ICAN Applauds Obama Administration’s Proposal to Keep Families United

Rule Change Eases Prolonged Separations

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Boise, Idaho— The Idaho Community Action Network today applauded the Obama Administration’s proposed rule change allowing spouses and children of U.S. citizens to stay together in the United States while family members work to gain permanent U.S. residency.

Under current law, undocumented immigrants have to leave the United States and apply for a waiver to lessen the 3-year to 10-year bar they face before they can re-enter the country. Often, the process to obtain a waiver can take months or even years, meaning families have to endure severe prolonged separations.

The rule change would allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens to file their waivers in the United States. The action does not require congressional approval.

“Keeping families together is one of our greatest values in this country, and the Obama administration is moving in a positive direction to ease the difficulties that our families face on a daily basis,” said Alicia Clements, board member of the Idaho Community Action Network. “Families should not be torn apart because of our broken immigration system. This proposal gets rid of unnecessary red tape, and instead it focuses on family unity.”

The rule change would help families like Miguel and Lorena Reyes of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Miguel Reyes had to go back to Mexico in August 2011 to apply for his waiver. He is still waiting for it. Meanwhile, Lorena Reyes, a U.S. citizen, is working hard to maintain a normal family life for the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Ruth.

“This immigration process has been so stressful and devastating for me and my family,” said Lorena Reyes, who told her story to the Idaho Community Action Network, “Our life is on hold, our family’s future is on hold, as we wait for his visa to be approved. I am struggling financially and also suffering emotionally and so is our daughter. I want my husband to come back home now to wait for his waiver.”

ICAN hopes the policy is extended to immigrants with lawful permanent resident status. Families should not have to wait in other countries for prolonged periods of time to be reunited with their families in the United States.

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