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Obama Administration Proposing More Unilateral Immigration Actions

The Obama administration is seeking to expand the categories of illegal immigrants seeking legal status who will be allowed to remain in the U.S. rather than be forced to return to their home countries while their cases are adjudicated.

In a proposed rule from the Department of Homeland Security, the administration seeks to expand on a 2013 rule— which allowed illegal immigrants with a U.S. citizen spouse or parent to apply for a waiver in the U.S. from the requirement that they return to their home countries for three to 10 years to apply for legal status, if they could prove “extreme hardship.”

“That process allowed such aliens to apply for a provisional waiver prior to departing for DOS consular processing of their immigrant visa applications. Instead of requiring them to wait abroad while USCIS adjudicates their application for a waiver of inadmissibility through the Form I–601 waiver process, the provisional waiver process established in 2013 allowed those applicants to remain in the United States with their U.S. citizen relative(s) while awaiting notification of USCIS’s decision on their provisional waiver application,” DHS explained the 2013 rule in their filing.

The new rule expands on the eligible categories of illegal immigrants.

“Under this proposed rule, the provisional waiver process would be made available to all aliens who are statutorily eligible for waivers of inadmissibility based on unlawful presence and meet certain other conditions,” the proposed rule reads.

The rule seeks to include “family-sponsored immigrants, employment-based immigrants, certain special immigrants, and Diversity Visa program selectees, together with their derivative spouses and children.”

In addition to expanding the categories of illegal immigrants eligible for such a waiver, DHS also said it would like to broaden the limits of “extreme hardship.”

[I]n relation to the statutory requirement that the waiver applicant demonstrate that denial of the waiver would result in ‘extreme hardship’ to certain family members, DHS proposes to expand the provisional waiver process by eliminating the current restriction that limits extreme hardship determinations only to aliens who can establish extreme hardship to U.S. citizen spouses or parents. Under this proposed rule, an applicant for a provisional waiver would be permitted to establish the eligibility requirement of showing extreme hardship to any qualifying relative (namely, U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses or parents).

The Washington Free Beacon first spotlighted the proposed rule Wednesday. Speaking to the Free Beacon, Center for Immigration Studies expert Jessica Vaughan said the rules are “a slap in the face to the many legal immigrants who abide by the law, follow the process, and wait their turn.”

“The president should not be issuing executive actions that serve only to expedite the legalization process for those who have ignored our laws,” Vaughan told the Free Beacon. “This legalization gimmick is undermining the integrity of our legal immigration system, and Congress should take steps to block it.”

The comment period for the rule ends on September 21, 2015.

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