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Trump’s 2nd wall: Immigration backlog

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Remember those “pop quizzes” in high school and college classes? I do! They always put the fear of the divine in me if I had not done my homework reading assignment.

Well, here is a pop quiz for you who are reading this article.

• 1. What do we call the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution?

• 2. How many U.S. senators are there?

• 3. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

• 4. What territory did the U.S. purchase from France in 1803?

The answers can be found at the end of this column.

How did you do?

If you are an immigrant seeking to become a U.S. citizen, you must know the answers to these and the 96 similar questions related to U.S. history and its society.

In addition, there are tests on the English language, both spoken and written, which must be passed before citizenship is granted.

Let’s talk facts about the burning issue of our U.S. immigration policy and its impact right here in Johnston County as well as our entire nation.

The “line” of immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship is becoming longer. A backlog has developed dramatically since President Trump took office and immigrant advocates say this has become the Trump administration’s “second wall.”

According to the most recent government statistics, there are an estimated 750,000 pending applications for citizenship. This is double the number in 2014.

There is one fact that must be understood under current U.S. immigration laws as related to an immigrant becoming a U.S. citizen: there is no way to correct an undocumented status!

In reality, there is no “line” for immigrants to get into to become a U.S. citizen. Generally speaking, there are only three paths to U.S. citizenship under current law: Employer-based immigration, family-based immigration and asylum.

This outdated, rigid and very poorly constructed system of immigration laws make it nearly impossible for undocumented immigrants to fix their status. This is true regardless of whether a person arrived in the United States on a lawful visa and later fell out of legal status or whether he or she entered without lawful inspection by U.S. immigration officials.

This is because when people enter the U.S. illegally or overstay their visa, the law denies them the right to apply for legal immigration from inside the country. For the vast majority of undocumented immigrants, these outdated and rigid immigration laws offer very few if any options for forgiveness.

To make matters worse, Attorney General William Barr has added another layer of brick and mortar to this “second wall.” Several days ago, Barr decided that asylum-seekers who clear a “credible fear” interview and are facing removal don’t have the right to be released on bond by an immigration court while their case is pending.

This decision will result in the unlawful detention of thousands of human beings. The U.S. Constitution does not allow the government to lock up people without due process. To quote Sarah Pierce, policy analyst for the Migration Policy Institute, “This has been a really unprecedented use of power to influence the immigration system.”

Not only have we become a nation that seems comfortable tearing innocent children from their mothers and placing them in wire cages, we are now a nation comfortable with thumbing our noses at constitutional law.

Answers: 1. The Bill of Rights 2. 100 3. Thomas Jefferson 4. The Louisiana Territory

Edward “Ned” Walsh of Princeton is a retired Baptist denominational worker who served as executive director of Johnston County Habitat for Humanity from 2004-08.

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