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Thread: Article: Legal group urges Obama to grant lawful permanent residence to 2M immigrants without Congress's help By Peter Schey

  1. #1

    Article: Legal group urges Obama to grant lawful permanent residence to 2M immigrants

    Legal group urges Obama to grant lawful permanent residence to 2M immigrants without Congress's help


    The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law is today is sending a letter to President Obama in response to his request to the Department of Homeland Security on how to slow deportations. We do not believe asking for "Deferred Action Status" is enough. Our letter explains how aside from granting Deferred Action Status (temporary status) to the largest possible group of immigrants, the President could also, with no change in federal laws, grant lawful permanent resident status possibly to as many as two million immigrants -- without requiring any action by Congress. The letter to Obama may be downloaded here and is also attached (if listserv allows attachments).

    We urge all advocates to review the Center's letter and to send similar letters to the President, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Attorney General, with copies to all other principle aides and lawyers listed below. A complete list of names and addresses of officials who should receive letters from the community, unions, faith-based groups, city and county councils, CEOs, etc. is at the end of this email. With "comprehensive" immigration reform in Congress going nowhere, its imperative that as many concerned groups and individuals as possible send letters at this critical time urging that the types of changes suggested in our letter be adopted now.

    As you know, in response to political pressure by immigrant advocates, President Obama recently ordered the Department of Homeland Security to come up with recommendations on how to slow deportations of immigrants with special equities through an expansion of the Deferred Action Status program, the same status the administration recently extended to several hundred thousand DACA immigrants who were brought here by their parents as children and attended school here.

    In the Center's letter, we make clear that the administration has the authority to grant Deferred Action Status to as many as two million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. with approved visa petitions. The letter points out that these immigrants are already "in the system" as they are named in employment or family-based visa petitions that have been approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. The government therefore already knows their names, addresses, social security numbers, criminal histories, and other personal data. These immigrants very rarely self-deport and are highly unlikely to ever be apprehended or deported.

    Despite the fact that approximately two million of these immigrants have approved visa petitions, they are unable to become lawful permanent residents because they entered the U.S. long ago without inspection and therefore cannot adjust their status here but must travel to a U.S. consulate abroad to seek lawful permanent resident status. However, very few do so because in 1996 Congress enacted a so-called 10-year bar which states that an immigrant required to leave the country to process his or her permanent resident visa abroad who has lived in the U.S. for more than one year in unauthorized status must remain outside the U.S. for 10 years before becoming eligible for permanent resident status. While some immigrants are eligible for waivers of the 10-year bar, these are not often granted as the immigrant must prove that denying the waiver would cause extreme hardship to a US citizen petitioner, something most immigrants cannot prove. The result, we argue, is that the vast majority of these immigrants with approved visa petitions, as many as two million, simply continue to live in the U.S. in undocumented status.

    Our letter urges President Obama to grant this population Deferred Action Status (DAS), which then allows them to apply for "advance parole" (routinely granted to people on DAS) with which they can briefly travel to their home countries to visit relatives and then reenter the country lawfully on "parole" status. Once they reenter the US lawfully on parole status, they become eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. without having to leave to have their status adjusted by a US consulate abroad. The 10-year bar does not apply to immigrants who can adjust their status in the United States, only to those who must go abroad for processing at a US consulate.

    We argue that "following this administrative approach, President Obama could legally and without the involvement of Congress promptly extend lawful permanent resident status to about two million currently undocumented immigrants who mostly are long term residents of the U.S. and have unique skills that allowed them to obtain employment-related approved visa petitions or immediate family members here that allowed them to obtain family-based approved visa petitions."

    In addition, current regulations require that thousands of immigrants with outstanding deportation orders who have become eligible to adjust their status must "reopen" their deportation cases to have an Immigration Judge adjudicate their adjustment applications but the vast majority cannot reopen their cases because of strict time limits to do so. Amending this regulation to allow USCIS handle these applications would permit thousands of immigrants to now be granted lawful permanent resident status.

