You know, once in a while I see people post about immigration into the US, or get unhappy about it, or something, and I wonder if they understand how immigration into the United States works.

Here’s a reasonable summary here of ways to legally immigrate into the US.

As you may notice, there actually is no legal way to immigrate into the US for many (or really, most) people, especially if you want to work here without already having a job when you arrive.

It’s also worth noting that it costs money to file the forms for immigration. Since Mexico is the big argument on this garbage fire of a subject (and oh yes, I realize that I’m inviting this garbage fire into my house by posting about it) let’s note that the median adult disposable income (what 50% of adults in Mexico have after they pay rent, buy food, etc.) per year is about $5000 in US dollars. Now, the schedule of fees from the US immigration department is quite complex, but from my personal experience with my wife, filing immigration forms, without anybody to help you–just the fees to the government–is about $800 to $1000 per person. So that’s not impossible for the average person living in Mexico, as long as they have no family of any kind and want to buy very little other than what they need to survive–but it’s not cheap either.

But even if they could pay (which some could) there isn’t any mechanism by which most of them could immigrate.

You might say, “Well, my ancestors immigrated somehow.” If your ancestors came here in the 1800’s, there was essentially NO immigration law. It was impossible to be an illegal immigrant. They were able to immigrate because we essentially let everybody into the country.

If you want to understand how immigration laws started, look up “Chinese Exclusion Act” in Google. It’s worth noting that it’s a law which Congress has adopted resolutions officially apologizing for. I suppose one could argue about its validity–the arguments surrounding it were similar to the arguments about Mexican immigration today, actually.

Now, given all this, you can point out that it’s still illegal to do something illegal, which is obviously true and I’d agree with. But I also think that if you’re going to make an argument about immigration into the country, you should understand how it actually works and what you are actually talking about.

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