Green Cards: What Are They?

When you hear about green cards in the news or in reference on television shows the words are so abstracted from reality that you might start to wonder what, exactly, is a green card?

A green card is little more than an identification card. What makes it particularly special is what it entitles you to do. As a driver’s license allows you to drive a car, a green card allows you to live and work in the United States. So, if you want to live for any significant period of time in America it is probably a good idea to get a green card.

There are generally three different ways by which you can get a green card. The first of which is through a family member who already lives in the United States. You can also get a green card through a job offer, but there are many restrictions involved in this route. The easiest way to get a green card, though it may take some patience and persistence is through the Diversity Lottery, also known as the Green Card Lottery.

Green cards were originally green in color, hence the traditional name, and were issued by the INS, also known as the Immigration and Naturalization services. In 1964 they stopped making the green card green and they began to call it either a permanent resident card or an alien registration card, though the name green card stuck as a tradition. The INS was replaced by the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) in 2002, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and now green cards are administered by a department within the DHS by the name of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS. It’s quite a mouthful I know. In 2010 green cards became green once again though they still retain the official name of permanent resident card.

The popularity of using the word alien to describe foreign residents has also become less popular as the United States tries to be more multicultural and inclusive. Alien is a pretty exclusionary thing to call someone and it even calls to mind space monsters dripping acid drool. Not a comparison you want to draw to some Namibian fellow who just wants to open a business. Though I do believe you could draw that comparison to my third-grade school teacher…


Irving Berlin: An Inspiring Immigrant

As a special addition to this blog we will regularly examine a famous immigrant who contributed significantly to American culture. The U.S. is a country of immigrants and you might be pleasantly surprised to learn their stories and where these personalities come from.

A Shaky Start

Irving Berlin emigrated from the Russian country-side to escape the Tsar’s pogroms, state sanctioned massacres of Russian Jews. He ended up living with his family in the poorest part of New York City and he struggled to help his parents make ends meet. After a while he began a career singing popular songs and then eventually writing them. His career was unbelievably successful and his songs are some of the most familiar tunes in the Western world.

Popular music holds a special place in the American character and if you’d care to disagree with that statement just look out for the next argument you hear on the street about whether or not a particular song is good or not. You won’t have to wait long to see people’s passions in music!

Irving Berlin’s Songs

For many Americans, childhood memories often contain vivid recollections of Christmas time: the smell of cookies or traditional dinners, the peppermint taste of candy, the excitement of the season and Christmas songs. One of the more famous Christmas songs is entitled “White Christmas” and encapsulates the excited memories of Americans’ childhood winters with the opening line:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,

Just like the ones I used to know…”

The concept of patriotism is also very close to many Americans and the symbols of patriotism are given real weight. It is this weight that makes it quite taboo to treat these symbols with dis-respect. It may be a building or a flag or even a song. “God Bless America” is one of those objects that has acquired America’s admiration. For a period of time in the middle of the 20th century many people lobbied to have it replace “The Star Spangled Banner” as the national anthem, though they could not get this request through congress, it is still, practically, a second national anthem.

Berlin’s Legacy

The content of Berlin’s lyrics was about the country he loved and all of the things that entailed. He exalted in the freedom and genuineness of the American peoples. Patriotic to a fault he was even proud to pay taxes. When he was advised to hide his money from the government he ignored the advice and continued to pay the amount in full every year!

Irving Berlin was presented with a chance to build himself up from nothing in the United States. He did, and now he is immortalized by his life’s work.


What’s Your Idea of the American Dream?

The American Dream is an idea established by the declaration of independence and is generally regarded as being a policy of success based on merit.

Throughout the United States history the American Dream has been discussed, written about, questioned and strengthened, but the definition has never been truly fixed.

What is the American Dream? When you think of what the American Dream is what do you think of?

Are memories of rags to riches stories reminiscent of Horatio Alger what pop up?

Do you think of owning a house?

Does it conjure thoughts of American culture in general?

Let’s discuss it. Leave a comment and tell us what you think the American Dream is!


Car Wreck Kills 14 in Southern Texas

A horrendous crash on Sunday led to the deaths of 14 people in Texas. The truck, when it crashed, was carrying 23 people, far too many for a one door pick-up truck. Not only were there quite a few people packed into the cab, but there was also a significant, though currently unknown, number of people riding in the truck bed.

Authorities discovered that all of the passengers were undocumented immigrants. Homeland Security Investigations, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security which handles investigations related to immigration, expressed its regret for the accident. Quoted by the New York Times one official said that the deaths were entirely unnecessary.

Currently it is unclear as to why there were so many people jammed into this particular vehicle or what their motivations were.

Apparently, fatal accidents involving many immigrants at once are not uncommon in this region of Texas.

It is all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking of members of the bureaucracy or the DHS are only a set of three capitalized letters, a badge, a uniform, a scowl. But we are all human, and when confronted with such a monstrous disaster it is impossible to not feel pangs of deep sorrow.

