I’ve seen it a few times.
The situation is minor, sometimes moderate or severe.
At a car accident or a traffic stop, at times I’ve noticed police will find something compromising about the driver.
He or she was never a licensed driver, does not have a valid U.S. identification, or both. Usually when an officer discovers this, the driver is arrested and charged with a criminal misdemeanor with bond set around $250.
Since there is a serious debate about immigration in this country, a discussion about the issues wouldn’t hurt.
I wondered and asked if certain individuals come to the U.S. for whatever reason, why not obtain citizenship through naturalization.
Obviously, there is a difference between being a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident and unauthorized immigrant. American citizens were born in this country, had at least one parent born here or have obtained citizenship through the federal government. Legal residents have the ability to apply for citizenship and are known as “green card holders.” Non-citizens have an advantage to legalization if they are relatives of U.S. citizens or expert workers, like in technology, commerce and such.
But an unauthorized immigrant would have little access to any of the advantages or legal information required.
The naturalization process can be lengthy, according to United States Citizenship website. But lengthy is an understatement. It can take years for some to receive just the green card, and there are costs involved. An immigration lawyer, if needed, could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, an ABC News report said.
To be qualified for naturalization, one must be 18 years or older and have no criminal record. The days spent outside the U.S. are numbered. The applicant must live in the country for three months, cannot live abroad for six or more months, is forbidden to leave the country while filing for citizenship, and must take a history and civics test, basic English test. And the list goes on.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. There is even more to this story.
And as the debate continues, the country is faced with a polarizing view of immigration. Some believe these individuals should be deported, but not many understand that process either.
A person found for deportation goes to Immigration Court, and the judge rules if the defendant should be removed from the country. Then the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removes the individual with what he or she has to the country of origin.
There are 42.4 million immigrants in the U.S. and 11.4 million are considered unauthorized. Every individual has his or her reasons for coming here and why he or she chooses to remain. For some its family, others asylum, and a few have come for freedom.
I know some are bothered immensely that someone would “take advantage” of the system. From the frustration and lack of understanding (or fear), stereotypes form and, boy, are they easy to pick up. Even I am guilty of it.
I even recall going to lunch with someone and the subject was brought up.
“Oh, but they’re hard workers,” he said.
They are so much more than laborers, I thought. They have family, friends, hopes and dreams.
What cannot happen is creating a generalized view of a person or group of people when dealing with an international situation. It requires hearing both sides out, understanding the flaws and benefits of the system and what generates these issues, and trying to create a way for all to live in a harmonious environment despite their country of origin.
Open discussion allows ideas to flow; a lack of conversation creates more problems.