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Immigration Reform Should Unite, Not Divide Families

One of the biggest news stories of this year has been the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Each day, hundreds of immigrant men, women, children and entire families cross into the U.S. with the hope of finding work, reuniting with family members, or finding safety from dangerous situations. The large number of immigrants in custody has overwhelmed Customs and Border Patrol agents and other government agencies, leading to a loud call for immediate immigration reform. Regardless of political affiliation or proximity to the border, the reality is that immigration reform involves real people with families and personal needs. Ultimately, immigration reform should unite and not divide families as they seek a better life in the U.S. Good immigration reform should streamline the immigration application process while also protecting our borders and national security.

Current Immigration Rules Separate Families

Immigration laws currently require a waiting period for the children of immigrants applying for entry or visas to the U.S. The length of the waiting period varies depending on multiple factors, but unfortunately, many children age out of eligibility while waiting for green cards or entry visas. These grown children may have spent years on a visa waiting list, only to be pushed to the back of the line once they turn 21. As a result, thousands of families continue to be separated as parents and their underage children legally immigrate to the U.S. while their other children 21 years or older are forced to remain outside the U.S. This separation can actually increase the number of immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. illegally as these older children attempt to reunite with the rest of their family. By allowing children 21 or older that have been on waiting lists to retain their spot in line for visas, this could expedite the reunion of separated families and also reduce the number of immigrants seeking illegal entry into America.

Keep Immigrant Children From Falling Through The Cracks

The recent wave of immigrants illegally entering the U.S. has included a large number of young children, many traveling alone or with other minors. When they arrive in the U.S., they are sent to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters for care. While these children wait for their immigration case to be processed, they may be released into the custody of a relative already in the U.S. However, some children either have no relatives in the U.S. or have no way to contact them, so these children remain in federal custody. Immigration reform should specifically focus on drastically reducing the huge backlog of pending court cases involving immigrant minors so they can either quickly be reunited with their relatives back home, or placed into custody with relatives in the U.S.

Reward Immigrants Pursuing Military Service or College Degrees

One of the sad truths about our current immigration policy is that there are no provisions for young immigrants, especially those brought here illegally by parents or relatives, to expedite their green card process. In particular, many illegal immigrant children growing up in the U.S. for a large part of their life end up pursuing higher education and college degrees, or enlist in the United States military. Comprehensive immigration policy reform may include additional options or significantly reduced wait times for green cards or naturalization for illegal immigrants if they are pursuing college degrees or serving in the armed forces.

Immigration law is complex and ever changing, making it difficult for immigrants and their family members to successfully navigate the immigration process. Immigrants need experienced and thorough immigration law attorneys on their side to ensure their successful immigration and/or naturalization. Christiansen Law Firm offers exceptional legal services to individuals or families in need of immigration support, including application assistance, appeals, naturalization, international adoption, and deportation or consular or port of access entry. Contact Christiansen Law Firm's Houston or San Antonio offices to schedule an appointment, or go online to request additional information.

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