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Best Of The Immigration Web
Curation Archives: Family Unity

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Want to learn more about family unity defense issues, like DOMA and same-sex marriage petitions, immigrant family visas, the impact of deportation and the loss of a parent on children, bi-national marriages, and fiancé petitions?

In this section, you’ll find our collection of the top news affecting immigrant families on the internet, sprinkled with insight and perspective just for you.

U.S. Immigration Policies Fail British World War II Veteran

In 2011, a former member of the Royal Air Force in England, John Oliver, arrived in the U.S. with his wife on a 90 day visa to visit his son. His wife became seriously ill. Doctors warned her that her osteoporosis and liver problems were too severe to fly back.

Because she could not travel, they applied for permanent residency via their son’s family-based petitions.

Their applications were denied.

When his wife passed away, John moved back to England. Now 89, he lives alone in a one-room assisted living facility in Jersey, England. His son would like to bring John to the U.S. to take care of him as he grows less self-dependent.

Current immigration policies prevent this outcome.

Read more > > > U.S. Immigration System Fails British Immigrant Four Ways

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5.5 Million Reasons To Pass Family-Friendly Immigration Legislation

In the second term of Obama’s presidency, immigration reform demonstrations and protests have become almost commonplace.

One big reason is the increased public knowledge about immigration issues.

But a second, and perhaps bigger, cause is that mixed status families have been invigorated to stand up for their immigrant spouses and family members.

5.5 Million US Citizen Children Affected by DAPA Decision, Report Says
Rodrigo Ugarte, Latin Post, June 24, 2015

Dr. Manuel Pastor, a Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, estimates in his report “The Kids Aren’t Alright — But They Could Be: The Impact of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) on Children” that around 5.5 million U.S.-born children could benefit from DAPA. Including children who are U.S. residents, the number of children with DAPA-eligible parents surpasses 6 million.

The USC study is similar to a report released a few years ago entitled “In The Child’s Best Interest? The Consequences Of Losing A Lawful Immigrant Parent To Deportation”, published by the University of California, Berkeley School Of Law and University of California, Davis School Of Law.

As both of these publications emphasize, the vast majority of the parents being deported are not criminal offenders, or have only committed minor, non-violent offenses. They are being sent back to their home country for a singular reason, they entered without permission.

In addition, these individuals have no ability to pursue an effective defense because Congress eliminated many avenues of relief as part of its war on due process when it passed IIRAIRA in the 1990s.

Yet, as immigrant families are telling Congress, enough is enough.

And the more members of Congress play immigration footsies with each other, the louder the outcries of protest will grow.

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International Adoptees: Another Crack In The U.S. Family Unity System

This is a sad tale of how small quirks of fate can lead to disastrous immigration consequences.

As a family unity defense lawyer, I’ve learned the separation of immigrants from their U.S. citizen family members and removal to a country they don’t remember is not uncommon in immigration law.

Despite the obvious pain and suffering for mixed status families trapped in these situations, Congress has not shown any sense of urgency to address immigration reform.

In this news report, there is a slight twist. An adopted child of U.S. citizens, who generally stands in the same legal shoes of a biological child of American parents, faces permanent separation from his wife and children.

Adoptee From South Korea Faces Deportation From U.S.
Gosia Wozniacka, Associated Press, April 1, 2015

More than three decades ago, a 3-year-old South Korean boy and his sister flew to the U.S. to become the adopted children of American citizens, but their life together didn’t last long.

They were abandoned by their American parents, sent into foster care and separated.

A family adopted the girl, and got her citizenship. The boy, who was eventually named Adam Crapser, wasn’t as fortunate: The parents he had were abusive, and never sought the green card or citizenship for him that they should have.

Now, at 39, after struggling with joblessness because of his lack of immigration papers, homelessness and crime, Crapser, a married father of three, is facing deportation because he’s not a citizen.

There are those who assert, “That’s the law, those are the breaks.” I don’t buy into that sentiment. Since all laws are man-made, they can – and should – be corrected when the same problems surface over and over again due to short-sighted planning.

Crasper, under immigration law, is considered to be a transnational adoptee.

Prior to 2000, these children were not granted automatic citizenship, though they were in the same legal position as U.S. children born in other countries. Rather, they were required to seek immigration benefits like adult immigrant sons and daughters.

To fix this discrepancy, in 2000, the Child Citizenship Act was passed, bestowing citizenship automatically upon arrival in the U.S. to transnational adoptees – similar to biological children of U.S. citizens born abroad under the rules for acquisition of citizenship. However, the law only covered adoptees 18 years or younger. As an older adoptee, Crasper was excluded.

If he had been covered under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, Crasper would be deemed a citizen of the United States. As a citizen, he would not be subject to deportation for his offenses.

This point, of course, leads to another issue: the need to fix our nation’s overly inclusive definition of aggravated felonies – felonies which automatically preclude immigrant defendants from any relief, regardless of deep community and family ties.

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Educational Innovation For Immigrant Families

This article raises an interesting facet of undocumented families.

How do immigrant children feel, psychologically, about the possibility of deportation?

And how do these emotions impact their daily lives?

To combat the adverse effects on school achievement caused by such psychological and emotional feelings, one local teachers’union official in Austin, Texas, Montserrat Garibay, has stepped forward to create and present a unique step-by-step immigration workshop for the parents of the young children.

The program, stressing “My Dream is Our Dream,” is an attempt to help undocumented immigrant parents help their children achieve educational success.

