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There Is No Line

Immigrants at the Rio Grande

In the presidential debates some of the candidates have insisted that the only answer to the question of undocumented immigrants in the country is to have them deported or to ask everyone to go back home to their countries to “get in line with everyone else.” The problem with this idea is that there virtually is no line, or that the line is so short that very, very few people can enter the line. Information is available from many sources that there are so few visas available that it is impossible for most people to have the slightest possibility of obtaining one. Dr. Roy Germano, author of “The Other Side of Immigration,” writes about Mexican citizens who try to apply to come to the United States legally, outlining the problem as follows: “That so many Mexicans compete with each other for such a small number of visas means that it’s virtually impossible for the typical Mexican immigrant to enter the country legally in his or her lifetime. With no way to enter legally, people make the difficult decision of migrating illegally.” In 2010, the US provided just under 180,000 visas to Mexicans for labor and family unification purposes. This figure is equivalent to just 2.7% the size of the undocumented Mexican population and 0.06% of total US population. It is also very difficult if not impossible for Central Americans who are not highly skilled or wealthy to obtain a visa.

Who Gets the Legal Papers?

If you have money, you can get a visa. If you have more money, you can become a permanent resident without waiting in any line. For those who do not have money, we have re-invented the Way of the Cross. One reason people do not have enough money in the bank to come legally is the impact of international financial and trade agreements which have resulted in the destruction of the local economies for the majority of the people. The U. S. Catholic Bishops have outlined a just approach to immigration reform, which can be found at their web site at justiceforimmigrants.org. In the meantime, those who attempt to come to the United States from Mexico or Central America face a violent and tragic Way of the Cross.

Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXXIII, January-February 2012