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Posts tagged ‘2012 elections’

The Republican Presidential Primary: A contest (mostly) in Dehumanization

The 2012 Republican presidential primary is a ghoulish spectacle, especially when the candidates are called on to offer their sage advice on what to do about the United States’ immigration problem.

First, Herman Cain grabbed headlines by supporting an electric fence at the border. For unrelated reasons, Cain was forced to drop out of the race.

Now there is a new tough guy (woman) on immigration: Michelle Bachmann. She has recently said in a debate that she would deport all undocumented immigrants. Of course, she did not provide a feasible plan to do so:

[I]t would be enforcement: Enforcement both at the border but also by the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents. Right now the ICE agents — those are the agents in the interior of the country who are tasked with enforcing the law — they are not enforcing them and we also have sanctuary cities now where they don’t enforce the laws on deportation. I think that what we simply need to do is to start enforcing the laws which we are not doing and begin the process of deportation,”

How Bachmann can state that ICE agents “are not enforcing” immigration laws is a mystery. I see ICE agents enforcing the law every day, and Barack Obama’s administration has been racking up record deportations. Unfortunately, Bachmann is pandering to the dehumanization base, Americans who are bent on deporting as many people as possible, irrespective of whether it makes any sense.


The unrealistic and headline grabbing statements by the likes of Bachmann bolster Barack Obama’s chances of re-election. In a general election, folks like Bachmann would have zero chance of winning the presidency. It would simply alienate too many important voter blocs, including Latinos.

The only Republican candidate that has bucked the trend has been Newt Gingrich. Mr Gingrich had this to say on immigration:

“If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.

“I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century.”

If Gingrich comes out as the Republican candidate for the Presidency, Obama should be concerned. Mr. Obama will no longer be able to use the “look how bad the other guy is” tactic when speaking about immigration to the Latino community. Let’s hope reason wins and both parties will be forced to act rather than speak when it comes to immigration reform.

Can I apply for a green card based on marriage?

One of the most common questions that immigrants ask is: will I be able to apply for my green card through my marriage to my U.S. citizen or permanent resident husband or wife?  The question is often more complicated than it would seem.  The answer will depend on the category that you fall into, as well as the specific circumstances in your case.  Generally speaking:

  • If you entered the U.S. legally on a visa, even if you overstayed the visa, you usually can apply for residency if married to a U.S. citizen (not permanent resident).  There are some visa categories that do not allow you to do this, such as the J1 visa subject to the two-year residency requirement, or certain crewman’s visas.  Those do have a waiver process, but it is a very rigorous one.  If you entered on a fraudulent visa, you will require a waiver and will have to show extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen spouse or parents (if they are either U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents).
  • If you entered the U.S. illegally, you cannot benefit from a marriage unless you qualify for the 245(i) exception.  This was essentially a pardon that was granted if you physically present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000, had a qualifying family member petition for you before April 30, 2001, and paid a $1,000 penalty in addition to the regular adjustment of status fees.  Unfortunately, many undocumented immigrants who are married to U.S. citizen and permanent resident spouses are left in limbo, waiting for another 245(i) exception to come along to allow them to apply for their green card.  The only other alternative is consular processing, which requires you to leave the U.S. and usually subjects you to an unlawful presence bar.  In most cases, the person cannot return to the U.S. for ten years without a waiver that is only granted in extreme cases.  However, if you have Temporary Protected Status, even after being in the country illegally for years, you can apply for your green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen if you are issued an advance parole document and are legally paroled into the U.S., as long as you apply for a waiver for the time that you spent in the U.S. unlawfully. 
  •  If you are married to a legal permanent resident, and do not qualify for a 245(i) exception, you are still forced to go through consular processing and cannot apply for your green card inside the U.S.  Usually, people in these situations simply wait for their husband or wife to naturalize and become U.S. citizens so they can apply.
  • If you are an immigrant living outside the U.S., or you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident whose spouse or fiance is living abroad, you can either file a family petition for your spouse or apply for a K1 fiance visa.  The waiting times depend on your immigration status and your spouse’s country of origin.
  • If you married to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, and are involved in an abusive situation, seek help for domestic violence immediately and move out of the abusive environment.  Many immigrants feel trapped in an abusive marriage because they believe that if they don’t stay, they will not be able to obtain their green card without their spouse’s cooperation.  If you entered into the marriage out of love or another legitimate reason (not to gain immigration benefits), and you are being abused, you are protected by the Violence against Women Act (“VAWA”), which applies to both men and women.  This law was passed to deal with this unjust situation, and to allow victims to escape the abuse and apply for their green card on their own.  There are battered shelters and hotlines providing free help and advice to victims.
  • If you were married to a U.S. citizen who died, you can apply for your green card within two years of your spouse’s death as long as you have not remarried.  If your spouse filed an immediate family petition before his or her death, that will convert into an I-360, “Widow(er)” Petition which will allow you to continue with the process.

This is a very basic overview of the eligibility categories.  Determining whether you are ultimately eligible for your green card is a much more complex process, and requires a thorough analysis of your immigration history, criminal record, and circumstances of your marriage.  It is extremely important that you consult with an immigration lawyer, because if you file an application for a green card (Form I-485) that is denied, you may be placed in removal proceedings.  If you are already in removal proceedings, you should consult with a lawyer to ensure that you know your options.  Removal proceedings are a more complex process with much more severe consequences.

Immigrants as Pawns: The 2012 Presidential Elections.

Neither the Republican or Democratic party are really interested in addressing reform of the United States’ immigration laws.

The clearest example, from the Republican camp, comes from the Tea Party darling Herman Cain, who has gone as far as advocating an electric fence to stop illegal immigration:

From the New York Times:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said Saturday that part of hisimmigration policy would be to build an electrified fence on the country’s border with Mexico that could kill people trying to enter the country illegally.

The remarks, which came at two campaign rallies in Tennessee as part of a barnstorming bus tour across the state, drew loud cheers from crowds of several hundred people at each rally. At the second stop, in Harriman, Tenn., Mr. Cain added that he also would consider using military troops “with real guns and real bullets” on the border to stop illegal immigration.

Mr. Cain went into the fine details of his plan:

“It’s going to be 20 feet high. It’s going to have barbed wire on the top. It’s going to be electrified. And there’s going to be a sign on the other side saying, ‘It will kill you — Warning.’” At an earlier rally, on the campus of Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tenn., he added that the sign would be written “in English and in Spanish.”

Since these comments, Mr. Cain has stated that he made in “jest.”

Objectively speaking, a candidate should not be joking about killing human beings for committing at the very least a misdemeanor crime. But this type of fierce rhetoric by the GOP allows Democrats to look a better alternative without having to lift a finger.

As most know, under the administration of Barack Obama, deportations have skyrocketed past the levels of his predecessor, George Bush. Moreover, little, if any, meaningful administrative reform has been achieved under the current administration.

In the end, the actions of the politicians should be given more weight than the words, no matter how revolting or appealing the latter may be.