For Immediate Release
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White House Announcement a Step in the Right Direction for Some Immigrant Families
January 6, 2012 – The White House announced Friday that it will propose a change to current immigration law, eliminating a Catch-22 dilemma for the hundreds of thousands of spouses and children of U.S. citizens eligible to become legal permanent residents.
Currently, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents face unnecessary and dangerous bureaucratic hurdles in obtaining lawful permanent resident status for their spouse or child. They have to file a visa petition, and once the petition is approved and the visa appointment scheduled, the spouse or child has to travel to a U.S. consulate in their home country to be interviewed. Departure itself triggers a 3-or-10 year bar to re-entry to the U.S. for many applicants (those who are undocumented and who have been living in the U.S. for more than 6 months). Immigration can provide a waiver of the bar if immigrants can demonstrate that their absence would cause “extreme hardship” to the U.S. citizen family member, and must be applied for while the applicant is waiting in the home country. The decision takes weeks, months or even over a year to be completed. Meanwhile, families are separated and spouses and children are forced to wait in potentially dangerous situations until a waiver decision is made. Waiver requests are oftentimes denied and so families typically don’t risk applying and forego efforts to get the much-needed green card.
AI Justice Executive Director Cheryl Little said: “We’ve been calling for this kind of relief for a long time. These bars to re-entry are inhumane and cause unnecessary hardship to US citizens and legal residents who have done everything required by our government to lawfully reunite with loved ones.”
AI Justice Policy Director Susana Barciela adds, “We are, however, concerned about the length of time it could take to implement change which is long overdue. Indeed, family unity is the cornerstone of our immigration laws. We’re also concerned that if relatives have to travel to Cuidad Juarez for their visa interview their lives could be in danger. Violence there has exploded in recent years.”
Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) has been fighting for the American dream since its founding in 1996. One of the nation’s largest non-profit immigration law firms, AI Justice represents vulnerable immigrants at no charge. This direct service work informs its broader policy work. AI Justice influences national policy; successfully litigates or otherwise challenges patterns of abuse; and educates the public about the impact immigration laws and directives have on our communities. AI Justice is dedicated to protecting and promoting the basic rights of immigrants..