The Adelante Volunteer Journey Serving and growing together!
Sara Forsythe shares about volunteering in Adelante Arts Community.
Volunteer Journey: A Primer on U.S. Immigration
With the midterm elections last week and the approaching caravan from Central America, it's not surprising that immigration has been in the news a lot the last few weeks. There was talk of an invasion; troops were sent to the border; an executive order was signed changing the legal process for seeking asylum, and the President suggested that he may use an executive order to end "birthright citizenship." Our study of Soerens' and Yang's book, Welcoming the Stranger comes at a perfect time! This edition of the Volunteer Journey will contain highlights and a summary of chapters 2-4, which provide a critical base of knowledge about immigration that can help us build a well-informed understanding of the issues facing us today.
The authors continue in Chapter 2 by addressing the question, "who are undocumented immigrants?". In doing so, they differentiate between naturalized citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and undocumented immigrants. Using the stories of Pedro and Martha and Francisco and Allison, they paint a picture of the everyday struggles and decisions that undocumented immigrants face. They describe some of the many reasons immigrants come to the U.S., why some may come illegally and why others may overstay their visas. The authors reveal some of the struggles of "mixed-status families" and talk through a common misconception that suggests that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes. And what about young people who came to the U.S. illegally with their parents and grew up here? Soerens and Yang give us a picture into the unique situation of the approximately 800,000 young immigrants known as "Dreamers", who qualified for President Obama's program called "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals."
"Understanding the history of immigration to the United States will help us have a perspective on how to view and act toward newer immigrants entering the United States." (p.65) The overview presented in Chapter 3 of our book is a fascinating look at our history as it relates to immigration. The authors organize the thoughts chronologically, highlighting key legislative markers along the way. I'll list them here as a reference, but you'll have to read the book to get the details! "Immigration has always been and will remain a defining issue for the United States of America." (p.65)
The Early Days
The first great European wave: 1820-1860
Indian Removal Act: 1830
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: 1848
Chinese Immigration and Exclusion: 1848-1890
The Second Great European wave: 1880-1920
The Quota System: 1924-1965
The Bracero Program: 1942-1964
The 1965 Reforms
Immigration from the 1970's to today
The Refugee Act of 1980
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
Over my years at Mission Adelante I've heard countless people ask, "why don't they just come legally?" In chapter 4 the authors discuss our current immigration system and the pathways to legal status in the U.S. To summarize, there are four basic categories of immigrant visas.
Employment-based: Available by petition by a U.S. employer, there is a numerical limit and "the majority of these visas are reserved for individuals who have extraordinary or exceptional ability."
Family-based: Based on close family relationships with the intention of reuniting families.
Diversity Visas: A set number visas distributed by a random lottery of qualifying entrants from underrepresented countries.
Refugees and Asylees: Immigration status granted based on a "well-founded fear of being persecuted" for a handful of specific factors.
With the basic foundation of knowledge presented in these chapters, you will be much better equipped to filter through and process most of the information that is talked about so often these days. If you'd like to jump in on this study, here's the plan. It's not too late!
Volunteer Journey Lunch-And-Learn
Thursday, December 6th, 11:30-1:00
Please mark your calendars! For those who would like to discuss what you're learning on your journey and/or through your reading of Welcoming the Stranger, we will be hosting a "lunch and learn" for all volunteers. Lunch will be brought in from a local restaurant, so we will need to get an accurate count. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you're coming!