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Heidy Lee / Gavel Media

A System of False Narratives and False Promises

America’s immigration system is broken, wherein the media and popular political leaders have a narrative that goes against immigrants. Consequently, most important stories get lost in all the fear-mongering that has been going on for decades, especially after the 2016 presidential election. 

Interning at an immigration law firm has made me realize how archaic the immigration system is in America. The US hasn’t updated its quotas for green cards since before the 2000s. Leaders consistently try to make it seem like immigrants are the only ones at fault. However, once the rule of law is reviewed, it can clearly be seen that the US immigration system is rigged against vulnerable communities, especially children. 

If you are an immigrant in the US on a small business visa, there is a high chance that you will stay on that status forever. There is not an easy path to citizenship and residency, even though leaders may make it seem like that’s the case. Former President Donald Trump expressed the following, “America is a welcoming country … We have the largest and most expansive immigration programs anywhere on the planet. We’ve issued 40 million green cards since 1970, which means permanent residency and a path to citizenship for many people. But we will not allow our generosity to be abused by those who would break our laws, defy our rules, violate our borders, and break into our country illegally. We won’t allow it.” Their argument revolves around the idea that the US is the country that gives out the most green cards, implying that the process is easy and that immigrants are the ones who voluntarily want to be or stay on an illegal status in the US. Nevertheless, it is proven every single day that the system has different rules that directly threaten immigrants. 

A clear example of this is the Documented Dreamers. This is comprised of children who move to the US with their parents who are on visas. They come to the States legally with a temporary visa, called a dependent visa, until they are 21 years old. Their hope is that during that time, their visa is going to turn into a green card or citizenship. However, because of the backlog and the way our immigration system is structured, once these children turn 21, they cannot be dependent on their parents and their parents have yet to get their green cards. At that moment, they are no longer legally living in the United States. Our immigration system makes the process of these individuals slower so that once they turn 21, they have to self-deport themselves and leave the United States. According to statistics from the American Immigration Council, there are more than 200,000 individuals facing deportation, all of whom have been on dependent visas. Why would political leaders promise that these individuals will get the green card, then voluntarily make this process even slower for them to get it, and finally, after delaying the process, immediately deport these documented dreamers? Does this align with what our political leaders are saying about the immigration process and system?

Furthermore, there has been bipartisan agreement that what is happening with the Dreamers is unacceptable. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley met up with some Documented Dreamers who were about to get deported, to talk about their situation and hear their concerns. He took a photo with them. Unfortunately, one of the children in the photo has already been deported. This is continuous proof that leaders promise many things, but end up doing nothing for the well-being of these children who came to America with a dream. 

If it weren’t for my internship, I would not know that these things are happening in the US, and that even though politicians know about this, they consistently support a system that allows this to happen. The media portrays what is convenient for the party that they are aligned to. They do not accurately present these atrocious stories that are commencing as you read this. There is not enough coverage and visibility of this issue—this is exactly why the false narrative that immigrants voluntarily want to stay on an illegal status in the United States keeps showing up in the news and in speeches of political leaders.