Immigration Facts to Shock Friends at Parties

Image Source: Ryan Wiedmaier

Every now and then, it happens. I've having a casual conversation about cupcakes, and immigration comes up. I'm sure that's a common experience.

But then I'll make some off-handed comment. And people will respond "What? What?" And not the good kind where we "raise the roof" even though we're too old for those shenanigans.

Source: Giphy

No, people are legitimately shocked. So today I'll share the three immigration bombs that tend to get the biggest reactions in conversation. Feel free to use them to stun your party guests and hopefully start productive conversations about our country's deep need for reform.

It's a 15-year wait to immigrate legally to the US from Guatemala.

I used to be a person who asked, "Why don't people just immigrate legally?" I never had a philosophical problem with folks moving here, I just thought it was a paperwork issue being neglected.

Turns out I was totally wrong. There are only 5,000 visas a year for "low-skilled" workers. To put that in context, in 1910, approximately 5,000 low-skilled workers entered through Ellis Island every day. (Source)

For many immigrants (especially from certain countries), legal entry is simply not an option. I have heard stories of Central American parents putting their newborns "on the list" in hopes that they might receive a visa for entry when they are older. And actually, some would disagree with my 15-year wait statement. That may not be long enough.

My in-laws are not allowed to visit us.

You may confuse friends if you say that exact sentence and it doesn't apply in your situation. But it's true. And every time I tell people this fact, they are floored.

Billy's parents applied twice for visitor visas so they could attend our wedding. They were denied both times without any explanation. After retaining the couple hundred dollars in application fees, the US Embassy simply told them to, "Try again." We have not because of the cost involved and our doubt for success. Sadly, my in-laws missed the births of both of our children.

Some immigrants must leave the country for a 10 year "punishment" in order to receive a visa.

Many immigrants who enter the country illegally are required to return home for 10 years as a part of their legalization process. Billy and I had a scare where we thought this 10 year bar would apply in our circumstance.

However, because Billy entered legally (and was able to pay to replace for his paperwork proving this fact), we did not have to move to Guatemala. This experience points to the class differences in how immigration cases are handled.

Many mixed status couples have a different result. I featured Heather's story last year. Her family is waiting out the permanent bar in Mexico.

I hope one day I won't have any facts about immigration that shock people. Until then, I pray for reform, and I hope you will too.

What have you learned that surprised you about immigration?

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  1. Lori VanNatta10:56 PM

    That people like you think it is OK for people to break our laws. Too bad, they have to wait!!! What a shame! If they can't wait then they don't deserve it. If they don't respect our immigration laws, they won't respect any. We have proof of that with people driving with no license nor insurance (which is mandatory in my state.) Oh and the classic, they have BOTH an ITIN and a Social Security number. lol
    You people should put your energy and propaganda into helping our own poor and homeless!!!!!

  2. Christina11:03 PM

    Try to look at this from a point of view different from your own. If you have never stood in the shoes of, let's say, a mother, in another country, you cannot know the battle faced of fighting for a better future for your child. I'm not saying everything is so clear cut as it's always ok or always not ok to immigrate in such and such fashion, or what have you - in fact, for all you know, I am 100% against immigration of all kinds. My point is, have some compassion. Accept that you likely don't understand what other people experience and what their life is like. Give grace, without assuming "everyone who is ok with entering in the country illegally is ok with breaking any law." That's a huge generalization that is impossible to prove.

  3. Lori Leibold VanNatta11:48 PM

    Really? Don't tell me about huge generalizations. The writer, who puts herself out there as an expert, claims that there are economic factors involved with who gets to come here and who gets to stay. I can disprove that as a huge generalization with one true story. Milwaukee Brewer shortstop Jean Segura (and, in fact, the entire Brewer organization) had tried to get Segura's young son here and weren't able to do so. NOW, if money were the deciding factor, I think the money and power of a major league organization could have gotten that baby here before he died.
    Truth is: If so many from Central America weren't coming here illegally, maybe that baby could have come here and would still be alive.
    Truth is: If people like you were more concerned about America and Americans, you would stop and think that one of the greatest tragedies in modern history occurred thirteen years ago today and was perpetrated by a handful of people here illegally. But, then I supposed you would have me believe that they loved America and intended to support our laws. Right?
    I don't have the time or energy to imagine your sob story about a mother in another country. My friends and I deal face to face with stories of Americans who need us. Here's one: A father with three grade school aged boys living in rural Wisconsin in a small city of about 5000 has fallen on such hard times that as the young boys start a new school year, their father is faced with having to pitch a tent for the family to live in because they have no house, no apartment not even enough money to rent a single room.
    This isn't a generalization. It isn't someone from another country. It is one of tens of thousands of Americans. The time has come to take care of our own.

  4. The writer doesn't put herself out there as an expert, although she does make the (true) statement that there are sometimes non-refundable application fees for all forms of visa. Additionally, the number of illegal immigrants that come here does not affect the number of visas issued, although the number of visas issued does affect the number of illegal immigrants that come here.

    I don't think anybody would have you believe that those deluded, possibly brainwashed fundamentalists who took thousands of lives 13 years ago loved America or cared about its laws. Implying that all illegal immigrants should be compared to that murderous handful is a terribly inaccurate generalization -- ironically.

    You are right that there are thousands and thousands of Americans who could use some compassion and a crutch. You are wrong in assuming that because of that fact, nobody else on the planet really matters.

  5. Nadia (la esposa de Byron)10:27 AM

    Actually the tragedy was perpetrated by a handful of Muslim fundamentalists, who were here LEGALLY. Two of them took flying classes in US.

    In addition, being pro-reform doesn't automatically excludes you from helping our own American people. On the contrary: folks, who can open their hearts to immigration problems, are more open and willing to help their own neighbor.

    It is wrong and erroneous to compare Latin American Immigrants with members of terrorist organizations like ISIS , al qaeda and Hamas.
    The Muslim fundamentalists, who perpetuated 9/11 tragedy aim to destroy Western Democratic world and instill their violent laws everywhere.

    People who come as illegal immigrants come here with completely opposite goals: for peaceful, better and safer lives for their kids and themselves. They work hard for that (let's face the truth: who is doing all the dirty and hard work here, like cleaning, farming and construction?).

    They will be happy to enter legally if they could.

  6. Here's another one to add - marrying an American citizen doesn't automatically mean the immigrant gets citizenship or even residency.


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