The immigration laws would be silly in many cases if it did not affect the lives of the equivalent of the entire populations of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago combined. But we all know these laws are not likely to change.
The U.S. Congress is frozen, unmovable. And until the laws change there will be no change in the situation undocumented residents find themselves. And we continue to believe “they” can just apply for citizenship or “they” committed a crime or don’t pay taxes… so many misconceptions.
About half of all the estimated 12 million undocumented or “illegal” immigrants who are living in the US entered the country legally but overstayed their Visas. The vast majority live with family, and many in the family are US citizens.
Remember our border is 2000 miles long and would take six months to walk, or if there were a super highway that ran the length of the border it would take several days to drive it at the speed limit. A passenger airline would take about 4 hours if there were a direct flight. The entire border is with Mexico and the border was fixed by treaty in 1963 to be mostly along lines of an 1889 treaty. The US won nearly half of Mexico in a war, and the inhabitants had the choice of staying in the US or going to Mexico. The overwhelming majority chose to stay in the US., but of course there were no border restrictions in those days.
Fifty eight percent of those living in the US without a visa are Mexican nationals and the new border security has made it much more difficult for people to cross our Mexican border. Ironically that has increased the likelihood that an undocumented resident of any nationality will remain in the US undocumented rather than return.
Undocumented children, when they reach age 16 or so feel as American as I am, having gone through our school system. But they are not eligible for loans or grants for College, or until this law is signed, in-state tuition in Connecticut. All of them know a lot more about this country and the English language than the country and language of their citizenship. But here they can’t work, drive, or enter our military. College is usually out of the question as well.
The Anchor Baby issue rears its head now and again. After the Civil War the 14th Amendment to the Constitution made it very, very clear that people born in the US, like black people, are US citizens. The belief is that people come to the US to have babies so that they can stay in the US. Statistics does not back up this belief, and neither does the law. People of whatever background have babies at numbers in accordance with that background, or fewer. And although children born in the US can stay it would take about 30 years before a child could grow to adult and apply for citizenship for their parents and make their parents legal residents. Hardly a reasonable investment of time.
The primary reason for coming to and living in the US is to live with family, to work in plentiful agricultural, food service and other low paying jobs, and because it is very difficult to visit here. If you leave you will most likely never, ever be able to return.
I have lived and worked illegally in two countries, and my visa expired once in Mexico. I did not know it, of course, when any of those events took place. I was offered a job and I took it and the company that hired me never told me what I was doing was against local immigration law. The first time I was a tour guide and the issue never came up. The second time I didn’t realize I had been illegal until I investigated the laws from a computer years later.
Mexico does not require a visa to enter if you are a US citizen, unless you travel more than 30 miles from the border. The visa is free, but if you do travel further than 30 miles and you don’t get the visa you, and you are caught, you will need to pay an fine of approximately $30 US. Nearly every other country on earth except the US has provisions to pay a fine to come to terms with immigration violations, but the US requires those without a valid visa to leave the US in order to come to terms. If you do that you better have a very, very good US lawyer or you will not be allowed back.