    The letter charges that administrative policies over the past six years have "caused the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immediate relatives of US citizens and lawful permanent residents, resulted in tens of thousands of criminal convictions of persons for no more than entry without inspection (making it difficult to impossible for these migrants to ever legalize their status in the future), resulted in hundreds of thousands of migrants being fired from stable jobs (through “worksite enforcement” that largely misses sweatshops) forcing them to turn to sweatshops and unscrupulous employers to find work (less than 1% leave the US), discouraged thousands of immigrants from reporting serious crimes for fear of exposure to deportation, [and] incarcerated more immigrants than ever before at enormous cost to the public and for no sound public safety reasons ..." We argue that by now "it should be clear that these policies have done nothing to advance the goal of comprehensive immigration reform."

    The letter recommends that the largest number of immigrants possible be granted Deferred Action Status even if they are not eligible for adjustment of status under existing law. We also identify about six sub-groups of immigrants with long-term residence and unique equities who should obviously qualify for DAS, including for example, the parents of US citizen children who are unable to petition for lawful permanent resident status until their children turn 21 years of age, unaccompanied abused and abandoned children, the parents of children and youth already granted Deferred Action Status by the administration, etc.. We point out that "granting immigrants Deferred Action Status and temporary employment authorization would immediately benefit US workers by removing the incentive of unscrupulous employers to hire undocumented migrants over equally or better qualified US citizens."

    Regarding immigrants with closed deportation cases who are now eligible one way or the other for permanent resident status but cannot get their deportation cases reopened because of time limits on doing so, we point out that Obama could easily amend the regulations to allow the USCIS (instead of Immigration Judges) process these applications for LPR status and this would legalize thousands more people.

    We explain why Operation Streamline is a reactionary program that has turned tens of thousands of immigrants into "criminals" merely based upon unauthorized entry, blocking them from legalizing their status in the future, and provide proposals that would reduce border violence and deaths, and reduce ICE involvement with local police which clearly discourages immigrants from reporting crimes.

    We hope this letter helps spark a debate that goes beyond Deferred Action Status to include ways to get people lawful permanent resident status now without needing any involvement by the Congress. We have a range of separate ideas on what Congress could be doing that we'll circulated separately fairly soon. For the next few weeks we urge groups to focus on what President Obama and his team could accomplish if they have the political will to do so.

    As mentioned above, the officials to write to are listed below with addresses. It is critically important that groups and individuals concerned with the abysmal failure of current immigration policy PROMPTLY communicate their views to the President that NOW is the time for the Administration to show leadership and put its political capital where its mouth has been on immigration reform. Letters can be short or long. But now is the time to act while the Administration has these issues under serious consideration and before they make decisions.

    Reprinted with permission.

    About The Author

    Peter Schey is President & Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law Foundation. The Foundation serves as a resource to social, legal, religious, and community-based groups throughout the United States and in other countries involved in civil and human rights advocacy.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of

  2. #2
    I am uncomfortable with administrative relief. Anything the current present can give using his executive power, the next president can take away using the same authority. Worse yet, relief given to aliens in unlawful status provides the next president with a list of people who have admitted alienage and unlawful status and provided their names and addresses. While it is unlikely that any president would use such a list to put children in removal proceedings, the push to expand the recipients could produce lists of people who are not so sympathetic. For more on this topic, see my article "DACA - Lessons Learned."

  3. #3
    Cyrus Mehta
    I do hope your proposals garner attention and momentum! Gary Endelman and I have been proposing administrative solutions for years. Join the company! Why do you need to give advance parole to have them travel abroad? The DHS can grant parole in place, which creates a lawful status for purposes of adjustment. EB beneficiaries may not be able to adjust because of the INA 245(c)(7) restriction, but they can travel abroad and consular process once parole in place wipes out unlawful presence. See our blog, Parole in Place - The Secret Sauce for Administrative Immigration Reform,

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