The U.S. legal immigration system, with reference to the issuance of immigrant visas, is riddled with problems, many resulting in appearances of favoritism as a consequence. As such, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows the United States to grant up to 675,000 lawful permanent residents (LPR) visas each year across various visa categories. On top of those 675,000 LPR visas, the INA sets no limit on the annual admission of U.S. citizens’ spouses, parents, and children under the age of 21.
Primarily, there are two tiers of visa applicant countries. First-tier countries have a moderate volume of applications, such as European and very developed countries (France, Italy, Germany, Australia, etc.), and the second-tier countries that are more densely populated have a higher rate of applicants. This includes countries like China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines. Consequently, these countries have the longest waiting time of all the countries and categories.
Adverse Impact For Non-Residentials
On top of this, there is a per-country limit on the number of LPR visas issued because the Congressional intent of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which is carried out by U.S. immigration officials, did not want an inordinate amount of immigrants from any one particular country. Despite the Congressional intent, there are many issues and legal loopholes that tend to override the desire of Congress. There are two specific categories of petitioners. 1). petitioners who are U.S Citizens and are applying on behalf of their spouse, children, or any other family member under the age of 21. They are considered 1st preference. 2). Then there are non-permanent or non-citizen (lawful permanent resident) petitioners, 2nd preference, whose applications are drawn from a 675,000-visa pool.
This results in long waiting periods for the spouses and families of those non-citizens. This situation worsens substantially when someone enters the U.S. illegally and circumvents the entire mechanism by gaming the system through loopholes in the law and later adjusting status to obtain a legitimate visa. Although the accommodation is warranted in some cases, it has become a tactic, an abusive strategy over the years that pushes lawful applicants waiting in line further back, creating desperation among those on hold.
There Are Long Waiting Lines
Even without individuals gaming the broken system, the processing time of these applications is quite lengthy. According to the U.S. State Department, when there is no per-country backlog, the average processing time for a labor certification/visa petition/adjustment of status process is approximately 1½ to 3 years.
This again results in desperation among those waiting lawfully and often encourages them to “jump the line” and try to make it to U.S. soil illegally rather than wait for the standard procedure. Practices such as denial of appeal for nonresidents if their visa is rejected are also common, which completely ruin their chances of legally setting foot on U.S. soil, ever. Unchecked illegal immigration at the border also causes desperation and can result in their risking their lives, putting themselves in danger by coordinating with unscrupulous criminal human traffickers.
Things Need To Change!
The US will never see the end of illegal immigrants trying to make it over and start a life for themselves until conditions in their own countries improve. While aid to foreign countries continues to increase, the funds must be tailored towards programs and projects that help educate, create jobs, and improves health and overall quality of life in their home countries. Just as other nation-states do, the US must seriously go about protecting its sovereign states’ right to exist and, therefore, better secure its border from illegal entry. As with someone’s home, the correct way to enter is to knock on the door. The door of the US (as with all other nation-states) is through the authorized Ports of Entry. Jumping over the fence to enter someone’s home is nearly ever welcomed and quite dangerous for all concerned. Just because those who enter illegally are treated humanely and with more due process than any other country dealing with these issues should NOT be seen as the US is weak; on the contrary.
Three key areas to consider to help the US better gain control of US Immigration System problems are as follows:
1). Congress could increase the allocation of both immigrant and non-immigrant work visas, particularly to those countries that have strong immigration policies, which include expeditiously taking back their own citizens that have been ordered deported from the US.
2). The US should deploy additional technology and officer/agent resources to expedite the processing of legal immigrants at Ports of Entry. Similarly, it should enforce better control at the borders through enhanced detection, deterring, and prevention strategies, including foreign intelligence and covert operations that intercept and forecast illegal entry.
3). Bypass Congress if necessary, and use executive authority to grant LPR status to the already identified population known as “Dreamers” who were brought into the country illegally as children and, since their entry, have not participated in activities detrimental to the US or otherwise make them excludable/deportable. An increase in Immigration Attorney, Immigration Judges, and Detention Deportation resources would also be needed.
These are just a few items that help reduce backlogs and can reduce the magnetic draw of illegal aliens to the US.