Written by Lauren Buser. Media by Quinten Brown.
“E Pluribus Unum.”
These words pierced the hearts of the ladies and gentlemen who attended the Immigration Colloquium. Immigration attorney, Jennifer Ibanez Whitlock, cleared up some of the confusion about U.S. Citizenship.
Being A Citizen of the U.S.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, it’s been difficult for people to immigrate to the states and there is no pathway to legal status available for the majority of immigrants. Many misconceptions and negative responses are involved with the immigration conversation. For example, marrying a U.S. citizen does not make a person a citizen. Whitlock states,
To become a legal immigrant of the United States is a very narrow path. Unless you fit snugly into one of the categories, there is nothing we can do.”
Being born in the U.S., however, is not the only way to become a citizen. Adoption and the Child Status Citizenship Act can also lead to citizenship. Additionally, the United States has laws in place for non-citizens such as Equal Protection Under the Law and Due Process of Fair Procedure where lives, liberty, and property are at stake.
Why it Matters
Our country’s laws are changing, so, as college students, it is our civil duty to be aware of where the United States stands on these issues. The legality of immigration has always been a struggle. The U.S. Federal Government has tried to restrict immigration and federal law has been against specific immigrants, such as the Chinese and Irish at certain points in time. The state government has even tried to create laws that override the federal government on this topic. As a citizen of the United States, church, and/or private college, we have more opportunities than most to use our voice to change the negative views of immigrants. Extend hands of friendship and faith to those who do not speak the same language. Hold events at church and services in other languages or have a special offering to help those who need assistance to afford an immigration attorney.
Ways to Become a Citizen
There are many ways to attain citizenship in the United States: Non-Immigrant Visa, Green Card, Employment Based Immigration, Diversity Visa, or claiming asylum or refugee status. While these options make it seem easy for immigrants to get in, that is not the case. Each immigrant must go through a vetting process. This process can take up to two years and each person is checked by over eight government agencies, three in-person interviews, and multiple background checks. It can take 13 plus years to gain citizenship, and even then, you may have to wait up to seven more for your child to gain the same status.
Prayer is key in a time like this. Our country is undergoing many shifts and changes in morals and laws. As the next generation of adults, we need to be educated on the efforts, or lack thereof, in our country for such important thoughts and ideas. I leave you with this quote from Elie Wiesel:
No human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?”