For Most People, There's Really No Such Thing As "Legal Immigration"
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"Why don't they just do it the right way? Why don't they just get in line with everyone else?" People who ask that question don't understand that, for many people like my family, there simply is no "right way."
To simplify the long and arduous legal talk, you must meet one of these qualifications to be eligible for immigration to the U.S.:
A) Already have family who are citizens
B) Marry a citizen
C) Have some extraordinary skill (the official term is "aliens with extraordinary abilities" ... so, basically just be an Animorph)
D) Be a refugee fleeing a country in a state of war or seeking asylum (and even that is not exactly a smooth process).
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It may not seem like a huge bar to clear, until you consider that
even Superman only qualifies for two out of four.
It's a little more challenging than deciding you would like a change of scenery and asking for one citizenship, please. Even if, by some miracle, you meet one of those qualifications, there's still the money, which most people living at the bottom rungs of society in third world countries don't exactly have lying around, and the lifetime of waiting it might take. That's not an exaggeration -- wait times can exceed 24 years. So, for some, it's a literal lifetime.
The paperwork is so backed up at this point that even if the U.S. stopped taking
new applications altogether, you could still be waiting in 2032.