New York Daily Photo Analytics

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Knock, Knock.


New York is a city of immigrants, very unlike the rest of the country. It is estimated that approximately 40% of the city's population is foreign born, as contrasted with only 11% of the United States overall.

New York has always been a point of entry for a multitude of immigrants. One need look no further than Ellis Island - 12 million people entered the United States in a period of 62 years.

There has been a substantial growth in the immigrant population - in 1970, the proportion of foreign born in New York was less than 18%. The 40% number of immigrants in New York City today has not been seen since 1910, at the peak of the 1880-1920 wave of immigration.
Many attribute this in part to the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots worldwide, with many people from underdeveloped nations looking to emigrate to the United States and other more economically advanced countries.

Dealing with immigration has been an eye opening process. Like everything else, there is theory and there is practice, and the reality of immigration, citizenship, green cards, visas etc. are academic until you are somehow involved.

Recently, I accompanied a friend for an interview with the USCIS at 26 Federal Plaza. The process was very bureaucratic, as would be expected - the immigration official was looking for very specific things and was rather dismissive of the evidence provided.

Of course, then there is the very real world of immigrants. Speaking to attorneys working in the field and immigrants themselves, it surprised me to learn that even when an immigrant has illegal status and this is known by the immigration authorities, in New York City, these immigrants will generally not be pursued. Unless the individual is arrested for other reasons, deportation is unlikely. On April 11, 2006, I photographed and wrote about a demonstration of illegal aliens and immigrants. It was both surprising and ironic to see people whose very status was illegal make this known publicly by their active participation in a march.

Historically, the United States has been a Beacon of Hope and a magnet for those seeking opportunity and a better life. Recently, however, I have heard a number of people both here and outside the country say that there is greater opportunity now in parts of Asia than here at home.

I know of individuals who have left to return home. I have read other articles about how America will never be the same, that our economic hegemony is finished. Perhaps our Lady of Liberty is a little tarnished, the magnet no longer pulls as hard, and when a land of opportunity says Knock, Knock, we may have to answer, Who's There?

7 comments:

Someone Said said...

I think my wife and I were lucky that it only took her about fifteen months from start to finish to get her green card. I imagine it was easier that she was coming from the UK instead of an 'unfriendlier' country. There were so many forms, paperwork to fill out and, yes, money to spend. Not a process for the impatient.

Brian Dubé said...

Someone Said - Marriage is still the best route of entry and in many cases the only route. But the conditions and process are still not easy.

Thérèse said...

Though United States is in need of young people to be able to support the retirement of the increasing older generation... and they are acting in this direction too.

Brian Dubé said...

Therese - I have heard this is a serious problem in Europe and other countries.

alphachapmtl said...

I have been trying for 30 years to emigrate to US from Canada, but was never allowed, cause I have no family there. The US has lost an educated scientist, but I also have lost because I was denied an opportunity I was striving for.
Knock Knock I said, we don't care so get lost they said.
What a shame.

Brian Dubé said...

alphachapmtl - that is a shame and highlights the fundamental unfairness of the whole process. Things are not really based much on potential contribution and also badly tarnishes the whole concept of America as a land of opportunity, particularly for someone lik yourself who has something to offer.

Anonymous said...

The problem with immigration barriers is alot of undesirables have come here illegally and now they are punishing all who try to enter the USA. So many good people are being denied entry so as try to make up for the past mistakes of allowing entry to anyone in.