I wonder if some of those seeking their party’s nomination have an immigration lawyer explain to them how the process works. One cannot help but feel as though they do not fully grasp the issue.

For instance, according to an article on the New York Times Political Blog: “In his proposal today, Mr. Huckabee did not address whether he supports giving such benefits to people currently in the country illegally. He said such immigrants who do not register within 120 days with Citizenship and Immigration Services and leave the country will be barred from re-entry for 10 years if they do try to apply for legal citizenship.”

It is clear that Mr. Huckabee is hedging his bets and trying to walk a political tightrope. However, his statement that those who do not do what he suggests “will be barred from reentry for 10 years if they apply for legal citizenship” does not demonstrate an understanding of how the current laws work.  The first step for someone who is outside of the US to enter the country is to either apply for a non-immigrant visa or permanent residence (a green card), not “legal citizenship”.

Only after someone has been a permanent resident for at least 3 (in the case of marriage to a USC) or 5 years, may (s)he apply to become a citizen. Moreover, as it stands, the current law bars most individuals who have been out of status in the US for more than 365 days and who have left the country from returning for 10 years.

Although I applaud Huckabee for leaving the window open for CIR, this statement is illustrative of the fact that he, and many of the other candidates, are not clear on how the immigration process works. The immigration debate is being driven by emotion and rhetoric rather than logic and an understanding of the current immigration laws and practical solutions to solve our broken system.  There also seems to be very little discussion about making improvements to help legal immigrants.  Politics as usual.

Author: Bradley Maged

I'm Brad Maged, an immigration lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts. I help people who want to live and work in the United States and companies that wish to employ them. This blog provides opinion and information on developments in immigration law. Thanks for reading!

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