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Family immigration: obtaining legal residency can be challenging

Obtaining legal residency in the United States can be very challenging, even for Louisiana families who have spent decades in the country. One married couple, who has lived in this country for over 20 years, has struggled to become legalized. They came to the U.S. on tourist visas, and the husband got a temporary work permit, while the family tried to adjust for residency status. The couple enrolled their Mexican-born children in school, and, while they qualified for the Millennium Scholarship, their father refused the assistance.

The family came to the U.S. with the intention of staying permanently, but it has not been as easy as they had hoped it would be. Both spouses have lost their jobs, making things difficult financially. The husband has been given a stay of deportation for a year, but his wife flew home for her father's funeral and re-entered the country illegally shortly afterwards. This means that she could be deported at any time. Splitting up the family is a very real possibility, and the family worries about that regularly.

Family immigration has become a serious issue as immigrant children, mothers and fathers face the risk of deportation. Some members of a family may be eligible for deportation relief, but other members may not be. About a year ago, the Senate introduced a new plan for immigration reform, but Congress has yet to make any decisions regarding the topic. President Obama has made it clear that he wants to give Congress time to act on immigration reform before stepping in and taking executive action.

There are many steps the government can take to make changes to immigration reform. One option would be to broaden the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would allow young people brought into the United States by their family to be given a temporary work permit, assuming they meet certain criteria.

Another option would be to use parole to allow U.S. military families to stay in the country. Some immigration reform advocates are also trying to put a stop to the practice of checking the immigration status of people who are pulled over by police. If these changes are made, immigrant families will, hopefully, be able to legally stay in the U.S. without any difficulties.

Source: Las Vegas Sun, "How immigration inaction could separate families," Tovin Lapan, May 18, 2014

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