The subject of immigration is perhaps one of the most fiercely debated subjects in the U.S. People have strong opinions on how and if we should make changes or protect existing measures that allow people to come and live in the U.S. from other countries. What this means is that virtually every move made or proposed by the government regarding immigration will be closely scrutinized.
One recent change proposed by the Department of Homeland Security is no different. Reports indicate that the proposal would allow more undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to stay here while they wait for their visa instead of being forced to leave for three or 10 years.
The plan would expand an existing waiver program that currently allows spouses and children of citizens who are not yet authorized to be in the U.S. to stay in the country while they wait to receive their visa. The new rule would allow more classes of immigrants to qualify for a waiver, including family- and employment-sponsored immigrants as well as certain types of special immigrants.
Supporters of the expanded program say that it will allow people to avoid the "extreme hardship" that can arise when a person is forced to leave the country. Currently, an undocumented immigrant can be barred from returning to the U.S. for up to 10 years if he or she leaves. This can create an enormous amount of strain on the person who is barred as well as the others who would be hurt by the absence.
Critics argue that expanding the program to include people besides immediate relatives could lead to an increase in fraud and diminishes the importance of seeking visas and citizenship in accordance with the law. They argue that without the penalty of being barred from reentry, there will be more incentive to enter and live in the country without authorization.
It is not yet known if the proposed changes will move forward or not, though the public has the next 60 days to comment on the rule. We will certainly follow any developments and explore what this could mean for people living in or wanting to travel to the U.S.
Source: The Washington Free Beacon, "Obama Admin Plans More Executive Action on Immigration," Elizabeth Harrington, July 22, 2015