Want to understand how broken the immigration system is? Take a look at the story of this undocumented Chinese immigrant hiding from the Border Patrol while serving at the border guarding against the migrants in an American military unit deployed by the Trump Administration.

Let that sink in and let it percolate a little bit longer.

An undocumented immigrant is helping to keep other immigrants out of the country. The undocumented immigrant is serving in an American military unit on the border while hiding from the Border Patrol.

It cannot be any stranger than that.

But that is the reality of the immigration system in America.

Donald Trump and supporters demand that immigrants come to America “the right way.” The constant drum beat is that immigrants are welcome if they “do it the right way.”

But there is no “right way.”

That is the underlining problem with the American immigration system, it is near impossible to “do it the right way.”

The story of the Chinese immigrant poignantly points this out.

The Washington Post published; “He’s a U.S. soldier deployed on the southern border — and an unlawful immigrant” by Alex Horton on Wednesday. The article tells us the story of “an illegal immigrant” who is currently mobilized on the southern border with his Army unit to keep the migrants out of the country. For obvious reasons, the Washington Post is not publishing the soldier’s name.

According to the article, the undocumented soldier, one of 5,400 soldiers on the border, “avoids” Customs and Border Protection agents out of fear that they will find out he “is in violation of immigration law.”

The soldier came to America on a student visa. The military offered him the opportunity to become a citizen by serving. He enlisted under the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program and was scheduled to begin basic training.

But Trump’s immigration policies collided with the law. The MAVNI program requires immigrants to enlist while legally in the country. He was in full compliance of all requirements. However, Trump’s focus on making the immigration process so onerous as to discourage immigration that the government’s background screening ground to a slow pace. The botched-up bureaucracy made about 4,300 MAVNI immigrants “illegal” because their visas had expired through no fault of theirs.

The Chinese soldier along with many others waited “months, or years” to start their service with many of them officially out of status, subject to deportation. According to the news article, the Chinese soldier received a “deferred action” in August 2017 to allow him to continue to enlist. This permission has now expired as well.

Meanwhile the MAVNI program has been closed and is no longer processing new applications. Those who were in the process now find themselves in limbo, many serving in military units. Nonetheless, the Chinese soldier went to basic training in January, went on to advanced training and then was assigned to a unit that was mobilized to the border in response to the migrants.

His legalizing paperwork continues to be perpetually in limbo as it was paused during his deployment.

As the Chinese soldier serving in an American unit labors to bolster the southern border against migrants, he worries about any interactions with border agents that may discover his undocumented status and promptly deport him.

Let that sink in for a moment, an American soldier fears the federal officers he is supposedly helping because they could deport him at any moment. Is the soldier at fault? He did everything asked of him.

This is what a broken immigration system looks like.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...