10 Apr More Information Monday: Immigration – Part Two
Now that I’ve immigrated and gotten totally hooked on reality TV, cheeseburgers and apple pie, I would really like to stay! How do I go about becoming an American citizen so that I can also wear a shirt with a flag on it?
Compared to the immigration process (Simple Sourced for you here) becoming a citizen has significantly fewer steps. Here is the process for you to become a flag-wearing, apple pie eating American.
Step 1: Determine if you’re eligible to become a citizen – which means all of the following have to apply – if you can check off all of the items on the list – move on to Step 2.
- Green card holder for 5 years
- Age 18 or older
- Live in a state for at least 3 months
- Must have been in the U.S. for at least 30 months of the last 5 years
- Be able to read, write and speak English and have a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history
- Be of good moral character
Step 2: File the N-400 form which is a 20 page application that asks about everything, including:
- your residency
- your education
- your parents
- your heritage/background
- your marital history
- your children
- your history paying taxes
- any organization affiliation you may have
- if you ever were a part of genocide torture or murder (not kidding – question 14 – it’s a yes/no)
- if you ever committed a crime for which you were not arrested (see question 22)
- if you are a habitual drunk, a prostitute or have married more than one person at at time (Question 30)
Then, you sign multiple places regarding various oaths and promises.
You also need to pay a $725 filing fee and submit various documents depending on your life situation (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc)
Step 3: Biometrics appointment – this is where you get your fingerprints are taken and a background check is run.
Step 4: Have your naturalization interview with an immigration officer. This is where you answer questions about your application and background and then when you take your English and civics test. See some of the sample questions here: Link for Civics test (Good luck!)
Step 5: If you pass your test and interview, you get a ceremony date to take the Oath of Allegiance.
Step 6: Take the Oath of Allegiance, and afterwards you get your naturalization papers.
Congrats you’re now an American citizen – go vote, serve on jury duty, pay income taxes and enjoy the freedom to enjoy the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (That’s from the Declaration of Independence – it was on the test.)
So if that is how I become a citizen, what is the situation with illegal immigrants? Why is it such a big deal right now?
Immigration has taken center stage because President Trump has issued two executive orders that relate to immigration in less than 3 months in office. One involved a travel ban and refugees (which was Simple Sourced for you here), and the other involved building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico border. Then on Feb 21, 2017, the Dept of Homeland Security detailed a more aggressive approach to arresting and dealing with illegal immigrants.
The Dept of Homeland Security currently estimates that there are about 11 million immigrants in the U.S. without legal status – meaning they either came here over the land borders, via ships, or with falsified records to get into the U.S. The other group that makes up this number are those who came here with the legal paperwork, but did not leave after their visas expired.
The debate comes with what to do with these 11 million people residing in the U.S. Since they don’t have a permanent resident card (or it expired) they can’t apply for citizenship.
(Source 2, 3 and 5)
Where did they come from and where did they go (not Cotton Eye Joe)?
About half of the illegal immigrant population comes from Mexico, but that has been declining over the past 8 years. There has been an increase of illegal immigration coming from Central and South America as well as China, the Philippines, Canada, India and Korea.
About 60% of illegal immigrants are located in 6 U.S. States (California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois). Also, about 66% of those 11 million are estimated to have been here for over 10 years.
(Source 5 and 6)
So what do we do? What makes this so complicated?
This is complicated for a number of reasons. Here are some of the arguments and issues involved – we’ll take a more in-depth look at this tomorrow:
- Children of Immigrants – Any person born in the U.S. is a citizen; therefore, a child of an immigrant who was born here is granted U.S. citizenship (U.S. Constitution strikes again – see the 14th Amendment). Therefore it becomes very tricky when parents can be deported, but their children are citizens.
- Impact on U.S. economy – Immigrants, both legal and illegal, make up a huge part of the workforce. Illegal immigrants hold a large number of jobs in construction, healthcare, restaurants and agriculture. These industries will be greatly impacted if these workers were not there.
- Taking jobs: Others feel that because undocumented workers will work for less, they are taking jobs from citizens.
(Source: 4, 5 and 7)
So where does that leave us now? There have to be options, right!?
Oh, there are options, but not a lot of action. Due to the fact that any action or law will affect over 11 million people, all proposed plans are hypothetical since there is no way of knowing how exactly it would pan out on such a large scale. How would it impact the economy? Would it make the U.S. safer? Would it have an impact on global relations?
