Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me... on the other hand, don't.
September 24, 2008 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Both Barack Obama and John McCain have made public their views on immigration, but it's helpful to understand how the system actually works. To that end, Reason presents this flowchart which illustrates exactly how rough it is to immigrate to America.
posted by Pope Guilty (76 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fuck it. I'd like to hear about it in a debate. I refuse to even read about McCain's views on any single thing until he stomps being such a dingbat/asshole.
posted by raysmj at 4:55 PM on September 24, 2008


Illustrations by Terry Colon, formerly of Suck.
posted by Nelson at 4:57 PM on September 24, 2008


I miss Suck so much.
posted by cortex at 5:00 PM on September 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


GIVE ME YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR,
YOURHUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BE FREE


SORRY, YOU'RE OUT OF LUCK.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:03 PM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I refuse to even read about McCain's views on any single thing until he stomps being such a dingbat/asshole.

I sense you are a true undecided voter.
posted by smackfu at 5:10 PM on September 24, 2008


My impression (as someone who married and then moved to the states as a permanent resident) is that it helps an awful lot to be white, English speaking, have a high tolerance for paperwork (or be able to pay people with a high tolerance for paperwork) and have led a very stable life in such a way that you can hunt down obscure aspects of your personal history easily. Did I mention paperwork? Because, really, there is a fuckload of paperwork.

You will get a lot of advice on when and where to apply. This seems to change on a daily basis. Probably you can give someone a lot of money to get precise advice on this, but it will most likely be random.

Probably none o this will surprise anyone, but there you go.

Also they-rayed my chest at the embassy and to hand over to immigration. At the airport no fucker wanted it. I suspect a prank, but I’ve kept it wrapped up with all my docs just in case an INS dude shows up for a spot x-ray test some day.

Also green-cards are not green.
posted by Artw at 5:11 PM on September 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Did I mention that the paperwork often seems confusing and internally contradictory?
posted by Artw at 5:12 PM on September 24, 2008


Wow, I missed Terry Colon's work. Glad it's still quality.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:17 PM on September 24, 2008


For reference, here's the blog post at reason.com this flowchart comes from. Has it's own interesting comments thread.
posted by Berkun at 5:17 PM on September 24, 2008


They missed one use case, I think.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:21 PM on September 24, 2008


My experience was rather painless: years ago (1973) it was easy to get a green card, especially for people working at a University. In those years the green card was actually green, and every January we had to report our whereabouts to the Government.

I didn't get around to apply for citizenship until few years ago (way after marrying and having children in the US). It took eight months from the time of application, done on line, to citizenship.

The hardest part was getting my fingerprints taken. I'm totally law abiding, and yet it disturbs me knowing my fingerprints are in the system.
posted by francesca too at 5:31 PM on September 24, 2008


Cortex: Man, me too. I could really use them at this stage in the campaign.
posted by sy at 5:50 PM on September 24, 2008


Boy golly, we do seem to be popular for such a wretched, terribly screwed up, politically doomed and financially abusive country, don't we? I mean, this is the United States. Why would these people possible want to come here?

Yet they come here. No wonder no one in their right mind would practically register to be deported by even attempting this art-imitates-life process of doing it legally.
posted by buzzman at 6:04 PM on September 24, 2008


My impression (as someone who married and then moved to the states as a permanent resident) is that it helps an awful lot to be white, English speaking, have a high tolerance for paperwork (or be able to pay people with a high tolerance for paperwork) and have led a very stable life in such a way that you can hunt down obscure aspects of your personal history easily. Did I mention paperwork? Because, really, there is a fuckload of paperwork.

It is easier if you're white, English speaking, and have a stable living situation, but the timeline is still pretty close to what that flowchart describes. I'd call the numbers in that chart a mean to best-case scenario.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:04 PM on September 24, 2008


smackfu: I've always read up on candidate positions, regardless of leanings. I watched both conventions, the major speeches, etc., as much out of sincere interest as civic duty. Immigration is a huge issue, but I really don't care what McCain has to say about it anymore. He's not worth listening to, at all, until he decides to stop being an ass. If you can post about issues by leaving a guy who says he's campaign is suspended, all the better.
posted by raysmj at 6:07 PM on September 24, 2008


Also they-rayed my chest at the embassy and to hand over to immigration. At the airport no fucker wanted it. I suspect a prank, but I’ve kept it wrapped up with all my docs just in case an INS dude shows up for a spot x-ray test some day.

Tuberculosis screening. I tested positive for exposure (though not infection) at age 1 and took a full year of powerful antibiotics and I still get x-rayed nearly every time I do anything medical.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:09 PM on September 24, 2008


It's nice to see someone trying to explain the morass that is the USCIS. If only the politicians would pay attention would be good, as the current discussion on immigration is sorely lacking.

