9OYS Immigration Watch
New immigration policy aims to help some families stay together
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Obama Administration announced a new change in the immigration policy. This one is designed to help some families stay together during the immigration process.
The policy affects illegal immigrants who marry U-S citizens or they have parents or adult children who are U-S citizens and they are trying to legalize their own status.
Under the previous law, the only way they can gain a green card through their U-S citizen relative --- is to go back to their native country and apply there. Once these immigrants leave the country, they can be barred from coming back in for years. A scenario, in at least one case, that turned tragic.
July 2010 -- Osbaldo Mendez Lopez and family members frantically searched for his sister, Doraine, who had gone missing near Three Points. The story of how she ended up missing in a desert is complicated.
Doraine's family had been here legally. She was here illegally and then went home to Guatemala.
She paid fines to the United States and had planned to come back legally to reunite with her children. But a glitch in the application process (she missed the deadline by one day) prevented her return to U-S -- though that didn't stop her from trying.
She never made it back.
Immigration attorney John Messing says the new immigration policy hopes to avoid that catch-22.
"So what this does is create a procedural way for them to get a pre-approval before they go abroad of the waiver," said Messing.
Messing says it would simplify and speed up the process when they return to their countries for the immigrant visa interview. "And the Consulate Office would say, 'Do you have a waiver?' and they would show them a waiver and they would process the application if they were otherwise entitled the benefit, get the permanent residency, and cross the border and be back in a day or two," said Messing.
Messings points out that illegal immigrats still have to prove extreme hardship to get a waiver -- that hasn't changed.
The entire process could take weeks, instead of the months or years they had previously faced.