Here's a case that highlights a few of the many ways America's immigration system is completely broken. This man has been in the country without papers since he was three-years-old and the US is trying to deport him:
Abdollahi, a 24 year-old Iranian who was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, came to the U.S. as a child when his parents immigrated to study at a state university. He says he learned of his undocumented status in high school, which is also when he first began identifying as a gay man.
"It wasn't until I was 17, 18 that I began connecting the dots," he said of his situation. "I grew up in a very Muslim family. I didn't know what 'gay' meant. ... I didn't understand the gap."
Abdollahi is now facing that "gap" head on, with the looming prospect of deportation to Iran where homosexuality is a capital crime. He was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities after a protest in May, and his removal proceedings are scheduled to commence later this summer.
In a normal world, this case wouldn't be so hard. He really only knows one country, and there's no reason to send him halfway across the world just to punish a mistake that his parents made when he was three. Whether or not he's gay and whether or not his official home country is homophobic should be irrelevant - he's as American as any of the rest of us and he should have a right to stay at home.
Since that's not the world we're living in, he's going the asylum route. Like many people who desperately want to remain in the country where they've built their lives but don't have proper documentation, the goal is to stay in the country, the reasons are thought up afterwards. In other words, I doubt that if Abdollahi were straight he'd be happily hopping on a plane to go to live in Iran.
But US immigration law isn't making it any easier for him:
Still, Abdollahi's case for asylum is not cut and dry: As an undocumented U.S. resident for twenty years, he missed the one-year window of opportunity by law to proactively apply for protected status. He now faces the more difficult task of appealing defensively before an immigration judge.
That's right: the law says that he should have applied for asylum when he was three-years-old. I bet instead of filing proper paperwork, he was lounging around eating cookies and finger-painting in preschool. Would it have killed him to give up a few nap-times and hire an immigration attorney? It's really time America stopped coddling three-year-old illegals.
The immigration debate in the US is far away from that, though. We even have elected officials who want to amend the Constitution to take citizenship away from people born in the US. Since the economy headed south, stories about how minorities and the undocumented are taking away from hard-working Real Americans have taken center stage.
But, really, who does it hurt to let him stay?