An article entitled “Addressing Some Misperceptions About Mexican Immigration” addresses the claim that people desiring to immigrant “should just wait and go legally.”

This is a commonly expressed idea, mentioned by this commenter from New York. It seems to be logical: if everyone else has to be obey American laws, immigrants should, too.

But built into this idea is a misconception about how the immigration system works. It assumes that it is, on its face, fair, efficient and accessible. The assumption seems to be that immigrants from Mexico or elsewhere are thumbing their noses at American law because they are not willing to pay a few hundred dollars and wait their turn for a year or two.

Generally, this is not the case. Try applying at age 20 and not being approved until 40 – if you’re lucky to be approved at all.

“It’s not that they are not willing to wait a year or two,” says David Shirk, an expert at the Transborder Institute in San Diego. “It’s that it would be 10, 20 years before they could come across the border, and that’s not realistic in terms of their need to eat. The lack of visa availability, especially with visas for low-skilled workers in the U.S. economy, creates an insurmountable obstacle to legal entry.”

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