Jonah: Your point on the 79 varieties of U.S. visa is a good one. On the other other hand, since at least some of the people who enter in at least a third of those categories end up staying permanently, even though most aren’t really supposed to, it is not unreasonable to suppose that people in Category 80 will likewise, so that our President’s talk about “requiring them to return to their country of origin” is just gas. Which is what I keep saying.
My own visa history is:
Category B-2 (officially a 6-month visa), stayed over 5 years, 1973-78, then left for family reasons. Was not authorized to work, but worked anyway.
Category H-1B, proceeded thence to residency and citizenship (1985-present). The H-1B is for a maximum six years, but with some clever lawyering mine got strung out to 9. That included a year when I was abroad — you’re not supposed to do that either.
The whole process is riddled with loopholes. Once you’ve got a visa of any kind, a decent lawyer can get you to Green Card status. I speak from experience. Talk about “requiring people to go back” is just silly. It won’t happen.
Note, by the way, categories H-2A (“Temporary agricultural worker”) and H-2B (“Temporary worker: skilled and unskilled”). We already have a temporary worker program. In fact, we apparently have two!
Incidentally, Steve Sailer made a good — and so far as I know, original — point yesterday: that some unknown, but probably large, number of immigrants don’t want citizenship, just residence. The only thing citizenship gets you is jury duty, a GREETINGS! telegram if a war breaks out, and the obligation to pay federal income tax when working abroad. Why bother? You could ask Neil Young (40 years a Green Card), Morley Safer (about the same), or Mark Steyn (don’t know how long), or any number of other people. Here I put forward my wife as an exemplar: She applied for citizenship the first day she could, literally. (I was a bit slower off the mark.)