Recently, an article was published on the Huffington Post that gave an overview of the country's immigration issues and concerns. In my opinion, the piece did a good job of explaining the issues and helping readers understand how broken our immigration system really is.
Here's the thing: a lot of people known that there are problems with immigration, but few truly understand the severity of the issues. It's not all that surprising. Immigration laws are detailed and can be quite confusing. As an immigration attorney who works with clients in the Tucson and Phoenix areas, I see how immigration problems can impact people on a daily basis.
According to the Huffington Post piece, there are some main areas of concern. I wanted to take a moment and condense the article and provide a forum to discuss the issues as they were outlined in the article.
(1) Lawful immigration: Immigrants have to wait a very long time to immigrate. The wait can be more than two decades. This is true even if an individual has gone to school here, has desirable skills, or has family here.
(2) Undocumented immigration: This is arguably the biggest cause for concern. While the number of undocumented immigrants had apparently decreased during the recession, we have seen an increase again. There are approximately 11.7 million immigrants living in the U.S. who are undocumented.
Undoubtedly, there are a variety of issues with having such large number of people living in a country without documentation. As noted in the article, “[i]t's bad for the government, which can't keep track of exactly who is in the country and must spend huge amounts to detain and deport people. It's bad for undocumented immigrants themselves, who are at constant risk of being deported or exploited by employers. It's bad for businesses that follow the law by hiring legal workers and must compete with those that spend less on undocumented ones.”
(3) How do undocumented immigrants come to the U.S.? Most people don't realize that as many as 40% of currently undocumented immigrants in the country came here lawfully. A typical example is when an immigrant crosses the border with a valid visa and then stayed in the U.S. even after the visa expired.
(4) What about the recent proposed legislation? There was an immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June of last year, but failed to see the same success in the House. Since then, the bill has stalled and there has been no real movement with the proposed law.
(5) How are immigrants affected? Until some type of immigration reform gets passed, there is really no change for undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S. Individuals are still being deported on a daily basis and the immigration courts continue to be bombarded with more and more cases.
Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants still consider the U.S. their home and want their children to grow and prosper here. Unfortunately, until a law is passed, many immigrants will continue to be exploited by employers and other individuals who take advantage of their vulnerable situations.
What are your thoughts on these issues? What are your biggest areas of concern?