Americans often ask: Why don’t undocumented immigrants simply come to the U.S. legally or just “get in line?”
A new Reason Foundation chart addresses the question head-on by detailing how complicated the immigration maze is, demonstrating the countless requirements that must be met, and the red tape that must be navigated.
Not only is the maze to US citizenship long and grueling, overly restrictive legal limits on green cards mean that virtually all undocumented immigrants have no alternative for legal entry to the U.S. Our laws have not been updated in nearly 20 years and there are only limited avenues for securing legal immigration status.
Opinion surveys of undocumented immigrants indicate that, if given a choice, 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. Those here illegally generally do not qualify as refugees unless they come from a handful of countries experiencing political unrest. Finally, most undocumented immigrants do not work in professions that qualify for a green card. The annual number of green cards for low-skilled workers is extraordinarily small and insufficient for America’s enormous economy, which depends on high-, medium-, and low-skilled workers.
Essentially, there is no “line” for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants.