All over the world there are educated, skilled, motivated people dreaming of a better life in another country. The reasons they long to leave behind their families, their culture and their heritage are as complex as the differences between one human being and another. Perhaps they want to escape from an oppressive regime. Perhaps they feel the need to experience a life of religious freedom. Perhaps they imagine wealth, opportunities or a lifestyle unobtainable without taking that giant leap into the unknown. It could even be as simple as wanting to sit on the beach at the end of the working day, watching as the palm trees sway gently in a tropical breeze.
Whether the desire to start life over again in a foreign land is a new idea or a lifelong dream, it’s a fact that huge numbers of these would-be immigrants set their sights on the United States of America - land of the free, home of the brave, epitome of freedom, peace, equality and opportunity.
This is the point at which the problems present themselves. Those looking to immigrate to America discover that there are only two ways to do so legally; through a sponsor (close relative, employer or spouse) or through investment. Since the vast majority of foreign nationals do not have a close relative here, that option is a non-starter. With unemployment running at unprecedented highs, the chances of finding an employer willing to sponsor a foreigner are practically nil. Marriage to a U.S. citizen will certainly lead to a green card, but it’s not easy to meet one who’s eligible and willing while living in another country. If one manages to do so, they start on a long and complicated journey of fear and deceit.
Current immigration legislation seems to have been created with the sole purpose of keeping ordinary, hard-working, capable people out. The backlash is that, by placing so many barriers in the way of would-be legal immigrants, millions have entered illegally or overstayed visas, leading successive administrations to consider some form of amnesty to address the issue.
Other developed countries such as Australia and New Zealand have a points system for would-be immigrants based on educational background, skills, employment history, financial status, fluency in the language, criminal past etc. If the United States were to adopt such a system and get rid of the need for immigrants to have a sponsor, the situation would right itself over time. The simple good fortune of having a relative here does not in any way guarantee that the immigrant would be desirable, whereas those who meet pre-set criteria definitely are.
The time has come to place what is good for America over the admirable, but misguided, contention that family reunification is paramount. Those who leave their relatives behind to start a new life should not then be able to demand that their relatives be allowed to come, too. This idea leads to colonization and not integration. Proof of this is available in Britain, where whole towns have been overtaken by Pakistani immigrants who’ve been allowed to bring in all their relatives. Unrest over this situation has brought Britain is to the brink of civil war.
It’s not too late for America to stop enabling illegal immigrants and start encouraging skilled, educated foreigners to come and contribute to the economy, but time is of the essence.