American Families United

Rep. Beto O'Rourke
Feb 14, 2017 · 2 min read

2/14/2017

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Do you remember Edgar and Maricruz?

Edgar is a U.S. citizen, a constituent of mine and the proud husband of Maricruz (I had the chance to join them when they were married on international line of the Paso del Norte bridge). But because Maricruz has an immigration law violation on her record, she cannot join her husband in the U.S. and raise their U.S.-citizen children in our community.

When she was an adolescent she crossed with her adult sister into the U.S. and her sister falsely claimed U.S. citizenship at the port of entry.

This triggered an automatic life-time ban on reentry into the U.S. While she definitely broke the law as a child, and there have to be consequences for it, many would argue that being barred for life — despite having a U.S.-citizen family — goes too far. Thanks to Edgar attending one of my first town hall meetings to bring this to my attention, we have been working on a solution to this problem that is fair to all concerned.

Today I re-introduced the bipartisan American Families United Act (H.R. 1036) with Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Congressman Eric Swallwell of California.

This bill brings common sense to our immigration laws by providing case-by-case judicial discretion in instances where an individual is a spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen and would be eligible to adjust their status if not for a previous minor immigration violation and when inadmissibility or removal would present a hardship to a U.S. citizen.

In other words — if a federal judge thinks that Maricruz poses a lifetime threat to the United States, that judge can uphold a lifetime ban on reetnry. Or, that judge can determine a more commensurate punishment that allows her to ultimately join her U.S.-citizen family in the United States.

While this addresses just one part of our broken immigration system, it’s my hope that this targeted legislation will help Edgar and Maricruz as well as the thousands of American families currently separated by outdated immigration laws that don’t match our values.

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