"Why Couldn't They Just Come Here The Legal Way?"

"Why Couldn't They Just Come Here The Legal Way?"

No one wants to cross a deadly desert while trying to avoid getting shot by border patrol unless they really have to.
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“Why couldn’t they just come here the legal way?” It is a question that I have heard a little too often asked by Americans who are completely oblivious of the process involved in actually immigrating to the United States.

I am an American citizen and have been in this country since I was 10. However, the process to emigrate here from Pakistan (legally) started even before I was born. While I was fortunate enough to live those 10 years safely surrounded by some of the best people I know, others aren’t nearly as lucky. The wait times since the time of application vary significantly from a couple months to 15 years. The people eligible to apply fall in three categories which are further divided into preferences that determine how long they would have to wait. The three categories are immediate relatives, family preferences and employment preferences. In my case, we fell in the third preference sphere of the second category which has an average wait time of eight years; add in a Muslim last name and the time increases by a couple more years in this post 9/11 era.

The wait times also depend on the country the applicant is applying from, and according to nationally acclaimed immigration law firm of Litwin & Smith, the Philippines and Mexico have “longer family preference backlogs than the rest of the countries in the world.”

If a Mexican family applies through a family member in the U.S., they not only have to wait the usual eight years, but additional years due to increased amount of backlogs. On top of that, China, India, Philippines and Mexico also max out on their annual visa quotas the fastest, therefore families, “have a greater likelihood of having to wait longer to be able to immigrate than persons in the same preference category from other countries.”

Keep in mind the Mexico, the Philippines, India and China all fall in the top 10 countries where US receives most of its illegal immigrants. Coincidence? I think not.

Now you might ask, “But why can’t they just wait it out? I mean, if they really want to come, might as well do it the right way.” Unfortunately, time is a luxury most of these people cannot afford. Since almost half of undocumented immigrants come from Mexico, let’s focus on a couple of those cities and see if we can determine the cause of that.

The Mexican city of Juarez, which borders El Paso, is one of the deadliest cities in the world, averaging about two murders per day at one point in 2015, renaming it to the “Valley of Death.” The murder rates are alarmingly high with approximately 54,600 young children with no school to go to. But that’s just one city, right? How about Nuevo Laredo? It’s the town bordering Laredo, Texas. Well, according to the US Overseas Security Advisory Council, Laredo has an extreme violence problem with security being a huge issue. The cartels have made it extremely unsafe to travel by any major roads in that area.

How do you tell a parent to risk their children’s lives and patiently wait for 15 years when there’s better life 20 miles across? How do you tell a young man who just lost his sibling to senseless violence without any means to support the family to wait for 15 years? Yes, I understand that the U.S. cannot take responsibility for every country that’s failing to provide for its citizen due to corruption. Yes, I also understand that we have our own veterans and homeless people to take care of before that of other nations.

A key factor people are forgetting is that illegal immigrants aren’t living in this country for free. According to a new study from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants pay almost $12 billion dollars in taxes through property, sales,or excise taxes. Twelve billion dollars is no small amount. Not only that, but the study also finds that over 75 percent also pay in for the social security benefits that they do not even receive. They overpay, yet are underpaid and exploited for their services by selfish business owners using their vulnerable status against them. Nevertheless, this article isn’t about that. It is about people casually commenting on a complicated process they do not understand.

Furthermore, if you are a legal immigrant who has been through this process but still wonders why the undocumented immigrants couldn’t follow in your righteous steps, please ask yourself the following questions: Did you or your ancestors come here before 2001? If yes, feel lucky that you made it here before the laws toughened. Did you come from any of those countries listed above with backlogs or the Middle East? If no, feel lucky that you are not competing with thousands others fighting to have a shot at a better life. If yes, then also consider yourself lucky that you were not in a critical situation that allowed you to wait long years without the risk of death looming around your family.

Look, I am not advocating in favor of illegal immigration; a lawless country can never be great. However, what I am doing is answering the ever-so-ignorant question asked with privilege without knowing the right information pertaining to this issue. No one wants to cross a deadly desert in unbearable southern heat while trying to avoid getting shot by the border patrol unless they really have to. On top of that, as soon as they enter this country, they are instantly dehumanized by their newfound status and inability to speak the language. As great as this country is, no one willingly wants to lose their dignity as they hear the constant insults by their bosses who take advantage of them and say nothing in return fearing that their kids will lose their golden opportunity.

Next time someone around you argues, “Why couldn’t they just come here the legal way?” Tell them that between the desperate choice of living with morality and simply living, they chose the latter.

Cover Image Credit: Vox

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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