A California immigrant spends his weekends crossing into Tijuana to meet with his wife and two small children. He has been married to his wife since 2002 when the two wed in Los Angeles, but she has since been barred from living in the United States until 2018 because she has twice been stopped for illegally crossing the border.
The immigrant now fears for the safety of his family. He has met with a variety of politicians in hopes that changes in the law can make it possible for the entire family to live together in the United States.
Similar families have been separated for very similar reasons. Despite being a family member of a legal immigrant here in the United Sates, individuals can be barred from citizenship for up to 10 years for crossing violations.
The 1996 immigration reform bill that mandates these sorts of bars does include hardship exceptions. But these exceptions pertain only to very specific circumstances where the immigrant was already here illegally and was not making multiple border crossings, and the family member has now been barred from the United States. As of March, the hardship waiver rules will be somewhat loosened, but the changes will not help all immigrants that have been separated from their families.
For individuals that are seeking hardship waivers, it's an extremely good idea to consult with attorneys that thoroughly understand immigration laws. The case must be made by immigrants that they will comply with all laws, but that can often be difficult because of the numbers of laws that one can unknowingly violate.
Source: Mercury News, "California family torn apart by 1996 immigration law plead with Congress," by Susan Ferriss, Feb. 15, 2013
- Information regarding family-based immigration is contained at our Orange County, California attorneys' webpage.