orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

State News

June 24, 2013

High court to review immigration dispute

(Continued)

PHOENIX —

Immigration proponents hope Congress will once again step in to help these families. A provision in the immigration bill crafted by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and being mulled by the Senate would favor children who turn 21 during their parents' wait to win approval to live in the United States.

The Obama administration is appealing a 2012 ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which determined the United States Citizen and Immigration Services was wrongly forcing many adult children to file new applications for residency, putting their application at the bottom of the pile. The court said immigration must instead consider the original application date while processing the application for residency.

Immigration advocates said it will be devastating for their cause if the Supreme Court does not uphold the lower court's ruling. In some cases, children living illegally in the United States can wait decades for a parents' visa application to be processed and then are thrust into deportation proceedings if they turn 21 during that time.

That's what happened to Prerna Lal, co-founder of DreamActivist, a group fighting the Obama administration policy. Lal, who was brought from Fiji to the United States as a child without legal status, aged out of an immigrant petition filed by her U.S. citizen grandmother back in 2001. While other relatives were able to receive their green cards under that application, Lal was placed in removal proceedings because of her age.

"Why are they fighting this at the same time that they are trying to pass immigration reform? It doesn't make sense," said Lal, 28, of Washington, D.C. Lal is in the U.S. illegally and a visa petition on her behalf could take decades to be granted.

In some cases, parents in other countries who apply for visas for themselves and their children are forced to decide against moving to the United States or leaving their children behind because of the policy, Shusterman, the immigrants' attorney, said.

"Probably these kids will be separated from their parents for the rest of their lives," he said.

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