Reform Immigration: A Broken System


The prevailing myth about unauthorized immigrants is that they are simply too lazy or impatient to apply to enter this country legally – that the system itself is fair and would deal fairly with those wishing to enter this country, if only they would wait their turn. However, a quick glance at the current immigration system reveals a different story, one full of injustice and inequality.

In today's system, legal immigration takes many forms. Two of these are dependent upon sponsorship: family-based – for immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents or skill-based – for those who have advanced degrees and other skill sets which are deemed important for the functioning of the U.S. economy. In addition to the options above, there are several ways to obtain an immigrant visa without sponsorship. However, with a few exceptions, these are reserved for special situations.

  1. The diversity lottery: visas awarded at random to residents of countries with little history of immigration to the U.S. (citizens of Mexico, El Salvador, and similar countries are not allowed to apply).
  2. Asylum: those in danger of government persecution may apply for either asylum or refugee status, depending on whether they are applying at a U.S. embassy or within the U.S. Those fleeing civil war or natural disasters are not necessarily eligible. Individuals may be determined ineligible for a host of different reasons, including health concerns.
  3. Victimization: visas are available for those who have suffered certain crimes during their time in the United States. Victims of human trafficking and criminal activity are generally granted temporary non-immigrant visas to allow them to stay inside the country in order to help ongoing law enforcement efforts. Victims of domestic violence may apply for immigrant status.

People who wish to immigrate to the United States from Latin America have few options. If they have no employer or family member willing to sponsor them, and no resources, then they have no option to immigrate legally. Even for those who do qualify, the process is complicated.


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