Just Get In Line & Wait ‘Two Lifetimes’!

May 8th, 2010 · 8 Comments

One of the phrases that is tossed around by members of both political parties is this idea that undocumented immigrants have to pay a fine, learn English and then get back in line to wait to become legalized. It almost becomes a tired, old, grade-school sounding cliche, ‘get back in line’ as if these people were neatly lined up in the first place to come work, live, and reunite with family here in the US. The reality is that there isn’t a line that moves efficiently.

Prakash Khatri, an attorney and the former Citizenship and Immigration Ombudsman in the Department of Homeland Security in the previous administration, recently sent out a press release explaining that Mexican immigrant visa applicants would have to wait 131 years ‘in line’ to immigrate to the United States. And this hypothetical scenario is one in which the visa applicant has a US citizen relative sponsoring him or her. Should the relative pass away during this time, the applicant’s place in line becomes void and he has to start again. In what imaginary world do people live to be 131 years?

In essence, current policy encourages illegal immigration because ‘who is willing to wait in line for two lifetimes?’, especially when families are broken up because of immigration status. The upshot is that Khatri suggests that any immigration reform make family reunification a goal especially with regards to US families with relatives in Mexico. The current arrangement is unjust and unworkable. And furthermore, nationality based immigration quotas should be eliminated. Because of the existing quota system, immediate relatives of US citizens from other countries are able to legally immigrate to the US in about ten years, while people from Mexico with US citizen relatives have to wait two lifetimes.

For a politician to talk about this proverbial line without breaking down the reality of what it means to immigrants and their American family members is disingenuous in my view. But this ‘line’ is tossed around to the public, making it sound so easy to follow the current immigration policies. Just this week at the 5 de Mayo festivity at the White House, President Obama referred to ‘the line’, and we have heard California GOP candidate for governor, Meg Whitman, also mention ‘the line’ as well. It’s time for someone to have an honest discussion about what this ‘line’ means without being so flippant in mentioning it to the public.

Tags: Barack Obama · Democratic Party · GOP · Government Accountability · Immigration · Mexico · Republican Party

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Benito Camela // May 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Hmmm…Que bolas las de los mejicanos. Mirense en el espejo….Como nos tratan a los centroamericanos…ya quisiera yo ….

  • 2 Benito Camela // May 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  • 3 Anna // May 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Boycott Cold Stone Creamery. It’s an ice cream store based in Arizona, but they have stores all over southern CA in Latino neighborhoods. Don’t give them any of your money.

  • 4 Anna // May 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Good article

    Mexico’s exploitation by the United States got even worse in the early 1990’s, when corporate elites in both countries and in Canada as well pushed through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA required the Mexican government to remove the carefully constructed system of subsidies to their own farmers that had been put in place as a result of the 1910-1917 revolution. U.S. agribusiness companies flooded the Mexican market with cheap corn, selling it at prices below the cost of producing it in Mexico. As a result, millions of Mexicans were forced off their land — and many of them headed north to look for jobs as farm laborers here. The same year as NAFTA went into effect, 1994, the U.S. government also instituted “Operation Gatekeeper” in California and similarly named “operations” in other border states to make border crossings harder — which paradoxically forced undocumented immigrants to stay within the U.S. rather than live here when work was available and return home in the off-season. It also drove immigrants from established crossings like San Diego’s to high-risk routes through the desert — leading to the deaths of up to 10,000 undocumented immigrants

  • 5 chalan // May 11, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Can anyone give me an assessment of how many illegal immigrants there are from countries other then Mexico and what the economic impact they have on this country? It is easy for Europeans to slip in to this country and blend in. AND, they do take jobs that Americans want.

  • 6 BettyM // May 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you for explaining what being “in line” really means. Everyone should read Prakash Khatri’s article – I want our leaders to explain the 131 year wait!!!

  • 7 What the ... // May 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Thats a good one Chalan, don’t you think illegal Mexican nationals are blending in just fine with Americans of Mexican descent?

  • 8 irma // May 12, 2010 at 3:50 pm


    It is a fact that anyone who has fair skin or is of European descent (illegal or not) will have an job advantage in the USA over a dark skinned Mexican ( illegal or not).

    Yes, and those same Europeans (illegal or not) multiply and collect US passports for their children- but no one complains about that.
    A former employee of mine came from Europe, stayed two years, produced 2 children, left with 2 American passports. What did I get ?
    1 year’s worth of work that cost 2 years of salary.

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