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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bill to Reunite Families Reintroduced in Congress

On Wednesday, US senators reintroduced bill that would bring together immigrant families who are torn apart for years due to a severe backlog.

As the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) had to say in their press release, the Reuniting Families Act would place a priority in helping legal immigrants reunite with their families and end decade-long waiting times for legal immigrant visas.

AILA stated that the legislation would reinforce the commitment to families and reduce current wait times in the family immigration system by:

- Helping an estimated 322,000 spouses and children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents who are waiting in line to reunite with their families by reclassifying them as immediate relatives

- Addressing the decades-long backlogs for certain countries by raising the per-country immigration limits from 7 percent to 10 percent of total admissions

- Protecting widows, widowers and orphans by allowing them to continue to wait in line for a visa after the death of the sponsoring relative.

- Recapturing an estimated 400,000 family-sponsored and employment-based visas that went unused between 1992 and 2007.

- Respecting the contribution of Filipino World War II veterans by reducing their children's waiting times for an immigrant visa.

- Promoting family unity by allowing more people who are already eligible for an immigrant visa to efficiently use our legal family immigration system.

- Providing equal treatment for stepchildren and biological children by allowing stepchildren under the age of 21 to immigrate upon their parents' marriage (current age limit is 18).
In a statement to the Associated Press, Senator Menendez, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that “the United States had "clear societal and economic reasons" to put a priority on reuniting families”.

Menendez finished by saying that, "Strong, unified immigrant families help maintain stable communities and tend to work hard, pay taxes and start businesses that create jobs.”



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