I’m sure some Members of Congress are on your naughty list for failing to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. On the other hand, I’ve been (mostly) a good boy this year, and I have the following wish list for my clients. You see, if Congress can’t pass immigration reform, these are all things that can be done by the immigration agencies, without changes to existing law. So please, Santa, could you bring us the following?
· Parole – Authorizing parole for spouses of US citizens would make them eligible to apply for residency without triggering unlawful presence bars or requiring difficult waivers needed for family unity.
· Deferred Action – Expanding the deferred action program to undocumented people present in the United States would allow them to seek employment authorization and other needed documents, such as drivers licenses. It would also make them eligible to seek travel permits to return to their home countries for humanitarian, business, or educational reasons.
· Longer Employment Authorization – In most cases, employment authorization documents (EAD’s) are issued for one year. At $380 per renewal plus preparation fees, this is an exceptionally high cost for many people seeking to renew EAD’s each year. The Department of Homeland could very easily approve EAD’s for a two-year period. Particularly of interest would be cancellation of removal applicants whose cases were administratively closed. Those applicants are often low-income people who incur a difficult financial hardship at each renewal.
· Repapering Policy – With the Department announcing a liberal repapering policy, many people may benefit from having the “clock” reset on their physical presence in the United States. Some people are now waiting up to five years or more to have their final removal (deportation) hearings held. Oftentimes, benefits of applying for cancellation of removal are lost in the process as their physical presence to qualify for cancellation stops upon issuance of removal charges in immigration court.
· Increased Prosecutorial Discretion – Increasing the 2011 prosecutorial discretion program and broadening its scope would lead to more administrative closures of removal cases, alleviating the threat of deportation and the breakup of families.
All of these programs can implement the appropriate background investigations to screen for public safety and national security concerns. Those with serious criminal histories can be excluded and those supporting their families can be included.
Please, Santa, if you could bring these gifts to my clients in the coming year I will be very grateful. Have a talk with your elves at DHS and see if we can help some good people out.
The milk and cookies will be on the mantle, as usual.