DHS rule would ease path back to US for some illegal immigrants

DHS rule would ease path back to US for some illegal immigrants
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The Obama administration is moving to make it easier for some illegal immigrants to return to the U.S. after going back to their home countries to apply for a visa.

Draft regulations from the Department of Homeland Security would expand a waiver program for certain illegal immigrants with family ties in the United States, allowing them to avoid years-long bans that would otherwise deem them ineligible for return. 

The proposal, meant to promote “family unity,” is coming under fire from conservatives who deride the plan as the latest example of lax immigration enforcement under President Obama.


“It accelerates our descent into third world status,” Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingPence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' First Democrat announces Senate bid against Iowa's Grassley MORE (R-Iowa) told The Hill. “Anyone who can sneak into America gets to stay — unless their presence makes President Obama politically vulnerable.”

Under the plan, Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services would expand eligibility for eligibility for “unlawful presence” waivers, according to the text of a proposed rule published last week in the Federal Register.

The State Department is responsible for issuing visas. Foreigners must apply at the U.S. Consulate in their home country. That presents a problem for illegal immigrants who could be blocked from returning to the U.S., even if they qualify for a visa.

Under current immigration law, illegal immigrants living in the country for more than 180 days cannot return to the U.S. for three years after leaving, while those living here for more than a year risk a 10-year ban.

Citizenship and Immigration Services is looking to smooth over the process by granting certain illegal immigrants permission to return to the U.S. before they even leave the country.

The agency is expanding the number of illegal immigrants it offers these waivers to while they are still living in the U.S.

"DHS is proposing to expand the provisional waiver process in the interests of encouraging eligible aliens to complete the visa process abroad, promoting family unity, and improving administrative efficiency,” the agency wrote in the Federal Register.

The move is sure to exacerbate a larger fight between Republicans and the Obama administration over immigration reform.
"Why would you allow someone living unlawfully in America to apply for a visa at all?” asked King.

He and other Republicans have been relentless in their criticism of the President Obama’s immigration policies, with much of the ire directed an executive order issued last November that could permit nearly 5 million illegal immigrants to stay in the United States.

Under the Obama administration’s immigration policy, the subject of an ongoing court battle, the federal government would defer the deportations of these illegal immigrants in order to pursue more violent criminals.

But Republicans accuse the Obama administration of refusing to enforce the law, and the latest proposal is generating similar criticism.

While the Obama administration says it is about keeping immigrant families
together, King says the president is more concerned about giving Democrats a boost in future elections.

"President Obama wants amnesty,” King said. "He wants to change the face of America and build a permanent leftist majority that will support the Democratic Party."

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed rule.