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Changes needed to Punitive U.S. Immigration laws that are causing long Family Separations.

"Unlawful Presence Bars" law is not deterring Illegal Immigrants but causing hardships to family members of legal US residents.

In the 1990's, the US congress passed punitive laws designed to deter illegal immigration into the United States. Within these laws is a measure known as Unlawful Presence Bars that prohibits people who have been unlawfully present in the US from applying for immigrant visas for 10 years or more.

This measure often causes hardships by separating US citizens and permanent residents from their relatives for long periods of time.

Evidence is showing that this Unlawful Presence Bars law has failed to deter illegal immigrants and is in fact tearing families apart and even forcing legal US residents to move abroad to be with their family members.

It is therefore recommended that congress eliminate the Unlawful Presence Bars law and make changes to promote family unity and impose penalties that are more appropriate to the seriousness of being unlawfully in the US.

The current Unlawful Presence Bars law s state that if an unauthorized immigrant remains in the U.S. for more than 180 days but less than one year before applying for admission, he will be barred from admission for three years. If he remains in the U.S. for one year or more before applying for admission, he will be barred for ten years. And finally, if he has been in the U.S. unlawfully for more than one year and then reenters the U.S. without inspection, he is permanently inadmissible.

This law is unfair because people with the deepest family ties in the US are the ones who are more likely to remain here for more than a year and hence more likely to be permanently inadmissible.

Many immigrants don't have money to hire immigration attorneys. They fill in the papers themselves and may make mistakes and also may be unaware that they are subject to Unlawful presence bars. They also may not know if they are eligible for a waiver that meets the Extreme Hardship Standards.

There are also some Immigration lawyers who send their clients for interviews not fully prepared for what might occur. Some immigrants also rely on Notarios who are not actual lawyers and may make many errors on behalf of the client. This may lead to them sending clients to immigration offices without the client knowing that they are subject to unlawful presence bars and they end up being deported and separated from their families.

The unlawful presence bars law therefore imposes very harsh penalties for immigrants who are either misinformed by their lawyers or taken advantage of. So changes to this law can reduce the potential unnecessary penalties to such people.

This law also discourages potential immigrants from filing for immigration if they know about the potential for being removed from the country. Therefore the law inadvertently increases the incidences of illegal immigration that it was meant to prevent.

Many potential immigrant especially in Mexico consulate are targets for crime because they have to carry cash to pay for their immigration fees. So requiring immigrants to go back to their home countries to file immigration papers may expose them to crime.

For immigrants who entered the US as minors, the family separation problem would disappear if they were allowed to apply for adjustment while in the country.

There are many benefits for allowing family members to adjust status while in the US. They are able to find work and support their families. This reduces poverty and crime. They also pay taxes and also having documented people helps prevent terrorism. Documented immigrants are also more likely to support local law enforcement authorities.


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