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Paige: You are listening to “Coffee with Gringos.” I’m Paige Sutherland.

Ian: And I'm Ian Kennedy.

Paige: So today, we're going to talk about immigration. It's a contentious topic, I think, in every country. Definitely, particularly in the US, as of late, as well as in Chile. So, remember if you get lost, go online, check out that transcript and vocabulary guide. So, Ian, I think we have to address the elephant in the room: building “the wall.” Talk me through that a little bit.

Ian: Building “the wall.” Something they’ve been talking about for years. It’s always been this big problem between immigration between the United States and most of the Central American countries, in particular Mexico. So, there's always this talk among politicians, and people in general, who just say, too many immigrants coming in illegally—they’re taking our jobs, we need to have a better screening process, we need to build a wall to keep them out. And this is something we've heard a lot recently with the Trump administration, in particular. And so, it's become a hot topic, again, to talk about. But you know, you have people that say, you know, a wall isn't going to do anything to help, some people say it's going to help. Again, it's one of the endless arguments that we see across the political spectrum.

Paige: It's super interesting how this fight, I guess, has gone back and forth. Like, I remember, during Trump's election before he was elected, he was like, “okay, we're going to build this wall, and Mexico is going to pay for it.” And Mexico’s like, “we're not paying for this.” He's like, “okay, they're not going to pay for it.” And then it ended up leading to a federal shutdown. Like, our government shut down, because Trump was like, “we're gonna have to pay this amount of money for the wall.” And the government was like, “no, we're not.” And I remember also during the discussion, the funniest proposal he had, was, he wanted to be environmentally friendly. So, he wanted the wall to be made of solar panels. But, you know, solar panels where it's not really an effective wall, if it's going to be horizontal

Ian: Right, pretty easy to get over that wall. And I think it's frustrating for a lot of people too because we have so many problems in the United States that need to be solved. And people are arguing about putting up a wall, when there are many, many other bigger fish to fry compared to, you know, building a wall that really there's no research or evidence that shows it's going to even work or help. So, it's kind of like a shouting contest between politicians, you know. You want your team to win, so you push your team's policy, whether it's the right thing to do or not.

Paige:  I think in the US, the ongoing battle is just you have, you know, one party who wants more open immigration, right. And then the other party that, frankly, doesn't want any immigration. So, I think the common ground that most people say is that they want it to be legal, right? I think everyone wants everyone in the country to have the correct papers and the visas. It's just a matter of, I guess, how easy that process is and how difficult it will be. But I think in the US, it's such an interesting topic because unlike most other countries, the US is a country of immigrants. Everyone in the US is an immigrant, besides Native Americans, which is such a small amount of our population.

Ian: Right. So it's a little ridiculous when you have people saying, “let's keep out immigrants, we need to stay American, keep us as the United States” when, look, you know, if your grandparents, if your family weren’t born on the continent as natives, you are an immigrant. So, it's a really interesting discussion to have these people saying, “no, we have to keep these people out” when, really, they and we are those people also.

Paige:  Yeah, exactly. It's kind of something that has been lost in this argument. Because it's like, yeah, I mean, I'm not from the US. My family's from Scotland, from Ireland, from Canada, from all over. I mean, what are you? What is your descendance?

Ian:  Yeah, Irish, German, Czech…you know, a whole mix. So…

Paige: ….we are immigrants.

Ian: Exactly.

Paige: Going, I guess, back to Chile. I mean, this immigration problem in the US has been going on forever. Here is more recent topic, because Chile is a very isolated country. I mean, it's surrounded by the coast, it's long, it has the mountains, it's pretty like its own its own thing. And then, you know, in the past five or so years, they've had such a boom in immigration. And it's almost like, they don't have the infrastructure for it, because they weren't used to having people that wanted to come live in their country. And you experience that, and I am today with the visa process. I mean, they have way too many people to process.

Ian: You can tell they're just completely overwhelmed with the number of people coming in. Like you said, there's not a history, there's not an infrastructure for it. And even with students I've talked to that say “yeah, in the last five years, we've seen a lot more diversity than you ever saw before.” Yeah, it's a newer thing. It's really interesting to see how it's affecting the culture, affecting the infrastructure—really affecting everything.

Paige: I’ve experienced that when I've talked to students, because I teach a lot of students from different countries. And in the countries—they're from its neighboring countries—they say, you know, we have populations that are pretty diverse. And so, people, you know, with darker skin is normal. Like, you go to Brazil, you go to Colombia, you're going to see that. Where here, there was a big increase in Haitian immigration. And there was a lot of discrimination, we could see that this was just they weren't used to kind of these mixed cultures and mixed races. Where in the US, completely common and most other countries.

Ian: But in any case, it causes a problem, A lot of complications for the government and it's very noticeable. There's always super long lines, the waiting processes for pieces are very complicated, very long. I mean, you hear about people who apply for a visa and don't get anything back for almost a year. So, the waiting time of the year for a visa is just ridiculous. And I get it, I'm sure it's hard for a country that doesn't have that infrastructure, that history, to be able to handle this inundation of immigrants. I'm sure it's very hard for the government. But it's also hard as an immigrant to be living here and not really knowing your status is, or know exactly what to do or how long the process is going to take. So, it's complicated on both sides. And I don't know, what have you seen about the visa process here? What's your experience?

