Because You're Mine I Walk the Line: The Trials and Tribulations of the Family Visa Program
27 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2011
Date Written: September 1, 2010
The current backlog of over 3.5 million immigration visas places strains on mixed immigration status families and exacerbates the undocumented population problem. Families who choose to wait for a visa to become available before reunifying may strain the family unit. Those who reunify in the United States without first obtaining legal status face deportation and inadmissibility because of their unlawful residence in the United States.
Congress has made some attempts to alleviate these strains. Unfortunately, the broad intent of these statutory changes has run up against narrow administrative interpretation. Nonetheless, in the present political climate, administrative solutions that seek to solve inadequacies in the current system are more politically expedient than installing a completely new family visa program. Therefore, immigration reform efforts must focus on expansive statutory interpretation of these and other existing statutes.
In this essay I outline the social costs of an inadequate family visa program and offer some suggestions for administrative improvements to the program that do not necessitate legislative action. However, the inadequacies of the current family petition system must eventually be addressed through a congressional overhaul of the process. Therefore, I visit the history of narrow administrative interpretation of immigration legislative action to highlight how important agency interpretation is in the drafting of immigration legislation. I conclude the essay by discussing the elements I believe should be included in family visa petition reform.
Keywords: Immigration, Aliens, Administrative Procedures, Statutory Interpretation, Immigration Reform, Visas, Family Petitions, Immigration Law, Citizenship and Immigration Service
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