Ther Tekin’ Er Punisherment!

30 Jul

Here’s a letter I sent to the Commercial Appeal,

On July 26, you described the plight of students who are illegal immigrants and will not be able to find work once they graduate. You quote Tom Clifton, a member of the Mid South Tea Party Steering Committee, as saying “I believe these people should come legally. … I’m not for a short cut.” Does he know how long the current immigration process takes?

Some of my peers at Rhodes College are international students and want to be in the United States legally but the process of gaining citizenship for them is discouraging and arduous. If they didn’t want to be here legally and respect the laws, they wouldn’t try to jump through all of the hoops we force them through to be citizens. The lengthy immigration legislation ends up hurting those that we want most.

To gain citizenship, they must have a green card for five years. Before they can get their green cards, they must have an up-to-date visa. They can renew their student visas by going to graduate school, but eventually they will need to get either a temporary employment visa, a marriage visa, an investment visa (they must invest $1 million in the country – or $500,000 if it’s in an economically depressed area – and create 10 jobs) or they would need to prove to INS that they are exceptionally talented (e.g., a world renowned artist, performer, athlete, or scholar). Without the green card, my friends are subject to numerous restrictions (depending on which visa they have). Their visas will all expire, and some visas have a limit on the number of times they can be renewed. All-in-all, to gain citizenship under the best case scenario, it will take them at least six or seven years.

These are people who are trying to work hard and earn a decent living. They don’t want any government handouts. They just want to be treated like adults and human beings. I agree with Mr. Clifton that rule of law matters and that there are benefits to screening entrants, but these onerous restrictions are only hurting the productive people who want to enter the country legally – those who do want to enter illegally aren’t going to be stopped by these restrictions.

Brent Butgereit

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One Response to “Ther Tekin’ Er Punisherment!”

  1. Sameer Warraich July 30, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    My family applied for U.S. citizenship in 1999 and finally got a call last month for an interview at the embassy. Sadly, my dad lost his business a few months back and we had to terminate the visa application, therefore, leaving my family with no option but to stay in Pakistan. This is exactly why I’m not even going to try to stay in America(for a job) once I graduate from Rhodes.

    Great letter though. I really like what you’re doing.

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