As I suspected in my last column, the January deadline came and went without a fix for DACA. It was agreed to extend funding of the government, with the promise that DACA would be fixed. Unfortunately, it is likely that the issue will remain unresolved for the time being and a new spending bill will be passed without an immigration component.
Some positive steps have been made toward reaching a DACA fix. The president has stated that in return for significant funding for border security (and his wall), he would expand the DACA fix to include people who were eligible for DACA, but did not sign up. This would raise the number of people eligible for the pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million. Although this is a positive development, President Trump’s current position on family unification, and his continued practice of calling it “chain migration,” will make the passing of meaningful immigration reform difficult.
The term “chain migration” conjures the idea that once one person obtains legal status, every member of their family gets to rush into the United States. This could not be further from the truth. To successfully petition for a family member, a petitioner and a beneficiary must provide extensive background information on themselves and the beneficiary family member. The beneficiary must also undergo biometric testing to discover any undisclosed criminal activity, appear at an in-person interview before an immigration officer and provide sufficient evidence that the beneficiary would have monetary support, so as not to become a burden on the state.
In addition to these requirements, the law currently creates categories for specific family members, which leads to varying wait times for a given family member to be able to obtain their green card. If you are a U.S. Citizen, your spouse, child under 21 or parent (if you are over 21) does not have to wait in line to file the form for their residency. Even with that, the processing time from the date of filing the application to receiving legal status is currently between eight months to a year. A U.S. citizen may also petition for their children who are over 21, and their siblings. The current wait for these relatives can be seven years or longer, depending on your country of origin. If you are a green card holder, you are able to petition your spouse, your children under 21 and your children over 21, if they are unmarried. The current wait time for the spouses and minor children of green card holders is one year and seven years for unmarried adult children.
To argue that family unification results in thousands of un-vetted immigrants flooding into the United States is completely false. It is only fair and just to allow people to extend the benefit and opportunity of legally living in this country to their loved ones. If the president does not move from his current position on family unification, the best outcome for DACA would be a narrow fix to provide some legal status for current recipients in exchange for some increased funding for border security.
William T. Hennessy, Esq., has been practicing law for ten years. He has recently opened an office in Danbury, Connecticut and is eager to help the community in which he grew up.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact him at any time, at (475) 329-5387, WHennessyEsq@gmail.com or via the website WHennessylaw.com