"So now four countries—Mexico, India, China, and the Philippines—max out every year, said Ngai. And depending on the visa category that a person applies for, the wait can be 10, 20, even 30 years. But if you're coming from a low-immigration country such as New Zealand, she said, you might not wait at all.
"When people who want to limit immigration to the U.S. say that immigrants should 'go to the back of the line and wait their turn,' said Domenic Vitiello, a Penn professor who teaches a course called the Immigrant City, they often fail to acknowledge there really is no single line to which everyone has equal access."
Michael Matza at The Philadelphia Inquirer talks with historians of immigration.