The NY Times recently wrote a piece talking about the struggles of the Legal Immigrant and how they feel that throughout the whole current Immigration reform debate they feel that they are the forgotten figures of the whole debate yet the most deserving of consideration in the reform. This is because collectively this a group of hundreds of thousands of people who;
- Have faithfully followed all the US Immigration rules from prior to entering the country to obeying all laws while present in the US
- Skew to be highly educated and thus already (and in the future) contribute most to the US overall economic prosperity benefiting all
- Have endured already paying thousands of dollars already in US Government fees, legal fees, general compliance and travel fees to ensure their visa status remains current
- Many have been educated in US higher education institutions so largely a full fee paying students with a top quality education particularly in the much sought after STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) professions
- Have faithfully paid all their IRS and other tax obligations even though as a group they don’t benefit from many of the taxes they have to pay like Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, etc.
- Have endured separation from family members, missed weddings/funerals/etc., lived in locations that are not their first preference just so they can comply with all laws and hopefully at some stage obtain a Green Card
- Passed up promotions, raises and better job opportunities at other other companies offered to them in the US because to do so would mean to lose their place in the long wait lines for Permanent Residency
- Have had to have every aspect of the life scrutinized from every home move they make, to every travel entry, job transfer, marriage, private medical information, etc., to ensure constant compliance with the system
- Not fought cases of a legal nature against them when they have been in the right (i.e. traffic, workplace complaints, rental disputes) for fear that any issue might appear on a permanent record jeopardizing their ability to continue in the Immigration process
- For the high skilled and employed watched people jump the queue in front of them b/c of things like sham marriages, phoney asylum claims, the green card lottery
- If from India, China, Mexico and the Philippines in particular seen their wait times stretch to 15 years and more just to move along in the process and having to keep their life on hold
- Watch President Obama and others before him continue to give preference to Illegal Immigrants plight over their own just because of the political benefits of pursuing that action (ultimately both causes need to be addressed but the legal immigrants are usually ignored)
The full list would go on and on because the US has a system currently where only 7% of all the Green Cards issue annually (abt 140,000) go to the skilled employees which compares very unfavourably with other 1st world western nations and thus is detrimental to the US economy as a whole. So many of the major technology and other companies that sponsor Green Cards and companies that sponsor H-1B, E-3 and other work visas have been screaming for years for increases to quotas and changes to Immigration system and is hurting their ability to innovate and detrimentally effecting them vs. foreign competition.
We even a couple of years ago had an avid reader so frustrated with they system he wrote a letter to President Obama which he published as an open letter here expressing his frustration of the multi-year delays he and many people he know faces and how it leaves them leading a compromised life for years all in the vein hope that something might change.
Ultimately this is not a case of pitting legal immigrants vs. illegal immigrants plight or the folks hoping to benefit from the Dream Act, it is a plea for those in Congress and the Media and the President to stop focusing on the political point scoring with Paths to Citizenship for Illegals, Border Fence Issues, Demonizing Hispanics and focus on a group that is always ignored in public arguments. If any group deserves some focus and reform it is this group.
There is a lot to fix in US Immigration as we have identified before, however if you as person can imagine being stuck in the same job, with the same title, with the same pay, in the same city, separated from your family and friends, being forced to pay thousands of dollars continually, undergo invasive medical tests, have any marriage scrutinized, undergo repeated biometric tests, wait in constant hour long queues at consulates, having any move of apartment monitored and all the while still pursuing the dream of residency in the US, then you may have some more sympathy too.