Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today applauded a new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposal that would promote family unity and public safety by allowing immigrants with U.S. citizen spouses to submit a waiver of inadmissibility before returning to their country to attend their immigrant visa interview. Currently, spouses of U.S. citizens must leave the country to apply and are often barred from returning to their families for as long as 10 years.
"This policy will save the lives of American citizens," said Polis. "Jake Reyes Neal would be alive today if this had been in place. It's past time that we reformed our immigration system so that families aren't torn apart or sent off to dangerous cities like Juarez, Mexico as they wait to have their cases processed. Congress still must pass comprehensive immigration reform but this proposal is a welcome change over an unfair process that splits apart families and sends husbands, wives and children off to some of the most perilous parts of the world while their cases are heard."
The case of Tania Nava Palacios of Colorado is a primary example of the danger inherent in the current process. Mrs. Nava Palacios was forced to depart Colorado and to live in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, with her U.S. citizen husband and son while USCIS adjudicated her I-601. Tragically, her family was targeted by cartel members, and her husband, Jake Reyes Neal, was executed in front of their home. The new process announced today for the adjudication of these waivers will prevent other families from the U.S. from suffering a similar fate.
Allowing these individuals to apply in the U.S. before they must depart the country would create a more predictable and transparent process while improving processing times. It would also encourage individuals who may be eligible permanent residency to apply for a waiver by reducing the amount of time they would need to spend away from their U.S. citizen spouse or parent.