Letter to the Editor: Immigration bill disappoints

I would like to comment on the immigration issue. I feel I am qualified to do so because I am an immigrant myself — a legal immigrant, that is.

The Associated Press reported that Kentucky Rep. Senate President David Williams is pushing a proposal that would allow police to arrest illegal immigrants on trespassing charges for setting foot in Kentucky. Williams said that the immigration proposal Senate Republicans are pushing would be similar to a law passed in Arizona that allows police to determine the immigration status of people they detain.

I am commenting here on behalf of legal immigrants only, to make sure that those who propose or push for any state immigration legislation understand how extremely complicated and lengthy the immigration process is.

I immigrated to United States on family grounds in 1998 and did so in Arizona.

This was my Arizona experience: When we went to the immigration office, the line to the front door was longer than any bread line I ever saw while living in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The people would line up at the front door at 4 or 5 a.m. to get into the building.

Once I got into the building after standing in that long line for hours, the cleaning lady would not let me use the restroom and the front door guard would not give me directions to the social security office, while he had no problem giving those directions to my husband, who was born in America, white and speaks without an accent.

We wasted a whole day and got nowhere at the immigration office, got frustrated and drove to John McCain’s office. His secretary gave us all the paperwork and explanations we needed.

We filed documents for the adjustment of status in 1998. It took Arizona’s U.S.

Citizenship and Immigration Services office two years to issue me a work authorization permit, a document that gives alien residents a right to work in U.S. while they are waiting for their immigration status adjustment.

Without such document one can’t legally work in U.S., obtain a social security card or driver’s license.

While I was waiting for my work permit, I had absolutely nothing in my possession to show and prove that I was a legal immigrant. Immigration services simply do not provide any such documents. When I changed my residency from Arizona to Kentucky in 2000, it took immigration services almost a year to send all my paperwork from Arizona to Kentucky.

Do you see the picture I am trying to paint here?

Whatever Kentucky’s congress is planning to legislate, please make sure that it is achievable under present USCIS practices. Please do not legislate the impossible, if you will be requesting from immigrants something that they can’t produce physically because immigration services simply do not provide. It takes them years to review the paperwork and that will inadvertently negatively affect every legal immigrant.

Marta Duffer

Bowling Green, Ky.