The latest policy change is focused on illegal immigrants who have a spouse, parent or child with U.S. citizenship. Currently, in order to become legal they must leave the United States and apply for a waiver forgiving their unlawful presence in the country. Only then can they apply for an immigrant visa. And if they don’t get a waiver, they are barred from returning to the United States for up to 10 years, depending on the case.
The specter of being barred deterred many from applying. But under the rule change finalized Wednesday, those who qualify will be able to apply for waivers from within the United States starting March 4. Applicants must return to their native country for a brief period for the consular immigrant visa process.
This is an important step. The fear of being barred has paralyzed a lot of people, who in general fear inadvertently doing anything wrong. If you leave, you might not come back. Your kids are U.S. citizens and have grown up in the U.S., so chances are they're not going to return with you. Economically, you are then also hit with splitting your incomes. It's a disaster for families.
The article makes two very good political points:
First, aggressive enforcement did not hurt Obama in the election. Offering periodic executive reforms were enough to keep Latinos in his corner. He knows that.
Second, he may need a reservoir of goodwill because other issues like the debt ceiling and gun control are crowding forward and will receive attention first. In his first term, health care wiped out any chance at immigration reform.