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OPINION: Green Card Restrictions Go Against Deserving Immigrants

Sara Momin, Reporter

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As 2017 drew to a close, the atmosphere was filled with a warm joy, an optimistic mood enveloping the hearts of those wanting something better in the next year to come. However, families that came together to celebrate this occasion were soon reminded of the year that awaited them under the Trump administration, which announced new green card restrictions that would narrow the amount of recipients. While this law hasn’t been fully passed in Congress, the negative effects are already apparent, with the deportation of over 200,000 Salvadorans, and the recall of over of half of Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) recipients. While these hurdles were created in order to keep American jobs and to protect citizens from potential terrorists, the pain created by separating families and ignoring the dreams of potential migrants isn’t worth the supposed “reward”.

The law requires new restrictions for green card applicants, including an hand-signed signature addressing the congressional office, privacy waivers for every update to the case, and a translation of any text by an official translator. For those who have a language barrier, or those who rely on family members for translation, it increases the wait time in a process that is already two years long. And especially in poor or unstable countries, translators and immigration officials aren’t readily available, and those migrants aren’t able to escape their situation. Finally, the sheer cost of translators and multiple round trip flights to the U.S. is expensive, and since most immigrants come with very few belongings, it’s a cost that they can’t afford. The fact that Trump is trying to make the process more tedious and complicated prevents the American dream for these hopeful migrants.

Along with these restrictions, Trump plans to reduce the green card lottery by decreasing the number of green cards given each year. As well as getting all of these signatures and translations, immigrants need to fully educated and at the top of their field before applying. They also have to know English and be able to provide employment for other residents. The field of immigration becomes restricted until only millionaires and businessmen are able to immigrate. The majority of immigrants, who are trying to make a new life, don’t have that kind of education or money, and the doors to the US become closed for them.

We have already seen the effects of this law, with the deportation of Jorge Garcia. Living here for almost 30 years, Garcia was brought here without any documentation when he was ten, and throughout the 30 year time period, he has no criminal history. His wife,12-year-old son, and 15-year-old daughter have to now live in the U.S without Garcia. Even though they followed the law, Garcia was still caught by ICE officials in 2005 when he was trying to apply for legal status, and even once they were caught, the family would never leave their town without informing ICE.  Sobbing into his arms as he was lead out of the country, the family says their last goodbyes, as they become the new face of the unfair legislation. 11 million families around the U.S who have to deal with exactly the same situation are now worried that their families would be torn apart as well, due to the sheer randomness of Garcia’s deportation.

However hopeless Trump’s policies may seem currently, there is still a bit of hope, as a counter DACA deal is being formed in Congress by Senator Graham and Durbin, in order to ensure that DACA doesn’t die. The policy would consist of three points that would combine Trump’s wishes with the goals of immigrant groups. The first point continues the mission of DACA by giving permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants who came here as kids. The program would also be extended by giving DACA protection to people who didn’t even apply, or for those whose application expired. The second point, however, prevents DACA receivers from sponsoring their parents, making a difference in millions of hopeful immigrants lives. Finally, the third point eliminates the visa lottery and gives a few billion dollars to create or improve the Mexican border. Although this situation isn’t ideal, there is few room for negotiation, and currently, this plan is the best Congress has.

These restrictions have only harmed immigrants, and with less than ideal circumstances, it doesn’t look like the situation will change any time soon. This law doesn’t protect Americans; it separates families and prevents people from living the American dream.  People who want to create a better life for their families, or perhaps, escape a dangerous situation in their home country, are now prevented to do so by a small piece of paper. Immigrants who have been waiting for years in the green card system are tossed aside like a candy wrapper, forgotten by those in Congress. And as the year goes on, it seems that, yet again, the pain created by these restrictive laws envelopes the atmosphere, destroying the hopes of the optimistic immigrants.

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