Immigration reform advocates frustrated over legislative holdup in Congress

·2 min read

It’s been more than 4.5 years since Jason Rochester, his wife Cecilia, and son Ashton were all living together in their Georgia home.

“I hate it that I have to come home alone and it’s sad for everybody,” said Rochester. “We all have our tears.”

We’ve told you about their fight to bring Cecilia home after she self-deported to Mexico in 2018 because of bad legal advice.

Her self-deportation even kept her separated from their son as he battled cancer.

The Rochester family has been pushing to pass the American Families United Act, which would give the federal government discretion in certain immigration cases so that families like theirs can be reunited.

The bill has been introduced in the House with more than 70 co-sponsors from both parties, but it still has not been introduced in the Senate.

“Without bipartisan support in the Senate, it’s really unlikely to see any legislation move, so that’s the real holdup,” said Danilo Zak, policy and advocacy manager for the National Immigration Forum.

There are at least half a dozen immigration reform proposals co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans that are at an apparent standstill in Congress.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act, introduced by a Republican senator with bipartisan co-sponsors, provides automatic citizenship for certain people adopted by a U.S. citizen, closing a loophole that blocked automatic citizenship for adoptees age 18 or older.

The America’s Children Act, introduced by a Democrat in the Senate with bipartisan co-sponsors, provides permanent resident status to certain college graduates who came to the U.S. as children.

The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, introduced by a Democrat in the Senate with bipartisan co-sponsors, would make immigrant visas available to tens of thousands of nurses and doctors.

“Unfortunately, this is just symptomatic of a broader problem of moving any kind of positive immigration reform forward,” said Zak. “My message to Congress is let’s get a move on and start working to pass some of these bipartisan pieces of legislation.”

It’s a message echoed by Rochester and his family.

“Fight for my family,” said Rochester. “Fight for the millions of other families that are in the same situation.”

Congress will leave for summer break in just a few weeks and not return until after Labor Day, making it unlikely that these measures will be taken up before then.

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