As regular readers know, I’ve interned at The Atlantic and guest blogged for Andrew Sullivan on several occasions. It’s always been a privilege — his audience is huge and exceptionally intelligent, and everything one posts garners intelligent rebuttals from sundry perspectives.
Today this post moves me to write. It reminds me that after all these years, Andrew isn’t accorded status as a United States citizen. Immigration is a fraught subject, but I submit that Mr. Sullivan’s status as an “in limbo” legal immigrant lays bare obvious, nonsensical aspects of the system that we use to grant or deny permanent status to foreigners.
Consider all the qualities one might want in a new citizen. Mr. Sullivan earns a six figure salary, enjoys unusual job security, demonstrably loves the United States, grasps even obscure details of our civic system, and possesses sufficient savings to bankroll his lifestyle even if he is fired tomorrow.
Mr. Sullivan writes:
I’ve been in the US for a quarter of a century, have paid taxes when I was working, am married to an American and have never asked for a dime of public help. But the US – alone among developed nations – still persecutes non-Americans for having HIV and regards my civil marriage as null and void and my husband as a total stranger to me.
Britain doesn’t persecute people with HIV and never has; moreover, Britain would allow my husband and I to relocate together to England at any point. I’m not sure people fully understand what it’s like to build a life with someone and to do all you can to contribute to a society – and yet be vulnerable at any moment to having your family torn apart by the government. But it’s a strain that eventually becomes crippling: you have no security, no stability, no guarantee that you have a future you can count on. And that affects an American citizen, my husband, as well.
Why has America become such a callous outlier on these matters?