Dear Next President,
I’m a freshman in high school and I congratulate your election, and I wish you luck in your presidency. As you know, immigration has been a controversial and hotly debated subject in both your and your opponents’ campaigns. This election has really exposed how divided this country is about it, accompanied by the solutions you and your opponent presented, which are literally the exact opposites. In this letter, I hope that you, Madam/Mister President begin to see immigration from more than a black and white standpoint, and how the process immigrants have to go through to legally gain access to the U.S. should be looked at.
During the election, there was the suggestion of creating a border wall and deporting all illegal immigrants, however, I don’t believe that deporting every illegal immigrant is necessary. According to CNN, of the estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants country this country last year, only 1.6% were convicted criminals, and only 0.007% were/are inmates within state and federal prisons. Only 0.001% of illegal immigrants were charged with murder. Let’s say 5% of illegal immigrants are criminals (as a gross generalization for the purpose of comparison) and are deemed unworthy of being sheltered within the U.S. Why would the other 95% be unworthy of being in this country?
Some say that it’s simply because they didn’t fill out the paperwork. But let us be reminded of how taxing paperwork is to everyone. To gain even temporary access to the U.S., you have to obtain a visa, which has a long and tedious process. For family and employment visas, the person who wants a visa has to get a U.S. resident to submit a petition, then choose an agent, pay fees (which may go up to $5,000), and submit more forms while collecting necessary documents to present to an interviewer. For immigrants without initial connections to the US, instead of submitting a petition, they have to enter a lottery where it’s completely possible that they’ll never be selected to get a visa. That’s a lot to worry about. With this complicated process, I can clearly see how many immigrants would choose to do whatever it took to get to the U.S. Finding another way in might be their only option if they couldn’t afford the fees or somehow misplace a piece of paperwork at their interview (which results in having to repeat the entire process again). An immigrant who doesn’t have any relatives in the U.S. could find themselves avoiding this process instead of hoping to win the lottery. It’s like putting all your hopes and dreams into winning the Powerball.
This process can also put people who really deserve a chance to be in the U.S. in a very difficult position. The Iraqi and Afghan translators (most of whom living in war-zones) helping the US military are invaluable; to quote the article from PBS covering Afghan translators, “...it’s hard to overstate the importance of Afghan employees, particularly translators, to the U.S war effort. Translators accompany U.S. military and special forces in everything they do, from night raids and helicopter insertions to route clearance... They’re also critical to the work done by the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. government supported NGO’s.” What’s more, in an article done by Vice News, U.S. marines said: “We are quite simply blind without them.” “They played the most important role in any unit operating in today's dangerous and complex combat environment.”“They put more on the line for our country than the average American ever will.” “They are themselves American veterans.” Surprisingly, the process for obtaining a military-related visa is even longer than those previously mentioned; although he/she doesn’t have to enter the lottery, they have to submit a lot more paperwork and documents directly to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) Nebraska Service Center before they can even file a petition (also, they have to hope that their paperwork doesn’t somehow get lost from the trip from some US embassy all the way to the middle of the country). They also have to pay the same fees as everyone else (no credit towards their work in the military). According to the New York Times, of the 12,600 pending petitions from these military aids, only 250 visas (maximum) will be issued.
I find this unfortunate in so many ways, mostly because these visas, for many translators, are necessary for their survival. When they help the US military, the Taliban automatically places a target on their and their families’ backs. In the PBS article, an interviewed translator Shafiq Naziri, comments on how, “If the bad guys arrest you, there’s no question that they will behead you… They will put your head on a stick on the side of the street.” Remember that there’s a good chance that these people are Muslim, and the immigration of Muslims within this country is being questioned. Even without the religious aspect, a New York Times article also states how “a handful of Republican lawmakers” plan on just shutting this process down. This year, if those 250 visas are processed and are given out (and those lucky few translators actually move to the US), the remaining 12,350 translators who petitioned will still be threatened by the Taliban. Next year, if this process is shut down, only a few translators who have relations in the US or win the lottery will have a chance of getting into the country. All of the others, who are worthy enough to be an American veteran in the eyes of hardened marines, might have their heads on sticks.
Much of the immigration process, in my opinion, seems very unnecessary (for a lack of a better word). It just seems like this process is too long and unfair. Of the estimated 12.4 million immigrants in the US, 92% are illegal. Why? Why are there so many illegal immigrants if only 1.6% have a motive based off of past criminal activities? I believe that it’s this process that’s pushing illegal immigration. It’s just too easy to come across a situation where someone just doesn’t have $5,000, or where they’re just trying to escape a looming threat to their family. I believe that if this process was different, there wouldn’t be nearly as many immigrants entering the U.S. illegally. I don’t think we should just get rid of it; it has its uses. I think we can improve upon it though; alter how documents are reviewed and analyzed, lower the cost and amount of fees an immigrant has to pay. Since you, the president, are in a position where you can have all this information in front of you and have a council of people work together to improve this faulty and slow process, I know that this is well within your power. It probably won’t be easy, but it needs to be done, if only to help the veterans that the U.S. owes.
All of the facts about the visa process was taken from the website of The U.S. Department of State and Bureau of Consular Affairs