The Value of the Right of Legal Entry Into the U.S.
By Bryan Caplan
If you let the U.S. deport you “voluntarily,” you retain the right to legally enter again at a later time. For some people, of course, this is an important right. For most people facing deportation, though, the right of legal entry simply isn’t worth much. Here’s why.
The overwhelming majority of people the U.S. deports are from Latin America. Since they’re low-skilled, it’s almost impossible for them to legally immigrate unless they already have close relatives in the U.S. More shockingly, though, it’s almost impossible for low-skilled Latin Americans to get legal permission even to visit the United States. Here‘s how the U.S. State Department explains its approach:
The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor
visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
- The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
- That they plan to remain for a specific, limited period;
- Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States;
- Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and
- That they have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties that will insure their return abroad at the end
of the visit.
If you know a way for a poor Mexican agricultural worker to meet this burden of proof, I’d like to hear it.
But if the legal right to return to the U.S. is such a tiny carrot, why do so many people accept “voluntary” deportation? The main reason, I’ll warrant, is that they’d rather just go home than await the American kangaroo court at the end of the line. Sigh.