January 9, 2012

Kinder, gentler US immigration laws

green card

Americans like to think that they live in the freest country in the world, but many have had a shock when they find out that their government has something to say about who they fall in love with in and whether they are going to be allowed to live happily ever after. Well, not so much who, but whether the American will be allowed to live with their spouse in their own country of birth, in the land of opportunity among their friends and family.

I've heard from hundreds of Americans married to Hondurans who families are being or have been torn apart because of US immigration laws. Their choice is to leave the only country they've known in their life or to split up their families and let their children grow up without a father for years while the spouse goes through the lengthy immigration process. In the case of Honduran spouses, that could mean living a life of extreme hardship by chosing to come to a country where there are no jobs, where there is no decent healthcare in many areas, where it will probably be impossible for them to earn enough to pay for even adequate schooling for their (US citizen!) children, and where the crime situation is frightening. Is that what the US government wants for its citizens, its children?

And before you hard-hearted people say it's their own fault and they should have known, I propose that a lot of people did not know the immigration laws! Maybe not so much now, with the stink there has been about immigration in the past few years, but before that, yes, I think most people only had a very vague idea of what the US immigration laws were. I think that many thought they could marry whoever they fell in love with and if they weren't US citizens, they could just apply for them and boom! Their spouses would become citizens, too.

Many American spouses had the shock of their lives to find out that their loved one had to leave the country to apply for a visa, and sometimes, depending upon their status, had to stay away for 3 years even if they entered the US legally or even up to 10 years if they didn't.

The Obama Administration has now proposed a “tweak” in the immigration law. The New York Times reports, “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.”

I think this is a good thing. Immigrants who are married to US citizens should be given priority and US citizens shouldn't be put through the hardship of being separated from their spouse for many years. As one interviewee put it, “We can’t survive without each other,” she said. “I should have a right as a U.S. citizen to live in my country with my husband.”

I hope this helps many of the people who have written to me with sad stories.

Newer posts Older posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...