NY Times Editorial: A Common Sense Immigration Move
The Obama administration is taking a major step toward bolstering legal immigration and protecting families — while removing some of the arbitrary cruelty from the workings of the immigration bureaucracy. It announced on Friday that it would change a notorious process to avoid separating families when immigrants apply to become legal permanent residents. Under current law, an illegal immigrant who has an American citizen for a spouse or parent is generally allowed to apply for a green card to become a legal permanent resident. But the application has to be made in an immigrant’s home country — and any illegal immigrant who leaves the country is automatically barred from returning for at least three years, sometimes 10.
If such a separation would cause “extreme hardship” to an American citizen, an immigrant can apply for a waiver. But he or she has to make that application — and await the decision — in his or her home country. Because waivers are notoriously time consuming and hard to get, an applicant would typically wait months abroad for a waiver to be approved and risk being stranded from his or her family for years if it is not approved.
Not surprising, many immigrants who are eligible for visas — possibly hundreds of thousands — choose to stay in the shadows instead.
More on this editorial at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/07/opinion/a-common-sense-immigration-move.html