Indeed, no one needs to die like that.


Napolitano Supports Obama’s Immigration Executive Order

When the Obama administration announced its plan to ease back on deportations of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since childhood a glut of dissent was raised by the political right. Called a violation of immigration law, an illegal amnesty program or an election year ploy to win over Hispanic voters the executive order has rekindled the immigration “problem” in the United States. In some ways the decision could be seen as a partial enactment of the failed DREAM Act which did not pass into law in congress. The other side of the debate supports this policy as the right thing to do. After all, the argument goes, these people were raised in the United States and if they were to be deported they would effectively find themselves in a foreign country, not their homeland, faced with an alien culture and a population that speaks a different language than they do.

Though there has been a certain level of backlash, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, supported the president’s policy in congress this week and announced that further details regarding the policy will be released on August 1, 2012.

The executive order would allow undocumented immigrant under the age of 30 to receive work authorization if they meet a certain set of requirements. Although the requirements may change when further details of the policy are released at the moment they necessitate eligible immigrants either to have a high school diploma, G.E.D., or current enrollment in school. It will also require them to have a spotless criminal record.

Look to this blog for further updates regarding the Obama administration’s executive order in early August.


Immigrant Visas for Green Card Lottery Winners

Immigrant Visa for Green Card Lottery WinnersThe visa bulletin published by the United States summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers. The diversity visa lottery which is conducted under the 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, offers 55,000 permanent resident diversity visas every year. The visas are allocated to people hailing from countries with low admissions to the United States over the past five years. 5,000 visas out of the 55,000 visas allotted for the DV lottery program will be issued under the NACARA program. Hence, 50,000 diversity visas will be offered through the Green Card lottery program and these visas are divided among six geographic areas. According to the allotment, each eligible country will receive no more than seven percent of the diversity visas made available in a year.

For the month of August 2012, immigrant visa numbers for the DV-2012 applicants who are qualified are current. Selected applicants may not make any claim or derive any benefit from their DV lottery registration after the last date of the program, September 30, 2012. The visa numbers may exhaust even before the end of September 2012. This also applies to the eligible dependents of the principal applicant. They will be entitled to derivative status only until September 30.

Once the visas allotted for DV-2012 are exhausted, immigrant visas for the DV-2013 will be issued. As the DV-2012 program will end as of September 30, visa numbers for the qualified winners of DV-2013 may be made available starting from October 2012. Immigrant visa numbers will be made available based on the case numbers allotted to the winners of the Green Card lottery program. The case numbers start from the number 1, where the case number will begin with the year and the particular region followed by the specific case number allotted to each qualified winner. Immigrant visa number will be made available for the first case number followed by the other case numbers. Visa numbers will be made available till the end of the DV-2013 program, 30th September 2013 or until all the allotted visas are exhausted.

As the immigrant visa numbers are made current every month, the winners can keep track of the visa bulletin published every month by the US government, to know when they can file petitions for immigrant visas. It is because they can file applications for immigrant visas only when their case numbers become current.


Fourth of July Naturalization Ceremonies and Citizenship Certificates to Children

Fourth of July Naturalization Ceremonies and Citizenship Certificates to ChildrenVarious activities were organized to celebrate Independence Day. Parades, family activities and concerts were a part of the Independence Day celebrations. Fourth of July being a national day and a federal holiday, brought together all the people of the United States.

Apart from all those leisure activities, USCIS planned special naturalization ceremonies. 4,000 immigrants are new American citizens after taking the Oath of Allegiance. Becoming American citizens is the dream of many immigrants who are permanent residents in the United States, for many years. The special naturalization ceremonies helped such immigrants to achieve their American goal, by allowing them to become citizens of the United States.

Many new citizens celebrated the Independence day as US citizens for the first time. As there is no age limit for a person to become a US citizen through the naturalization process, many elderly people also got a chance to become US citizens. The most exalting part of the special naturalization ceremonies is the administration of the Oath of Allegiance. Most of the new citizens were moved when they were presented the naturalization certificates. Most naturalization ceremonies last for about an hour.

A special naturalization ceremony which was held in the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum on July 3rd granted citizenship certificates to 14 children of immigrants. This ceremony is one of the many special naturalization ceremonies being held to commemorate the nation’s 236th birthday. Those children who were granted citizenship certificates had already derived citizenship through their parents.

The parents who were once immigrants, became US citizens through the naturalization process before their children turned 18. 14 children of such naturalized US citizen parents were provided citizenship certificates, as a proof of their legal status in the United States as US citizens. USCIS field officer of Sacramento, Michael Biggs said that the citizenship certificates given to them are important identity documents, like a passport which they must possess forever. The certificates given to the children contained a passport-style photograph with other information including their name, country of origin, date of birth and the alien registration number.