According to the Department of Homeland Security Immigration Website (USCIS), undocumented Mexican individuals come to our country by illegally crossing the border or by initially having a visa and staying after the visa has expired. In most cases if an undocumented individual would like to apply for a green card, they must do so while residing in Mexico which is what keeps many undocumented people from applying. There are approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. It’s interesting that immigration law takes place within the U.S. Department of Justice instead of the U.S. judicial system because deportation is seen as an administrative correction and not a criminal punishment. Because of this, undocumented immigrants facing deportation do not have the right to legal counsel provided by the government and most cannot afford legal counsel on their own.
The first step to entering the United States legally is by obtaining a visa. You can obtain a nonimmigrant visa which lets you visit the U.S. for a short amount of time without residency. Nonimmigrant visas are reserved for tourists, students and temporary workers. In order to work on a nonimmigrant visa you must have a qualifying occupation such as those for religious workers, unskilled laborers or some college-educated professionals. If your visa is set to expire, you must either renew it or leave the US. Although some nonimmigrant visas allow you to apply for a “green card” while you are here on a temporary visa, most don’t. Your chances of obtaining a visa depends upon many factors such as your type of visa, how many are available each year and even your level of schooling or your profession (USCIS).
Most legal immigrants obtain an immigrant visa or “green card” through family or employer sponsorship. Others will qualify as asylees or refugees who are unable to unwilling to go back to their home country due to fear of persecution. The immigrant visa or green card gives you permanent resident status, allows you to work in the profession you choose and are protected by the laws of the U.S. You are also responsible to pay taxes, obey all laws, and if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25 you must register with the Selective Service. Your wait time for a visa can be anywhere from three to twenty years or longer depending on the circumstances and the number of visas available each year (USCIS).
There are 226,000 family sponsored visas, 140,000 employment based visas available each year. There is no limit for immediate family members such as spouses and children younger than 21. Due to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the number of Mexican immigrant visas can only equal 7 percent of the total permanent residents or green cards issued each year. The backlog for permanent resident applications in pending status is approximately 1.4 million (Smith).
Mexican immigrants are excluded from the Diversity Lottery which grants immigrant visas to 50,000...