The Problem and Solution to Illegal Immigration in the US (part 2.)

(NOTE: This is Part 2. of a 3-Part Article. Click Here for Part 1. And Click Here for Part 3. Or Click Here to Read the 3-Part Article in its’ Entirety.)

School Letter of Admission into the Film Program at Los Angeles City College, 1992. Necessary for 5-Year Student Visa.

So, there are the “Illegal Entries,” who are solely focused on in the media and by both the former Obama and the current Trump administration, when “pathways to US Citizenships,” or lack thereof, are discussed at all. (The DACA program which got indefinitely stalled was not a pathway to US Citizenship but a temporary relief program, although I find it hard to imagine that one would one not somehow become eligible for citizenship after the program expired. We’ll never know for sure, I guess.)

And there are the “Legal Entries,” those who paid their fees to enter and be here legally and became undocumented after all, since marriage is realistically the only way to stay in legal status, and they have not all married US Citizens for a variety of reasons, (in my case specifically DOMA as an LGBTQ person,) and are completely left hanging by this country, the media and the supposed immigration activists who vowed to fight on all our behalves.

The LGBTQ community amongst the “Legal Entries” in particular, making up a tiny fraction only, has been the only group who has been federally discriminated by the US government in legal immigration through exclusion policies, specifically the Defense Of Marriage Act of 1996, and struck down in 2015.

(The LGBTQ community amongst the “Illegal Entries” do not fall under this group, as their illegal entry prevents them from Adjustment-Of-Status through marriage to a US citizen exactly because of their entering the country illegally, considered a civil infraction and requiring a “Consular Processing” outside of the US.)

Needless to say this stance has not made me exactly popular with the “Illegal Entries,” DACA/DAPA recipients primarily, with mostly but not exclusively Latin backgrounds. But immigration should not be a popularity game and I prefer rationality over popularity in addressing the problems with this current US immigration system. There are irrational appeals to the US public abound in this “immigration debate,” including the notion that these “Illegal Entries” are otherwise law abiding people, and while crossing the border illegally itself is not a crime but a Civil Infraction, they do often violate a number of other laws as well once here, most notably driving with fake or invalid licenses, which makes them somewhat dangerous on the road.

Also, people who have not been assigned a real Social Security number or another temporary Alien Registration Number sometimes make up numbers to pay income taxes when working illegally, since one simply has to pay taxes. If a number is made up and happens to match a real number belonging to a US Citizen, it would be identity theft. So while these are not crimes in the violent sense, they could constitute serious offenses, with serious consequences for others, usually US Citizens.

Lastly, a lot of “Illegal Entries” have US Citizen children, meaning they created families in the US while being here illegally, which is highly irresponsible towards children, and this isn’t ever mentioned by anyone. Just like sending unaccompanied children across the border, in desperate measures, is actually endangering children and highly irresponsible. Because the US Immigration system is a Family Law based system, they indeed create families with the idea of US Citizenship sponsorship through them in mind. The media has referred to this phenomenon with this insulting term “anchor babies,” but this method is not untrue given the current US Immigration system rules.

The “Legal Entries” are often European, Canadian and Australian and therefore dismissed as having white privilege on top, by these very DACA recipients and their activist friends. (A lot of the “Legal Entries” are in fact also Asian.) But white privilege works primarily in one’s favor when it comes down to racial profiling by the US authorities, while walking or driving down the street. It doesn’t do much more for anyone who is actually trying to do something more than just walk down the street, like have a life of some sort and be able to support oneself.

Also, not everyone from “white”/Western countries is actually white. So, white or not, “privilege” is no solution to a fair pathway to legalization. (I am myself not white, or at least only partially white, and mostly mistaken for Latin, especially by the authorities. In the 25 years I’ve been here I have never been recognized for what I actually am, Dutch-Indonesian, as in Dutch-Indonesian on my mother’s side and Dutch on my father’s side. Pre-9/11 I was usually thought of as Italian American and from the East Coast, and Post-9/11 mostly Latin and sometimes Arabic, which should explain something about racial politics in the US.)

Revisiting the Past for my LGBTQ Immigration Documentary: ‘THE QUEER CASE FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS: From International Film Student to Queer and Undocumented’ (2016.) My Old Street of 1993, Horizon Ave., Venice Beach, CA.
Santa Monica, 1998
San Francisco, 1993.

It simply comes down to this, the US was founded in principle on the Constitution, (and yes at the expense of Native Americans and Black people,) but it is supposed to follow the US Constitution in all matters pertaining the US, (the right interpretation of the Constitution that is, which excludes the false notion that this country was in any way founded on religion, and Christianity in particular. It was not.)

This country was founded on the notion of Individual Rights, and this extends itself to US immigration, as this is also an American matter, (as is US foreign policy.)

The US and its’ Constitution was never founded on the principles of family, a bloodline-based system that is, and the very system which divided all of European nations historically into nobles and servants, which made royalty out of military dictators and left the rest of the population at their mercy and in their service.

The Constitution is fair in its’ interpretation of what is morally right in establishing the Rights to Life, Liberty, (Private Property of one’s own person, one’s mind and body,) and the Pursuit of Happiness, (something which Europe eventually developed through the Age of Enlightenment, around the 17th century, after centuries of violence and famine on European soil, and which got carried over to the original 13 Colonies of the US when the Founding Fathers come over here to escape the dictatorship England had become.)

