DATE: April 7, 2022
Media Contact: Kali Pliego
Tel: 202-596-2381
Email: [email protected]

US Immigration Laws Leave U.S. Citizens in South Carolina Suffering From Effects

of Broken Immigration System

GREENVILLE, S.C. - A U.S. citizen from Greenville, South Carolina, who wishes to remain anonymous to
protect her family’s privacy, has been living in the shadows with her husband, a Mexican national, for
the past 15 years.
They would like to apply for his legal residency in the U.S., but have been advised against it because he
would face a permanent immigration bar for an administrative inadmissibility.
The couple has built a life together in Greenville with their two children, but the wife struggles daily with
worry. She fears that her husband might be deported to Mexico without a way to return to the U.S.,
leaving her to raise her children as a single parent. She would not be able to relocate to Mexico because
she is currently caring for her widowed grandmother. Her grandfather, who was a veteran and POW in
the Korean War, passed away last year.
“My husband formed an incredible bond with my grandfather. My husband took my grandfather to his
appointments at the VA and cared for him when he was bedridden. My grandfather wished that he
could have done something to help my husband adjust his status, but we have no options for doing that.
It doesn’t seem right that a U.S. citizen isn’t able to live freely with the person that they love, in the
country that they love- a country that their family fought for and served faithfully.”
An estimated 21,000 U.S. citizens in South Carolina are living in a mixed-status family, in which a U.S.
citizen is unable to gain a legal status in the United States for their foreign national spouse because the
immigrant spouse has an administrative inadmissibility. This situation causes hardship on the U.S.
citizen’s spouse, as well as the immediate family, and leads to a ripple effect that impacts extended
family members, as well.
Ed Markowitz, a U.S. citizen and Navy veteran, is the grandfather of Eliana Estrada, who is just 9 months
old and living in Boiling Springs, South Carolina. She was born prematurely and suffered many
complications as a newborn. Ed and his wife, who currently reside in Canada, were not able to be with
their son and daughter-in-law during Eliana’s first few, difficult months of life. Ed’s wife, a Mexican
national, is barred from entering the U.S. due to an administrative inadmissibility. The Markowitz family
was able to be together, for the first time in 11 years, and meet Eliana in Cancun, Mexico in March. As
Eliana grows up, the only way she will be able to see her grandparents is by traveling to another country.

Liza DuPont, a U.S. citizen, grew up in South Carolina with her parents, Christopher and Mary, who still
reside in North Augusta, South Carolina. Liza and her husband, a Mexican national, cannot move
forward in their immigration process because her husband faces a lifetime immgration bar, due to an
administrative inadmissibility. They have two young children together. Mary DuPont worries about her
daughter and the future that her family faces.
“I like my South Carolina Senators. I have voted for them. I like that they value family and I want them to
see the value of my daughter’s family. I want them to support the American Families United Act and give
my daughter and her husband a chance to live legally in the United States,” according to Mary DuPont.
These families are part of a group of 1.8 million American citizen spouses who would benefit from the
American Families United Act. None of these immigrant spouses have any criminal charges. None of
these spouses are threats to U.S. security.
The American Families United Act was introduced into the House of Representatives Subcommittee on
Immigration and Citizenship in April 2021 by Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16) and
Congressman David Valadao (R-CA-21). If signed into law, the bill would allow immigration officials to
use discretion when processing residency petitions for immigrants married to U.S. citizens who face an
administrative inadmissibility. This bill would give U.S. citizens a chance to live with their immigrant
spouses in the U.S.
“U.S. citizens are living separated from their spouses, living in exile, or living in the shadows without a
path forward,” said Kali Pliego, president of American Families United. “The American Families United
Act is a bipartisan, commonsense immigration bill that benefits U.S. citizens at its core. U.S. citizens are

left without a way forward to gain legal status for their spouses. Our families are not asking for amnesty-
we are asking for due process, a chance to present our family’s case before an immigration official, and

a chance for discretion to be used when deciding the fate of our family’s future in the United States,”
“Our organization is calling on Senators Graham and Scott to be champions of the American Families
United Act in the Senate. Our U.S. immigration system needs improvements. We ask Congress to see
this issue as a logical starting place for immigration improvements- by working together to get this bill
passed for the benefit of the U.S. citizens who are not able to live out their American Dreams.”
Prior to 1996, US immigration laws allowed officials to use discretion on a case-by-case basis when
deciding if U.S. residency should be issued to immigrants married to U.S. citizens. When the strict
immigration laws under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act began in 1996,
immigration officials were no longer allowed to use discretion and millions of US citizens were left
without a way to appeal or move their spouses’ immigration case forward.
American Families United estimates that more than 1.3 million U.S. citizens have experienced family
separation because their family includes the spouse of a U.S. citizen who has been refused a visa or
deported from the United States and another 2.7 million U.S. citizens are facing the possibility of family
separation for this reason. The American Families United Act draws strong support across the political
spectrum. In recent polling, Democrats support the bill by a margin of 10:1, Republicans support by 4:1,
and Independents support by 5:1.
As of Apr. 7, the House of Representatives’ version of the American Families United Act (HR 2920) has 67
cosponsors and is awaiting a markup date.

About American Families United:
American Families United is a non-partisan 501(c)(4) non-profit organization established in 2006.
American Families United proposes practical solutions to Congress and supports efforts to advance
legislation that affects U.S. citizens married to foreign nationals. To show your support of the American
Families United Act, click here:

American Families United


American Families United proposes solutions to Congress and supports efforts to advance legislation that affects U.S. citizens married to foreign nationals.