Last night I told you about a family from my son’s school who got trapped in the immigration struggles and now the Dad is stuck in another country and Mom and kids are here.
Today, I wanted to share some information I found online about how hard it is to actually get through the immigration system. At the bottom of this post is a link to the article I got the information from.
The first thing we need to look at is a flow chart that outlines the process of getting a green card. It looks like this:
Can you understand it? I can’t. Can you imagine how difficult and how long it takes to actually navigate through it?
The second thing I want you to look at is the Family Bulletin showing in February of 2018 the green card applications they are processing for certain countries and the dates that those applications were filed. There are, I understand, two ways to get a visa – for employment or because you have family here.
Here’s a listing of what the categories mean:
F1: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.
F2A: Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents.
F2B: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents.
F3: Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.
F4: Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens.
So let’s look at some examples of how long it takes:
- If you are looking to get a green card and you are not married and your parent (one or both) is a US Citizen and you are from Mexico, if you applied for the green card in July of 1996, the application is finally being processed. That means if you applied for it when you were 10, you are now 32 years old.
- If you are the married child of a US Citizen looking to come from the Philippines and get a green card, you have waited 23 years since you applied. So, let’s say that you got married when you were 20, applied when you were 22, you are now 43 years old. Oh and you and your spouse have since had a couple of children as well. How do they figure into the time line?
The system is broken.
When a system is broken, people try to find another way to work around the system. As someone pointed out to me yesterday, the Pilgrims were dealing with a broken system – so they found a way around and just left.
We need to balance the need for legal protections with a system that does not deny the rights and desires (and frankly in many cases needs) of people who want a better life. Yes, I’m going to mention this – the delays are not necessarily coming for people from Norway who look a lot like the people who currently are the majority in our government. No, the delays are from countries were people don’t look like the “white majority.” Yes that makes me uncomfortable to say but unfortunately, I believe it to be true.
The article that much of this information came from can be found at https://www.kshb.com/%E2%80%A6/why-didnt-syed-jamal-become-a-citizen
Even if you apply the Vanderwell Rule of 50% and say that the numbers in that article are vastly overstated, reduce them by 50%. Is it still legitimate and morally responsible to have people way 12 or 13 years for their application for a green card to be processed (not approved – it might be denied – can you imagine waiting 13 years and then it gets denied?)
Tomorrow (maybe later today), I’ll have a list of resources of people and places you can contact to urge our government to reform immigration and do better than what we have. Because what we have, as we saw last night, separates families, and that’s not right.
I’m not going to get into a lot of the details to protect the other people involved, but I want to tell you a story about a person I met on Tuesday. I met her Tuesday afternoon and we had approximately 15 minutes for “idle conversation.” I introduced myself and apologized because I said I’m good at pronouncing Dutch names (Tom, Paul, James, John, etc……) but I wasn’t sure how to pronounce hers. She smiled and said, “People just call me Susie……”
While she was obviously not what the Census Bureau might consider to be Caucasian, she was also not African or African American. I said to her, “I know you are from Chicago (she said that previously) but I’m curious as to where your family is from.” She proceeded to tell me that her parents immigrated to the United States 40 years ago from India and got married shortly after arriving in the United States and have lived in California ever since.
We chatted a bit about California, where they live in California and where I have relatives and friends in California. As our time for “chatting” was wrapping up, she said to me, “Tom, thank you. I travel a lot for work and in these current times, more often than not, these type of conversations between strangers have not gone well and in many of them have been downright mean, disrespectful and bordering on scary. You have restored my faith in society. Thank you.”
What did I do? Nothing but treat someone with common decency.
I’m sure if we had gotten further into deep conversations, there would be things we don’t agree on. But that doesn’t mean we can’t treat each other with respect.
We’re better than mistreating others because they aren’t “just like us.”
If we aren’t, we should be.
Remember that time when you got mad at your little brother because he was using one of your things?
And you yelled at him and pushed him and he looked at you and sneered and said, “Well, if that’s the way you want to be about it? Take this!” and then proceeded to throw your favorite Lego on the floor and stomp on it?
And then things got really ugly and Dad had to step in?
Retired General David Petraeus spoke last night here in West Michigan and I heard part of it on the news last night. In it, he describes the events of Paris and the surrounding reactions and such as “potential game changers.”
Sort of like that moment when your snotty little brother purposely smashed your Legos? It went from a squabble to all out fighting and got ugly real fast.
The Devil is sort of like your little brother. No, I did NOT say that your little brother is the Devil. The Devil, in the events since last Friday, has basically said to the world and said to Christians everywhere, “So, you think this is bad, then take THAT!”
He elevated his game and it’s a game changer. And I’m not just talking what ISIS did in Paris, I’m talking about the seams that it has “popped” in the Christian world response to it all. ISIS is a tool of the devil and the way that the world has responded unfortunately shows that we’re more like the big brother who either pounds on the little brother or goes and whines to Mom, “Mom, Jimmy stomped on my Lego airplane and broke it!”
So how do we respond? How do we react to what has happened? Do we whine and cry and pull back and fight?
Or do we react with over sensitivity and irrationality?
What would Jesus want us to do?
I know he wouldn’t want us to be the big brother that pounds on the little brother – even if the little brother deserved it. That’s the role of God and of divinely appointed governments to measure out and administer punishment and consequences.
If we react with the same snarling revenge filled attitude and actions as the obnoxious little brother, then we’re no better than them and we did exactly what they wanted us to do.
So how do we react? How do we deal with the questions, the uncertainties and the mess of it all?
I’m going to leave it with that question and then links to some of the better opinions and articles that I’ve read about it recently. I hope you’ll read them and then respond in the way you feel God is calling you.
I think that it’s not an exaggeration to say that the future of the church, the future relevance of the church in life in the first world is in many ways at stake based on how we respond.
Links to read:
John Pavolvitz – he’s written a couple of thought provoking pieces since Paris happened.
Jeremy Courtneyt – “The world is scary as hell. Love anyways.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/11/17/the-world-is-scary-as-hell-love-anyway/
Chris Marlow – http://chrismarlow.me/2015/11/a-response-to-paris/
Sarah Bessey – what to do when you don’t know what to do – http://sarahbessey.com/ordinary-work/