Obama administration proposes easing path for illegal immigrants

The Obama administration has announced it is proposing to tweak immigration law and potentially avoid hundreds of thousands of prolonged separations between U.S. citizens and their illegal immigrant spouses and children, according to The New York Times.

Currently, most illegal immigrants must return to their home countries to receive a legal visa and rejoin a spouse or child in the U.S.; once they leave the U.S., they automatically are barred from returning for at least three years—often a decade. With the regulatory tweak, immigrants would be able to live in the U.S. for much of the process. The administration also believes the change could encourage more citizens to come forward to bring illegal immigrant relatives into the system.

Alejandro Mayorkas, director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, says the measure is meant to relieve citizens' burdens and streamline an inefficient, costly process.

"We are achieving a system efficiency, saving resources for the taxpayers and reducing the time of separation between a spouse or child and the U.S. citizen relative," Mayorkas says.

The measure does not require Congress' approval. Although immigration lawyers and immigrant and Latino groups are voicing strong support and praise for the measure, many Republicans oppose it, calling it "backdoor amnesty" and viewing it as a way to increase flagging Latino support for Obama.

On Jan. 6, Citizenship and Immigration Services published a formal notice in the Federal Register announcing it was preparing a new regulation. However, issuing the rule could be a long process, and the agency hopes to complete it by the end of this year.

Date : 1/10/2012