Politics and Public Opinion

A political scientist’s take on the immigration process

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

The vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, Darrell West, has a great essay taking the reader “inside the immigration process.”  Well, at least, inside the immigration process as Dr. West and his wife personally experienced it.

At a time when national leaders are debating ways to reform immigration laws, most Americans would be shocked to know what actually happens inside the current process. As a native-born resident, I had no idea until I married a German woman and sought to get her citizenship. I assumed marrying an American automatically made her a citizen and that administrative approval would be simple and straight-forward.

So it was a surprise when the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected her citizenship application on grounds we weren’t actually married. We had been married for five years and assumed that sending the agency a copy of the marriage license along with other bits of evidence would document our union. With this highly bureaucratic organization, though…

Dr. West concludes:

We should resurrect the view from long ago that immigrants help America. At the ceremony, I recalled why I had put a picture of famed physicist Albert Einstein on my immigration book cover. I wanted to remind readers that immigrants have made valuable contributions to U.S. commerce, entertainment, cuisine, and innovation. Half of the Silicon Valley companies founded in the last decade had an immigrant founder or co-founder. What if Google were based in Russia, eBay were in France, Yahoo were in Taiwan, and Intel were in Hungary? The American economy would look a whole lot weaker if Sergey Brin, Pierre Omidyar, Jerry Wang, and Andrew Grove had developed their transformative ideas in their home countries and not come to America.

I encourage you to read the entire essay, which can be found here.

Michael R. Strain is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.  Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/michaelrstrain.

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