WASHINGTON, DC – Today, FWD.us led a group of 58 key organizations serving and advocating on behalf of immigrant communities at the local, state, and national levels, including direct service providers, grassroots volunteer organizations, and civil rights advocates, in calling on Congress to advance legislation to reform our nation’s outdated immigration bars, including the three-year, ten-year, and permanent bars.
In a new letter to Congress, the organizations call for commonsense reforms to expand discretion when determining inadmissibility and to restore access to existing legal immigration avenues for American families who are currently facing separation or are otherwise impacted by these outdated policies:
“Millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. qualify for existing legal immigration pathways to secure a permanent status, including being sponsored by a spouse or child who is a U.S. citizen. To receive their green card, they are typically required to leave the U.S. for an interview and re-enter with a legal status. At this point, many undocumented immigrants are surprised to be declared ‘inadmissible’ to the U.S. which can happen for roughly 70 different reasons,” wrote the organizations.
Enacted in 1996, these immigration bars have made it impossible for long-term undocumented immigrants, many of them spouses and parents of U.S. citizens, to “get in line” to receive a visa and adjust their status through existing legal channels. For example, FWD.us estimates that approximately 1.1 million undocumented immigrants, including as many as 100,000 DACA recipients, have a spouse who is a U.S. citizen who could sponsor them for a green card. However, the immigration bars often prevent them from actually receiving those green cards, and can actually put their families at a greater risk of separation.
Added the organizations: “Congress should pass legislation to reform the bars on re-entry, and to provide government officials with more discretion to review and weigh inadmissibilities in immigration cases. This would allow individuals in the U.S. to access the already-existing legal immigration avenues for which they qualify, and would affirm Congress’ intent that our immigration laws promote family unity and serve the interests of U.S. citizens, including those whose spouses are undocumented.”
Notable signatories include the Coalition For Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), American Families United, Immigration Hub, National Immigration Law Center, United We Dream, Haitian Bridge Alliance, and more.
To learn more about the impacts of immigration bars on mixed-status families, see Amanda’s story where she details how “the cost of inaction is the time [they’re] losing as a family.”