Last week President Obama proposed allowing certain illegal immigrants -- those with a spouse or parent of U.S. citizenship -- the opportunity to stay here while they apply for hardship waivers, the first step for many before applying for legal residency. Following President Obama's proposal, Congresswoman Chu released the following statement:
"Forcing someone out of the country for months or years on end while they wait for a hardship waiver causes immense harm to the family unit, hurting both immigrants and U.S. citizens alike. I have heard so many stories from my constituents who are separated from their loved ones, even being forced to sell their home because they couldn't make the payments on one income. This proposal will guarantee American children don't suffer unnecessarily because of an absent mother or father. I applaud President Obama's leadership on this important issue, and I am encouraged by the fact that we are moving toward a fairer and streamlined immigration process, both for U.S. citizens and for those who wish to become residents of this great country."
Without hardship waivers, immigrants face the possibility of being barred from the United States for a period of three to ten years, depending on how long they have been in the country. As a result of this policy, many immigrants who would otherwise pursue a green card are deterred by the potential of being separated from loved ones. Under current law, individuals seeking hardship waivers to excuse them from being barred have to return to their native countries and wait months or even years while their application is processed.