An open letter to the man who said I should stay home because America has “enough foreigners” already.
Dear Southern Man,
So you saw this blog post by my fiancee, excited I’ve finally (*finally* — we started this process last October) got the date for my visa interview, and you decided to piss on our parade with a fatuous remark about foreigners, like every immigrant to America is as ignorant as you are. I assume from your snide remark — with comments disabled, of course, so I couldn’t respond — that you think England is some sort of third world nation and I’m rocking up to suckle on Uncle Sam’s generous teats. Oh, how I laughed.
Just for giggles, here’s what moving to America has cost me so far:
- Processing fee for relative immigration visa I-130, $420.00
- UK police certificate (valid for 12 months), $70.00
- Visa-standard photographs for police certificate, $15.00
- Mandatory immunization shots, free (*smooches the NHS*)
- Medical in Knightsbridge, London, $400.00
- Visa-standard photographs for medical documents, $15.00
- Train fare to London for medical, $120.00
- Processing fee for visa interview, $265.00
- Train fare to London for interview, $240.00
- Visa-standard photographs for interview, $15.00
- Courier fee to have visa shipped to me, $30.00
That’s almost $1600 just in processing fees, required documentation, and transport because there’s only one doctor in the whole of the UK the Embassy will accept a medical from, and it’s on the other side of the country to me. I haven’t even started on getting a last-minute flight to America (because from the moment the visa is granted, I’ve got six months in which to pack up my UK affairs, get Stateside, and get married) which is easily going to run me to another $1400 or so, the cost of shipping my belongings (bringing over only my books, clothes, and a PC is going to cost me approximately $1200), or considered the cost of all the flying back and forth I’ve done over the past couple of years, which adds several thousand more to what I’ve spent so far because I happened to fall in love with somebody from a different country.
And you know what? It’s worth it. She’s worth every last penny, and more besides. Once I arrive in America, we’ll have a marriage license to pay for, then application fees for me to get an Adjustment of Status (because all the visa means is I can enter America, not that I can stay) which costs another $1100 in filing fees alone. And until it’s all done and dusted, I am not permitted to get a job. Were it not for the fact I’m a writer earning royalties from around the world, I would be completely dependent on AJ to support me.
As a matter of fact, part of the visa application process was an Affidavit of Support AJ had to provide, giving the government permission to empty her bank accounts and take her house if I ever become a public burden. Not only am I not now or ever going to (be able to) sponge off the state, I’ve made America considerably richer just by applying to move there, all while expressly prohibited from attempting to support myself as the wheels of bureaucracy grind with soul-crushing slowness around us. We’ve joked more than once that I was financially solvent when we started this process, but by the time Uncle Sam expects me to prove it, he’ll have already drained my bank accounts.
I’ll also, of course, contribute to the American economy in other ways once I’m a resident. I’ll pay taxes, I’ll buy products, and the money I earn in royalties (the majority of which comes from America and at the moment get sent straight to the UK) will remain within the American economy, spent in American stores. I’ll have to buy a car and get a phone contract, pay bills, and maybe even feed and “cloth” myself as well.
As appealing as the idea of shuffling hordes in rags turning up with outstretched hands ready to grasp and take might be to your xenophobic little mind, the reality is far different. People don’t up and leave their place of birth and everything they’ve known unless they’re searching for a better life. Immigrants want to work, they want to contribute, and America was founded and became great off the back of them. I guarantee that’s why your ancestors moved there.
Unless you’re full-blood native, you’ve really got no room to talk. Especially not to make vacuous assumptions that the only reason people would emigrate in America is to be supported by people like you. Rather, my taxes will go towards paying for welfare that I as a non-citizen will be prohibited from claiming. We are supporting you, not the reverse. And this in a country where net migration is relatively tiny — 2.45 immigrants per 1,000 in 2014 (compared to 2.56 in the UK, and all the way up to 83.82 in little ole Lebanon). The UAE is almost 84% foreign-born, and even Australia is pushing a third of its population, compared to less than 15% in the US. This in a country with a population density less than most of Europe, Africa, and Asia (85 people per square mile, compared to 660 for the UK, for example).
Whichever way you cut it, America has got the room for thousands more immigrants, and the result would be a benefit for all: a UCLA study estimated that overhauling the immigration system to allow currently undocumented workers to be validated would add $1.5 trillion to the US GDP over the next ten years. The DREAM Act alone would add $329 billion to the economy. Rather than telling us to stay at home, you should be welcoming us with open arms.