Alien

I Am the Immigrant

Bronwyn Lea want to trade her visa for a permanent residency green card.
Bronwyn Lea wants to trade her visa for a permanent residency green card.

I am a card-carrying alien. Literally.

I have an official alien number, assigned to me by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.

After nearly 10 years in the U.S., my husband and I have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on paperwork and travel to keep our visas current. We have been retina scanned and fingerprinted; we have submitted exhausting and exhaustive records of every job we’ve ever held, every school we ever studied at, and the names and addresses of every person we are related to.

Now, with three children born in the U.S. (call them anchor babies if you must), we don’t want alien cards anymore. We want green cards. We want to be allowed to stay permanently in the country where our children are, without fear that we will find ourselves with no legal purchase in the country where our kids live.

But applying for permanent residency is a lot tougher than you might think.

'Where Were You?'

DURING THE SUMMER of 2003, 25 staff of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and their families rode a bus through 10 states on the "Pilgrimage for Reconciliation." We retraced the Cherokee Trail of Tears and explored the journey of African Americans from slavery to the civil rights movement.

As we rolled over land that had witnessed the most evil individual acts and public policies enacted on American soil, and as we heard again and again how the church was either silent or complicit, we wondered aloud: "What issue will cause our grandchildren to look back at us and ask, 'Where were you?'"

There are many we could choose from. But on this day, approaching spring 2013—a decade after our pilgrimage, 50 years after Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation—I know where I stand. On this day, I stand with my sisters and brothers in the church who are pressing our nation's leaders toward just and comprehensive immigration reform.

In the last three years, more than 1 million men, women, and children have been erased from our land through deportation. They were caught between two signs at our border: "Help Wanted" and "No Trespassing."

By law, only 5,000 "unskilled" workers are allowed into the U.S. through legal means each year. That is about the number of people processed on Ellis Island every day in the early 1900s. Meanwhile, our nation's industry and food supply rely heavily on the labor of immigrant populations. About 75 percent of all U.S. farmworkers are unauthorized immigrants. Then consider other industries: meatpacking, hospitality, restaurants, transportation. The disparity between the demand for workers and the supply is untenable.

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Prometheus: Promises Much, But Fails To Deliver

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Michael Fassbender and Ridley Scott at Prometheus premiere. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

It’s a little over 12 hours since I walked out of the movie theater, as the seemingly never-ending credits of Prometheus rolled behind me. It’s safe to say that I walked out of the theater in a very different mood than I had entered it. Three hours previously, I had butterflies in my stomach – the anticipation that I and my fellow late-night moviegoers exuded was palpable – we were all ready to witness something special. A master storyteller returning to, arguably his greatest work. 

It is 33 years since Sir Ridley Scott scared the wits out of filmgoers with his horror/sci-fi classic Alien. In Prometheus, he returns to the universe he created all those years ago, to the mysterious workings of the Weyland Corporation, and to deep space where, as we all know, “no one can hear you scream.”

At 12:01 this morning, I was ready to see a film that has been a decade in development, an epic piece of cinema that would tantalize everyone who loves the Alien franchise, and that would introduce a younger generation to one of the most feared cinematic monsters in history. Sadly, the film I was ready to see was not the one I saw.

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