The Idaho Community Action Network applauded the Obama administration’s plans to issue a rule change that would keep families together while members work to gain permanent U.S. residency.
If passed, the rule would drastically shorten the amount of time undocumented immigrants wait for waivers that would readmit them to the country. Currently, undocumented immigrants must leave the country before they can submit an application to waive the three- to 10-year ban on readmittance to the country.
“The difference of what the Obama administration is trying to do is give families as much time together as possible,” said Renato Castelo of ICAN. Now you can apply for the waiver here in the U.S.
In the meantime, their families struggle to make do without husbands, wives, brothers and sisters—families like the Reyes of Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Miquel Reyes went back to Mexico in August 2011, leaving his wife Loren and 2-year-old daughter Ruth behind. He’s still waiting on his application.
“This immigration process has been so stressful and devastating for me and my family,” Loren Reyes told ICAN, “Our life is on hold, our family’s future is on hold, as we wait for his visa to be approved.”
Currently, the waiver process alone can take months to years, as the government moves through a huge backlog of hardship applications: 23,000 applications were received in 2011, with 70 percent approved.
Loren and Ruth Reyes are both U.S. citizens.
“Her story ... many families are going through what she’s going through right now,” said Yuliana Nogales with ICAN. “She had to leave school to work to take on providing for the family.”
The Obama administration looks to make traction on campaign promises of immigration reform. It would categorize those facing deportation into high priority and low priority, families would stay whole unless the member in question was a known criminal. ICAN calls this proposal a win.
“We’re calling it a family unity waiver. Instead of spending months or years in Mexico or other countries,” said Castelo. “This is in favor of legal immigration; it’s not doing anything to support illegal immigration.”