Judy Chu, congresswoman for the 32nd District that includes Baldwin Park and parts of the San Gabriel Valley, reacted Tuesday to a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposal to reduce the time that families are separated during immigration proceedings.
Last week, President Obama proposed allowing certain undocumented immigrants, those with a spouse or parent of U.S. citizenship, the opportunity to stay in the country while they apply for hardship waivers, the first step for many before applying for legal residency, said Chu in a press release.
“Forcing someone out of the country for months or years on end while they wait for a hardship waiver causes immense harm to the family unit, hurting both immigrants and U.S. citizens alike," said Chu.
"I have heard so many stories from my constituents who are separated from their loved ones, even being forced to sell their home because they couldn’t make the payments on one income. This proposal will guarantee American children don’t suffer unnecessarily because of an absent mother or father," she added.
Without hardship waivers, immigrants could be barred from the United States for a period of 3 to 10 years, depending on how long they have been in the country, according to Chu's press release.
As a result of this policy, many immigrants who would otherwise pursue a green card are deterred by the potential of being separated from loved ones.
Under current law, individuals seeking hardship waivers to spare them from being barred have to return to their native countries and wait months or even years while their applications are processed.
Exactly when the proposal would take effect has yet to be determined, according to the USCIS.