I went through the H1B system right out of college, which was a huge hassle with probably five or six visits to the INS and a ton of paperwork. But that was before the lottery, so once all the paperwork was done it wasn't so bad. The citizen process after that was pretty harrowing, though. I applied in 1998 and didn't get my naturalization certificate until 2005. It was really expensive, took days of puzzling over paperwork, and meant several visits to the INS. And I'm white, with a Master's degree and native-level English. I can't even imagine how others, who are not so lucky, manage to get through the process without hiring some expensive lawyer. No wonder some people opt for the illegal immigrant path instead.
posted by gemmy at 6:16 PM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


In those years the green card was actually green, and every January we had to report our whereabouts to the Government.

You really would think they would make them green still, just on basic principle.
posted by smackfu at 6:19 PM on September 24, 2008


Some of my own relatives are strongly anti-immigrant, even though our great-grandfather, who came over in the 30s and died in 1974, never had any intention of becoming a naturalized citizen. Because he was white and English-speaking, and he lived in a different time, he never got deported. If he'd had to jump through hoops like these, my cousins and I would be living on the dole in darkest Wales today, or we'd be imprisoned in a cell in Hutto, Texas.

It's all well and good that we got here easy, but everyone who came after us should be happy to spend a decade wading through a broken system.

Bush-flavored conservatives hate government bureaucracies when they inconvenience them directly. They love hearing stories about people who successfully buck the system. Take that, nanny state!

When bureaucracies inconvenience people they hate, all that red tape turns into benevolent rules that should be followed to the letter. People who buck the system, even desperate people who might languish in desperately poor or oppressive home states, are criminals who should be punished.

I'm the direct descendant of an illegal immigrant, and I wear the mantle proudly. If you are, and chances are that there's at least one in your family tree, you should too.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 6:22 PM on September 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


The US should offer illegals here a path to citizenship through military service. It would address our shortage of military enlisting and immigration at the same time. Serve X years in the military, become a citizen. If I am not mistaken, the US used to do this in some form or another.
posted by flarbuse at 6:31 PM on September 24, 2008


When I think illegal immigration; I think of people living in Texas homes, built by illegals. Sitting around complaining about all the illegals. The people that built their homes. Mow their yards. Blunderful.
posted by buzzman at 6:46 PM on September 24, 2008


The US should offer illegals here a path to citizenship through military service. It would address our shortage of military enlisting and immigration at the same time. Serve X years in the military, become a citizen. If I am not mistaken, the US used to do this in some form or another.

The Navy does have an arrangement to do this with the Philippines. I think the number of Filipinos who can enlist is limited to a certain number per year and they can qualify for naturalization after a term of service. It's been going on since World War II.
posted by padraigin at 6:46 PM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not much different, in basic terms, from Canadian immigration, though the timelines are shorter here.

My wife is American, and is now a permanent resident of Canada. She moved here in 1999. We got married in 2000. Lots of paperwork, including numerous fingerprinting efforts (very pick about those), and though the costs weren't backbreaking they weren't exactly cheap. Didn't take long though (8 months, iirc), and you only have to be here for 3 years to qualify for citizenship.

Actually, the most difficult part of the process seemed to be the fact that she was American, already in Canada, married to a Canadian. On the surface it seems like a no-brainer, but at the time, getting information out of the government was hellish even though we live in a major city with a massive Government of Canada office and services complex. It was really weird and we kept getting conflicting information which complicated the process much more than it should have been. The whole system is/was setup to handle immigration from outside the country, from anywhere else but our next door neighbours. Anyhow...

I'm curious if anyone here married an American, in Canada, and has made the jump to America? Is the process more or less what was outlined in the illustration for spouses of citizens?
posted by C.Batt at 6:49 PM on September 24, 2008


The US still does something like that, though the particulars escape me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:49 PM on September 24, 2008


But the question is, can I get a flowchart like this that tells me how I can emigrate to Sweden?

(I kid! Kinda.)
posted by jeanmari at 7:03 PM on September 24, 2008


*emerges from the debris of packet 3 (I think???) of the K1 visa process*

Artw speaks the truth. This is the inner circle of admin hell. Worse than working for the NHS. The forms... they look like they're written in English, but they don't make any sense when you actually break them down. Small trees have fallen to provide me with these forms. It's insane, but in practice seems to be a lot more straightforward. I think.

Oh, and if you're under 27 and female, look forward to having the HPV vaccine forced on you before you're allowed to adjust your status to residency after getting married! And if you're in the UK, the NHS does not cover this expense!

> "Why would these people possible want to come here?"

Because some of us make the mistake of using the internet and meeting Americans and falling in love with them. And because it rarely rains in California. And you have Korean food. Will sell soul for some of those sweet potato noodles right now.

> "I'm curious if anyone here married an American, in Canada, and has made the jump to America? Is the process more or less what was outlined in the illustration for spouses of citizens?"

