Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Comprehensive Immigration Reform? - Part 1

The phrases "I support comprehensive immigration reform" and "We need comprehensive immigration reform" are bantered about quite a bit now in the United States. I suspect that as we approach the mid-term elections we will hear more and more these phrases.

To be honest, which I feel that I can be because of my age and the fact that I have no political aspirations, I have no idea what "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" means.

Many times in my past career I found that young people, myself included, were reluctant to question statements to obtain a better understanding of rather obtuse statements. I suspect that we all felt that by questioning we would be demonstrating their lack of experience on the subject. As I got older I overcame this reluctance to question and request confirmation of my understanding of such statements. Interestingly enough, rather than viewing the questioning as being due to inexperience, people admired the knowledge that motivated the questions especially when responses to the questioning led to a completely different understanding than the initial statement would typically lead one to assume.

It is in this line of thinking that I question what is "Comprehensive Immigration Reform"? My suspicion is that the term is much like the phrase "I am sorry" - a phrase that is expressed in vain attempts to get out of uncomfortable situations or to avoid having to suffer consequences for unacceptable behavior. The statement "I favor Comprehensive Immigration Reform" could very well be akin to "I am not _______. Some of my best friends are ______"

What is the desired goal of "Comprehensive Immigration Reform"? What is the desired outcome when Comprehensive Immigration Reform is enacted or enforced?

Is the intent of Comprehensive Immigration Reform is to eliminate the matter, or reality of illegal immigrants?

Is Comprehensive Immigration Reform a national security issue and solution?

Is Comprehensive Immigration Reform an economic issue and solution?

Is Comprehensive Immigration Reform a political issue and strategy?

Does comprehensive immigration reform apply to Brazilians? Malaysians? Canadians? Algerians? Thais? Vietnamese? (I have purposely selected nationalities of countries where I have worked and lived there by acquiring a first hand knowledge of the peoples).

Does comprehensive immigration reform apply to all people who desire to legally immigrate to the USA? Only the "rich"? Only the highly skilled? Only the highly educated? Only the young? Only the old?

Does comprehensive immigration reform address only Mexicans? Only Hispanic peoples?

I have a suspicion that the phrase "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" has been hijacked to address only the issues related to illegal entry into the United States through Mexico and that the general understanding of the phrase precludes the consideration of other nationalities. This would be a similar perception that racism is a solely "White on Black" and to a lesser extent "White on Brown" issue and not issue of any race on any other race with the concept of "Black on ____" as inconceivable.

So far from what I can perceive from over here in Thailand, the uttering of the phrases "I support Comprehensive Immigration Reform" and "We need Comprehensive Immigration Reform" is very much like waving either a crucifix or garlic clove in the face of a vampire - it ends a very uncomfortable confrontation but resolves nothing.

Of course to reform or change anything, the current situation and process must first be understood. Identifying the issues and processes are and should be the first steps in developing the intended goal of such changes and reforms.

How does some one legally immigrate to the United States under the current process?

The following options are available to certain people who wish to legally immigrate to the USA under the current processes:

1. Be sponsored by an immediate relative or family member

2. Be sponsored by an employer

3. Qualify as a "Special" Immigrant - Iraqi of Afghan Translators/Interpreters, Iraqis who worked for/on behalf of the U.S. government, Afghans who worked for/on behalf of the U.S. government, religious workers

4. Diversity Visa Program - Visa are issued from countries with low rates of immigration to the USA. These visas do not require a US sponsor. Citizens of the following countries are not eligible for participation in the Diversity Visa Program - Mexico, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Pakistan, India, Haiti, United Kingdom, Peru, Jamaica, El Salvador, Philippines, Vietnam, Ecuador

Under the Diversity Visa Program, 45,000 permanent resident visas each year are issued to citizens of countries that have low rates of immigration to the USA. The number is supposed to be 50,000 but in 1997 Congress passed the Nicaraguan and Central American Act (NACARA) that required 5,000 of the 50,000 be available to the NACARA program.

People desiring to immigrate to the USA under the Diversity Visa Program apply during a specified 60 day registration period typically starting in October of each year. For the DV-2011 program received 12,100,000 (12.1 MILLION) QUALIFIED entries. Applicants were randomly selected, a lottery, apportioned over six geographic regions with a maximum of 7% selected from people born in any single country within each region. The regions are Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, with the final region being "South America, Central America and the Caribbean".

For DV-2011 some of the results were Laos - 2, Thailand - 77, Japan - 298, Israel (considered "Asia") - 129, Norway - 66, Northern Ireland - 201, France - 767, Denmark - 66, Chile - 63, Argentina - 134.

For DV-2011 the probability of a Diversity Visa to the USA would be awarded to a Thai applicant was 6.4/1,000,000. In comparison, according to US National Weather Service of NoAA the probability of being struck by lightning during your lifetime is 160/1,000,000 - 25 times more likely than the Thai getting a visa in the DV-2011 lottery.

To be successful in obtaining the Diversity Visa the applicants (lottery "winners") have to produce evidence of a high school education or equivalent as well to provide evidence of "two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience within the past five years". This disqualifies field workers, laborers, and housekeepers from getting a visa.

Given the low probability of obtaining a Diversity Visa Program visa, the only two realistic options available for legal immigration to the USA are to be sponsored by an immediate relative/family or to be sponsored by an employer.

Because of our marriage, I will be sponsoring my wife to immigrate to the USA. We have tried three times to obtain a Non-Immigrant Visa (Tourist Visa) in order that she could legally visit the USA. We were not successful and were not alone. We met people who had applied for Tourist Visas 3 and 5 times without success. In the year, 2008, 1,481,471 applications (application fee $131 each) for Non-Immigrant Visa to the USA were rejected on the basis of "Section 214(b) Failure to establish entitlement to non immigrant status" Translation - "They did not convince their interviewer that they would return to their home country at the conclusion of their visit to the USA". This is a determination is strictly up to and at the discretion of the interviewer. The decision of the interviewer is not subject to review or appeal. As I had written in a previous blog, http://hale-worldphotography.blogspot.com/2010/05/tale-of-two-cities-visa-quest.html , we finally were able to speak with an American official who advised us to seek an Immigrant Visa rather than a Non-Immigrant Visa for my wife to be able to visit the USA. Since Duang did not have a job in Thailand and a sufficient bank account, she would not receive a B-2 Tourist Visa. I also suspect that she would travelling independently with me rather than as part of an organized tour, she would not get a B-2 Visa even if she had a job and a significant bank account here in Thailand. We know of people with jobs as well as money who were denied Tourist Visas because of "Section 214(b) Failure to establish entitlement to non immigrant status".

Tomorrow, we will fly to Bangkok to commence the process to get an Immigrant Visa for my wife. The process that we are embarking upon is a streamlined and more simple process because of our marriage, which finally affords us some due consideration in our dealings with the US government.

Subsequent Parts of this blog will deal with the process of getting the visa. My intent will be to truthfully and accurately document what is currently required to legally immigrate to the USA. I believe that in doing so will inform others as to the current reality, perhaps to provide some understanding as to why some people choose to ignore the process, and most importantly of all give some background so that others can ask more pointed and relevant questions as to what people mean when they say "I support Comprehensive Immigration Reform" or "We need Comprehensive Immigration Reform"


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  2. Immigration Services
    This blog is the first place where I have got the most relevant information on this topic otherwise I had exhausted all my efforts on other places.

    1. Thank You AsifMooXani I am pleased that you found this blog helpful. I have written several other blogs that document the process where my wife was eventually successful in getting a Green Card. The process took around 6 months to complete. Best Wishes to you.