Paige: Yeah, I think the visa process sucks. It's dreadful, when you go online, look up how to get a visa, it's, like, wait seven hours in line at the PDI just to get this document to then go to the civil registrar to get this document and then wait a year. Like, right now I'm in “tramite.”  So, I'm applying for my definitive residency and I applied in March, and no email though—no recognition that I'm, like, going to hopefully get a visa or when. Like you said, it's kind of scary because I'm living here and, technically, have an expired “carnet”, which I can't really do much with. You know, if I wanted to open up a new bank account, if I wanted to move and get a new apartment, I technically couldn’t with my expired RUT. And I think that's the case for a lot of immigrants here—a lot of foreigners.

Ian: Yeah, a lot of people feel like they're in a “legal limbo.” So, a good way to put it, I guess, you don't really know exactly what status you have, or what's going to happen even in the future with that visa. So yeah, it's a very uncomfortable, kind of vulnerable feeling.

Paige: The good thing about Chile and why I decided to move here was it is easy to get a visa; it just takes a while. Like, I think in a lot of other countries, you need endless documents, and they're really strict and you know. But here, like, it like, once you apply, it’s just the waiting and like the getting the forms, but you generally will get a visa. So, like, it is open. Like, I'm not worried that I won't get a visa, it's just the headache of “uh, I have to wait six hours in the PDI to get one form. And then the next day, wait seven hours in this line.

Ian: Sure. And even more complicated than that. You worry about what happens if I lose my ID? What happens if I lose my debit card or anything else that you can only get you have that visa status? And yeah, it’s scary to think if I lose my debit card, and I'm waiting, maybe up to a year to get a visa…I can't get another card. I can't get another ID. These are obviously really essential parts of living.

Paige: Absolutely. It's interesting. I get a lot of students that asked me, “oh, what is the visa process like in the US? I'm like, “I'm a citizen. I've never had to do it.” So, I think it's probably hard. I would assume with the current administration—they’re probably been pretty strict. But I really don’t know.

Ian: Yeah, obviously I can't speak too well to that either.

Paige: I have heard from people who have applied that it's, you know, it's a lot of documents. it's a lot of gathering stuff. But here, like I said, it's, you know, a lot of waiting in line and a lot of waiting for answers, but you will get a visa, most likely.

Ian: Right.

Paige: We won't get, like, rejected. But yeah, so I am still in “tramite” today. Hopefully next time you hear me, I will not be. Fingers crossed.

Ian: Fingers crossed.

Paige: Well again, as always, if you get lost, check out that transcript and vocabulary guide. Thanks for listening.

Ian: We'll see you next time.


Key Vocabulary, Phrases and Slang:


1.     contentious (adjective): causing an argument, controversial

a.     The judge made a contentious decision to punish the man. 

2.     to address (verb): to give attention to (something)

a.     We need to address the problem in accounting.

3.     elephant in the room (phrase): obvious and/or difficult situation that no one wants to talk about.

a.     Let’s talk about the elephant in the room here—abortion rights.

4.     screening process (noun): the method of background research to give approval to someone to buy a gun.

a.     The screening process for the rifle was a part of the company’s policies.

5.     federal shutdown (noun): closing of government offices when there isn’t enough money to keep them open.

a.     The president declared a federal shutdown due to the lack of funds.

6.     proposal (noun): suggestion, recommendation.

a.     The organizations proposal included free services for a year.

7.     solar panels (noun): a panel that absorbs sunlight to use as an energy source.

a.     Solar panel technology has become more popular in recent years.

8.     bigger fish to fry (idiom): to have more important things to do.

a.     The CEO has bigger fish to fry than what color we should paint the walls.

9.     shouting contest (noun): an argument that involves people shouting at each other because of their strong opinions. 

a.     Politics are just a bunch of politicians in a shouting contest, if you ask me.

10.  ongoing battle (noun): a difficult situation that has been happening for an extended time.

a.     His health has been an ongoing battle for him since he was a teenager.

11.  frankly (adverb): honestly.

a.     Frankly, I don’t care if you don’t like it!

12.  common ground (noun): shared opinions or interests between people.

a.     We share common ground because we both love to play basketball.

13.  descendance (noun): ancestry, family lineage

a.     Her descendance is French-Canadian.

14.  isolated (adjective): alone, separated

a.     The island is isolated from the rest of the continent.

15.  boom (noun): quick increase

a.     Podcasts have experienced a boom in popularity.

16.  infrastructure (noun): the base or foundation needed for the operation of something.

a.     The office didn’t have the infrastructure needed to care for all the clients.

17.  overwhelmed (adjective): to be overcome by something too difficult to manage.

a.     My boss feels so overwhelmed with work that he shouted at our intern today.

18.  discrimination (noun): unfair treatment of certain people, usually because of race, religion or gender.

a.     The country still faces problems of discrimination today.

19.  noticeable (adjective): easy or clear to see

a.     He has a noticeable smile on his face.

20.  inundation (noun): overwhelming amount of people or things.

a.     The movie star received an inundation of letters from his fans.

21.  to suck (verb): to be terrible, not pleasing

a.     This chicken empanada I bought at the store sucks!

22.  dreadful (adjective): terrible, not pleasing.

a.     The process of paying taxes is dreadful.

23.  limbo (noun): uncertain period of waiting

a.     He was in academic limbo while he waited for his exam results.

24.  essential (adjective): necessary, very important

a.     It’s essential to study if you want to learn a new language.

25.  gathering (to gather) (verb): to collect, bring together.   

a.     They gathered all their money together so they could buy a gift for their mom.

26.  to reject (verb): to refuse, to say no to

a.     She rejected his offer to work on the ship for the summer.