Welcome to my first blog post. I'll be blogging about immigration. In these on-going posts I am going to attempt to cut through the noise and explain what everyone is talking about when they are talking about immigration and immigration reform.
From Sean Hannity talking about the need for immigration reform to Mitt Romney talking about undocumented immigrants “self-deporting,” to college students walking across the country to bring attention to the needs of DREAMERS, to Barack Obama talking about passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2013 there is a lot of noise (much of it is very funny) and little explanation. If you have any questions about immigration, please contact me, or leave a comment and I will answer your questions in a future post in the comment thread.
When I tell people what I do for a living, many ask me why don’t people just go home and wait in line to immigrate. The short answer is that there is no line. Because of the way the laws are written and interpreted, there is no way for many people to immigrate to the United States even if they are married to a U.S. citizen.
People often tell me that their parents or grandparents came to the United States legally and so should today’s immigrants. I am sure that most people’s ancestors came to the United States legally but immigration laws were much less strict (unless you were Asian) and until the 1930s it was easy to immigrate to the United States. As long as you looked healthy, you were allowed into the country as a legal immigrant and after five years you could become a U.S. citizen.
Of course, when I researched my own family’s immigration story, I realized that two of my grandparents would likely have been deported (or at least put in deportation proceedings) today. My grandmother had lied on her citizenship application about the date of her marriage to my grandfather and about the dates of hospitalizations. Seemingly minor issues, but I represent people who have lied on immigration forms all of the time.
My grandfather had spent time in a penitentiary in upstate New York in the 1920s for running a night-club that served alcohol during prohibition. His transgressions were more serious, (like the bank robber) but again, I represent people like my grandfather in deportation proceedings all of the time. In case you are wondering, these two law-breakers had three children all born in the United States. One became a doctor, one became a professor of nursing, and the third received a master’s degree in public health from U.C. Berkeley.
I find that many of my clients have similarly high-achieving children. I doubt that we will ever return to pre-1930s immigration policy, but one thing is clear, we need to create a more humane immigration policy to help the tens of millions of families with undocumented immigrant relatives who live in the United States.
Next post: The immigration numbers