Easier Route to Green Card to Be Proposed for Some
Obama administration officials announced on Friday they are proposing a fix to a Catch-22 in immigration law that could spare hundreds of thousands of American citizens from prolonged separations from illegal immigrant spouses and children.
Although the regulatory tweak appears small, lawyers said it would mean that many Americans will no longer be separated for months or years from family members pursuing legal residency. Even more citizens could be encouraged to come forward to bring illegal immigrant relatives into the system, they said.
The move was greeted with unusually broad praise from immigration lawyers and immigrant and Latino groups, which have been critical of the high rate of deportations under President Obama. Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, called it a “welcome rational solution to a simple problem” that will mean “thousands upon thousands of families will remain together.”
The fix is one of a number of recent measures by the administration that do not require the approval of Congress, designed to ease the effects on immigrant communities of contradictory or outmoded statutes. White House officials have been seeking ways to shore up sagging support for the president, particularly among Latinos.
In essence, officials at Citizenship and Immigration Services are proposing to change the procedures by which illegal immigrants with American family members apply for legal residency — getting a document known as a green card — allowing a crucial early step to take place in the United States rather than in the immigrant’s home country.
Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of the agency, said the purpose was to relieve burdens on citizens while also streamlining a convoluted, costly process.
“We are achieving a system efficiency, saving resources for the taxpayers and reducing the time of separation between a spouse or child and the U.S. citizen relative,” Mr. Mayorkas said.