As we consider immigration reform it may help to consider what’s really at stake here, and one way to do that is to consider the different kind of immigrants. John Hawkins presents us with two different cases: the highly educated legal immigrant who went through the arduous system and is now being forced to leave the US, and the day laborer illegal immigrant who will receive amnesty under the McCain-Kennedy bill.
Vikas is a highly educated, experienced computer software engineer from India. He obtained a good job with a US company that was looking for certain specific high-tech skills. In order to obtain a “H1-B” visa to the US, Vikas went through an arduous process, which included waiting in line from dawn to dusk at the US embassy, and dealing with a quota system that limits H1-Bs to 65,000 visas/year. The quota is usually filled on the very first day every year; so you have to file a year in advance. The processing fees run to thousands of dollars, and extensive documentation must be provided.
... Vikas was laid off. He had to decide between staying here illegally, inor leaving the country. Vikas did the right thing, and went back to India, where the per-capita income is about $3,000/year. His children will be raised in a third-world country, and have only third-world opportunities when they grow up.
... Oswaldo is a high-school drop-out from Mexico. Oswaldo paid a “coyote” $2,000 to smuggle him over the US border. Along the way, Oswaldo’s group trashed an Arizona ranch and accidentally started a forest fire where they camped. Oswaldo made his way to North Carolina, where he paid a forger $100 for a fake Green Card and a fake Social Security card. Using these forged documents, Oswaldo found work at a construction site. Oswaldo has now been violating US laws for seven years.
... In order to be eligible for the McCain-Kennedy amnesty, Oswaldo will have to prove that he has been violating US laws for seven years. He can then pay a $2,000 fine, pay back-taxes, and be eligible for a real “Green Card” in six years. Once he obtains the “Green Card,” Oswaldo will be eligible to live in the US permanently. He can apply for US citizenship in five years.
Now, I don’t think that all immigration should be slanted toward the highly educated over the poor. That’s not what our country’s immigration has been about historically. But I would rather it favor those who have played by the rules and who show a dedication to our country, who really want to assimilate and become American first before any other national loyalty. How we accomplish that is the real trick.
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