Thursday, April 17, 2014 · 5:23 p.m.

James Mahon: The fight to be legal

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Growing up, your mother probably told you to do the right thing, to follow the rules and play fair. I have tried to do that, but now I am unable to work, drive or pay taxes.

I have noticed that over the past 15 years more and more measures have been brought in to protect against threats from outside and inside this country, which is understandable. It's also my observation that it is becoming harder and harder to come to America to work and contribute to society.

I came here on a 12-month work and travel visa from Ireland, and I have enjoyed everything this state, city and the people have offered. I have tried to give back, but when my visa expired last night, it left me in no man's land.

I have applied for an O-1 visa as a journalist so that I can remain here, but my status is still pending. To get a visa like this, you need to prove you are extraordinary at something. Piers Morgan got one, and Playboy bunnies have been offered them. I have to wonder why, as a 23-year-old journalist who has worked and contributed to media in three countries and is being left in the lurch.

Immigration reform is needed in this country, not only for illegals but also for legals. There are many people out there just like me that don't get any attention and that no one champions for. We come here legally and try to stay here legally. This country should encourage U.S. college graduates from overseas to remain here and pursue opportunities to contribute to society.

This country's foundations were built on immigrants coming from other countries, especially my own native Ireland, to try and make something of ourselves. Now, in the 21st century, we're still coming but are also leaving. The cost, time and levels of bureaucracy forced upon legal immigrants are at times daunting.

I understand the citizens of the U.S. should come first, but it's not fair that those of us who don't ask for citizenship, benefits or perks, just the opportunity to work here and pay taxes, get left behind.

James Mahon
Native Irish reporter for a local TV station

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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