George Graham

Different Law for Rich and Poor. In Immigration, too

I’ve heard a lot of chatter about the U.S. Constitution this election season, and I wonder if anyone really believes Americans follow the principles laid out in that document.  The notion that “all men are created equal,” for instance. Who are they kidding?

In America, as in other countries, the rich live in an entirely different world from the poor. Their children are born with grotesque advantages. Children of the gentry get into the best schools, get the best jobs, and so on. When they get into trouble with the law, they hire the best lawyers and get the lightest sentences. And (poor) black Americans are far more likely to end up in jail than (rich) white Americans.

So what if the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution specifically mandates “equal protection under the law”?

One of the most blatant examples of this disparity is in immigration.

It took me more than 20 years to gain admission to the U.S. I wasn’t trying very hard during those two decades – most of which I spent in Canada – but my name was on their Jamaican “quota.” It wasn’t until a change in the law gave preferential treatment to “married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens” that I eventually got a green card. My mother (who had been widowed and had married a Canadian by then) had become a U.S. citizen in the years I was languishing on the waiting list.

But if I wanted to immigrate to the U.S. today – and if I had at least $500,000 to invest – I could be here in a flash.

No problem.

Why? American immigration law lets in applicants who are expected to create jobs. Those looking for a job have to wait. And wait. And wait.

While vigilantes patrol the border with Mexico, looking for illegal immigrants to gun down, immigration officials welcome rich foreigners.

Politicians brush aside the criticism that this policy encourages mobsters to launder their booty in the U.S.

And as for the Constitution’s mention of equality under the law? Obviously, that doesn’t apply to people with money to invest. Not when Americans need jobs so badly.

I guess Americans follow the Constitution – when it suits them.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com