Closing A Fear Gap So Children Can Achieve
New York Times, Michael Brick, December 1, 2013

At a time when Latinos have surpassed whites to account for a majority of public school students in Texas, Ms. Garibay is taking an unusually direct approach to one of the most deeply entrenched challenges in education: the achievement gap in test scores and low graduation rates that are plaguing schools disproportionately populated by the children of immigrants.

By focusing her seminar on helping families and children navigate the bureaucracy of the immigration system, Ms. Garibay is hoping to help schools close their achievement gaps with others.

“I knew firsthand what the families were going through,” she said in an interview. “And I just needed to do something.”

Although even supporters are unsure about the ultimate positive effects of Garibay’s approach, it is a worthy endeavor.

In my view, it’s an innovative effort to combat the cycle of poverty and low academic achievement. Many immigrants come to the U.S. for one primary reason: to create a better future for their children. This is a step in that direction.

Rather than allowing the undocumented parents to remain lost in the dark and fearful of removal on any day, without notice, Garibay provides a ray of hope – hope which trickles down to the young children, allowing them to look forward in an optimistic light.

This project is definitely a worthwhile venture. Other immigration advocates should follow suit.

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Not The American Way: Stripping Children From Parents

One does not need to know anything about immigration law to understand the impact on young children when a parent suddenly passes away.

The experience can cause major short-term and long-term hurdles for the children forced into this situation.

The experience is not much different when an immigrant parent is deported from the country and has to leave his or her family behind. The immigrant child must cope with growing up without the support of someone they had been emotionally and physically relying upon since birth.

Deportations Creating A Generation Scarred By Parental Loss
Aljazeera America, Heather Boerner, October 24, 2013

About 5,100 citizens are in foster care after the deportation of a parent; others are undocumented themselves and can’t visit their parents. Research shows that deportations can lead to a host of trauma-related reactions in children, including generalized anxiety, recurrent nightmares, depression, panic attacks and flashbacks. This doesn’t include other stressors, such as the financial strain of losing a breadwinner, a dearth of mental health services and the anxiety that already pervades many immigrant communities.

The idea of growing up without a parent is unfathomable to me. I had both parents to lean on when times were tough. Their support, love, and guidance made a huge difference in my decision to become an attorney.

Deportation policy needs to be revamped. Separating families is perhaps the worst aspect of immigration law, especially when the deported parent has been law-abiding and hard-working. Without fixing this aspect of immigration law, cries for immigration reform will likely never end.

Moreover, in a democratic society, the loss of parental rights as part of the deportation process cannot be justified or excused.

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An Immigrant Love Story

As an immigration family visa attorney, I have seen many couples, deeply in love, unable to achieve their dreams of living together in the United States due to various types of personal, family, and legal complications.

Sometimes, this outcome is the result of handling filing petitions and applications on their, or with the help of an immigration assistant or notario,

In several instances, this outcome can be prevented with the proper advice and support.

However, not all immigrants are pragmatic or cautious. This can later lead to harsh consequences.

Here’s a true story from Texas.

Border Wedding Ceremony Highlights Immigration Battle
The Texas Tribune, Julian Aguilar, August 27, 2013

Although separated by immigration barriers, a young couple were recently married in the center of the bridge connecting the United States and Mexico in El Paso, Texas.

The couple, Mexican citizen Maricruz Valtierra Zuniga, 25, and U.S. citizen Edgar Falcon, 27, choose this unusual wedding site due to a mistake made by Valtierra as a teenager. is not allowed to enter the U.S. due to a mistake committed during her teenage years. .

When she was 15, her older sister incorrectly told the government that both were U.S. citizens. Now, Valtierra is barred from entering the United States.

“Yes, I can still go to Juárez to see her,” Falcon said. “But the whole dynamic is that in order to live with her and start a family, I have to exile myself out of my own country.”

Without the proper guidance earlier in Valteirra’s life, her ability to live with her husband today is precluded.

Yet, the spirit of their love and affection for each other, symbolized by their unique marriage on the border, will not be broken by laws which allow no room for legal forgiveness.

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Same-Sex Couples Win Right To Immigration Equality

It was long overdue. But finally the Supreme Court did the right thing.

Several years ago, I had argued that many marriages which qualify immigrants for permanent residency under U.S. law do not fit standard American notions of marriage. Why should same-sex marriages be adjudicated any differently?

Of course, I also asserted there is no standard family, simply statistical averages used to push narrow notions of family.

I felt largely alone in supporting the green card and family unity rights of same-sex couples back then.

The notion behind the Federal Defense of MarriageAct (DOMA), limiting marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, eliminated both of those arguments as reasons to deny a green card to a same-sex spouse.

DOMA Ruling’s Impact on Immigration
TIME.com, Miles Graham, June 27, 2013

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, confirmed the effect of the ruling in a statement yesterday. “I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision…This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits,” she said. “Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”

I do not think, however, that legal filings to narrow the scope of the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor will end in the near future.

As a green card and permanent residency attorney who has practiced family law, I suspect the legal issue of marriage location for LGBT bi-national couples will arise sooner or later.

For instance, if a same-sex couple was married in a state which recognizes such marriages as legal, but at the time of filing they live in a state which does not?

These and several other legal issues will be battled in coming months. It’s the way the law evolves. So while I celebrate the recent victory, I know the equality war for same-sex couples is not over.

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