This quote (source unknown) pretty much sums up how I feel every year on the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
As a proud American citizen, I am also saddened by the current asylum/immigration situation in our beloved country. It’s a mess. We were not prepared to deal with the thousands of people wanting to cross our borders illegally for work and family safety.
We have never seen anything of this magnitude. This children situation is worthy of the wisdom of Solomon.
The Declaration of Independence (for the most part) does not address immigration. The document is profoundly basic: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if you don’t do anything illegal or violate the rights of others.
When this was written in 1776, it is estimated there were about 2.5 million people living in the 13 colonies. They probably never envisioned a nation of 327 million residents.
Undocumented immigrants have always tested our entry rules but now we have a lot of unhappy U.S. citizens doing the same. The uproar is over the separation of undocumented immigrant families. As I sat mulling over recent headlines, I wondered how our founding fathers would respond to this dilemma. I also realized how little I know about immigration laws in the U.S. or other countries.
My husband and I were 50-year residents and business owners in California We employed Mexican workers who were holders of green cards issued by the U.S. To be a resident and work in this country (legally) one needs a green card proving their identity and status.
As employers, we knew that we would get in trouble if we hired undocumented employees. They complied and so did we.
Suddenly, immigration is a hot news topic all over the world. I haven’t thought much about green card holders and illegal immigration since moving to Oregon. Now, thousands of people from war-torn, gang ridden or famine situations are leaving their homelands and seeking refuge for safe living in other countries everywhere.
So, I Googled a few questions to gain a current perspective on immigration here and around the world.
The top 10 countries accepting the most immigrants in 2015:
• The United States, 1,051,000
• Germany, 686,000
The United Kingdom, 378,800
• Canada, 271,800
• France, 256,500
• Australia, 226,22
• Spain, 194,900
• Italy, 160,900
• The Netherlands, 146,800
• Switzerland, 131,000.
According to the U.S. News, our 1,051,000 figure does not include migration to the U.S. by other means. We are the top country for immigration in the world. We are also the top refugee resettlement country with most refugees coming from Myanmar, Iraq, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bhutan.
Our foreign-born population is 13.3 percent.
Immigration deals with the transit of people across borders but especially those that intend to work and stay in that country. Rules are different everywhere but always confusing.
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) provides for the U.S., an annual worldwide limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants, with some exceptions for close family members.
Legal immigrants to the U.S. number about 1,000,000 per year of whom about 600,000 are already in the U.S. The total legal immigrants living here are now at their highest level ever — just over 37 million.
There are also about 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. The American Immigration Council says that — both documented and undocumented — contribute billions of dollars in taxes every year.
If you are from a foreign country you must have a Permanent Resident or Green Card to live and work in the U.S. A green card is a photo ID permit that allows you to stay here as long as you want. You may also apply for a Social Security Number.
There is a difference between a green card and a visa. With a visa, your permanent residence is outside the U.S. It is a temporary pass for a specific period of time. In both visa and green cards, you remain the citizen of another country.
Therefore, you do not have the rights of a U.S. citizen. i.e. to vote in elections, apply for a U.S. passport, etc. There are also serious consequences for criminal behavior.
There is so much more to say about this subject but these are the answers that helped me understand the basics of immigration. I could find no mandates to separate families. I hope this has been helpful to you as we go down this path of uncertainty.
Despite our problems, we are blessed to live in America. Together, like generations before us, we can work through the uncertainties of this era with grit and determination; respect for the law and different opinions while helping others and our country.
We can also pray for the wisdom of Solomon.
God bless America!