Illegal immigrants hoping to become U.S. citizens could soon have new rules to follow that are causing quite a controversy.
A new rule proposed by the Obama administration would allow applicants with hardships to quickly return to the U.S. to wait for citizenship; it’s called a waiver of inadmissibility and is often used to care for loved ones.
Right now, illegal immigrants who apply for U.S. citizenship are usually forced to leave the country and wait for 10 years or more.
Immigration lawyer Chris Macaraeg says he advises clients with children or spouses who are citizens not to take that chance. “The risk would be to be separated from their families permanently,” Macaraeg added.
Macaraeg says his phone has been ringing off the hook since the proposal was announced.
“These people now would be allowed to apply for this provisional waiver in the United States and wait for it to be approved before going to their home country,” he said.
If approved, the rule is expected to affect hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.
Former U.S. Attorney John Kirby said there will be strong opposition to the proposed rule change, but it will be difficult to prevent it from being enacted.
“Congress can step in and pass a law that just makes what the administration's trying to do impossible,” Kirby said.
Critics have called the move an abuse of executive power. Meanwhile, supporters argue that it is humane and doesn't affect the millions of undocumented migrants without immediate family in the US.