Talking Cultural Diversity

a discussion board for cultural and diversity issues by Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis

Road to Citizenship: Old Family Legends/New Immigration Realities

By Andrea-Teresa "Tess" Arenas - 04.28.2010

The new immigration bill just passed in Arizona –considered “Draconian” by many— places our national immigration policy once again in the forefront of U.S. thinking not only in the White House but also on college campuses and family conversations over dinner.

Whether I am teaching college students at a predominately white campus or consulting with businesses, it is not uncommon to hear people saying, “The undocumented need to get in line and apply for entry into the US like the rest of our families did.”

Another common comment is a similar spin, “My family came here legally with nothing and so should the Latinos.”

I truly understand any frustration, concern, and the like associated with the hot topic of Latino undocumented as the debate on immigration moves forward within the Obama Administration.

However, there are very important differences between the immigration process and criteria in place in contemporary USA society and when the country was founded and opened the doors to waves of immigrants from Europe.

The criteria in Mexico and the USA to apply to immigrate to USA include: owning a home and having a bank account.  

Now, given the Mexican economy and the huge numbers of displaced farmers since NAFTA, the Mexicans seeking a new life like other poor, are not welcome in the USA.

There has been an aversion for many, many years of accepting any poor from any country.

So, the idea of “give me your poor, your hungry, etc.” has lost its relevancy in this country. Of the 12 million undocumented in the USA, none of them would ever qualify for legal immigration.

So, the well intentioned USA citizens need to understand that their fore-fathers and mothers would not have qualified to immigrate to the USA if they had to comply with current immigration standards.

To further complicate the matter, undocumented who do apply for legal status after many years in the USA, wait for the government bureaucrats to process their paperwork.

It is not uncommon to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees and have to wait 14 to 18 years for the USA to say “yes” or “no.”

As the immigration issues are hotly debated and myths fly back and forth, one problem which must be fixed is the lack of accountability of the US Immigration processes.

Another is to bring old  U.S. thinking in line with new social and political realities.

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