By: Donald Kerwin
Click here for the HuffPost blog.
On Jan. 22, 2013, President Romney or President Obama should take a dramatic step to stabilize, strengthen and promote the integration of hundreds of thousands of American families. The president should issue an Executive Order that would allow persons who have passed the first hurdle in qualifying for a family-based visa to seek a waiver before they leave the United States that would permit their return after they secure a visa. To understand the significance of this step requires a primer on our nation's family-based immigration system.
The United States awards most of its "green cards" -- roughly two-thirds -- to persons who enjoy close family ties to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs). This process begins with the filing of a petition by a U.S. citizen or LPR for a non-citizen family member. By approving the petition, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) formally recognizes the existence of a qualifying family relationship. The agency then assigns a "priority date" or number based on the petition's filing date. When the date becomes "current" or advances to the front of the visa queue, the qualifying family member can apply for an immigrant visa. However, backlogs for persons
CLINIC’s BIA Pro Bono Project matches vulnerable noncitizens whose cases are on appeal before the BIA with pro bono counsel. Our volunteers are part of an important effort to ensure noncitizens have full access to the judicial system. We are fortunate to match nearly 100% of all cases selected for the Project with pro bono counsel. The Project’s success would not be possible without our hardworking and dedicated volunteers. We are very grateful for everything our volunteers do on behalf of the Project and their clients.
By Charles Wheeler