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Immigration: You Like Our Food But Not Us

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With a country comprised of immigrants, integrating them into the American society to have the possibility of obtaining the American Dream seems like one of a few, realistic possibilities to achieve a more unified nation. The lack of pathways to citizenship is a problem that requires more national attention, as it affects immigrants nationwide in terms of their health and economic status. Essentially, the lack of opportunity to be healthy and prosper economically becomes a barrier between themselves and their potential to reach the American Dream. Thus, the federal government of the United States should try to adopt an immigration law similar to that of Canada, which requires someone to reside in the country for only a brief period of time in order qualify for citizenship. This time reduction would play a critical role in setting out to make our broken immigration system more fast and responsive, resulting in less illegal immigration and a healthier community that can better contribute to the economy. In the long run, amending the time requisite will improve the lives of the those who have proven loyalty to this nation yet have a pending migratory status.

When going out to the movies on a Friday night or walking around in a mall, it would not be in one’s mind to be conscious about people’s legal status. Nonetheless, there are an estimated 11 million people without proper documentation that have resided in the shadows of the United States for more than the required five years for citizenship. The problem is that there are not enough pathways to citizenship, whether it be direct or indirect, for those who qualify. As a foreigner, people migrate to the U.S., more often than not, to pursue a better life. Then again, in order to achieve this in the United States, one must first become a resident. Currently, the process for entering the U.S. legally commences with a petition from a spouse, child, parent, or sibling (“Submit a Petition,” n.d.). However this long, inefficient process ends up authorizing less and less applicants for immigration visas (i.e. permanent residence status) each year. A supporting fact would be that of 6 million applicants requesting permanent residence status“ in November 2012, more than 4.4 million applicants were still waiting for green cards” (American Immigration Center, n.d.). Continuing to rely on this method of granting visas will only result in a meager amount of granted visas; consequently, encouraging the act of illegal immigration. Additionally, it will mean that more people will end up in the country with no health care or proper tax contributions. Instead, a new policy to amend the standing one should open the opportunity for applicants to have increased assurance of being granted an immigrant visa, which would allow their legal residence in the country. Of course, this policy would be aimed at benefiting applicants with clean records and complete fulfillment of all other requirements.

The amendment to the standing legislation on the immigration visa process is to allow applicants to file for a visa without being requested by a family member. Since the people who can submit a request is limited to the applicant’s immediate family, it restricts many people who are willing to be their family’s pioneer in immigration from applying. This often times leaves people with no other choice than to resort to illegal means of entry to the country, such as hiding in cars or paying someone who is familiar with the border and can cross them with their routes. In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, “ 54 percent of people who entered illegally between border crossings got caught in the 2015 fiscal year (“Barely Half of Illegal Border Crossers Caught, according to Homeland Security Report”, 2016). This means that more that half of the attempts at crossing the border illegally were caught and deported back, while the rest were successful in entering the country illegally. With no citizenship, these people would not have the opportunity to prosper economically since they cannot obtain a well ­paid job without proper documentation, and they will be unable to afford health care that will take care of their medical bills without medicaid coverage, so this policy would ensure more people are successfully entering the country legally. Of course, compared to citizenship status, a legal, permanent, residency visa (i.e. immigrant visa) is only the foot in the door; ultimately, it can lead to one’s granting of citizenship.This policy, overall, would guarantee their attempt at the inalienable rights of life liberty and property from the start of their stay in the country.

This policy is to be implemented by the federal government in order to benefit a maximum number of undocumented immigrants. In order to pass this proposed policy as an amendment to the current one, it is first to be passed by Congress. Since this policy is pertinent to a controversial issue (immigration), it is likely they will leave it up to the executive branch to pass legislation on it. Therefore, it would be convenient to consult with interest groups who are lobbying for immigration reform, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This nonprofit lobbies for the interest of American business, and currently, immigration reform is a top legislative priority for the business community. As publicated on The Hill, “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more than $50 million on lobbying last year as it pushed for action on immigration reform” (Bogardus, 2014). Through this involvement, the Chamber has the power to suggest this policy. One way to do so would be to propose a draft of the bill to a member of Congress who is willing to introduce it. This step is deemed vital inasmuch as Congress has the enumerated power of establishing naturalization laws. Should the bill be enacted, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be the most effective in implementing this as policy since they preside over the many agencies that immigration lawyers deal with on a regular basis, such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The lack of pathways to citizenship also makes its way to haunt the health of the undocumented community in terms of workplace injuries and the challenging access to affordable health services. The result is the development of easily preventable medical problems like diabetes and obesity. In order to help pay for the costs of a dentist or doctor visit, most Americans obtain a health insurance, but proper immigration documentation is required. A study conducted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine concluded that U.S. immigrants are at high risks for developing diabetes and becoming obese. The results recorded in the following tables acknowledge the high percentages of obese and diabetic U.S. immigrants.

Today, we can see the lack of immigration reform policy through the 11 million unauthorized people living in the United States; most of whom have lived here much longer than the required time to qualify for citizenship. Entire communities experience a sense of vulnerability in terms of being able to live in this country freely because they have no other choice. Pursuing to pass a policy that would optimize the process of obtaining an immigrant visa will indirectly improve the U.S. economy and the health percentages of minority communities. Delaying the reform is ultimately depriving the country’s prosperity.

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