U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should put in place its proposal to avoid family separations when immigrants have U.S. citizen relatives, implementing it under broad conditions.
The current process to acquire permanent residency requires the applicant to leave the country in order to obtain their visa. But when they do so, applicants are subject to a 10-year bar on re-entering the United States as punishment for having been in the country without authorization.
Under the new rule, these immigrants would receive a waiver so they can wait for their paperwork here, as long as they show that if they leave the country, their U.S. citizen relatives will suffer “extreme hardship.”
The proposal is good, but it can be improved to achieve the desired purpose. On the one hand, it’s important to add an appeal step to the process of obtaining the waiver. On the other, the rule does not define “extreme hardship,” and USCIS officials are now interpreting the term in the strictest sense. This should be changed to include more people, making the federal agency more efficient.
This is an important change that should be implemented to solve the legal dead end thousands of immigrants who have built their lives in this country find themselves in.
This change won’t take away the need or urgency for comprehensive immigration reform that takes into account economic and human aspects. However, even though this changes a rule of very limited scope, there are those who have absurdly denounced it as an amnesty. These critics are the same who in other times clamor for family values, but who hypocritically ignore them when it comes to immigration.
We hope USCIS does the right thing by disregarding the critics and focusing on the purpose of the change: allowing as many immigrants as possible to benefit from it so their citizen relatives are not negatively impacted.