Game of Votes: Confessions from a wannabe expat

Immigration is one of the biggest hot button issues of the 2016 Presidential campaign. From President Obama’s DREAM Program to Donald Trump’s plans for a border wall, everyone is using his or her immigration plan as a talking point. Even the most conservative policies proposed by candidates are still extremely liberal in  the context of the rest of the world. I’ve discovered this firsthand because I am actively trying to emigrate to the United Kingdom.

When I first considered immigration, I had no idea the ordeal that moving across international borders really is. The UK, which has some of the strictest immigration policies in the world, allows very few migrants to come into their country through the legal process. Even applying for a visa costs between $1700 and $4000; and that does not in any way guarantee entry. In short, you could apply for a $4000 permit that is refused, with no chance of refund or referral without paying the fee again.

Even Donald Trump, whose policies are arguably racist and extraordinarily unpopular with much of the country, allows for the immigration of students and skilled workers.

He has been quoted as saying “there will be a big door” on his big border wall so there can still be legal immigration. Even the Labour Party, the more popular liberal party in the UK, stresses increasing border security on the nation in their official manifesto for 2015.

Cartoon by Kyle Dunbar and Michael Rheinheimer
Cartoon by Kyle Dunbar and Michael Rheinheimer

For me, the most shocking development is their rejection of skilled migrant labor. For  many places globally, the process for those with high paying jobs or for in demand fields on an expedited track for entry, but this is only partially true in the UK. As many graduating seniors here have found out, many of the best employment opportunities come from that, but they have completely cut that resource off.  They also cannot hire anyone without a current work permit without having posted the job for 30 days to find no other qualified applicants.

Although I rarely have positive things to say about the state of American politics, it is only fair that I give credit where credit is due. President Obama’s DREAM Program allowing undocumented immigrants a path naturalization is one of the most progressive policies in the whole world.

Even Canada, which has fairly open policies in comparison to the rest of the world, is still more difficult to obtain permanent residency than it is for those who would like to immigrate to the United States.  And I still support expanding these programs to allow our immigration to be even more open for those who want to seek a better life in America.

For those arguing that the American dream is still alive, this is far-and-away the best way to make that argument.