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Immigration Laws Have It All Backward

May 8, 2014 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

You have to move heaven and earth to get a Green Card, but becoming a citizen of the U.S. is comparatively easy. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

I’ve wanted to be an American ever since I can remember. I was born in Moscow and escaped to Canada with my family when I was 4. Like most Russian-Jewish immigrants, I was a fervent anti-communist and naturally looked to the United States as a beacon for the free world, the place where rule of law flourished.

In middle school, I pledged allegiance to the Star-Spangled Banner every morning at my locker, and, to this day, my childhood bedroom sports framed copies of the founding documents (and two American flags I picked up on a school trip at Bill Clinton’s first inaugural parade). I soon decided that I prefer “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to Canada’s “peace, order, and, good government.”

You have to move heaven and earth to get a Green Card, but becoming a citizen of the U.S. is comparatively easy. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”

After attending college in the United States, then law school, interning for a senator, working on a presidential campaign, and clerking for a federal judge, I practiced law at two major firms in Washington. Still, I was no closer to a green card—the right to permanent residence—because I had not yet worked for an employer who could establish that no American had the “minimal qualifications” for my job. (And there was no way to simply “apply” for a green card because I didn’t have a U.S.-citizen relative, wasn’t a refugee, and didn’t qualify for the “diversity lottery.”)

I finally got my green card—through my current employer and after having volunteered to go to Iraq as a rule-of-law adviser—in 2009 after spending nearly 15 years (my entire adult life) in this country. It was easier for my family to leave the Soviet Union and immigrate to Canada! Indeed, earning a law degree and joining the Supreme Court bar was more straightforward than getting a green card!

With five years about to pass—it’s three for those who get green cards through marriage—I put in my naturalization papers. In February I was fingerprinted for a criminal-background check, and last week went in for my naturalization interview.

At this interview, the examiner first verifies your identity and confirms what you submitted in …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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