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Could your grandma get a green card today?

Would your ancestors have been allowed to come to America under current U.S. law?
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Would your ancestors have been allowed to come to America under current U.S. law? That’s the question Bend the Arc, a social justice organization, asks with its new website “Entry Denied.”

The concept is simple: Choose a relative, a region of origin and the era in which that family member would have been entering the country. The results are sobering; current immigration law places strict limits on the number of people allowed to claim refugee status, the types of skills required for a work visa, and the number of people from specific countries allowed to apply for the Green Card lottery, among other restrictions.

“When you hear about the immigration debate it’s hard to internalize,” Bend the Arc CEO Alan van Capelle said in an interview with “If you’re not a DREAMERer or a first generation immigrant, it’s hard to understand how important this is to so many people.  It is much more difficult to immigrate to the United States today than it was many years ago.”

Thousands of immigrants’ rights activists marched in Washington on Wednesday as speculation debate continued over the content of the immigration bill that a group of eight senators has been working on for months. The legislation is likely to include a lengthy wait for legal status, between 13 and 15 years, and strict border security requirements and has drawn criticism from both progressives and conservatives. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT, scheduled a hearing for April 17th.

For van Capelle, personalizing the debate is the key to reaching a more equitable deal for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. today. "I would want every member of congress considering the issue to take the test," he said. "Those of us who are not as immediately connected to the issue have to raise our voices."