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A positive outcome of Melania's immigration status

Posted by on Aug. 6, 2016 at 11:33 AM
  • 6 Replies
Melania Trump, An All-American Immigrant

BY ESTHER YU-HSI LEE AUG 5, 2016 11:46 AM

Melania Trump, who was born in Slovenia, may have worked in the United States illegally when she first arrived on a tourist visa in 1995, according to reporting from Bloomberg and Politico. The suggestion that Melania may have violated her visa — technically making her an “illegal immigrant” by the standards of politicians who use that term — has become a relevant political story given her husband Donald Trump’s bombastic attacks on immigrants during his presidential campaign.

But Melania — who eventually received a green card in 2001 before becoming a citizen in 2006 — is just as American as she purports to be. Even if she did work here without legal permission, her experience is shared by millions of people who have unwittingly violated U.S. immigration law.

That’s because the bureaucratic nightmare of the outdated U.S. immigration system has been unable to keep up with the modern demands of migration.

“The immigration system is archaic, it’s rigid, it’s family unfriendly,” David Leopold, an immigration lawyer and the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told ThinkProgress. “Donald Trump, in particular, likes to talk about how ‘I like when people come to the country legally’… His wife’s situation should be an example to him about how difficult and sometimes impossible it is to come to the United States legally, so it forces good people to do bad things.”

First of all, it’s very difficult to get a visa to immigrate to the United States. There are limited avenues that allow people to enter the United States legally, and all of them have strict quotas.

For instance, some news reports indicate that Melania may have at some point held an H-1B visa for foreign workers with specialty occupations, which would have allowed her to work. This visa isn’t easy to get. There is an annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas, and the lottery fills up within a month every year.

Green cards aren’t much better. They’re capped at 140,000 every year — a total that includes applicants and their immediate family members, which makes the actual applicant pool much smaller. Green cards also have a per-country limit so any one country is limited to seven percent of the worldwide level of U.S. immigrant admissions, according to the policy organization American Immigration Council.

Other immigrants who have to wait years to get into the country legally includes refugees, some of whom are the current targets of political talking points thanks to fears of terrorism threats. The U.S. has set an annual 100,000 visa cap for this category, but the government’s pledge to resettle 10,000 Syrians has thus far fallen short.
In addition to a lack of visas, there are currently half a million cases backlogged in the federal immigration court system, according to the latest Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) statistics. These cases are also expected to take years to process.

And even after entering the country legally, it can be very hard to accurately maintain the complicated documents needed to preserve a legal immigrant status.
“It’s probably easier than one might think to fall out of status,” Michele Waslin, a senior researcher and policy analyst at American Immigration Council (AIC), told ThinkProgress. “There’s this myth where many people say ‘my family came here legally, we did it the right way,’ but if you look historically, there are many, many instances of people arriving in the United States extralegally.”
Waslin pointed to the case of some international students who may need to work in the U.S. to support their studies, but are restricted in the number of hours they can work every week while school is in session. International students are also required to maintain a certain number of credits to maintain their immigration status, or risk having their visas revoked.

In a 2008 Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) discussion paper looking at immigrants who essentially “did it the right way” and received their green cards, researchers found that at least 30.7 percent of those immigrants had “illegal experiences” — meaning they used to be people who entered the border without papers, overstayed their visas, or had unauthorized employment.

A 2003 report by the Public Policy Institute of California similarly found that 33 percent of Californian green card holders had “at some time been in this country as unauthorized residents (either as illegal border crossers or visa overstayers).”

Donald Trump can finally realize how immigration can touch a family because now it’s touched his.

Immigrant rights groups like Define American have already seized on the news about Melania’s potential work history to pressure her husband to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a broken immigration system.

“Melania Trump is part of a long and storied lineage of immigrants who, in search of a better life and future, have bravely immigrated here, worked hard and proved, time and again, that immigrants make America great,” Jose Antonio Vargas, the founder of Define American and an undocumented immigrant himself, wrote in a press release. Vargas started a petition asking Melania to “come out” and share her own immigration story with the country.
There are some examples in U.S. history of giving relief to immigrants who entered the country illegally. An American Immigration Council report also notes that 115,000 European and Canadian immigrants may have benefited from “amnesties” such as the 1929 Registry Act, which allowed some “honest law-abiding alien[s]” with “good moral character” to become permanent residents by paying a fine of $20. But some 90 years later, that policy — echoed in the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill in 2013 — was shot down by congressional Republicans.

“If there’s an upside to any of this, maybe it’s that Donald Trump can finally realize how immigration can touch a family because now it’s touched his,” Leopold said
by on Aug. 6, 2016 at 11:33 AM
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Replies (1-6):
annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Aug. 6, 2016 at 7:24 PM
3 moms liked this
I agree with author on all points except:

Sorry I disagree with MT portrayed as "hard working immigrant"
She used her looks to marty a rich man and made a good life for herself - which is fine, but that is NOT a bravery or hard work. That is just some ambition and luck.

She is portrayed by DT and his supporters as intelligent independent educated woman. But time and time again she is proving she is an opposite.
coolmommy2x
by Platinum Member on Aug. 6, 2016 at 10:34 PM
1 mom liked this
The Donald seems to think he knows everything so I doubt he's learned anything from this.
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Hopnpop
by on Aug. 6, 2016 at 10:38 PM

Water under the bridge Imo. We aren't voting for her. It's between Donald and Hillary. Keep in mind, the one that wins has the power to blow us all to kingdom come if he or she, so chooses to do so. 

msb64
by Platinum Member on Aug. 6, 2016 at 10:53 PM

Do you feel that spouses in no way shape and form a candidate's policy?  

Quoting Hopnpop:

Water under the bridge Imo. We aren't voting for her. It's between Donald and Hillary. Keep in mind, the one that wins has the power to blow us all to kingdom come if he or she, so chooses to do so. 


Hopnpop
by on Aug. 6, 2016 at 10:58 PM

Sure, Eleanor Roosevelt is a perfect example. Bill Clinton was president before. So, there is influence, but we are talking about Malena trump. Lol. 

Quoting msb64:

Do you feel that spouses in no way shape and form a candidate's policy?  

Quoting Hopnpop:

Water under the bridge Imo. We aren't voting for her. It's between Donald and Hillary. Keep in mind, the one that wins has the power to blow us all to kingdom come if he or she, so chooses to do so. 



tanyainmizzou
by on Aug. 7, 2016 at 7:35 AM

Too bad she was legal.

Everyone needs to be legally here.

Period.

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