President Barack Obama may have made life easier for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants when he declared the “Dream Act” by fiat in 2012, in the midst of his re-election campaign. But in doing so, he shoved legal immigrants to the back of the line. Wait times for people trying to enter the country legally, especially for spouses and relatives, have skyrocketed, violating congressional intent and throwing families into turmoil.
Breitbart News first reported this phenomenon in June 2013, noting that call centers were prioritizing illegal immigrants applying for deferred status, rather than legal immigrants. Immigration attorney Gary Chodorow has also been following the story, and has blogged about the long lag times in dealing with those applying to immigrate through the I-130 process for relatives of U.S. citizens, stranding spouses and parents abroad.
Recently, Chodorow noted:
Processing times peaked at 13 months in October 2013. In November, USCIS promised “concerted efforts” to bring down processing times. As of now, USCIS is reporting processing times are approximately 6-8 months, still short of the agency’s 5-month goal.
The delays are just not acceptable, given that Congress has stated time and again that our immigration laws prioritize visa processing for close relatives.
Last month, the New York Times finally noticed the problem, and drew an explicit connection to President Obama’s “Dream Act” by executive fiat:
The long waits came when the agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, shifted attention and resources to a program President Obama started in 2012 to give deportation deferrals to young undocumented immigrants, according to administration officials and official data.
Despite the pressing nature of the problem, there is little interest in solving it. Advocates of “comprehensive” immigration reform seem to be totally unaware of the issue.
Last week, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), this reporter had a conversation with a leading proponent of immigration reform who did not know that Obama’s “Dream Act” by fiat had caused hardship for hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) noted in an interview with Bloomberg News this week that while “comprehensive” immigration reform was unlikely to pass, given mistrust of President Obama’s will to enforce the law, “there’s a bunch of things about immigration upon which there is not political controversy. Why don’t we start doing those things?”
This reporter has made the same point. The assumption is that proponents of reform actually want to improve the system.