San Francisco Hotel Room, 1995.
Hollywood, 2016.
Income Taxes From 2001. I Worked at the Arthouse Theater Chain The Laemmle Theatres from 1993–2001.

The principle of Individual Rights is rooted in the notion of rationality, of reason, the very thing which is supposed to be humanity’s only guidance to existing in an otherwise animalistic world, in which the opposite principle rules, “kill or be killed.” We were not made to kill. We were supposed to evolve using our mental capacity for reasoning, which includes the ability to form moral judgements, have long term memory and develop language and art.

It thus follows that any truly fair and comprehensive immigration reform rests of the Principle of Individual Rights, a fair merit-based system, (one which relies on emotional and intellectual intelligence,) and not marriage and bloodline, (US Citizenship sponsorship through spouses, parents, children, siblings,) as it currently works.

None of the existing Visas, other than those based on “exceptional ability,” or lots of money, like the “Artist” Visa and the “Investors” Visa respectively, requiring fame in one’s own country or about half a million in US investments, lead to US Citizenship, so not the non-immigrant Tourist- and Student Visas, nor the low-skilled and high-skilled Immigrant Work Visas.

The US Embassies abroad will not explain this to anyone applying and in fact mislead them into thinking a pathway to Permanent Residence or US Citizenship is available over time, leaving marriage to a US Citizen as the only option realistically available, and which obviously has to be real, but is in turn scrutinized through the Immigration Marriage Fraud Act of 1986.

The US will also not inform you of any options available in the unfortunate circumstance a foreigner falls prey to abuse from US Citizens, whether random individuals, employers or spouses. Spousal abuse falls under the Violence Against Women Act and all other abuse under the U-Visa.

The current Trump administration is in fact so against foreigners having any rights at all it came up with a counter-program accusing foreigners of US Citizen’s abuse instead.

And long before the Trump administration the US itself has given the false idea that Work Visas, which are either low-skilled or high-skilled temporary Visas, could lead to permanent immigration, and this is absolutely not true, which is the primary reason a lot of the “Legal Entries” have overstayed, not because they simply had a Tourist Visa and decided they did not want to go home after all, although there are those people amongst the “Legal Entries” as well.

Others have actually invested years of their time and tons of money in extending their Work Visas in the hopes something would lead to permanence in the US, to only be duped by the US Government instead.

It is completely common to hear the term immigration thrown around and actually talk about temporary guest worker programs only, and no one will spell out that these work programs do not ever lead to US Citizenship. The US Embassy abroad plays into this exact same lie, and so the common loophole known amongst US Citizens and foreigners alike is marriage between the two as the only way to stay. US Citizens have taken enormous advantage of this system and there is even a business built around this form of human trafficking, often for sex purposes since it revolves around marriage, called the “mail order bride business.”

Obviously mostly foreign women fall victim to this scam, but it can also happen to men. It is in fact so common that in 1994 Joe Biden signed a piece of legislation into office to combat this cruel practice, called the Violence Against Women Act, (VAWA,) and any foreigner who feels they have been coerced into marriage and suffered abuse should seek to apply under it.

As someone who fell victim to forced opposite-sex marital abuse at the hands of a US husband myself, while very confident in my lesbian identity and my purpose for being here as a film student, I highly recommend any foreigner, especially female to seriously look into all their legal options with an immigration lawyer before considering moving to the US. This is truly a warning of sorts because your life as a foreigner will be ruined entirely. Do not think you don’t need to know your legal options well in advance and think instead you will figure it out once here, for you might very well get stuck in a situation that will become your worst nightmare.

The US Immigration system is extremely cruel and archaic, and you would do well to consider other countries instead, who have a Merit-Based Point System, (professional qualifications,) instead of a Family Law Based System, (marriage and bloodline,) like all countries in the European Union for instance. And always discuss your options with a specialized lawyer either way and do not take chances when it comes to immigration abroad, for you will be easily taken advantage of and your legal rights are limited as a foreigner.

I have seen foreigners begging on the streets in Los Angeles, foreign women sold into prostitution in Hollywood. I have been homeless myself and lived in dubious buildings in order to save on rent money and I have heard arguments through the walls in foreign accents, screams and cries, and have seen fear in people’s eyes. There are many people preying on young women, and foreigners are particularly vulnerable. I have seen pretty young women get ravaged by drugs and lose their minds, so this stands as a warning to any idealistic person with an “American Dream.”

(NOTE: This is Part 2. of a 3-Part Article. Click Here for Part 1. And Click Here for Part 3. Or Click Here to Read the 3-Part Article in its’ Entirety.)

Santa Monica Pier, 1995.
Santa Monica Pier, 2003. My Parents Visiting Me in Los Angeles, 2003. (The Last Time I Saw Them in Person in Only a Few Times Throughout My 25 Years in Los Angeles.)
Santa Monica, 2016. I Worked One Block Away From Ocean Ave., on Second St. at the Laemmle’s Monica 4-Plex Arthouse Movie Theater From 1993–2001. Revisiting the Past for my LGBTQ Immigration Documentary: ‘THE QUEER CASE FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS: From International Film Student to Queer and Undocumented’ (2016.)
On Vacation in Rimini, Italy, 1975. My Father, the Patron Saint of the Arts (1934–2015). And Mommy Dearest.

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I am a Writer-Documentary Filmmaker-Producer at Queer Women Filmmakers Center, Los Angeles, currently in Post-Production of a Feature Documentary ‘The Queer Case for Individual Rights: From International Film Student to Queer and Undocumented.’