Although U.S. citizens are generally allowed to sponsor their spouses and children for lawful permanent residence (a green card), millions of mixed-status families are unable to complete the process because of some eligibility bars in the immigration laws that are difficult to overcome, and often impossible.
Jason Rochester, a U.S. citizen, and his wife Cecilia faced this heartbreaking challenge. After their son Ashton was diagnosed with cancer, Cecilia, who was undocumented, followed inaccurate advice from a lawyer and left the U.S. to return to Mexico. She hoped to return quickly with a green card, sponsored by her husband. But because she had re-entered the U.S. without authorization multiple times, even though it was many years earlier, she was subject to a permanent re-entry bar, which she can overcome only after 10 years outside the U.S. It is possible she may never be allowed to return to her family.
The American Families United Act (H.R. 1698) would help families like Jason and Cecilia’s by granting immigration judges and officials authority to weigh the impact that family separation would have on a U.S. citizen if their undocumented spouse or child were denied a visa or received a deportation order, and to grant these families relief, case by case.