Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Immigrant Idol

Think you don't know any undocumented immigrants? Watch American Idol.
Carly Smithson was turned away in season 5 for having a "visa problem", which is just a nice way of saying she didn't have one. Well, she is now documented and back on the show. Doesn't exactly fit into the stereotype of an undocumented immigrant does she?

Then there is Michael Johns, he came here on a student visa at age 18 and is now 29. He was recently married and I found this article saying he is still a couple of years away from becoming a citizen. It only takes 3 years of being married to an American Citizen to become one yourself. So what was Michael's immigration status from age 22 when his student visa would have expired to age 28 when he got married? It is possible that Michael was able to get a visa from a record company but those expire as soon as his contract is up and we all know you can't have a current contract to try out for American Idol. That would still leave him out of status. Gasp, could we possibly have yet another ex-undocumented idol?

The point I wanted to make was that you cannot stereotype people. Most people see a Hispanic worker in a fast food restaurant and assume they are undocumented but if they see Carly or Michael singing at a club, it doesn't even occur to them. Undocumented immigrants come in all ethnicities and professions.

I think it's important for me to point out that not all undocumented immigrants can adjust their status by simply getting married. Click here, here, and here for a few examples. Immigration laws are complicated to say the least and depend on the situation.

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