The process to become a U.S. citizen can be complicated and hard to understand, but local experts met with the public last Thursday evening at Mount Logan Middle School in an effort to pull back the curtain on immigration policy.
By Savannah Pace
With around 500 refugees in Cache Valley, understanding immigration can help those who work with refugees as well as family members who are working towards reunification, said Mackenzie Bowcutt, executive director of Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection.
CRIC, in partnership with the USU Center for Persons with Disabilities, hosted this event to help the community better understand the complexities of immigration — especially for those with disabilities — and through understanding, offer further support.
Laying out the basics, Pemberton said immigration is a lot more complicated than just people moving here legally or illegally. He said there are three major ways to enter the U.S.: employment, which is limited to skilled workers or those with more resources; reunification, bringing families back together; and humanitarian protection, the country’s way of accepting refugees and those seeking asylum.
“Sometimes it’s hard to understand why people don’t come here the right way, without breaking the law,” Pemberton said. “But then you look at the wait times.”
Pulling recent data on reunification processes, Pemberton showed examples that if family members in the U.S. with permanent citizenship or a green card petition for their siblings living in Mexico, wait times are upwards of 20-25 years.