American Families United lobbies to benefit the welfare of current, former, and future family-based immigration petitioners. Lobbying on behalf of this community can range from immigration reform, such as shortening wait times or adding waivers that are not currently available, to tax reform, such as streamlining foreign reporting requirements.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans marry immigrants each year. While going through the legal process of obtaining a spousal green card, a large number find out their spouse is inadmissible.
There are roughly 70 reasons someone can be deemed inadmissible and range from very serious situations to minor, administrative infractions.
The American Families United Act seeks to assist the families who face the latter issue- where a lifetime consequence is assessed to someone for a negligible reason. An example is someone accruing over 1 year of unlawful presence in the United States, leaving (in most cases due to the illness of a family member abroad), and returning. This person would have a lifetime bar from living legally in the United States regardless of their marriage to an American citizen.
The American Families United Act would provide access to waivers, that already exist for other immigrant pathways, to the spouses of U.S. citizens.
On a case by case basis, an immigration official would examine the factors of each applicant and approve or deny them based on their specific situation.
Based on data from The State Department and Migration Policy Institute, we estimate that approximately 2 million Americans are married to someone who is inadmissible.
One third of those families have already been denied or removed, forcing Americans to co-deport to keep their families together or live in a different country from their spouse.
Like many Americans, we understand that the border is a serious issue. However, this has been the case for years. The bars created by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA) were meant to be a deterrent to illegal immigration. We can see that illegal immigration has grown exponentially since 1996.
This deterrent policy actually just created a perverse incentive for foreign nationals to prolong their stay in the United States. The unintended consequence is the pain and suffering they caused for American Citizens who were no longer allowed to just pay a fine and continue petitioning for their spouse.
This bill would still require applicants to fill out necessary forms, submit to biometrics, background checks, and interviews where USCIS would screen for security issues and validity of the marriage. The waiver process would be handled on a case by case basis.
This bill has been introduced in similar versions since the 113th congress and has always seen bipartisan support amongst cosponsors. Most recently in the 117th congress, the bill passed markup with no amendments and had 80 cosponsors, who were both Republicans and Democrats.
this is a common misconception. Immigration laws are incredibly complicated, and marrying a U.S. citizen does not remedy many immigration issues, even technical and trivial ones. Even when things go smoothly, the path to citizenship is expensive and takes years, sometimes even decades.
Over one million U.S. citizens have a spouse who is ineligible for a green card. The law harms these citizens, their children, and their extended families.
While major news outlets and streaming services have occasionally told the stories of U.S. citizens who have been separated from their spouses, for most of U.S. history there were mechanisms in place to help U.S. citizens overcome immigration barriers. This changed dramatically in 1996, with the passing of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), and in many respects, popular culture has not yet caught up with the reality that U.S. citizens face today.
Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), commonly referred to as “Ira-Ira” in 1996. This act was an effort to address the growing undocumented immigrant population and it increased penalties for immigrants who violated U.S. law in some way. It had many dire consequences for U.S. citizen families.
Deportations were “fast-tracked,” discretion was taken away from immigration judges, and due process was eliminated from the majority of removal cases. Legal status became a much harder goal to achieve regardless of familial ties to U.S. citizens. It was also in this act that we saw the birth of the 3 and 10-year inadmissibility bars.
The IIRIRA has led to spikes in deportation rates that have continued to this day. However, an unintended consequence of the act combined with increased enforcement at the border has actually been a tripling of the unauthorized population in the U.S. Immigrants who once moved back and forth between jobs in the U.S. and families south of the border have increasingly elected to settle in the U.S. despite little chance of legalization.
We take strength in working together, and we influence public policy through lobby days, activism, and sharing information and personal stories on social media and with the press.
American Families United has successfully lobbied for reform of several issues, including the successive introduction of the American Families United Act in the 113th, 114th, and 115th Congress, an effort we continue today. Several other examples of our work are on our home page, including support for the the i601a waiver.
The American Families United Act would restore common-sense, case-by-case review of denied immigration cases of spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Approved reviews would allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens to get back in line, pay immigration fees, and obtain a green card. Critically for anyone impacted right now, it would allows spouses and children of U.S. citizens to apply for waivers for the 3 year, 5 year, 10 year, 20 year, and permanent bars due to prior immigration violations.
American Families United relies strictly on volunteers and donations.
Please help us gather support by joining a committee, volunteering, sharing our posts on social media, sharing our website, donating, and signing petitions. Everything helps!