Move that Bill Forward #3
Myth: Most immigrants cross the border illegally.
Approximately 72% of the foreign born population are authorized immigrants, including naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents, and legal temporary residents. The Congressional Research Service cites that unauthorized aliens enter the US in three ways: (1) some are admitted to the United States on valid non-immigrant (temporary) visas (e.g. as visitors or students) or on border crossing cards and either remain in the country beyond their authorized period of stay or otherwise violate the terms of their admission; (2) some are admitted based on fraudulent documents (e.g. fake passports) that go undetected by U.S. officials; and (3) some enter the U.S. without inspection (e.g. crossing over the Southwest or northern U.S. border).
Congress passed a law several years prohibiting the issuance of a visa or admission to the US to anyone who could not overcome the presumption that they were an intending immigrant. Even with the extensive training that consular officers and CBP officers receive, there are still persons who misrepresent their intentions or change their mind after arriving in the US.
It is estimated that 40-50% of unauthorized resident population were inspected and admitted and chose to stay after their status ended. The Congressional Research Service reports that in 2006 the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that about 40% to 50% of the unauthorized immigrants living in the US entered with inspection.
Sources: Passel, Jeffrey. U.S Unauthorized Immigration Flows Are Down Sharply Since Mid-Decade, Pew Hispanic Center (2010) – http://www.pewhispanic.org/2010/09/01/ii-current-estimates-and-trends-2/.
This summer LUM is scheduled to unveil and open Immigration Clinic. In 2012, the LUM Board of Directors made the decision to offer immigration assistance citing its mission to “give witness to God’s saving love and prophetic power by loving neighbors, seeking justice, empowering the least among us.” Around the same time the Board issued a statement opposing policies separating children and expressing a desire to explore pathways for legal immigration and citizenship.
In lockstep with the sense of call expressed by the Board, LUM Campaign for Hoosier Families has made it a legislative priority to advocate for the legalization and a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants. These individuals and families have come to the US with the same sense of purpose and desire for a better life much as the people who settled this country. Unfortunately though they enjoy none of the rights and protections that we consider as Americans to be unalienable. As you may know, the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform last June, but thus far Republican House Members have refused to vote on the Senate bill or give the issue any type of consideration. If an immigration reform bill is not passed by the end of the year, which also constitutes the end of current congress, the whole process will have to start all over again.