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The general topic of this message is Immigration:
Virtual Hearing - Security Plus Citizenship
Rep. Thomas Brinkman
Attorney General Mike DeWine
July 10, 2006
As part of Congress.org's virtual hearing on immigration reform, I wanted to offer my own views. I hear many people shouting that if people come illegally, they are criminals. But I rarely hear them asking how can people come legally? Who made these immigration laws that we have today? People seem to assume that the laws are the same as when their parents, grandparents or great grandparents came. Do people realize that it was the changes to immigration law in the 1980's and 1990's that closed most LEGAL means of coming to the United States? These are not the same laws that their ancestors came under. If people had legal avenues for coming, most would use those means. No one wants to be illegal, they just can't see any other way. Currently, to immigrate legally, a person must be married to a U.S. citizen; have a close relative petition (parent, spouse, adult child, or sibling) for them; have an employer petition for them; win a spot in the Diversity Visa Lottery. A person may also come as a refugee or asylee. Those are about the only ways to come legally. Unfortunately, each of these ways have problems too. Say if a U.S. citizen marries someone who walked across the border without a visa, there is no paperwork the U.S. citizen can file to legalize their spouse unless the spouse leaves the country for sometimes up to ten years before they will be allowed to return OR the U.S citizen can move to the spouse country and live outside the U.S. for those ten years (great option). The second way requires that you already have a close relative here and usualyy either be a U.S. citizen or at least a Permanent Resident. Well, not everyone has a close relative here but even if you do it can take up to fifteeen or twenty years before a visa is available for them to come (Congress set the numbers of family members who can come each year and the backlog has grown quite a bit). That brings us to employers. Besides the fact that it costs most employers several thousand dollars to apply for each worker, the number of work related visas is also limited by Congress. The annual visas are usually given out within the first month each fiscal year, so what are employers supposed to do the rest of the year. They can file the paperwork for someone they want as an employee, but may not be able to get that person a work visa for at least several years. The Diversity Visa Lottery was designed to give people from countries that the U.S. doesn't have many immigrants from a chance to immigrate. They give out 50,000 visa's each year by lottery so it is left to chance, if a person will win or not. The DV Lottery does have a requirement of minimum High School education or a skill that would take two or more years to learn such as carpenters, plumbers, auto mechanics. This has worked pretty well but is only 50,000 per year. Then we have refugee and asylees. There are about 13 million refugees in the world. Congress and the President set the numbers that can come each year. Recently the numbers have been set at 70,000 per year but for some reason or other they have only been able to process between 25,000 to 45,000 per year for the last five years. Administrative problems I suppose. People seeking asylum are often waiting years just to have their cases heard, again backlog. In general only about a third of the people seeking asylum have been granted asylum. Immigration judges and asylum officers in the U.S. are not required to have expertise in the region of the world that they are interviewing people for so the process is often more subjective than objective.
So, we have 10 to 12 million illegal people here in the U.S. How many are married to U.S. citizens or legal immigrants but have no means of legalizing or may not have been willing to wait the 5-10-or 15 years our immigration system would impose. How many Americans would be willing to wait such long times to be with their loved ones, their family? And employers, how long should they wait to get the workers they need? What do you think the price of tomatoes or lettuce will be if we just do enforcement? I don't know about you, but I don't feel our economy is in great shape to begin with. I cannot afford for food prices to go up like gasoline prices.Yes, we need to do a better job of securing our borders but if we don't fix our broken, backlogged system illegal immigration will continue. Fix the system and fix the border.
Cincinnati , OH