Immigration restriction creates unnecessary difficulties

After recent immigration reforms enacted by Trump, we need to change the way we discuss immigration.

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Immigration restriction creates unnecessary difficulties

Courtesy of pixabay.com

Courtesy of pixabay.com

Courtesy of pixabay.com

Maria Weyne, Staff Writer

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(This story was originally published in print on Sept. 19, 2019).

Immigration has been a hot topic during Donald Trump’s presidency as many of his reforms seek to prevent illegal immigration and tighten the Southern border. This causes Americans to shift their focus toward two types of immigrants: asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.

Asylum seekers are people who need to leave their country because they fear for their lives. These people usually live in war zones. Illegal immigrants are a larger group that involves anyone who comes to the U.S. and stays beyond their visa expiration dates, or simply come without a visa. 

The sole focus of these two categories becomes an issue because immigration has many challenges that impact both asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. Some of the difficulties of immigration are the lengthy legal immigration process, the cost of immigration, the hardship of being accepted into the country without an American spouse or American family member and the reason behind illegal immigration. 

WHY ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION HAPPENS 

First, we must understand why illegal immigrants and asylum seekers break the law in the first place. According to the Migration Policy Institute, illegal immigrants made up 37% of the U.S. foreign-born population in 2015. This number grows yearly, causing politicians to make new laws, making legal immigration even harder than it already is. 

One of the main changes made under the Trump administration was the cut of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This created a major setback for applicants as the Supreme Court is now occupied with making decisions, as many DACA recipients had to reapply to become green card holders, causing the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to be filled with new applications. 

When I immigrated from Brazil four years ago, it took us over a year to get our interview dates. In addition to the time it takes, the process is very long and one cannot go through it without a lawyer, even if they are fluent in English. Not only does this make things much more complicated, but it adds an even bigger cost to immigration. Financial service site Supermoney averages the cost to be around $4,000 per application, which is difficult for anyone leaving their country in order to find a better job or trying to escape danger. 

If the process for legal immigration were simpler, cheaper and did not have as many obstacles, illegal immigration would not be as attractive. ”

WHY ASYLUM SEEKING IS INEFFECTIVE  

According to the Los Angeles Times, asylum seekers have to wait months on a waitlist before they are able to start their process to be accepted into the U.S. Additionally, according to the American Constitution Society, the Trump administration recently passed a new law that allows Attorney General William Barr to impose fees on those applying for asylum, adding an extra burden to their journey. Many asylum seekers come to America to escape improvised and damaged countries that impose a direct threat to their livelihood. This causes frustration as months go by and their number is not called. The cost that has been added also creates a fear that these immigrants will not be able to afford to apply. 

This all boils down to asylum seekers and traditional immigrants needing a way in, and in desperation, they resort to illegally staying in the country. 

SHIFTING OUR FOCUS 

When debating immigration, our focus should not be on the immigrants themselves, but on the process. We should seek to understand why it is so hard to follow the law, especially when people are trying to find a better future. Immigrants still should be able to come and start a new life with their loved ones in America. 

America’s main goal should be making the application easier in order to have better opportunities and avoid coming to the U.S. illegally. The application process should be easily accessible and available for those who want to apply in-person as well. Additionally, if someone is confused about what documents to use, the application should explain what specific documents are used for. Finally, the cost of applications should be lower for first-time applicants and increase as they reapply. Though this will not stop illegal immigration from happening, it is sure to at least reduce the number of illegal residents in the U.S.