Yesterday The American Spectator published my article about illegal immigrants. I'm receiving a lot of letters to the editor related to it. Below is the revised published version of the older RussiaBlog post; the letters to the editor can be found in the extended section of this post. I just got back from an extended trip and apologize for a long time without new posts. Please enjoy the comments and the article and come back soon for more posts about Russia!
I'm Not Illegal
By Yuri Mamchur
Published 5/16/2006 12:08:06 AM
SEATTLE -- As crowds of illegal immigrants march through America's streets, I peer down at the protesters from my office here and wonder, "Why don't I march with them?" Well, because I'm not illegal. In the last six years, while visiting this country and starting my new job with the free-market Discovery Institute, I have paid the U.S. government nearly $20,000 in visa and application fees. Of the money I've earned I have spent 90 percent of it in this country. I have volunteered nearly 2,000 hours with local non-profits.
If you are a native-born American, you probably have no idea how U.S. visas work or how difficult they are to acquire. Briefly, a non-immigrant visitor's visa operates as follows:... Read the rest of the article here.
Letters to the Editor:
By Kate Shaw
I am a legal immigrant to Canada and I concur with the figures in Mr. Mamchur's article, as well as the continuing confusion in the information handed out to applicants. For example, I was informed that my interview (scheduled for Detroit -- I was living in Atlanta at the time) would be the following year -- I rented a small apartment and took a long-term contract job on the strength of this, and promptly received a directive two months later to appear for the interview. Travel and time off of a week's duration, plus lost wages of course, for a fifteen minute interview that I passed, and then home to pay to break my lease and travel to Canada for job interviews (Canada requires you to have a job and a place to live if you come in legally -- if you come in illegally they will provide you a place to live and give you generous welfare and free health care to boot) and engineer my move over Christmas.
But the process of visa application and acceptance is an expensive and difficult exercise including the gathering of a banker's box full of paperwork, a lot of travel, and a good immigration lawyer which will run you $450 per hour plus disbursements. Or you can just appear at the border and claim refugee status and get a nice package of Goodies for the next five years minimum, plus now you get $100 per month per child under 6 that you produce during that time.
Given the choice of taking two years and paying $20,000 or simply strolling across the border and applying for the Goodie Basket, which would the average foreigner choose?
Incidentally, when New York State had a crackdown on illegal immigrants during the Carter Hostage Crisis, the vast majority of people they busted were Canadians and Irish. And at present the people that are being busted in Canada are Portuguese. Go figure.
By Natalia Kotchetova
I would like to thank you for publishing Yuri's article. I think his position illustrates opinions of many, many immigrants who are too busy working (legally!) to march on the streets demanding change in immigration regulation on the basis of their own interests notwithstanding laws of the country in which they live (illegally!). I would also like to express my support to the American people who insist on adherence to immigration laws by everyone, including "guest workers." Frankly, I find the term "guest workers" very hypocritical. They are technically illegal non-resident aliens, they are not "guest workers." Illegal immigrants look for compassion, but in essence they demand preferential treatment over all those educated, highly skilled, fluently speaking English people from other countries (e.g., from Asia and Eastern Europe) who choose to respect the law of the United States and apply for visas, wait in lines, pay lawyers, and eventually do or do not immigrate legally.
I live in Canada with my husband who is a US citizen, and both of us are PhDs in business (we are university professors). We chose to move to Canada because I was an exchange student in the US for one year in my undergraduate studies (J-1), and US federal law does not allow for me to obtain /immigration status unless I return to my home country for 2 years. Well, we respect the law and we made a choice to re-locate to Canada, even though there is an enormous shortage of faculty in US universities in our field (accounting), and I could argue that it is more beneficial for the US system of higher education to keep me, given that I obtained my doctorate through the state system in Atlanta, Georgia.(I earned my PhD at Georgia State University). However, the law is the same for everyone, and I understand and respect that. My husband, who is a former US Army officer, AND A Notre Dame graduate, also understands that. We did not leave the US because we disagreed with politics of the current administration, or to protest against anything. We left because we understood our choices under the law and respected the law. We are not unhappy leaving and working in Waterloo, Ontario; but I know that my husband would rather live and contribute to the economy (and young minds!) of his home country. So would I. Why should uneducated laborers be treated differently on the grounds that there is demand for their work in the US? This idea is unjust not only to US taxpayers who cover their social services, but also to thousands of law-abiding immigrants or potential immigrants.