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Dear Editor:

Mr. Connor Robertson makes the broad claim that "the quality of immigrant who adjusts [sic] their status under 245(i) is lower than the quality of person who comes to this country through consular processing." Having dealt with many 245(i) applicants myself, I take great exception to this comment.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue of 245(i), I feel that it is a gross exaggeration to say that one who adjusts status pursuant to this section of the law is in any degree less worthy of permanent residence than someone who has processed through a consulate. The security checks are the same, whether an individual processes through a foreign post or adjsuts in the United States. I would say that, based upon my own experience, the majority of applicants under 245(i) are visa overstays, i.e. individuals who were lawfully admitted but did not leave when their visas expired. While I am not condoning their actions, I do not think that this should act as an automatic bar to adjustment. We must remember that 245(i) only permits an individual who is not lawfully present in the United States to adjust their status; it does not grant any substantive rights to individuals who do not already qualify for permanent residence, nor does it waive any criminal or fraud-related bars to adjustment.

I do agree with the writer on one point, however. It is all too easy for applicants who have committed fraud at entry (i.e. by having used falsified documents) to claim that they are 'entrants without inspection' thereby avoiding the bars to admission and obviating the need for a waiver under Section 212(i). For that reason, I believe that 245(i) should only be made applicable to overstays, and not individuals who obtained entry without inspection. We would then, in effect, have a system which closely parallels adjustment as the beneficiary of an approved immediate relative petition. While the beneficiaries of 245(i) would be decreased under this limitation, we would at least be assured that the individuals who apply for adjustment under 245(i) will not have engaged in any threshold misrepresentation, since the INS will be able to examine the circumstances surrounding their admission. There are those who would argue that this would discriminate against nationals of countries that are not a part of the Visa Waiver system, or who would have greater difficulty in obtaining non-immigrant visas in their native countries, but we must remember that residence in the United States is a privilege, not a right, and distinctions in treatment, as long as they are reasonably drawn and rationally related to an important goal (i.e. national security and integrity) are permissible.

Finally, I believe that 245(i) should become a permanent part of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Christine M. Flowers