Opinion | Immigration should be easier

The current immigration process into the United States is one that causes undue amounts of stress and frustration for people trying to join in the great American project.


Thomas A. Stewart

Various flags are seen on Monday, October 15, 2018. There are 120 flags being displayed on the Iowa Memorial Union Pedestrian Bridge to recognize the international students on campus.

Zeina Aboushaar, Opinions Columnist

The process of acquiring a citizenship in America is an emotional roller coaster and an organizational nightmare, marked by endless paperwork and instructions that are deprived of any actual instructions.

After fleeing Syria in 2011, my fear blossomed into hope, hope that upon my arrival into the United States,  there would be peace and opportunities awaiting.  When our plane boarded and I took my first step, I felt free. I was finally able to let go of the fear that has taken over my life, the fear that every breath could be my last. Little did I know that instead of being greeted with warm smiles and welcomes, we would be greeted with dark interview rooms and bombarded with questions in a language that was foreign to us. 

For many immigrants and prospective citizens seeking to live and work in the United States, the real stumbling block comes upon their arrival, when they have to obtain the “ green card”. Every immigrant that comes to the United States has to go through a risky, tedious, and most importantly a costly process. Many of the immigrants come here with limited amounts of money, and when they have to spend it all, in order to get a job and earn the basic rights that every American has, they are left with nothing. 

The fees for obtaining a green card, which is only the first step in acquiring citizenship, run into the thousands. According to US Immigration, Most immigration lawyers charge between $5,000 to $8,000 to simply accompany a client throughout this process, not including the application fees and potential family members. 

The current filing fee for the application for naturalization costs $725 per family member, which adds up to an amount that not many can afford. The naturalization process fee discourages many legal residents from becoming U.S citizens. 

Ever since the Trump administration came into office, there has been a shift toward more severe immigration enforcement and detention tactics. Trump’s immigration policies aim to appease nativists views that state that black and brown foreigners are taking American jobs. The Trump administration has introduced rules and policies such as requesting additional paperwork, and tightening the scrutiny of applicants to make it harder for people to become citizens. Even before the pandemic, processing rate for citizenship has been at its highest and wait times have doubled

However, the real cost is unmeasurable, the uncertainty and the unknown marks a feeling of lost hope as immigrants wait for the infinite process to conclude. This never-ending wait is not only distressing for immigrants, but for America. 

In Cedar Rapids alone, the immigrant population has created a significant financial benefit worth millions of dollars for our local economy. According to The Gazette, “Modern neighborhoods such as the Czech Village and New Bohemia districts got their cultural roots from immigrants who moved to Cedar Rapids in the 1870s”. This proves that immigrants are always willing to enable growth in a society and allows for the assimilation of valuable workforce resources. 

The process of acquiring a citizenship should be easier and more welcoming, especially to those people who work to help the nation prosper and grow. 

Immigrants that come to America willing to work hard, pay full taxes, and stay out of legal trouble should have an easier pathway for them to obtain citizenship. They didn’t come to America to have their opportunities drained away by the harsh process of trying to live freely in the land of the free.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.