The Senate’s immigration bill, S. 744, has been out for almost three weeks. On Tuesday, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee filed over 300 proposed amendments to the bill. On Thursday, the Committee began the hard work of considering changes to the bill through the amendment process. What might be in store for Americans hoping to reunite with loved ones through family-based immigration?
Some members and advocates hope to strengthen to ability of U.S. citizens to reunite with their older married children or their brother and sisters. S. 744 proposes eliminating the brother and sister category, and restricting petitions for adult married children to individuals over 31. But imagine if you are a U.S. citizen whose only remaining relative is a brother in a country half a world away. Suppose your family doesn’t follow Congress’ definition and you don’t have a spouse or a younger child to sponsor but you still need the love and support of your brother, and want to petition for him to come to the U.S. Under the Senate base bill, your ability to reunite with your brother would be far more difficult. Several amendments were filed by Senator Hirono to address the proposed changes to family-based immigration. Chairman Leahy also filed an amendment to recognize LGBT couples and families and extend immigration benefits to them for the first time.
At the same time, other members are attempting to further limit the ability of family members to come to the U.S. For example, Senator Sessions filed an amendment to eliminate the points assigned to siblings of U.S. citizens in the proposed merit-based system. Similarly, Senator Cruz filed an amendment to overhaul much of the legal immigration system and call for the complete elimination of the category for adult married children.
How should Congress accommodate the evolving various definitions of “family”?
How would you amend the family provisions in S. 744 to ensure families have workable channels to become reunited?
How valuable are your family members to your economic success and emotional well-being?
Should our immigration laws create exceptions for individual family situations?