Obama expands “hardship” waiver for illegal immigrants
The Obama administration on Friday proposed new hardship rules that would make it easier for illegal immigrants to apply for legal status and stay in the country if they have a spouse or parent already living here legally.
Immigrant-rights groups called the move a “tremendous” victory while those who favor a crackdown on illegal immigration said it is another step in what they describe as administrative amnesty.
Homeland Security officials, who announced the change in the Federal Register, said the change only applies when an illegal immigrant has a family member living in the U.S. legally and who would be subject to “hardship” if they were separated from each other.
Under the current system, it takes an average of six months for the government to judge waiver cases, and illegal immigrant applicants are required to go home during that period. The new rule means the illegal immigrant can stay in the U.S. during the adjudication period.
“The goal is to reduce the time of separation and alleviate the extreme hardship to a United States citizen, as the law currently intends,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.