The Facts about Immigration

By Kaitlin Barr
September 20, 2007

According to U.S. law, an immigrant is a foreign-born individual who has been admitted to reside permanently in the United States as a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

Immigration is an on-going topic discussed in the United States today. With such a wide range of elements to consider, key facts are necessary in the quest to gain a complete understanding of the effect that immigration will have on the upcoming election.

This article will explain the different types of immigration, outline some of the causes of the controversy and present the Catholic Church’s standpoint on the issue because it is one of the leading proponents of reform.

When a U.S. citizen sponsors his or her foreign-born spouse, parent, child or sibling, it is called family-sponsored immigration. Distant family members such as aunts, uncles and cousins are not permitted to enter the United States under this type of immigration.

For jobs for which there is a lack of U.S. workers, an employer can hire an individual to fill the empty positions. This situation is often referred to as employment-based immigration.

When diversity visa lotteries in other countries occur, a person may be able to win one of the possible numbers of immigrant visas, granting them a ticket to the United States.

Certain titles are given to different classes of people who come to this country. Each title allows us to understand their place in the spectrum of people from abroad who come here.

A refugee is a person who seeks protection in the U.S. for fear that they will be persecuted in their homeland. In order to obtain refugee status, a person must prove on the grounds of race, religion, membership in a social group, political opinion or national origin that they have a “well-founded fear of persecution.” They remain in their own country awaiting the approval.

Like a refugee, an asylum seeker fears persecution from his homeland. They are, however, already on U.S. soil when making this claim. Unlike refugees, they remain in the United States in hopes of avoiding deportation to their homeland.

Undocumented immigrants, also known as illegal immigrants, are those who reside in the United States without the permission of the U.S. government. They can enter illegally, without being inspected by an immigration officer or by using false documents. They also can obtain a temporary visa legally, and then continue to reside in the United States illegally beyond the expiration date.

People such as students, tourists, temporary workers, business executives, diplomats, artists and entertainers and reporters are all considered non-immigrants. They are permitted to enter the United States for a limited time.

The naturalization process allows legal permanent residents to apply for U.S. citizenship as long as they reside in the United States for five years without having committed any serious crimes. To qualify, these individuals have to understand, speak and write ordinary English.

The Catholic Church, one of the most outspoken advocates of immigration reform, has viewpoints on the immigration issue. The Catholic Church does not condone illegal immigration because it is not good for society. However, the church understands that, although those without legal status have broken the law, they do so in order to survive. The Catholic Church thinks it is in the best interest of the nation to reform the current immigration laws.

Having organized a grass roots campaign, called the Justice for Immigrants campaign, the Catholic Church is making it so that Catholics may be more involved. They will continue to speak out on the moral consequences of immigration and the effects of human life.

Many more topics remain in the immigration debate, all of which will be touched upon in the upcoming presidential debate.

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Kaitlin Barr

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