Who does American Families United support?

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. 


Does marrying a U.S. citizen make someone a U.S. citizen?

No; 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.


Under current immigration law, how many U.S. citizens are denied the right to live with their husband or wife in the United States?

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.


Why haven’t I heard of this before?

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.


What happened in 1996?

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.


How does American Families United make an impact?

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.


Has American Families United had any success in reform?

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. 


How would the American Families United Act help me or a family I care about?

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.


How may I get involved?

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!