Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | May 21, 2018

Give me your huddled masses, but only if they fit into these very narrow boxes

By Karyn Spory | May 11, 2018

 

What does it take to become a U.S. Citizen?

The short answer is, there is no short answer. It takes a lot. For many wanting to come to the United States for a better life for themselves and their family, it’s a nearly impossible path.

Right now our community is seeing the fallout of how treacherous and unforgiving that pathway is.

At this time,  our news team still is working to learn all of the details associated with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on MPC Enterprises on Wednesday. What we do know for sure is that 32 families, members of our community, have been forever changed.

At Thursday night’s rally, Pastor Trey Hegar of the First Presbyterian Church, stated some of the men arrested were on the path to becoming U.S. Citizens.

As of press time, I’m unable to corroborate that. But to even be working toward citizenship is a tremendous feat. The first step in becoming a citizen is obtaining a Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as a green card.

An individual must have their green card for at least five years, three if their spouse is a U.S. Citizen. But how exactly would you get a green card?

First, you have to find out if you’re eligible. Most green cards are obtained through sponsorship by a family member that already is a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident or through an employer.

Other provisions allow victims of human trafficking, abuse and those claiming refugee or asylee status (more information on eligibility status can be found at www.uscis.gov).

After at least five years, then an individual can apply for naturalization. There’s a graphic on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website that shows the 10 steps to becoming a naturalized citizen:

• Be at least 18 years old

• Be a lawfully admitted permanent resident

• At the time of filing (form N-400) have been a permanent resident for at least five years

• Have demonstrated continuous permanent residence

• Have demonstrated physical presence

• Have lived within the States or USCIS District (U.S District or territory) of at least three months before filing

• Have demonstrated good moral character

• Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution

• Demonstrate an ability to read, write, speak and understand basic English

• Demonstrate a basic knowledge of U.S. history, government and civic principles

And finally you take the oath of allegiance to the United States. It sounds simple enough. It’s a very narrow scope of which to work in. And it’s fair to say that’s the entire point of immigration laws and restrictions.

But what if, while you’re living in the U.S. on a green card you get laid off from the company that is sponsoring you? You would have to find another company to sponsor you or go back to a country you may have not lived in for years.

But what if you don’t have anyone to sponsor you, you’re not allowed to sponsor yourself, and you feel the only way to create a better life for yourself and your family is to come into the country illegally because there is no pathway for you?

Currently there are four immigration bills that might be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives, if a group of Republicans can get 218 signatures on a petition for a seldom used procedure. The bills include the Conservatives’ Securing America’s Future Act, which would renew DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program for three years, eliminate the visa lottery and limit relatives legal immigrants could bring with them, allow construction of the board wall and cuts grants to sanctuary cities; the Libera’s DREAM Act, which creates a process for DACA children to become permanent legal residents; the Bipartisan Uniting and Securing America Act, which gives DACA recipients a chance to become legal permanent residents, install the best technology to secure the board with Mexico and increases the number of immigration judges. The fourth bill would be designated by Speaker Paul Ryan, according to the Washington Post.

However, none of these reform bills actually reform much of anything.

I am, in my essence, a law and order kind of person. I didn’t contest the ticket I received from a traffic camera because, even though I was behind a semi and was unable to see the light change as I crossed the intersection, I still went on a red.

But not everything is black and white, like the photographic evidence of me making the “oh no, my bad” face as I ran a red light.

There are just families torn apart because they, I assume, didn’t see a pathway into a better life other than taking the risk and coming illegally.

Laws are laws, but outdated and rigged systems only criminalize those trying to do the most American thing — pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make a better, safer, more prosperous future for their children.

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