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Amendments needed for immigration reform to protect families

The U.S. Senate is in the process of amending the immigration reform bill, and some amendments are designed to protect and extend immigrants' rights, while other amendments would effectively limit or eliminate those rights. For families on Staten Island and throughout New York, family immigration law is a key aspect of the proposed reforms, and some carefully designed amendments will be necessary to keep families together.

For example, the bill currently before the Senate actually takes away a sibling's right to sponsor his or her brother or sister from another country. The bill also greatly hinders some parents' ability to bring their kids to the U.S.

Fortunately, it is possible that amendments to the bill will fix these problems, but if lawmakers fail to deal with these issues in a positive way that protects families, then the toll on some aspiring Americans and their naturalized loved ones could be crushing.

Say a person with a developmentally disabled brother immigrates to the U.S., begins working, becomes a citizen and petitions for her parents to join her. All of that is possible, but under the current version of the reform bill, she would not be able to petition for her brother to legally immigrate.

Should the naturalized citizen in this case be prevented from looking out for the best interests of her disabled sibling?

To keep this particular family and many others together, lawmakers will have to amend the immigration bill so that a wide variety of family structures are protected. Different families have different needs and goals, and people who aspire to become U.S. citizens should be aware of how immigration law fits their particular situations.

Source: Politico, "Immigration reform severs family ties," Judy Chu, May 20, 2013

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