reason.org shows wait times for citizenship "approach infinity"

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Thumbnail image for immigrationchart2-copy.jpgReason magazine has a great chart (pdf) outlining wait times for citizenship under different scenarios (text version here (pdf)).

What you'll notice if you read the chart carefully is that for a large number of potential immigrants--certainly the majority of undocumented immigrants already here--there are simply no legal channels to immigrate. Wait times are irrelevant; such workers could wait till they're gray and still not get a visa because it is simply impossible.


From Reason's press release:

The immigration debate is often reduced to - why don't immigrants just get in line and come into this country legally? If only it were that simple.

A new chart details how complicated the immigration maze is, demonstrating the countless requirements that must be met, and the red tape that must be navigated, by everyone from English soccer star David Beckham to an Indian engineer.

What's the best-case immigration scenario? Five or six years: If you are the spouse or a minor child of a U.S. citizen, you should be able to enter the country and get a green card. Then, after three to five years, you can apply to become a citizen.

The worst case scenario? You are an unskilled worker hoping to make a better life for yourself in America. "Unlike previous periods in our history, there is virtually no process for unskilled immigrants without family relations in the U.S. to apply for permanent legal residence," the chart by Reason Foundation and the National Foundation for American Policy states.

Unskilled workers just have to hope they get lucky. That's because only 10,000 green cards are given to these workers each year and "the wait time approaches infinity." Skilled workers may have better chances, but still face strict caps, thousands of dollars in fees, and an 11 to 16 year wait to obtain a green card and gain U.S. citizenship.

This comes by way of the Immigration Policy Center's new blog, Immigration Impact, where Andrea Nill left this analysis:

Not only is the maze to US citizenship long and grueling, overly restrictive legal limits on green cards mean that virtually all undocumented immigrants have no alternative for legal entry to the U.S. Our laws have not been updated in nearly 20 years and there are only limited avenues for securing legal immigration status.

Opinion surveys of undocumented immigrants indicate that, if given a choice, 98 percent would prefer to live and work legally in the U.S. and would do so if they could. However, most do not have the necessary family relationships to apply for legal entry, or, if they do, they face years or decades of waiting time for a visa. Those here illegally generally do not qualify as refugees unless they come from a handful of countries experiencing political unrest. Finally, most undocumented immigrants do not work in professions that qualify for a green card. The annual number of green cards for low-skilled workers is extraordinarily small and insufficient for America's enormous economy, which depends on high-, medium-, and low-skilled workers.

Essentially, there is no "line" for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants.
It's true!  More here on that from awhile back.

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1 Comments

fash said:

I love Reason mag. It reminds me that not ALL libertarians scare me.

Anyway, I don't know if you've checked it out, but Reason has all kinds of great articles on their site about immigration.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on September 9, 2008 9:19 PM.

Who Deserves A Dobbsy?: Pro-Migrant SanctuarySphere was the previous entry in this blog.

Maybe In The Next Life - (Citizenship 'Lines' Are Long): Pro-Migrant SanctuarySphere is the next entry in this blog.

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