“Immigrants” are not a homogenous group. Legal immigrants have obtained U.S. citizenship, are on work, student or travel visas, or refugees; either individual asylum seekers or those accepted from U.N. High Commission on Refugees.
Illegal immigrants have overstayed their visas or have entered the country without visas.
A separate immigration issue exists because there are about 20 million visitors to the U.S. annually from 38 countries who are not required to have a visa per the U.S. State Department Visa Waiver program. Some of them are overstaying their visas.
All discussion of immigrants should first specify which category is being addressed. Lumping all immigrants together prevents us from truly understanding the contributions these immigrants are making to the U.S. economy and culture. Because immigrants have been grouped together as one, some have been able to misrepresent immigrants as “rapists ... terrorists.”
This is having tragic results, such as valid work visa holding engineers killed in a bar or deportation raids on Idaho farms, etc.
Understanding the categories should clarify concerns and facilitate humane solutions.
For example, some illegal immigrants should be offered a path to citizenship and/or valid work visas because they have been law-abiding and hard-working members of our society.
Dr. Laura Tirrell, Boise