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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

The Obama Administration, Congress, And Immigration Relief: Not Super Duper, Yet!

by Kevin L. Dixler

I, like many, look forward to the upcoming term of President Elect Barack Obama. However, I have no illusions for reasonable immigration reform without rock solid Congressional education. Like most presidents, Barack Obama faces a diverse Congress. I am unaware of a ‘pro-immigration super majority’ with the education and tolerance to overcome intolerance. I look forward to a Capital Hill ready to appreciate us, listen to our experiences, and ask for our candid and educated opinions.

Unfortunately, among those legislators sit a few who appear inflexible and seemingly ignorant. Some are convinced that one or two are mean-spirited zealots who preach that immigration is the road to damnation. These folks allegedly feign compromise to their eager and often ignorant colleagues and constituents. Many of us feel the pain. Well, no pain, no gain.

Even an arguably pro-immigrant Republican is challenged by the likes of the filibuster. The future of immigration normalcy is uncertain without reckoning. There should be appropriate bipartisan advocacy upon the ignorant. It is realistic to anticipate and educate reasonable members of Congress and their aides. We must be candid about all experiences. Objective representatives should appreciate the advantages of lawful changes. Moral adjustments can be made to our immigration laws.

Some of us recall the days, when people marched for Simpson-Mazzola in Washington. We cannot swagger down the streets of pro-immigrant major metropolitan cities and expect results. Congress and Obama must be given a backbone. Nuclear disarmament did not happen overnight. It takes more than one village, but a series of villages acting and marching in Unison down the electronic highway and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Our rally for change has yet to come.

We cannot expect a President, alone, to drive Congress into tears and foster a pro-immigration voting frenzy. This will take quite an effort. It must come after years of mostly one-sided anti-immigrant and anti-visa legislation. We must air our grievances in a peaceful, productive and pro-American spirit. We will never convince America of the moral imperatives without engaging American Minds.

We need the tripling of the ridiculous 1990 family visa quotas. Some siblings of U.S. Citizens wait in a cue that will last a half century. Many applicants will not qualify after the petitioner’s death. Our Government takes fees for visas that will never be issued with no chance for a reasonable fund with interest. We need actual and periodic INA 245i monetary penalties to lawfully re-unite families. Congress must avoid presenting a stripped down ineffective law ‘labeled 245i’ that merits zero public support.

In the alternative, the complete repeal or moral rewrite of the waiver of the unlawful presence bar (INA 212(a)(9)(B) and (C)) can strengthen our nation’s moral fiber. The Emma Lazarus Dream etched upon the Statue of Liberty must survive. We should fight for family values by making lawful immigration both efficient and viable. Otherwise, our immigration laws continue to foster dysfunctional parenting, single parent homes, and perpetually ineffective removal.

We should teach the media about clients who are forced to artificially live without a spouse, parent, or child. The unlawful presence bar is one among many vindictive immigration challenges that thwarts lawful immigration. We need CNN, Fox News and other new agencies to reasonably express appreciation and enlighten the public. How does it feel to lose a parent or parents due to our current immigration laws? What is the moral imperative of those actions? Is this effective?

Our new so-called souped-up 1996 removal system all too often casts a blind eye to demonstrated rehabilitation and extreme hardship. We should expose the consequences of the shortsighted desire to ‘permanently penalize’ one time ignorance. There are many who fail to seek legal assistance after minor immigration dilemmas or digressions.

Those who engage in self help through illegal border crossing should not create eventual emotional havoc upon unknowing Americans. Many native U.S. Citizens who marry foreigners don’t appreciate that they ‘may’ lack a reasonable remedy in immigration law. No American expects an ex patriot existence abroad, separation or divorce.

We must avoid a vindictive and permanent stigma. There are too many Hester Prynne’s who bear a scarlet letter “A” for “Alien.” There are reformed immigrants who committed wrongs, other than capital crimes, in the distant past. We must learn to forgive them. Forgiveness is a moral responsibility, when someone does reasonable penance and provides a sincere apology. This is a lesson that even the late Nathaniel Hawthorne taught and appreciated.

America allows employers nearly unfettered access to the unlawful alien work pool. This makes little sense, when such acts are allegedly criminal. Yet, a reasonably efficient non-skilled work visa system for unskilled restaurant workers is long overdue.

Our responsibility as experienced attorneys should never be under estimated or ignored. We cannot sit in our office armchairs dwelling upon the unconscionable consequences of current immigration and visa law. We present the facts to an ignorant public. Nevertheless, attorneys also have a duty to maintain the confidences of our clients, which stifles journalists and reporters who feed upon the outrageous.

That said, the oversights of USCIS officials and oppression that we witness in the four walls of our office and beyond merits attention, funding and moral reform, not unfettered, extended and unenforceable consequences. The unfunded enforcement mandate must end. Congress must begin to cut the red tape for the well-being of future generations of Americans now stricken by the current chaos.


About The Author

Kevin L. Dixler has practiced immigration and visa law for over fifteen years. He joined the American Immigration Lawyers Association in 1993. He moderates an active Yahoo! Group of over 275 experienced immigration attorneys. He conducted online chats for ILW.COM in the past. He has also lectured and served on several National AILA Committees. He has participated as a panelist at 2002 and 2006 National AILA Conferences, among other presentations on behalf of the immigration bar. He can be reached at: kd@dixler.com.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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