When families stay together America wins

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The Obama Administration has announced new regulations to be published for comment by US Citizenship and Immigration Services that will address a long standing hardship visited on American families by current immigration regulations. For U. S. citizens who are married to persons who are in the United States illegally, daily life carries the certainty that normalcy can never be achieved. Apprehension at breakfast in Delaware can mean dinner in Mexico, with a family left behind without means of financial support. No community benefits when such a scenario unfolds.

Presently, illegal immigrants married to U.S. citizens must leave the U.S. for 3 to 10 years before applying for legal entry. Once back in their home country they can apply for a waiver of the 3 to 10 year period if they have no criminal record and they can prove their absence causes an extreme hardship for their U.S. citizen spouse or parent. This existing process can lead to lengthy separations for families with enormous economic consequences, small on the family and large on the local community. The proposed procedural change would allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens to stay in the United States while the government decides whether to issue a waiver, significantly shortening the time families are separated. Immigrants will still need to return to their country to apply for a visa once the waiver is granted but much uncertainty has been removed from the process.

We thank Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security, for undertaking this initiative. By this action, Mr. Mayorkas has administered a sorely needed dose of compassion and common sense to a debate that all too often incites demagoguery and mean-spirited advocacy. And while we recognize that these proposed regulations have been many months in the making, we must acknowledge that presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich has added his own voice to this welcoming and warm direction of change to the immigration arena.