But shouldn’t the tough parts come at this final, naturalization stage? Every other immigrant-attracting country makes it relatively easy for foreigners to come live peacefully but demands more of would-be citizens. It’s precisely backwards to make it so much easier to naturalize than to be able to work here!
And that’s the ultimate lesson from my journey: As chances for immigration reform fade ahead of this year’s elections, both sides are wrong to focus on the “pathway to citizenship.” They should instead provide more opportunities for residence.
If you ask people why they come to America, they’ll tell you that it’s to build a better life in a safer country. It’s not to vote in elections, access welfare, or sit on juries, which are the only things citizenship gets you that a green card doesn’t. Good policy here is good politics: expand legal immigration, allow productive members of society to come out of the shadows, and then crack down on the criminals and deadbeats who remain.