By Robert L. Reeves & Nancy E. Miller
The holidays are a time for being with family. I was reminded of that recently. I was standing in the hallway outside of the Immigration courtroom where my client had just been granted a waiver for misrepresentation and lawful permanent status. I was explaining that she would receive her green card in the mail within a few weeks after she took her post-grant fingerprints. I told her that, once she received the card, she could travel outside the United States. I asked her if she had any plans for the holidays. My client’s eyes lit up. Oh yes she replied, I’m going home to be with my children and my parents. Her eyes glowed when she talked about the presents she was going to bring and how they would come running to greet her. She smiled when she talked about being able to hug them and kiss them after so many years of separation.
I returned her smile, happy to be able to have brought such joy to my client on the eve of the holidays. I thought about how many families travel great distances at this time of year to be together. Families feel the pull to be together at this time of the year more than at most other times. They want to share their religious observances. They want to feel united. They want to greet the new year together and share their hope that the next year will be better than the last.
Then I thought of the families who cannot be together for the holidays this year. I thought of the families that were together but are now separated because ICE officers came and deported a family member who had an old deportation order. I thought of the people who made one mistake many years ago and have a criminal conviction. Despite having led exemplary lives since then, they are now facing deportation because of something that they paid for years ago. I thought of the people who were so desperate to enter the United States that they misrepresented their name or marital status and are now being denied waivers, either by Citizenship & Immigration Services or by the U.S. Consulate. They are trapped either inside or outside the United States and can’t be with their families.
We are a nation of immigrants. Reuniting families and keeping families together must be the overriding priority of all immigration laws.
It has always been our goal at Reeves & Associates to help families live together in the United States. We are pleased that our firm has been able to help as many people as we have. However, we recognize that many more people need help. Immigration reform must be passed. People who have lived and worked and raised their families in the United States must have a means of legalizing their status. The DREAM Act should be passed to recognize that immigrants who came to the United States as children truly do belong here. We pledge that, in the coming year, we will continue to work to make the laws and the government agencies fair and responsive and to lawfully reunite families in the United States.
Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy New Year for families everywhere.