From: Liz Nolan-Greven

Columbus

I often wonder why people lack compassion toward the plight of immigrants in this country. Perhaps they don’t understand how complex immigration is and how broken our current system is.

Although the last several executive administrations have encouraged Congress to fix our immigration system, making it fair for all, Congress does nothing that makes any difference to the hundreds of thousands of folks affected by their lack of attention.

Many people, including many legal immigrants, and the children of immigrants (DACA) are being used as pawns in a politically corrupt game played by our legislators. It is shameful and maddening. Knowing many immigrants and working with immigrants over many years, and listening to professionals discuss this topic, I have some idea of how complicated and difficult the U.S. immigration system is.

Due to our broken system, many people are stuck in limbo. The visa process is backed up by years. And it is not possible, as some would have you believe, to bring adult family members to the U.S. without a very long-term effort, expense and a lot of paperwork.

I think it’s important for Americans to understand that those who leave home to come live in the U.S. without a visa are often fleeing economic, physical and political realities that make them desperate to leave. Sometimes unimaginable violence. They are looking for a better life for their families. If they overstay their visa or come without one, they cannot just go home or get in line as they are barred from re-entry for sometimes more than 10 years, and that would mean leaving their life and family members behind.

It’s a no-win situation. Even if they marry an American citizen, they cannot necessarily gain citizenship themselves. Imagine living in the limbo of not knowing whether you are going to be ripped from your family, sent back to an unstable country, or have to give up your job and livelihood.

Like our ancestors, whether Irish, Italian, East European, German, Japanese, Chinese or anything else, recent immigrants are simply looking for a future for their children that is stable and safe. Immigrants enhance and enrich our country and our culture. They should be allowed to find a path to citizenship and follow their dreams without being punished for pursuing happiness.

What Congress should do is create bipartisan true immigration reform that makes sense for all. As has always been true, there is a great need for immigrants in this country, both to continuously enrich our society, but also to enhance our workforce.

If our government plans to create a 3 percent growth plan yet also plans to remove undocumented and documented immigrants, I wonder who is going to do that work? The fact is that we need both skilled and unskilled labor in this economy, which is at 4.1 percent unemployment.

Now imagine how it would be if we continued to be the country of immigrants that we were meant to be through fair, compassionate, and effective immigration policy.