This petition has been started by a group of women who know, firsthand, the nightmare that the U.S. immigration system can be. We have experienced prolonged separations from our husbands while they go through the processes for legal status from their countries of origins. As a result of the processes currently in place, we have suffered many hardships (ie, financial hardships, emotional hardships, functioning as single parents to our children, and so forth). We need more family-friendly immigration processes. Strong families = strong communities!!
Specific changes we would like to see include:
1) A more family-friendly approach to the I-601/I-212 waiver process. Currently, immigrants are required to leave the U.S. and wait several months or more for processing. This puts hardships on the family. Additionally, many of these countries that the immigrants are sent back to are dangerous and have poor economic and health conditions. Immigrants face illness, poverty, and even death. The consequences to the citizen spouses and children that result from the current process can be avoided by allowing the immigrant to wait in the U.S. during waiver processing, even if with an ankle bracelet to ensure that the immigrant does not flee.
2) Changes to the 6B ban. Currently, immigrants who miss a single court date are automatically eligible for deportation and a 5-year ban which does not qualify for any kind of waiver. Many immigrants do not understand our legal processes and/or move around a lot, making it is easy for them to get confused and miss their court dates. Under current processes, immigrants can file a "Motion to Reopen", but many times, immigration judges will deny the motion, thus, enforcing the 5-year bar without giving the immigrant any chance to explain why the court date was missed. This 5-year ban is detrimental to families. It is proposed that immigrants in removal proceedings are guaranteed the right to see an immigration judge prior to removal, if they decide to exercise this right. Furthermore, it is proposed that immigrants already removed be able to file for a waiver to lift their 5-year bar.
3) We would like to see timelines strictly enforced for I-130 petitions. This may mean that more officers need to process petitions. Under current processes, U.S. citizens can "petition" for their spouse or child. This is the first step in the process. We have seen these petitions take double the processing time to be approved. Cases cannot move forward with any type of waiver or visa application until the I-130 is approved; this causes long delays (we have seen as long as 10 months in our own, personal experience) in immigrants' cases.
4) We would like to see a permanent path for undocumented immigrants who were brought the U.S. as children. These immigrants should not be sent back to an unfamiliar country as a penalty for something they had no choice in. Deferred action is only grants a temporary status. We want to see something permanent put into place!
5) We would like to see some kind of path put into place for immigrants who have U.S. citizen children but do not have a U.S. citizen spouse. Currently, the I-601/I-212 waivers are available immigrants who have a U.S. spouse or parent in the U.S., but not for immigrants whose only family tie is U.S. citizen children. This is a disservice to those children who grow up without their parent. There needs to be a path to keep children and parents together!
We would like to see our government get serious about immigration reform. Furthermore, we would like to see these changes made RETROACTIVELY.
For further information, including stories of families affected by immigration processes: