Setting the record straight on immigration rule change

The regulatory change is important because, under current procedures, some persons who have already met the eligibility requirements for green cards must leave the U.S. to obtain their permanent residence status, but as soon as they leave, they are immediately barred from re-entering the U.S. for three or ten years because of a period of unlawful presence in the United States. There is a family unity waiver available, but the way the law is currently implemented, the waiver can only be adjudicated abroad. That adjudication can often take many months, leaving the applicants in limbo, waiting to find out if the waiver has been approved and if they will be able to go back to the U.S to join their US citizen or legal resident family member. As a result, many otherwise eligible applicants do not leave the country to get their green cards, remaining unauthorized in the U.S. rather than risk separation from their families. Under the proposed rule change, spouses and children of U.S. citizens who are eligible for a green card would be allowed to apply for the waiver without leaving the U.S. They would still be required to depart from the U.S. before receiving final approval and their green card.
 
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The author claims that those benefitting from the new rule would allow certain immigrants to jump the line, displacing other workers coming to the U.S. lawfully. However, this proposed process only applies to the spouses and children of US citizens whose green card applications have been approved -- the very people who have been waiting in line. They are the “immigrants who escape the harsh conditions of life in countries like El Salvador, Mexico, Russia or Guatemala” Sobhani thinks are being undermined. More than that, they are the husbands, wives, and children of U.S. citizens. They would still have to meet the same eligibility standards for their green cards. Under the proposed rule, no new people would be made eligible for green cards.
 
Sobhani also taps into restrictionist rhetoric on “anchor babies” for no apparent reason other than to rile readers’ passions.  The U.S. citizen children born to immigrant parents are not able to petition for green cards for their parents or siblings until they are 21 years old. More importantly for these purposes, the proposed rule would not apply to the parents or siblings of these U.S. citizens.
 
Finally, there is ample evidence that immigrants – lawful or unlawful – are not responsible for the country’s economic woes or for continued high levels of unemployment. While scapegoating immigrants may make some people feel better, it does nothing to address the very real underlying economic problems facing the U.S.   
 
This type of knee-jerk reaction to any immigration-related action is precisely what prevents us from moving forward with a constructive debate and fixing our nation's broken immigration system.  Calling it “amnesty,” accusing the president of imperialism, or blaming immigrants for our problems may successfully garner an emotional response from some audiences, but for those interested in real solutions, it is simply a waste of time.
 
Michele Waslin, Ph.D. is a senior policy analyst for the Immigration Policy Center at the American Immigration Council.