Green Card Path Made Easier? Perhaps Not

By Andy Semotiuk | January 17, 2012

by Andy Semotiuk – Pace Law Firm: The recent news that the U.S. will enable illegal immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens to apply inside the country for a preliminary waiver is good news. Currently, illegal immigrants are subject to a 10 year bar to re-entry, because they entered the US illegally in the first place. The new policy will eliminate the 10 year ban, and allow illegal immigrants to file for a waiver without first leaving the country.

This is good news, but it hardly warrants the champagne popping zeal that it is receiving from some quarters like the New York Times.

The problem currently faced by illegal immigrants in the United States is that they cannot become “legal” unless 1) their U.S. citizen spouse sponsors them and 2) they go back home and then return to the U.S. as an immigrant. This is required because U.S. policy states that illegal immigrants should not be able to jump legal immigrants who have been waiting in line for years.

The new remedy does not address the key issue that these couples face: proof of “extreme hardship,” not to the immigrant, but to the U.S. citizen spouse. This is well nigh impossible, and the result is that a large majority of such applications have been and will continue to be rejected.

The true solution to the problem would be to lower the standard of proof from “impossible” to a more reasonable standard of proof – such as “inordinate hardship” on the couple. Furthermore, U.S. policy should make it possible for a U.S. citizen to sponsor their illegal spouse inside the United States, provided the illegal spouse is not a newly arrived immigrant, has paid or does pay income taxes for monies earned in the USA, and that they are punished in some other suitable manner, such as a fine or community service. Such a development would merit a stand up cheer for President Obama and his White House staff. What we have instead is a lot of window dressing but not much substance.

In short, where’s the beef?