What Immigration Policy?

I know the United States has immigration policies. That’s the problem. There are policies that apply to Mexicans. There are policies that apply to Canadians. There are policies that apply to IT workers at Microsoft. There are policies that apply to young foreigners married to older US citizens. There are policies that apply to single women and policies that apply to Iraqi interpreters.

Dominique Strass-Kahn didn’t need a visa but the West African maid he allegedly raped surely did. I have a young friend in Saigon who was turned down for a visa even though she had been accepted to study at a US university, had the money and sponsorship needed, and had the support of her Vietnamese employer. Go figure.

As I listen to the debate I wonder how many of the people arguing so strenuously to tighten immigration and visa requirements have ever been on the other side of the equation? How many of those strident voices have personal experience filling out the forms for another country’s visa? How many of them had to disclose details of their net worth? Did they have to produce a marriage certificate, bank statements, airline tickets, and the home addresses of relatives? Have any of them been denied a visa or immigrant status without an explanation? America is the land of entitlement. Americans would be outraged if they were denied a visa – especially if they were not told the reason – but I have Vietnamese friends who have fulfilled all the documentation requirements, described the purpose of their visit, shown the consular officer proof of assets and dates of travel, named a sponsoring organization, shown the intent to return to Vietnam and have then been denied a US visa without being given a reason for the denial.

Have we forgotten that the US is an immigrant nation? What happened to the sentiment memorialized in the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty?

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Now we are building a fence to keep them out. What’s with that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *