MYTH: Illegal immigrants just don't want to wait in line like everybody else.”Why don't they just get in line?!” This question is forever poisoning the immigration debate and it's posed by radio hosts, every day folks, and even members of Congress. But, before throwing up your hands in defeat when you hear the question, consider responding with these quick mythbusting facts!
FACT: There is no “line” for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants.
- There is no line and the “regular channels” do not include them. If given a choice, opinion surveys of undocumented immigrants indicate that 98 percent would prefer to live and work legally in the U.S. and would do so if they could. However, most do not have the necessary family relationships to apply for legal entry, or, if they do, they face years or decades of waiting time for a visa.
- The ways to “come legally” are restricted to certain categories of persons. Getting a green card is generally limited to four different routes: Employment (The number of green cards available for unskilled or low-skilled workers—hotel workers, landscapers, construction workers to name few — is limited to 5,000 per year for the entire United States); Family (A legal, qualified family member in the U.S. can seek permission (a petition) to bring in certain eligible foreign-born family members); Political refugees; and Lottery.
More mythbusting facts on this issue can be found in Why Don't They Just Get In Line? The Real Story of Getting a “Green Card” and Coming to the U.S. Legally, AILA's one page fact sheet.
“AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08061164 (posted Jun. 11, 2008)”