This is also why a lot of the focus regarding proposed solutions is to try to stop the inflow of illegal immigration with stricter border control or instituting identity cards or database for all visitors to the U.S. The other part of the debate is whether or not to help those who are here get citizenship or attempt to deport all of those who come illegally. All solutions carry a very heavy cost which is why very often get debated, but no reform or plans get passed.
(Source: 4 and 5)
This issue doesn’t seem like it’s new. Have there been attempts to deal with illegal immigrants in the past?
Short answer- yes. There have been several attempts over the course of America’s history. Here is a more recent breakdown – recent as in last 30 years.
1986: Immigration Reform and Control Act: Made any undocumented immigrant who had been living in the U.S. since 1982 eligible to gain legal status. 3 million immigrants gained legal status under this act.
1996: Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act: Authorized more funding for border security, gave immigration officials greater authority and prohibited illegal immigrants from receiving federal benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, or welfare.
2001: DREAM Act (Simple Sourced for you)– Offers temporary residency to those here illegally, but were brought here before they were 16. Versions of this bill have been through Congress multiple times since with a lot of debate and attempts to modify. Most recent changes were made to in in 2012.
2006-2007: Multiple attempts were made by President George W. Bush and Congress. Bush tried to get a “Path to Citizenship”, but there was too much opposition to get to pass.
2012: President Obama issued an executive order that permitted undocumented immigrants facing deportation to apply for legal status if they did so before the age of 30 and met other requirements (this would be the aforementioned DREAM act). The order allowed an estimated 800,000 immigrants to stay in the U.S. But there were also a rise deportations under his administration as well (an estimated 2.5 million).
Bottom line – there has been a back and forth over this issue for YEARS and there has been a constant battle between Presidents and Congress to pass any sweeping legislation.
(Source: 3, 5 and 7)
I’ve heard about sanctuary cities – it sounds like a spa destination – I’m guessing it’s not?
Not even close. A sanctuary city refers to cities across the U.S., the United Kingdom and Canada that have either official, or sometimes unofficial, policies to accommodate undocumented immigrants or refugees living in their cities. This means that the towns/cities won’t work with immigration officials for detention requests – mostly because they make a point of not asking residents about their immigration status.
In 2016, the U.S. had over 200 sanctuary cities, and more than 140 others with informal sanctuary policies. Supporters say that this allows undocumented immigrants to have better relations with local officials without fear of being deported. Immigrants will work with officials/local law enforcement, which leads to safer communities, because crimes are more likely to get reported. Those opposed to sanctuary cities say that it makes the cities unsafe because they become a haven for those involved with criminal activity.
The current issue involving sanctuary cities is that President Trump has said he wants to strip federal funding to cities that are sanctuary cities – which means some cities stand to lose up to 25% of their funding. However, legal experts say that will be difficult to do because the Tenth Amendment protects them from losing their funding. In case you forgot, the 10th Amendment says that if it’s not in the Constitution and not prohibited by it- it’s up to the states to decide. So they can’t lose funding for a federal policy since immigration laws aren’t in the Constitution.
Join us tomorrow for Two-Sided Tuesday to see what the two sides of this debate have to say and then on to the rest of the week!
1: “U.S Citizenship.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 17 Jan. 2013, www.uscis.gov/
us-citizenship. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017.
2: “Sanctuary Cities.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/WYQKOL557952848/OVIC?u=brookdalecc&xid=26679894. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017.
3:”Immigration Policy: Should the U.S. government take stricter measures to limit illegal immigration?” Issues & Controversies, Infobase Learning, 17 Mar. 2017, http://0-icof.infobaselearning.com.library.brookdalecc.edu/recordurl.aspx?ID=6315. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017.
4:Maynard, Micheline. “Immigrants and the Economy.” CQ Researcher 24 Feb. 2017: 169-92. Web. 7 Apr. 2017.
5:”Undocumented Immigrants.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=true&displayGroupName=Reference&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CPC3010999108&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=true&source=Bookmark&u=brookdalecc&jsid=aa2efcfe94a16080df9a718b76f4dfe4. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017.
6: Krogstad, Jens Manuel, et al. 5 Facts about illegal immigration. Pew Research Center, 3 Nov. 2016.
7: “Children of Undocumented Immigrants.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/PC3010999243/OVIC?u=brookdalecc&xid=1e3b2994. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017.