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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Legal and Illegal Immigrants

In some ways the political chatter about immigration issues is more prominent than our economy or the failure to provide employment opportunities for those who want a job. Some 26 states are in the midst of litigations with the United States Attorney General over whether immigration should be enforced at the Federal or State level. The two hottest contests are in Alabama and Arizona. The issue will probably come to the Supreme Court sometime next year – around the same time as health care mandates.

In the meantime, there is another very interesting dimension to people having a desire to come to the United States. Take a look at some of the current statistics.

Right now there are from eight million to 18 million illegal aliens living in this country. The estimates vary, because no one has a real grip on the numbers. That is also pathetic. And every year the estimates are that from 300,000 to 800,000 undocumented immigrants come here each year.

The border issues have been discussed before. But, there is another dimension to the issue about foreigners coming to live in the United States – those who come here legally. Start with the numbers. Between 2000 and 2010, some 14 million foreign residents came here legally. That is around an average of 1.3 million each year or roughly twice the number who come here without any documentation.

But, stay tuned. The issue even becomes more interesting when you examine the waiting time foreigners have before being allowed to come to the United State legally. Even if an immigrant is related to a legal resident here, it can take from four to 17 years for that family member to get a visa! Take a look at just two countries. Depending on the family relationship, and that part of the Immigration Law is extremely complicated, it can take from six to 17 years for a citizen of Mexico to come here legally. If you are a citizen of China and have a family member here, the waiting time can be from four to six years.

While visa preferences are given to professionals who want to come to the U.S., the basic challenge for most immigrants is the waiting time.

Now, there are other options for the wealthy foreigner. If someone from a foreign country comes here and buys a business, that person can come and go to the United States freely because of the ownership of a business.

Adding to business ownership, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have co-sponsored a bill to offer “residential visas” to immigrants purchasing $500,000 of real estate in the United States. That amount must include a primary residence of at least $250,000 with the remainder or more being spent on investment properties.

If after reading this column you are confused, welcome to the club. Oh, and remember that if a non-resident comes to the United States and gives birth to a baby, that child becomes a United States citizen immediately.


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