Immigration_v1

What’s Missing From TIME‘s One Minute Immigration Quiz

TIME‘s one-minute immigration quiz — “Find Out If President Trump Would Let You Immigrate to America” — allows anyone to answer seven simple questions and find out if Trump would let them into the United States under the RAISE ActBy turning the arduous visa application process into a Buzzfeed-style-What-Hogwarts-House-Would-You-Be-In-quiz, TIME has obscured the RAISE Act’s real-life implications.

In brief, the RAISE Act — Trump’s proposed immigration reform bill — would operate on a points-based system, giving priority to people between the ages of 26 and 30, with a doctorate in a STEM field, English language proficiency, and a high-paying job offer. Applicants would need 30 points to be eligible to apply for a visa (with no guarantee they would be approved); those with the highest number of points would jump to the front of the line.

The quiz aims to put U.S. citizens in immigrant’s shoes by showing them how (much more) difficult the visa application process would be under the RAISE Act. It’s effective in triggering empathy and mobilizing support against Trump’s policies by demonstrating that when we base immigration on “merit,” most — if not all — of us fall short.

That said, here’s how the quiz falls short:

1. Rather than emphasizing how exhaustive and exhausting the visa application process is, TIME‘s quiz turns it into a quick and simple game. It does not take a minute to apply for a visa to the United States. It’s a laborious and painstaking process, with real costs including application, legal, and travel fees, and the emotional burdens that come with the uncertainty and scrutiny of the process. The quiz trivializes all that by presenting it as a game you can easily engage with, share on social media, and forget about a few minutes later.

2. Without contextualizing the bill or offering analysis of the race, gender, and class dynamics at play in Trump’s proposal, the quiz obscures the groups most affected by the RAISE Act. Taking the quiz, you’re left with the impression that the bill discriminates equally against everyone. That’s not the case. The RAISE Act is meant to keep out poor people (specifically, women) of color from the Global South. The bill limits family-sponsored visas to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, taking away opportunities for siblings and adult children to apply for visas. Seventy percent of all immigrant women gain legal status through family-based visas, compared to 61% of men; employment-based visas favor men over women by nearly four-to-one margin. The bill also imposes a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions a year (84,995 were admitted to the U.S. last year) — whose beneficiaries come mostly from Burma, Iraq, Congo, Syria, and Somalia — and would end the visa diversity lottery, which benefits African immigrants the most. TIME‘s quiz fails to mention all of these restrictions, which disproportionately target women and Black and Brown people mainly from Muslim-majority countries. The RAISE Act is anti-women, anti-Muslim, and anti-poor — but you wouldn’t know that from TIME‘s quiz.

3. In trying to make white people feel empathy for the other, TIME‘s quiz falls into the trap of centering whiteness and white feelings in political activism. To its credit, the quiz shows that playing “who is most deserving of citizenship” is a game we all lose, and that basing immigration on Olympic gold medals, Nobel prizes, and doctorate degrees creates impossible standards that even the most “respectable” and “deserving” white U.S. citizens would fail to meet. The quiz tries to make white U.S. citizens care about these issues because it affects them, too. But the truth is, it doesn’t affect them. The RAISE Act will target poor, Brown and Black women. That alone should be enough to trigger the outrage in white folks who are failing to earn 30 points on that quiz.

The RAISE Act is not a game; it was not designed to entertain you during your lunch break or to collect likes on a Facebook post. It is a racist and discriminatory bill aimed to keep out the most vulnerable and at risk immigrants. Those people’s lives — our hopes, dreams, and fears — do not exist to indulge your voyeurism or satisfy the curiosity of white U.S citizens. This is not a hypothetical situation. This is our lives.

Header image via Avvo.com.

Durham, NC

Barbara is a PhD student at The University of North Carolina. She writes about immigration, migrant activism and organizing, & intersectional feminism.

Barbara is a PhD student at The University of North Carolina. She writes about immigration, migrant activism and organizing, & intersectional feminism.

Read more about Barbara

Join the Conversation