Testimony on the separation of nuclear families under U.S. immigration law
Statement for the Congressional Record pertaining to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee – Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Today, approximately 9 million people live in mixed immigration status families that include U.S. born children and unauthorized immigrants. These families live in fear of long-term separation because of harsh immigration laws that pull family units apart. The permanent resident visa system is based on an obsolete framework that arbitrarily caps the number of visas available each year without regard to needs of family reunification or current economic realities. The current policy serves to increase the size of the undocumented population, as many immigrants – especially women – join their families before eligibility to submit applications for residence in order to avoid long family separations lasting up to ten years.
AFSC offers the following policy recommendations:
- Allocate additional visas to eliminate the years-long delay for those awaiting visas and expedite the processing of pending visa applications;
- Meet the global demand of immigrants to be reunited with their families by eliminating the cap on the total number of family-based visas available
- Eliminate harsh obstacles to immigrating, including prohibitions on returning to the U.S. based on prior immigration history, past criminal records, and high-income requirements for immigrant sponsors
- Provide the same benefits to same-gender partners that are available to heterosexual partners
- Allow applications to be filed from within the U.S. so that families are not separated due to consular processing requirements
- End arrests, detention, and deportation of immigrants
AFSC urges the Committee to exert visionary leadership and to support new immigration policies that respect the human rights and equal economic opportunity of all in our communities.
Please download the testimony (PDF) to read the full text.