I'm doing the UK - US thing, but thanks to discussions on VisaJourney, I am 99% sure you're talking about a K3 visa. There should be plenty of experiences detailed in their forums.
posted by saturnine at 7:11 PM on September 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Favorited and bookmarked. I can think of at least 20 people who need to see this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:19 PM on September 24, 2008


Also, in case anyone missed it, Penn & Teller's Bullshit covered immigration very well. Includes interviews with Minutemen (those kind, not the awesome kind), analysis of the giant, porous, expensive and utterly stupid US-Mexico wall that McCain wants to build, as well as the hiring of some illegal immigrants to build a portion of this wall, following government specs, who are then asked to attempt to go under, through, or over it. Guess what the results were?

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:26 PM on September 24, 2008


Needs to be pointed out that there is a fairly steep increase in Americans leaving to live elsewhere. Best advice: hire one of the zilliions of immigration lawyers if you can afford it and let him or her do the work for you...lawyers know a bit more than just the law.
posted by Postroad at 7:29 PM on September 24, 2008


emerges from the debris of packet 3 (I think???) of the K1 visa process

I'm fairly certain that at least 50% of the paperwork we filed was not even looked at but still required due to some arcane regulation. When people asked me what the paperwork was like, I told them to imagine an IRS audit with an essay requirement that you have to pay $1000+ to file.

Good times.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:54 PM on September 24, 2008


I had two identical twin brothers from the Phillipines in basic Training with me when I joined the Army. Their goal, apparently, was an honorable military job and then citizenship. Unfortunately, one of them couldn't shoot worth a crap. Which seemed odd to me, since they were identical twins. Maybe the bad shooter had a head injury or something, I dunno.

Well, when it came time to qualify, the bad shooter twin was next to me. His brother had already passed the marksmanship stuff, but I knew this twin was going to fail. He knew it too, as did his brother, and they were both terrified at the prospect of being separated from each other. Well, I happened to be an expert marksman myself, so what I did was, I knocked down enough of my targets to barely pass, and used my other rounds to knock the twin's targets down next to me.

They didn't speak much English, those two, but after the fourth or fifth target I knocked down for the guy, he glanced my way, and I winked and smiled. His expression went from frantic fearfulness to sheer joy; he understood that I was trying to help him pass. And he did pass, like me, just barely. Later, he and his brother came by and gave me a big hug, and we never mentioned it again, to each other or to anyone.

Now I guess I see why the bad shooting twin was so scared. I had no idea how hard it was to gain citizenship, just didn't have a clue how much he/they had riding on the whole military thing working out.

Sorry for rambling. Hadn't really thought about those twins in ages, but this story brought the memories out.
posted by jamstigator at 7:57 PM on September 24, 2008 [51 favorites]


jamstigator for the win.

I cannot believe the hurdles put up to being a citizen. Who cares who immigrates here? The jobs of 97.4% of Americans who make any kind of "real" money can now be easily done overseas anyway.
posted by maxwelton at 8:11 PM on September 24, 2008


Oh, and if you're under 27 and female, look forward to having the HPV vaccine forced on you before you're allowed to adjust your status to residency after getting married! And if you're in the UK, the NHS does not cover this expense!

Wait, WHAT? Seriously? By request of what agency?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:13 PM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


bitter-gril.com Wait, WHAT? Seriously? By request of what agency?

USCIS. Just went into effect in July.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:32 PM on September 24, 2008


Thanks for the link, nathan_teske. As if I didn't think this country was getting ooky enough already!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:45 PM on September 24, 2008


This chart is *exactly* why I immigrated to Australia with my Australian partner, rather than trying to get him into the U.S. The Australian process was still annoying, expensive, and bureacratic (I had the TB X-ray too!), but it had a few key advantages: 1) They accept "defacto" spouse relationships, which means if you've lived together for a year and you're not married - or you're gay - you're considered equivalent to being married. So we didn't need to schedule a quickie wedding on the way to Sydney; 2) Once we'd filed, they gave me a "bridging visa" which allowed me to stay in Australia and work until my proper visa had been approved; 3) My "temporary residency" visa came through three months after we'd filed; 4) After two years they called me up to see if we were still together and to get a few more forms filled out, after which I was granted full permanent residency; 5) After four years, I was able to get citizenship.

I don't even want to think about where we'd still be on that flow chart...
posted by web-goddess at 9:19 PM on September 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm curious if anyone here married an American, in Canada, and has made the jump to America? Is the process more or less what was outlined in the illustration for spouses of citizens?

More or less.

There's two ways to do this.

One way is the straight I-130 way. Your wife files I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and associated other crap. Wait a long, long time, have an interview or two, and then enter the US picking up a green-card stamp on your way in.

The other way is to file the I-130, and then as soon as your wife gets word that it's been entered, file a I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancee and associated paperwork. This (usually) gets processed more quickly than the I-130 process, so your gets into the US faster. But once you're here, you're not officially an immigrant -- the K3 visa you'd enter on is, officially, a nonimmigrant visa. So once you're here, you file an I-485 Adjustment of Status form and associated paperwork to officially become an immigrant, an I-765 Employment Authorization Document form so's you can work during the year or more that your application is pending, and an I-131 Application for Travel Document so that you can leave the country without throwing away your AoS application in the process.

The second sounds crazy, and might not be good for you. But it's not as stupid as it sounds. There's a raft of paperwork and clearances and checks that are involved in processing someone as an immigrant, 'cuz that means they're going to stay and maybe be a citizen. What the K process does, for fiancees and spouses, is get them into the US more quickly and then lets them do the immigrant processing while they're in the US, so that the couple isn't split up as long as it would be otherwise.

But if you're both in Canada already, you're already together and might be better off just waiting for the straight I-130 process to go through. Or maybe not.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:23 PM on September 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is great.

In particular, I loved the flow that begins "Are you skilled?" because it made me remember this cool thing about Nicola Griffith, a British-born lesbian, an award-winning scifi/speculative fiction writer and all-around cool person:
Two of the biggest things in my life have occurred in the last year: Kelley and I got married, and I got approval from the US State Department to live and work in this country on the basis of my importance as a writer of lesbian/science fiction. (Apparently I made legal history, the first out dyke to get something called a "national interest waiver" and admittance on the basis of being an "alien of exceptional ability.") The marriage has changed my life profoundly, in ways that would take too long to describe here. Let's just say I'm very happy, and quite lucky.*
*This interview's fairly old - mid- to late-90s, maybe
posted by rtha at 9:23 PM on September 24, 2008


I'm fairly certain that at least 50% of the paperwork we filed was not even looked at but still required due to some arcane regulation.

I'm pretty sure nobody paid much attention to the parts of the forms where biscotti solemnly swore that she was not a member of the Nazi party between 1933 and 1945.

Not really anything arcane about that one. Law somewhere says we don't let Nazis in, and who wants to be the Nazi-loving motherfucker who votes to repeal that until we're sure all the original Nazis are taking the dirt nap?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:26 PM on September 24, 2008


Mr. Psho and I just recently went through our Adjustment of Status interview in San Francisco, and the temptation to snark when the agent asked Mr. Psho if he had committed any acts of genocide was very great. I mean -- who says "yes" to that?

We filed in March and got the green card just last week. It has been a blizzard of paperwork and biometrics and interviews, though.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:44 PM on September 24, 2008


Is there any stated legal reason why the wait for a greencard depends on your home country?

Whenever I read or hear anything about immigration i can't help but think of one of my Polish friends who's been here illegally for years. When asked about it, she's pretty upfront about knowing that as an english speaking white woman, the chances of anyone questioning her status is slim. Even with the accent, people assume she's legal. But then again, i have no idea how they enforce Immigration here in New York City.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:06 PM on September 24, 2008


brutal
posted by dutch at 10:21 PM on September 24, 2008


But then again, i have no idea how they enforce Immigration here in New York City.

From what I know- which is very little- not very much at all, or at least they didn't used to. I help several jobs in New York, often retail, where NOBODY paid taxes and at least 1/2 of the staff were illegal. I knew one US citizen who was required to work in order to keep her university scholarship, so she worked under the table at one job while an illegal family friend from Jamaica filed under her social security number.
posted by 235w103 at 10:31 PM on September 24, 2008


Here was my immigration process to Europe:

1. Married in Gibraltar on Feb 19.
2. Marriage certificate was mailed to me 2 weeks later in the US.
3. Submitted my certificate and a few other documents to the British embassy in Los Angeles. It was Fedexed on a Thursday.
4. Received my passport back with a visa stamp on Tuesday, 5 days later.
5. Moved to Europe in early April to live and work with my wife.

As the spouse of a Portuguese person, I can also apply to become a citizen of that country in 2 years (and thus an EU citizen). I never even have to actually live there.
posted by vacapinta at 10:33 PM on September 24, 2008


From the chart:
"Sorry! There is virtually no process for unskilled immigrants without relations in the U.S."

Right. This is a very good thing.

Here's the hypocristy of many upper-class Americans - especially high-class multicultural liberals and high-class business-friendly conservatives, the two factions most likely to brow-beat "racist" middle and lower class Americans who don't like mass immigration (not to mention force their preferences on the majority through law using their disproportionate power):

The vast majority of these upper-class Americans don't like unskilled immigrants. They may like the romantic idea of immigrants (e.g. we were all immigrants at one time!), or they may like the exploitable peasant services of immigrants (e.g. paint your fence or work in your dangerous slaughterhouse on the cheap), but 99% of the time they act to remove themselves and their children from immigrants and their children. Remove themselves and their children from the crime and unsafe environments their children (disproportionately) bring. Remove themselves and their children from the hostility they bring. Remove themselves and their children from the social dysfunction they bring.

No politician working to keep the Southern border porous allows their own children anywhere near a public school filled with rowdy, ineducable children. They put their children in expensive lily white private schools, or take their families to expensive neighborhoods with good schools, made inaccessible to the riff-raff by enormous, invisible socioeconomic walls. Meanwhile the lives of middle-class and lower-class Americans become much worse and much more unstable as the number of unskilled immigrants in the population increases. And for them, unlike the upperclass, there is no escape.

For lower class Americans everything gets much worse. Wages fall dramatically, unemployment increases (as undocumented workers undercut standard wages and regulations - this is why unions were never historically keen on unskilled immigration). This causes them to commit more crime, and raises the rate of illegitimacy and the stability of their marriages. The lower class also has the closest social proximity to the immigrants, and their already dangerous and unstable lives are made worse by a more precarious environment. A higher chance of you or your children getting robbed or raped if you or they go out at the wrong time or end up in the wrong place. Your children at a higher risk of getting harassed or hurt at their dumbed down school, or falling in with the wrong crowd and doing worse themselves. Peers influence everyone. And if you end up in jail, the lowest rung of society, your experience is also worse. You're more likely to get raped, to get hurt, to have to join some racist gang for protection.

It may be even worse for the middle class, who have always been defined by their psychological anxiety of falling over the visible edges (something the established poor, at the very least, don't have to suffer). The middle class way is defined by this anxiety: church every week, pressures of sexual restraint, and hard work ethics to reign their children in from their own chaotic desires which could push them down the social ladder. The stakes become much higher when lower class existence is more miserable (and this means more radical religious/sexual values, and more illogical stress on issues like abortion and gay marriage). And of course depending on what rung they are on in the middle class hierarchy, all the inflated woes of the lower class are suffered by the middle as well, to various intensities. The schools are worse, the neighborhoods are more dangerous, the influences are more poisonous. Add to that the inflated population makes middle class living harder to obtain; property values go up, people have to work harder to stay in the same place. Meanwhile unskilled immigrants are a burden almost entirely subsidized by middle class taxes. Unskilled immigrants and their children by the millions are taking in more in taxes than they produce for the economy. The burden on the middle class is paying for the burdens of population increase -- roads, hospitals, schools, jails need to be built to handle the population explosion -- for a large new underclass population that is taking billions more in services than it provides in taxes, both at the federal and local level. On top of that the lower performing children of immigrants are automatically given preferences in higher education and jobs (intended for the decedents of slaves) over middle class children. Pushing the children of the middle class at the margins into the lower class.

Even if total economic and social assimilation were forthcoming (and it isn't, the fifth generation looks the same), there are absolutely no short-term or long-term benefits for the American people in low skilled immigration. Nothing but enormous costs and burdens that fall primarily on the beleaguered middle and bottom. The benefits flow solely to corrupt business men who get exploitable slave labor, and airhead, educated yuppie, multi-cultists who get to feel an internal rush of moral victory (at the full expense of poor and middle class Americans) for high-status "diversity" lip-service that they, in reality, don't even believe in... as demonstrated by their actual behavior.

Out-sourcing is much better. It genuinely helps the economy and forces many multi-cults into the lower status service jobs they deserve. The real economic benefits that would otherwise come from low-skilled labor (lower priced goods and services) are more than consumed by the endless harsh externalities of gargantuan hordes of immigrants and their descendants living in America now and forever as an underclass leach, and permanently transforming a nation that used to be primarily middle-class, save one historical minority, into an ethnically stratified inequality basketcase like most of Latin America or South Africa.
posted by dgaicun at 12:14 AM on September 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'd love to see a similar flowchart for the UK.

Step 1.

Oh hang there isn't a step 1... Come on in!
posted by gallagho at 12:46 AM on September 25, 2008


I'd rather be an airhead, educated yuppie, multi-cultists than a racist, educated, yuppie xenophobe.
posted by afu at 1:21 AM on September 25, 2008


D-
posted by maxwelton at 2:25 AM on September 25, 2008


note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

posted by gallagho at 2:25 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


> I'd love to see a similar flowchart for the UK.
>
> Step 1.
>
> Oh hang there isn't a step 1... Come on in!

Really? Seriously? I'm an American doing a master's degree at a UK university, and I had to fill out reams of paperwork to even be considered for a student visa, let alone anything more long-term. (My wife and I are wanting to stay here permanently after I'm done, and we have about three routes to take, with varying degrees of ease, permanence, and cost.)

If it's that easy, though, maybe I'll just fake my own death, change my name to something like "Nigel Carruthers", and get a UK passport...
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:54 AM on September 25, 2008


Firstly, I'm not a racist or a yuppie xenophobe. The UK needs an honest immigration debate. In the meantime record immigration sees the UK population soar.
posted by gallagho at 4:52 AM on September 25, 2008



I'd love to see a similar flowchart for the UK.

Step 1.

Oh hang there isn't a step 1... Come on in!


Don't believe the Daily Mail gallagho. Immigrating to the UK from outside the EU lawfully is a long, expensive, invasive process. It's nowhere near as long (or as expensive) as going to the US, but it's still a major pain. My wife and I never even considered me moving to the US rather than her coming here.

We're about two years into a six or seven year process toward a British passport. She came over here on a fiancee visa (was £280 odd when we got it, but all of the visa prices doubled a year ago for no apparent reason, so about £500 now). We had to submit lots of personal documents including letters, emails, IM transcripts, photographs, flight ticket stubs etc to prove we had a genuine relationship. I have an inherent distrust of large governments generally, so giving this kind of thing to the authoritarian arseholes currently in power was a real gyp.

The next one was the Further Leave to Remain, once we'd got married, which cost us £600. Next year we get to apply for the Indefinite Leave to Remain, which is about a grand. Two years after that, citizenship tests and suchlike and only then will my wife have an unrestricted right to live here, vote and so on (after paying another £500 odd). During all this time she is required to pay taxes like everyone else but is barred from accessing any social service bar the NHS. Thankfully I've got an alright job, so it's not all that painful for us, but it's hardly the open door that the gutter press likes to make out. Especially since we're both white, English-speaking and skilled - I can only imagine how much more difficult this process is for foreign immigrants who aren't the 'right' kind of immigrants that the Daily Mail never worries about.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:05 AM on September 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh, sorry, I see you read the Telegraph, not the Daily Mail. My mistake.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:09 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hmm. Anyone up on immigrating to Central Europe? Boyfriend's qualified for Hungarian citizenship. I have massive fear of language test there, but speak fluent German. Have lived in Austria and the Czech Republic as well as Germany. About to begin working for a UK-based company.

All I can say is after last night's deer-in-headlights speech by Bush, I'll give my IM transcripts, emails, photographs, blood, and anything else they want to any European immigration official -- just let me in!

(If only my relatives had stuck around in Ireland long enough to get my grandmother born there we wouldn't be having this problem. Any "alien of extraordinary ability" visas available there for an author of knitting books, d'ya think?)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:12 AM on September 25, 2008


The US should offer illegals here a path to citizenship through military service.

They still do this, although I'm not sure exactly what the process involves. During my (admittedly short) stint in the Army I met a couple of people who were on this track. This was within the last 10 years.

According to this article, in 2004 there were 11,829 non-citizen enlistees out of a total 264,832.

There are a couple of reasons why I think this isn't more common -- one is that you have to have a Green Card (I-551) in order to enlist, and that's a big barrier in itself. You can't just walk in with nothing and sign up; it's not the French Foreign Legion. Also, you need to have a high-school education or its equivalent, and the ability to read, write, speak, and understand English (pass the ASVAB); if you don't have those prerequisites, the military isn't interested.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:13 AM on September 25, 2008


Mr. Bad Example - Papers please!
posted by Artw at 7:16 AM on September 25, 2008


freshwater_pr0n: "...If he'd had to jump through hoops like these, my cousins and I would be living on the dole in darkest Wales today..."

I resemble that remark! ;-)
posted by ceri richard at 7:55 AM on September 25, 2008


Whenever I read or hear anything about immigration i can't help but think of one of my Polish friends who's been here illegally for years. When asked about it, she's pretty upfront about knowing that as an english speaking white woman, the chances of anyone questioning her status is slim.

See, but this is exactly the person that should be worried about more towns passing laws that say "if you're ever arrested for any cause, we're required to look up your immigration status." If she's driving through some random town with overzealous police, and happens to go too fast, she could end up being deported.
posted by inigo2 at 8:14 AM on September 25, 2008


I'm GLAD it takes all this to become a citizen. If you don't have any job skills, education, and aren't even RELATED to someone here, you SHOULD be OUT OF LUCK getting a green card. God, if you people are so antsy to give your money away, just send the checks to me.
posted by tadellin at 8:39 AM on September 25, 2008


I'm GLAD it takes all this to become a citizen. If you don't have any job skills, education, and aren't even RELATED to someone here, you SHOULD be OUT OF LUCK getting a green card. God, if you people are so antsy to give your money away, just send the checks to me.


Job skills can be learned and education can be acquired. There are probably places in the world where it's neither possible nor necessary to learn what we'd consider "job skills" in the U.S. I probably wouldn't last a week in those places; I know how to use a fax machine, but I haven't a clue how to grow stuff I can eat.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 10:37 AM on September 25, 2008


I'm GLAD it takes all this to become a citizen. If you don't have any job skills, education, and aren't even RELATED to someone here, you SHOULD be OUT OF LUCK getting a green card.

Uh, a green card isn't citizenship. I'd suggest further reading. Also, I'm thankful these requirements weren't in place when my family immigrated to the US in the early 20th century - I think a great many families wouldn't be here at all.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:30 AM on September 25, 2008


I'm GLAD it takes all this to become a citizen. If you don't have any job skills, education, and aren't even RELATED to someone here, you SHOULD be OUT OF LUCK getting a green card. God, if you people are so antsy to give your money away, just send the checks to me.

The point isn't even so much that you're shit out of luck if you have none of those things - it's that you're often shit out of luck even if you do, and/or the process takes years and an excruciating amount of effort/paperwork/arbitrary hurdles.

Take this from an art director, with a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in her home country, who speaks English without a trace of an accent. Who over the course of the past few years has had to spend $7.5-10K (I've honestly lost track at this point) trying to gain the privilege of remaining in the U.S.A. legally. Who was sponsored for an H1B (work) visa by her employer but had to go back to her home country because the immigration lawyer's secretary wrote "seventy hundred" instead of "seven hundred" on a check to the USCIS. Who waited over a year to be able to return, in part because her application was lost in the no man's land of security checks for 6 months, even though that process is normally supposed to take 3-6 weeks. Who learned the hard way that it is much, much more difficult to gain any kind of permanent or semi-permanent legal status in the US by virtue of an education, professional skills, knowledge of the language and culture, or even guaranteed employment and contribution to the U.S. economy, than it is through marrying someone while possessing a bare minimum level of all of the above.

(Yes, I'm bitter.)
posted by wretched_rhapsody at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm GLAD it takes all this to become a citizen. If you don't have any job skills, education, and aren't even RELATED to someone here, you SHOULD be OUT OF LUCK getting a green card. God, if you people are so antsy to give your money away, just send the checks to me.
posted by tadellin at 8:39 AM on September 25


I would rather work with an unskilled Mexican immigrant over an unskilled American citizen any day. They work their ass off and you don't have to hear them bitching about Mexicans all fucking day.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:25 PM on September 25, 2008 [8 favorites]


I would rather work with an unskilled Mexican immigrant over an unskilled American citizen any day. They work their ass off and you don't have to hear them bitching about Mexicans all fucking day.

How are they about CAPITALIZATION?
posted by maxwelton at 12:38 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or if they do bitch about Mexicans, at least you can't understand them.
posted by smackfu at 12:56 PM on September 25, 2008


Job skills can be learned and education can be acquired. There are probably places in the world where it's neither possible nor necessary to learn what we'd consider "job skills" in the U.S. I probably wouldn't last a week in those places; I know how to use a fax machine, but I haven't a clue how to grow stuff I can eat.

I know someone who certainly has job skills and education (and is working on getting more), but it's not UNUSUAL job skills and education. Which is why, guess what, his only hope of ever getting a green card is through marriage. I do not approve of his green card marrying, but looking at this chart, it really does appear to be his only hope of entry.

I also feel very sorry for a friend of mine who has a boyfriend who's illegal AND gay to boot. No hope there.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:34 PM on September 25, 2008


Remove themselves and their children from the crime and unsafe environments their children (disproportionately) bring.

Heh. I like the way you used an article headlined "Immigration: No Correlation With Crime" as a citation for your argument. These links, they're clickable, you know?

One question, though. If there is currently no process for unskilled immigrants without relations in the U.S. to become citizens, then I can only assume that most of the issues you mention involve illegal immigrants.

I must have missed the link where you explained how we'd be worse off if they were recognized as legal citizens.
posted by designbot at 1:56 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, obviously no one is reading this thread at this point, but I keep rereading this comment, and while it looks like a reasonable counterpoint at first glance, I'm beginning to suspect it's some kind of subtle satire.

Wages fall dramatically, unemployment increases (as undocumented workers undercut standard wages and regulations

This is an argument against giving immigrant workers legal status?

Even if total economic and social assimilation were forthcoming (and it isn't, the fifth generation looks the same)

Seriously? Seriously? The only assimilated Americans are the ones without any immigrant ancestors in the past five generations? Are you on crack?
posted by designbot at 3:10 PM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


OK, obviously no one is reading this thread at this point ... Are you on crack?

Honestly, my reaction was that this is the sort of bloated dreck disguised as rationale argument that monoculturalists love to vomit up on one forum after another. Have fun with it if you like, though.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:21 PM on September 25, 2008


These links, they're clickable, you know?

Yes, and the highlighted section supported my exact claim. The children of unskilled immigrants bring a disproportionate amount of crime. The children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, etc, of illegal immigrants are recognized as legal citizens. And we'd be worse off because each generation, starting with the first, is a net burden on taxpayers and society. The purpose of American policy should be to improve the lives of American citizens. Especially those at the bottom. At the very least, first do no harm.
posted by dgaicun at 3:37 PM on September 25, 2008


I'm GLAD it takes all this to become a citizen.

There's no point in arguing with tadellin. He drops at most two comments into a thread - usually they're troll-y - and then runs. It's a waste of time to holler at him.

And this is just stupid: Even if total economic and social assimilation were forthcoming (and it isn't, the fifth generation looks the same). Cite, please. Especially for that "fifth generation" part.

I don't know many people here in the U.S. whose families have been here more than five generations. Most, I think, are the fourth generation at most. And as far as I know, most of their original immigrant family members, like mine, arrived speaking no English and having pretty much only manual labor skills - mine worked in lumberyards and slaughterhouses. And most of us are far, far better off economically and educationally than great-great-etc. grandpa was when he got here.

