Immigration reform continues to be a topic that demands significant attention within the United States and abroad. With the recent separation of England from the European Union, there has been great debate as to what happens next. I can relate first hand to the trails associated with the immigration process.
I currently serve in the United States Air Force. I was married approximately a year ago to my Polish wife who resides in England. After being married, we anticipated that she would be joining me immediately in Germany. As the result of some unforeseen medical issues, I ended up being moved to Oklahoma. This impacted us significantly because we had to begin the immigration process.
I have found the immigration process to be extremely difficult. I initially completed the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative in November, 2015. I was notified that my petition was approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and had been forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) in February, 2016. I was hopeful that everything would proceed smoothly. After receiving no additional updates, I began following up with the NVC to no avail. They stated that they had not received my petition and that nothing could be done regarding my case. After numerous attempts to speak with supervisors and customer service representatives, I was getting nowhere.
I was finally able to speak with an immigration officer and have my approved petition resent to NVC. I experienced the same level of frustration with the I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé. My wife still has not been able to make her way to the United States, however, we are hopeful her case will be resolved soon.
The immigration system is legislated according to the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). As currently constructed, people are allowed to apply for immigration visas based upon family relationship to U.S. citizens, employment based immigration (temporary or permanent), and for the purposes of asylum.
Immigration reform is something that has to be addressed. There are an unlimited number of visas available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. That being said, there are limitations established regarding the number of employment and refugee/asylee visas available to applicants.
There continue to be millions of persons who reside in the United States as unlawful citizens. One the topics being discussed during the presidential election season involves a path to citizenship for such persons. I believe that we have to create a realistic and fair path to citizenship. One key element of the system that needs to be reevaluated is creating benchmarks for the number of persons who can earn citizenship during a given year.
According to the New York Times, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The current presidential administration has spent more than $18 during the last year on immigration enforcement. I believe that we have to create a system that establishes and enforces stringent rules for immigrants. Our ability to support immigrants as well as their ability to support themselves is a viable concern.
The goal of the USCIS I-134 Affidavit of Support is meant to ensure that the petitioner can support the person for which they are filing a petition or that the petitionee is able to support him or herself. While financial considerations may not always be the driving factor in an immigration decision, it must be a part of an applicant’s evaluation. In situations where the applicant is a refugee or seeking asylum, you may not consider the ability of the person to render such support. However, if someone is filing for an employment based visa or family based visa, there may be a heavier burden of proof.
I believe that by upholding strong standards for legal immigration, you are setting up both the individual and our country for success. Diminishing the prevalence of illegal immigration has to be at the forefront of our priorities. By upholding immigration standards, we reinforce the privilege of being an American. I also believe that by properly vetting people through the immigration system, can only help to increase the safety and security of our nation. While there are security measures in place to protect the citizens of our country, immigration processes thoroughly investigate persons being considered.
In conclusion, I think that the immigration process is a complex system that demands our attention. Most would agree that America has become what it is because of diversity. Moving forward, I think it is essential that we continue to build upon that legacy in a responsible manner. It is the responsibility of the president, government agencies, legislators, judges, and citizens to determine how best to move forward in a brave new world. I encourage us to continue examining how immigrants impact our society both positively and negatively, and what we need to do to make the system work!