President Obama Clarifies Immigration Marriage Proposal

In January 2012, President Barack Obama was criticized for a proposal that would help the undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens gain legal status in the United States without first being punished for their actions, according to the Tucson Sentinel.

In the late 1990s, Republican members of Congress believed that action needed to be taken to further discourage illegal immigration in the United States. Increasing numbers of illegal immigrants were overstaying visitor visas, entering the country unlawfully and marrying individuals with U.S. citizenship or legal status in order to remain in the country.

Congressman and chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith and others proposed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which mandated that undocumented immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens should be exiled for a few years before being allowed to enter the United States legally. He or she must return to his or her home country and request a residency-application interview with local U.S. consular officers who will decide on applicable bars for the unlawful presence, according to the source.

President Obama is being accused of underlying the law with his planned proposal, but his administration explains that this is not the case. The proposed benefits would not apply to people with previous offenses, including those who have crossed the border illegally more than once, the source reported.

“The proposal will not change existing laws,” Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said in a press call. “The [proposed] process would allow these individuals to have their waiver applications processed in the United States -and receive a provisional waiver determination before they complete the visa process at a consulate outside the United States.”

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