Honduran caravan that is uneducated. Jose isn’t in a horribly violent area with cartel members trading rounds with Mexican soldiers daily. Jose doesn’t come from a family with no internet access making it impossible for him to research the different avenues mentioned above. Jose, young, skilled, educated, and ready – still has dismal chances of getting into the United States. Jose stayed and made the best of it; others left, too desperate and poor, yearning for a better life. They were sick of the corruption and violence in Mexico and wanted their children to have bright futures. Those were part of the 11 million – they were part of the 0% who didn’t have a chance – the ones who lost the moment they were born. Right or wrong, those people found a way. Sources: