Tag Archives: undocumented immigrants

Why Don’t Mexicans Just Come Here Legally?

I receive this question a lot from non-Mexican readers of this blog, and sometimes even clients who are wrestling with the legal immigration process. 

After all, immigrating should be a matter of filing out some paperwork and waiting your turn.

But what if that wait lasts a lifetime? What if you had to wait a lifetime to see your own parent, son or daughter?

The U.S. immigration system gives immediate relative status to only three relatives–spouses, parents and children under 21 of U.S. citizens. The other family members–children over 21, siblings, married children–have to wait their turn in an infamous preference system that is embodied in the chart below and moves at a snail pace:

57020-full

Currently, there are four preference categories and only 480,000 family visas can be allocated to these categories per year. As you can see above, many of these categories are backlogged–the demand for visas exceeds the supply, especially for certain countries such as Mexico, China, India and the Philippines, so the State Department publishes a chart each month (Visa Bulletin) informing people that they can apply for a green card but only if they had been sponsored before the date corresponding to their category.

Even with a relative petitioning for them, many people are simply unable to immigrate legally to the United States due to long backlogs.

For example, there are only approximately 26,266 visas available each year in the F2B category for the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents (23% of the maximum 114,200 visas allocated to the F2 category per INA 201(a)(2)).

The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limits. As such, each country is allowed a maximum of 7 percent of the total number of visas available in the F2B category (26,266 x .07 = 1,838).

The total number of pending F2B applicants worldwide as of November 1, 2014 was 498,277, according to the Annual Immigrant Visa Waiting List Report.

The number of F2B visas available to Mexico is 1,838. The number of pending F2B applicants from Mexico is 189,123, which is 38% of the waiting list per the State Department statistics. The length of time it will take to clear up the current backlog for Mexico in this category is approximately 103 years (189,123 ÷ 1,841).

In other words, a lawful permanent resident from Mexico who files a petition today in the F2B category for their unmarried son or daughter can expect it to become current in 2118!

However, if the lawful permanent resident from Mexico becomes a U.S. citizen, the time could be shortened.

The total number of visas available in the F1 category is 23,400. The total number of pending F1 applicants worldwide as of November 1, 2014 was 314,527, according to the Annual Immigrant Visa Waiting List Report available at http://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Statistics/Immigrant-Statistics/WaitingListItem.pdf.

Due to backlogs, the per country cap of 7 percent caps the number of F1 visas available to Mexico per year in this category to 1,638 (23,400 x .07). The number of pending F1 applicants from Mexico is 103,957. The length of time it will take to clear up the current backlog for Mexico in this category is approximately 63 years (103,957 ÷ 1,638).

Therefore, if a lawful permanent resident from Mexico becomes a U.S. citizen and then petitions for her/his unmarried son or daughter, they can expect the petition to become current 2078.

There is no viable way for many people from Mexico to immigrate legally to the U.S. in this lifetime. The legal system does not work for them. It is a sham. And while it is true that many people do come here to find work, many stay because of their family relations. A son or daughter, should not have to wait a lifetime to see her or his own parent.

What would you do if you faced a life-time away from your family?

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Executive Action On Immigration – Who You Should Thank Before the Party Gets Out of Control

Credit: NDLON

Photo Credit: NDLON

For more than a year now, I have worked with the grassroots movement trying to secure broad administrative relief from President Obama on immigration. I co-authored the Not1More Blue Ribbon Commission Recommendations to the President in the Spring. Just a few months ago, we were quite unpopular amongst advocates in the Beltway, who were asking the President to delay issuing administrative relief on immigration, but since the midterm elections, we are all the rage, and invited to cocktail parties everywhere. The Democrats may have lost the Senate due to the delay, but now that the President has signaled his desire to take executive action on immigration, the Democratic base seems fired up and ready for change.

It is certainly a pivot in the right direction. My experience as an undocumented immigrant has prepared me well for this moment since something similar happened when we won Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). “Dreamers”—the beneficiaries of DACA—became the “cool kids” that everyone tried to hang with, while we tried hard to grapple with how it divided our community into deserving and undeserving immigrants. My experience as an LGBT individual is also quite similar. Straight people, for lack of a better term, want to celebrate with us at our parties now, and act like they are cool with us, which makes for rather awkward conversations. I have learned to take people at face value, revel in my accomplishments, and forget about them the moment the happy hour is over. Because we have much more important work to do.

Nothing has been announced yet, so if you are confused about all the noise on executive action, you need to consult the chart here. The delay is cause for protests, not parties as the President continues to deport more people than ever before. Moreover, family detentions continue, as the Obama Administration builds a brand new facility in Dilley, Texas to imprison mothers and children escaping persecution in their home countries.

If any announcement does come, remember to thank NDLON’s Not One More Deportation movement. Without NotOneMore, we would have a dead immigration bill with no momentum for change and frankly, no prospects for executive action. Remember to thank the undocumented workers, parents, and youth who stopped buses, infiltrated detention centers, put their bodies on the line to ask for this change, and endured many attacks from pro-reform advocates. Unlike what Julia Preston writes in the New York Times, it is not big money which has brought us here, but big, courageous hearts of those who have been directly impacted by our devastating immigration laws. This is an undeniable fact, and perhaps it would not make it into the history books, but you had better not forget it.

It’s also important to remember that whatever the President announces will mean thousands left out and left to fend for themselves. Many of them are among the ones who organized for this change in the first place. They are our friends, loved ones, and members of our community. We have to help those who qualify but we must also fill the gap for those who did not make it, and work to ensure that they are represented as well.

Those who opposed administrative action at any time should start redeeming themselves by doing applications for relief at no cost to applicants, and contribute some application fees while they are at it. But don’t hold your breath. You’ll notice that they are the first ones taking credit and trying to make money from this.

Got legal questions for me or need help? Hit me up here.

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A Final Note On #LGBTCIR

I had a busy week and several mentions in LGBT media after the New York drama that I have put squarely behind me.

Of course, I anticipated differing reactions to what I had to say in The Advocate (Universal Stagnation and Immigration Reform Conundrum) and Ambiente. But some people are uninterested in recognizing the need to work together or don’t see the helping hand extended towards trying to create more inclusive platforms. No, they would rather stick to their guns and start launching attacks.

I fought for same-sex binational couples bill (UAFA) inclusion in CIR and I was told by pro-migrant people to “get my priorities straight” and stop supporting an issue that might kill a bill of much value to immigrant communities. Nevermind, that my actual issues with any potential CIR legislation have nothing to do with LGBT issues.

Then I was told by angry and resentful Uniting American Families Act activists that they don’t see why these “illegal immigrants” deserve a pathway to citizenship before them. Of course it always comes down to them and their families, and not larger macroeconomic forces created by a neo-liberal order, and a broken immigration system that never provided a legal pathway for most people of color immigrants here to begin with.

Would you even understand why people leave their homes, uproot their whole lives, to move thousands of miles to a foreign place, just to start over? That question plagues me daily.

It’s almost utterly useless trying to have these conversations with people who are not both part of the undocumented and queer communities because they tend to see themselves as being “shafted” and immediately fight for the leftover pieces of the pie. They just do not get that we need to take over the bakery and fix it so that everyone can have as much pie as they want. Period.

And if you happen to be queer and whine about how CIR does not include your family but includes those “illegal immigrants,” I no longer mind your exclusion. Why should we bend over backwards to pull you up when you have absolutely no courtesy or knowledge of our unique immigration struggles?

I don’t see why it is so hard to see that the system is broken for everyone— that all our friends, communities need help and support instead of nit-picking who needs it more than someone else.

So ultimately, what’s the point of trying to reach out and build bridges when they end up tearing me in the middle? What possible gain do I have from any of this? Nada. It’s just painful to have people tear one part of me over another. You know what: from now on, you can’t have either, whatever that means. I have more important things to do than having to defend one part of my identity over another.

I won’t give any roadmaps or strategies. Fight your own battles without lashing out at my communities and me just because it is convenient and we are easier targets than a failed system.

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Gays and Undocumented Immigrants – Nativists and Homophobes Two Sides of the Same Coin

“One of the pro-Prop. 8 persons was cited for trying to incite a fight,” Campa said.

Police said the man was a member of the anti-illegal immigration group San Diego Minutemen, and told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he was one of several people conducting a counter-protest on Sixth Avenue at Ash Street.

Status quo civil marriage and immigration laws often target and constrict behavior that is neither criminal nor wrong. Put under the lens, nativists and homophobes are two-sides of the same coin– the coin that hates, otherizes, marginalizes and oppresses the Other.

1. With-holding a term, a construct that has power (tool of governmentality)
In the case of immigrants, that would be ‘citizen.’ For the LGBTQ community right now, that would be ‘marriage’ – Both are arbitrary constructs, backed by the state that have evolved over time. At one point, only white property owning males were considered citizens and there was a time not too long ago that inter-racial marriages were illegal. Now we have gay and undocumented individuals who are fighting for the certain benefits not made available to them.

Homosexuals have to do without marriage because they are homosexuals.

Illegal Aliens have to do without citizenship because they are illegals.

2. Stubborn binaries — Insistence that the lines cannot be crossed.
“You can have your civil unions” (directly implying that marriage is off-limits)
“Illegal is illegal” (falsely implying that citizenship is an immutable concept)

3. Twisted, corny logic
“You have the same right to get married as I do – marry the person of an opposite sex”

“If you want to become a citizen, get in the line” without realizing there is no line for most undocumented immigrants.

