In an attempt at winning Latino voters without the need to face battles in Congress, Mr. Obama is taking a backdoor approach to limited immigration reform. This approach is very modest and does nothing to address the biggest problem, the 12 million illegal aliens now living in the US.
The Obama administration wants to reunite Americans more quickly with their illegal immigrant spouses and children. Currently, many illegal immigrants must leave the country before they can ask the federal government to waive a three- to 10-year ban on legally coming back to the U.S. The length of the ban depends on how long they have lived in the U.S. without permission.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration proposed changing the rule to let children and spouses ask the government to decide on the waiver request before they return to their home country to apply for a visa to return here legally.
The illegal immigrants would still have to go abroad to finish the visa process, but getting a provisional waiver approved in advance would reduce the time they are out of the country from months, to days or weeks. The purpose is to minimize the CIS processing times which separate Americans from their families for long periods of time. It currently takes about six months for the government to issue a waiver.
The change in waiver processing is the latest move by President Barack Obama to make changes to immigration policy without congressional action. Congressional Republicans have criticized the administration for policy changes they describe as providing "backdoor amnesty" to illegal immigrants. The proposal also comes as Mr. Obama prepares for a re-election contest in which he needs the support of Hispanic voters.
Immigrants who do not have criminal records and who have only violated immigration laws can win a waiver if they can prove their absence would cause an extreme hardship for their American spouse or parent. The government received about 23,000 hardship applications in 2011 and more than 70 percent were approved.
The current system of applying for a waiver can split up families for months or years. And since there's no guarantee a person will win a waiver to return, many immigrant families refuse to take the risk of going abroad to apply for one.
Democratic lawmakers welcomed the Obama administration's move to change the immigration system by rulemaking, after efforts at a legislative reform failed.
Immigration has become a difficult issue for Obama ahead of the November election. As a presidential candidate, he pledged to change what many consider to be a broken immigration system.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced plans last year to review some 300,000 pending deportation cases in an effort to identify only criminal illegal immigrants, repeat immigration law violators and those who pose a national security or public safety threat.
Napolitano said the DHS would delay indefinitely the cases of many illegal immigrants who have no criminal record and those who have been arrested for only minor traffic violations or other misdemeanors.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton also issued a memo in June outlining how immigration authorities could use discretion in deciding which illegal immigrants to arrest and put into deportation proceedings.
Several attempts at an immigration law overhaul have failed in recent years, including the so-called DREAM Act, which would have allowed for some young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to earn legal status if they went to college or joined the military.
Q.1. What are the 3 and 10 year bars?
A.1. Illegal aliens who leave the US after six to 12 months of unlawful presence are barred from re-entry for three years. Those who leave the US after more than a year of unlawful presence are barred from re-entry for 10 years.
Q.2. What is meant by “unlawful presence” in the US ?
A.2. There are three types of unlawful presence:
· The first type is aliens who enter the US without being inspected by an Immigration officer. This is usually done by car from Canada or Mexico.
· The second type of unlawful presence is aliens who have non-immigrant visas but overstay the expiry date on their I-94 arrival cards.
· The third type is aliens who have violated the terms of their stay (status violators), such as foreign students who work illegally.
ROBERT MULLINS INTERNATIONAL www.rmiodp.com
Immigration Support Services-Tham Van Di Tru
9070 Bolsa Avenue, Westminster CA 92683 (714) 890-9933
779 Story Road, Ste. 70, San Jose, CA 95122 (408) 294-3888
6930 65th St. Ste. #105, Sacramento CA 95823 (916) 393-3388
42 Dang Thi Nhu, P. Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1, HCM (848) 3914-7638