President Obama recently announced his plans for immigration reform that takes a distinctively family-oriented approach. Under the reform plan, the unauthorized immigrant parents of U.S. citizens who do not have criminal records could soon be provided with three years of legal status in the U.S. This legal status will provide these parents with protection against deportation. In order to receive this status, parents will be required to register with the U.S. government, pass a background check and also pay both past-owed taxes and application fees. As a result, the illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens residing in Connecticut and throughout the U.S. will be allowed to step out of the shadows, and acknowledge their unauthorized entry in order to keep their families together and free from deportation.
Connecticut and Immigration Reform
President Obama’s executive order mirrors Connecticut’s own stance on immigration. Last year, the Connecticut state legislature passed legislation that prevents federal deportation of unauthorized immigrants in Connecticut, unless these immigrants have serious criminal convictions, or have already previously been targeted by the federal government for deportation. Furthermore, this November, Connecticut’s interim correction commissioner told federal authorities that his organization would no longer continue to enforce Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) detainment requests for undocumented immigrants under federal order of deportation. Instead, the organization will only cooperate with ICE requests for those individuals with criminal records.
The Necessity for Immigration Reform
Executive orders are part of the presidential powers and are typically invoked in situations where Congress has been silent and has not provided a law to address an important issue facing the U.S. The problems facing the U.S.’s current immigration system present a significant social issue affecting over five million unauthorized immigrants, as well as their lawful U.S. citizen relatives. Furthermore, the decision to provide immigration reform through executive order is an attempt to free up the resources and time of the current federal immigration system so that those unauthorized criminals that present real dangers to the U.S. can be the focus of the immigration system.
In the past decade, the existing U.S. immigration system has become increasingly unable to effectively accommodate the large amount of unauthorized immigrants who have entered the country. In fact, the current U.S. deportation process for unauthorized immigrants is so encumbered that it can take years between an unauthorized immigrant’s first appearance at his or her initial appearance before the Immigration Court, and his or her actual hearing to determine deportability. This long deportation process is due to the fact that there are simply not enough U.S. Immigration Court judges to hear all of the cases that are on their docket, which means that after an initial hearing, the court is unable to schedule a deportation date until at least a year in the future. During this time period between the initial hearing and deportability, unauthorized immigrants can become parents to U.S. citizens, or marry U.S. citizen spouses, which further complicates the deportation process.
Now that non-criminal U.S. parents will not be required to go through the deportation process, the Immigration Court will have more time, energy, and resources to deport those unauthorized immigrants that commit crimes and present a risk to U.S. President Obama’s new executive order represents a big win for families throughout the U.S. and Connecticut. Furthermore, this family-oriented approach mirrors some of the key immigration policies of Connecticut, by focusing on the deportation of only those unauthorized immigrants who are criminals. If you live in Connecticut and have any family law-related questions or legal issues, contact an experienced Fairfield County family law attorney at our law firm today.