Federal agency simplifies reunification process for some immigrant families
El Hispanic News
Portland, OR — The first week of 2012 brought a shift in immigration policy that will help bring some families together by speeding up access to green cards to spouses of U.S. citizens.
Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced “a regulatory change that would reduce the amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their families while their family members go through the process of becoming legal residents of the United States.”
USCIS is an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
If speedier, the new ruling also has its share of complexities. Those in doubt would do well to contact an expert — governmental or private — to learn how the new policy applies to specific cases.
Francisco López welcomed the policy shift, saying that it will affect at least 200 families currently served by Portland attorney Stephen Manning and the Immigrant Law Group. López is executive director of Causa, a Salem-based immigrant rights organization.
“Currently,” Mayorkas said, “children and spouses of U.S. citizens who have accrued a certain period of unlawful presence in the U.S., and have to leave the country in order to become a legal permanent resident of the U.S., are barred from returning to their families for as long as three or 10 years.”
By issuing “provisional waivers,” Mayorkas said, the process will be much quicker. “Not only will this proposal further the Administration’s commitment to family unity,” he said, “but the change would improve government efficiency by increasing the predictability and consistency of the application process.”
“We applaud today’s announcement by DHS,” López said. “This is a much needed change in the current flawed policy – making it one that favors keeping families together. For far too long, families were going through this process separated from one another, and often being placed in dangerous situations.”
“We look forward to the Obama Administration and Congress continuing to improve our immigration system for immigrants and families,” López added.
U.S. Representatives Charles González (D-Texas), Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), and Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) endorsed the change.
“I am happy and excited that the President is taking this step,” Gutiérrez said. “On the immigration administrative fixes I have been fighting for, the President spent the last year saying ‘no I can’t’ and now he is saying ‘yes we can’ and the community will get the message. This is a movement in a positive direction that will not fix broader issues of immigration, but for a certain number of families caught in a bureaucratic nightmare this is the common sense solutions I have been urging.”
“Americans in every corner of our country know that our immigration system is badly broken,” Becerra said. “The President deserves credit for setting in place another essential building block through administrative action [and] moving us closer to a common sense immigration policy.”
González added his applause for President Barack Obama as he called for even more advances. “President Obama must do everything available administratively to protect U.S. families, but we cannot lose focus on the dire need to overhaul our country’s inadequate immigration laws.”
The shift in USCIS policy recalled a previous thought from Obama. “We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea — the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That’s why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. The future is ours to win. But to get there, we cannot stand still.”
Este artículo también está disponible en / This post is also available in: Spanish
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