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The Nation We Deserve

The (Too) Long and Winding Road to Citizenship

America, it's often noted, is a nation of immigrants, but it also seems an area in which Americans are deeply and acrimoniously divided. In many ways this is true, there are currently real division divisions in America centering around what exactly it means to balance safety and security with humane treatment of all those who come to our borders, and even though most Americans agree that some kind of major immigration reform is necessary, the proposed solutions can vary greatly. However, a lot of this disagreement may come down to a fundamental misunderstanding of what the real state of immigration and border security actually is in this country. Case-in-point are two recent examples from a YouGov poll: First, was comparing American’s perception of the number of immigrants entering the country annually versus real data, and how this affected people’s perception of desired immigration levels. Unsurprisingly, many Americans believe that many more people immigrate each year than the data suggests. In fact, only around 1 million people (~0.3%) are added each year to our 300 million residents. When many Americans learn this fact, they are willing to allow more immigrants into the country each year, although to be fair this tendency is accentuated in the youth. Even more pronounced results came from the second YouGov poll, which asked Americans about their knowledge of the green card process. In one question, people were asked to estimate how long it would take for a Mexican sibling of a U.S. citizen to have their green-card application approved. Americans responded: Less than 1 year: 60% Less than three years: 78% Less than seven years: 94% In reality, some sources estimate it takes around 14 to 16 years to process a visa for siblings of U.S. citizens, though for siblings coming from Mexico it’s estimated to take even longer – at least 20 years. When asked how long they think it should take to process a sibling green card, two-thirds of Americans said it should take one year or less. This is a good example of how ignorance and propaganda can be used to mislead many Americans even when clearly our laws are wildly out of step with how the American people think they should be. We must fight to make sure that we have a country that is functional, welcoming, and that lives up to the melting pot promise that we were all taught in school. This is a nation of immigrants, a nation made stronger by immigrants. One that believes we can and should make a place for new members in our society when they come seeking a better life in our land. We need to recapture that welcoming spirit, and harness it, not just as a theoretical ideal, but as a lived practice in our laws and in our culture. When we do so, we will be a stronger, more vibrant, and more democratic country. So, join us each Tuesday in growing solidarity as we fight for those in the shadows, those without representation, and make sure that we build a robust and simple path to citizenship, so that everyone who seeks it, can live an American dream worth wanting. #DSOT #UPM

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