Permanent Legal Immigration vs. Amnesty

In 2011 1.1 million aliens received legal permanent resident (LPR) status on the basis of family ties (65%), employment (13%), as refugees and asylum seekers (16%), and as diversity migrants (5%), a category established arbitrarily since we already are the most diverse nation.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952 established four reasons under which permanent legal immigration status can be sought:

– Reunification of families
– Immigrants with needed skills
– Refugee protection
– Diversity of admission by country of origin

Currently 4.5 million visas are approved for legal permanent residence (LPR) but are pending because of the numerical limits imposed by INA. Most of these are visas petitioned for the reunification of families.

The top countries of immigration were Mexico (14%), China (8.2%), India (6.5%), Philippines (5.4%), and Dominican Republic (4.3%). A large percentage of legal permanent residents came from the ranks of aliens who had temporary (nonimmigrant) visas.

Until 1965, there was a national origin quota system from World War I. It was replaced with an amendment of 7 percent per-country ceiling. The statute regulating permanent immigration was revised significantly in 1990.

If amnesty is going to be considered, the 113th Congress should tackle first a Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) which should include the following:

– Revise the legal immigration system first
– Increase border security
– Enforce immigration laws
– Reform the temporary worker visas
– Resolve the status of millions of illegal aliens already residing in the country, some with American born children, some who came legally and overstayed their visas, and those who crossed the border illegally to work, traffic drugs, commit crimes, or take advantage of the generous welfare system in the U.S.
– Increase the number of visas to immigrants already waiting in the “queue” with on-going applications

The proposed “pathway to citizenship,” a mixture of fees, penalties, and waiting period, or blanket amnesty for illegal aliens could increase the cost of Obamacare up to $300 billion over a decade in the form of costs for exchanges or Medicaid. (

According to Ruth Ellen Wasem, who wrote a Congressional Service Report on legal immigration, published on December 17, 2012, adult children of U.S. citizens wait about 7 years for a permanent resident status, with longer waits for those from Mexico and Philippines. “Consular officers are now considering petitions of the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens from the Philippines who filed almost 24 years ago.” (

Opponents of immigration favor:
– Reduced immigration
– Elimination of diversity visas (the immigrants do not wish to integrate into our society and comprise criminal elements as evidenced by attempted terrorist attacks)
– Employment-based visas should include only highly skilled workers with hard to find skills
– Limitation of family-based legal permanent residence (LPR) to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, not extended family members

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security have an annual maximum of legal permanent residents of 675,000 – 480,000 comprise family immigration, 140,000 employment-based immigration, and 55,000 diversity immigrants. These people follow the law, the complicated and lengthy maze of bureaucracy, legal documents, fees, and other requirements they must fulfill and pay for in order to become eligible, and then must wait patiently inside or outside of the U.S. at least five years for the resolution of their cases.

According to Ruth Ellen Wasem, immediate relatives such as spouses, unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens, parents of adult U.S. citizens and refugees do not have numerical limits on legal immigration.

Meanwhile, 11-12 million (the numbers change constantly, depending on the source) illegal aliens who just crossed the border illegally via Mexico or Canada establish residence here, have children, take advantage of our free schools, social services and programs in this country, including the upcoming Obamacare for which they are not required to pay the minimum $20,000 a year premium for a bronze level insurance but have full medical benefits.

These people are what the liberals lovingly call “undocumented workers,” “citizens in the shadows,” “Americans without papers.” I would argue that they do have papers, the passports and I.D.s from their respective countries whose flags they so devotedly respect and pin on their vehicles while burning, spitting, and trampling on the American flag. And Democrats tell us that they must immediately get amnesty and the right to vote.

We should have a robust guest worker system; it would alleviate many immigration problems we currently have. The Bracero Program, named after the Spanish “strong arm,” which was initiated in August 1942 and ended in 1964, imported temporary contract labor from Mexico into the U.S. However, we should first address the millions of unemployed Americans in the U.S., those who have made a lifestyle choice out of socialized generational welfare, and the Americans who have become discouraged workers and are no longer counted in the unemployment figures.

In the category of legal aliens are immigrants and nonimmigrants. The nonimmigrants comprise tourists, foreign students, diplomats, temporary agricultural workers, exchange visitors, intracompany business personnel who come here for a specific purpose and with a visa. Some of them never go back and are transitioned to legal permanent resident (LPR) status. Yet admission of immigrants (foreign nationals who come to live lawfully and permanently in the U.S.) is much more stringent than nonimmigrants. (CRS, Ruth Ellen Wasem, December 17, 2012)

Ronald Reagan gave blanket amnesty to almost 3 million illegal aliens in 1986 with Congressional promise that immigration reform would be enacted and the border would be enforced. It never happened and President Reagan regretted later his decision because it brought a new wave of illegal immigration. Today we are at the same crossroads and Congress is not even pretending to reform immigration laws or enforce border security. Instead, the federal government is suing those states who are trying to enforce the law.

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