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Forget Janet Napolitano; Dismantle DHS

The appointment of Janet Napolitano to the top Homeland Security post has elicited a diverse number of reactions. In a New York Times article, some immigration hardliners are calling it a travesty, NumbersUSA thinks that President-elect Barack Obama could have done worse, while ‘liberals’ think that Napolitano represents a balanced and constructive view, given that she is in favor of a comprehensive immigration reform that legalizes 12 million undocumented migrants. Conservatives in Arizona are happy that finally power might shift towards them with the election of Jan Brewer to Governorship.

Few are questioning the rise of ‘immigration’ as a matter of national security to the point where debates over the chief post of Homeland Security now include major immigration groups. Is this a failure of the imagination, ignorance or just plain historical amnesia? Discourses surrounding the appointment of Napolitano simply serve as polemical devices to achieve political ends while doing nothing to actually address the epistemological and ontological flaws in the actual nature of the Department of Homeland Security.

Writing for the Washington Post, Edward Alden is one of the few mainstream and liberal commentators who comes close to hitting the nail on the head with this statement in ‘Close Minded on the Border:

Instead of continuing to embrace the massive flow of talent, energy and initiative that the rest of the world has long offered the United States, we launched an expensive, futile experiment to see whether we could seal our borders against the ills of the world, from terrorists to drugs to illegal migrants. This effort has betrayed both our ideals and our interests.

Yet, he notes that Janet Napolitano has a rare opportunity to set the nation back on track—to improve security without sacrificing American values and ideals.

On November 25, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Homeland Security Act of 2002 which created the Department of Homeland Security that effectively took over the INS (now CIS). This reorganization blurred the line between immigration policy and terrorism policy to the detriment of many immigrants in the United States – immigration policy became an issue of national security, widening the nexus of security concerns, and hence, granting more policing power to the State.

This incorporation of immigration as national security has far-reaching implications—apart from the fact that immigration is now treated as a security concern rather than an economic and cultural benefit, the dehumanization and scapegoating of undocumented immigrants has proliferated out of control. From local enforcement and state laws to election battles, the unnamed and othered ‘illegal immigrant’ is the big bad bogeyman against whom we need protection.

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War on Illegals caused Economic Collapse?

An opinion from the Blue Mass Group:

This is an aging country. Only the illegal immigrants with their young families were consuming enough housing, food, clothing, and transportation resources over the past several years to keep the economy growing. Then the Oppression started. Record numbers of immigrants were deported last year. The number of illegals crossing over the border dropped sharply. Thousands of Brazilians went home. Thousands of Irish left for a more welcoming Australia. All because of harrassment. Then the economy started to sink. A great example is Rhode Island. Their economy was humming until the governor turned up the heat on illegals. Now they have the worst economy in the country. The U.S is out of money and can’t borrow enough to turn this recession around. The whole world depends on U.S. consumption to drive their economies.

While the argument does little to present evidence and treats correlation as causation, it raises some valid points.

Targeting and rounding up undocumented immigrants for deportation has undoubtedly led to the creation of ‘ghost-towns’ like Postville. Resources that could be better spent on social services are nonetheless poured into criminalizing illegal work and presence. For example, Prince William County is suffering budget shortfalls due to foreclosures in additon to a rabidly anti-illegal ‘nab-n-jail’ program. Law Professor Richard Delgado wrote an excellent piece on the direct economic impact of the crackdowns on food prices:

Many farmers are plowing their crops into the ground, realizing that without immigrant workers to pick them, harvesting is simply uneconomical. Still others are shifting to crops that are less labor intensive, even if this means cutting down mature orchards and starting over. The lower supply of food inevitably results in higher prices as consumer dollars chase a dwindling or shifting market.

A new study by the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of Advocacy reports that immigrant-owned businesses contribute positively to the economy. While it did not concerntrate particularly on undocumented immigrants, the CPS found:

* Immigrants represent 12.5 of all business owners.

* Immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business than non- immigrants are.

* Immigrant business owners are concentrated in certain states, including California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Hawaii.

* Mexicans represent the largest number of immigrant business owners, while Greeks, Koreans, and Iranians have the highest ownership rates.

In light of these facts, immigrant crackdowns might not help (and most likely hurts) the economy.

If the United States was to legalize 12 million undocumented immigrants, would they not pay fines, back taxes and acquire property–in other words, increase consumption–which in turn would stimulate the economy? Workers who are not part of an underground (informal) economy and don’t live in the shadows due to fear of deportation could acquire new job skills and move up the career ladder. That translates into higher wages, more money paid in taxes, and more money for consumption.

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