Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Immigration and Naturalization.

Today's topic, boys and girls, is immigration and naturalization.

Immigration is one of those subjects which many Americans believe they know a lot about, when, truth be told, they know absolutely squat. The number of myths, urban legends.....whatever you want to call them....that surround the immigration issue would be enough to cause me to pull my hair out - if I had any.

Let's look at some of those beliefs that I hear most frequently;

The reason all those foreigners own those convenient stores is because the government gives them all interest free business loans....which they don't have to pay back.

I wish this were true. If such interest free - non repayable loans were available, my wife and the dozens of other Filipinas we know would be taking advantage of them.
The reason you see so many immigrants owning certain businesses is because of their strong family and ethnic loyalties. It's an example of folks sticking together and helping out friends and relatives.

They don't pay taxes......the government lets them live here five years without having to pay any taxes. I wish I could do that.

I wish I could too. When my wife received her first paycheck in America, her reaction was the same as everyone else when they first start working ....... "What is FICA?"
The government is not going to miss any opportunity to get someone's hard earned money.

If someone from another country comes here and marries an American, they automatically become U.S. citizens.

That might have been true years ago, but it's certainly not true now. My wife, like all other immigrants has to apply for citizenship and it costs money. Lots of money.
There's the visa process getting her into the country. The government loves paper work and money.
After that, there's the "change of status" application. More money, more paper work.
Two years after the "change of status", there's the green card application. More money, more paper work.
Three years after the green card comes the application for citizenship. More money, more paper work. And a test.

I don't have a problem with immigrants having to learn about the country; most of the questions concern civics and that's something we all need to know. I think that everyone who wants to register to vote should take the same test. Being born here shouldn't exempt you from knowing something about how the government works.

Some of the questions on the test don't concern civics, of course. That would make too much sense for something the government is involved with. I've copied and pasted question number 87 below. I'm not at all sure why it's necessary for anyone to know the answer in order to be a "good citizen".

87. Name one American Indian tribe in the United States.
[USCIS Officers will be supplied with a list of federally recognized American Indian tribes.]
▪ Cherokee
▪ Navajo
▪ Sioux
▪ Chippewa
▪ Choctaw
▪ Pueblo
▪ Apache
▪ Iroquois
▪ Creek
▪ Blackfeet
▪ Seminole
▪ Cheyenne
▪ Arawak
▪ Shawnee
▪ Mohegan
▪ Huron
▪ Oneida
▪ Lakota
▪ Crow
▪ Teton
▪ Hopi
▪ Inuit

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