From the Time link:

"The new report even bolsters claims by some academics that increased immigration makes the United States safer. A second study, released earlier this month by Washington-based nonprofit Immigration Policy Center, found that on the national level, U.S.-born men ages 18-39 are five times more likely to be incarcerated than are their foreign-born peers. And, while the number of illegal immigrants in the country doubled between 1994 and 2005, violent crime declined by nearly 35% and property crimes by 26% over the same period. The PPIC even determined that on average, between 2000 and 2005, cities such as Los Angeles that took in a higher share of recent immigrants saw their crime rates fall further than cities with a lower influx of illegals." emphasis mine

What it looks like, really, is that immigrants are the most law-abiding. So what we should really do is only have immigrants here, and any kids they have here should be shipped back home, before than can grow up to become criminals, which according to you, is pretty much inevitable.

Out-sourcing is much better.

Please go to Detroit and say that. Also, please do call former steel workers, mill workers, and the like "multi-cults." I hope you have dental insurance - you'll need it.
posted by rtha at 4:00 PM on September 25, 2008


Also, please do call former steel workers, mill workers, and the like "multi-cults."

Nothing wrong with being multicultural. It's the statement "the lower status service jobs they deserve" that follows it that tells you all you pretty much need to know about the post.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:36 PM on September 25, 2008


What it looks like, really, is that immigrants are the most law-abiding.

Read my comment. Their children, and their decedents, cause more crime.


Please go to Detroit and say that.

I don't need to. Pretty much all economists agree that out-sourcing and the death of manufacturing is a positive thing for the economy. Though it's always amusing to see college educated people freak out about out-sourcing when they are completely unsympathetic to the far more devastating equivalent for the lower class.


This is an argument against giving immigrant workers legal status?

No, it's an argument for zealously hunting down and punishing illegal employers. The argument against legality is the extreme net burden on society and taxpayers. And, yes, either way the wages at the bottom are damaged by an overabundance of the unskilled. There is a reason blue collar guys like Todd Palin are pulling in 100k a year in Alaska.

The only assimilated Americans are the ones without any immigrant ancestors in the past five generations?

The children of 5th generation Hispanic immigrants still form an underclass. There is no gradual economic assimilation. The burden on society extends over many generations, and the deeply entrenched ethnic stratification of Latin America suggests we are rapidly re-creating the same type of society here. Unskilled immigrants in general may produce average assimilated children or below average unassimilated children, neither of which is beneficial to America (we need a much lower population, as does every other part of the world). Skilled immigrants regularly produce generations of people who add to the economy and the over-all living standards of society.


... dreck disguised as rationale argument that monoculturalists love to vomit up on one forum after another.

I don't know what a "monoculture" is. Trying to find points of cultural connect between me and my grandparents is a rather difficult task. No similarity in music, literary, or artistic tastes. Different religious and political beliefs. And that's fine, but no one pretends like "economic diversity" or "law-abiding diversity" or "test score diversity" is a good thing. Attaching the word "diversity" to social problems does not change what they are. Intentionally favoring policies which exacerbate and entrench serious social problems and inequalities is not in the best interests of the American people or American society.
posted by dgaicun at 4:58 PM on September 25, 2008


Yes, and the highlighted section supported my exact claim. The children of unskilled immigrants bring a disproportionate amount of crime. The children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, etc, of illegal immigrants are recognized as legal citizens. And we'd be worse off because each generation, starting with the first, is a net burden on taxpayers and society. The purpose of American policy should be to improve the lives of American citizens. Especially those at the bottom. At the very least, first do no harm.

The article notes that reliable data on illegal vs legal immigrants is basically unavailable. Skilled vs unskilled is not a distinction made whatsoever throughout the entire article. And you omit the context that immigrants are basically law-abiding. If anything, the conclusion to draw from the closing paragraphs is is that assimilation into "our" culture is a bad influence on certain populations of Hispanic immigrants.
posted by desuetude at 5:56 PM on September 25, 2008


billyfleetwood writes "Is there any stated legal reason why the wait for a greencard depends on your home country?"

Could be that the variable delay is caused by the originating country. I imagine immigration services don't just take the applicants word that the documents presented are genuine.
posted by Mitheral at 9:55 PM on September 25, 2008


Pretty much all economists agree that out-sourcing and the death of manufacturing is a positive thing for the economy.

I'm not weighing in on the matter but this might be a bad week to try to appeal to the authority of economists in an endeavor to persuade people.

People who are opposed to illegal (or from the sound of your position, legal) immigration would do themselves a world of good if they'd stop obsessing about the actual immigrants and start worrying about the employers, the people who actually create the reason for their being here.

I suppose it's an effective jobs program, similar to the drug war, in that border enforcement has the potential to keep tens of thousands employed, but it's symptom treatment and will never end. If you really didn't want your basement to be full of water you'd build on higher ground or fix the underlying problems rather than bailing water and sticking chewing gum in the cracks in the wall.
posted by phearlez at 10:47 AM on September 26, 2008


« Older Reenacting slavery at Chickamauga National Militar...  |  Do not pretend the child exist... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments