Did my ears deceive me? Romney offers to "lift the cap?"

June 21, 2012

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Did my ears deceive me this morning, or did the presumptive Republican presidential nominee say that he would "lift the cap" on spouses and children of Legal Permanent Residents? If so, this is a big deal for many, many immigrants waiting to come to or be legalized in the USA.

The immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong, both in our Los Angeles and Palm Springs offices often counsel Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) about bringing spouse and children to the USA. Green Card holders have the privilege of petitioning these family members, but because of the way the US quotas are set up, and depending on the country of birth, these family members end up waiting between 3 years (in the best case) and a staggering 20 years (for persons born in countries with highest demand to come to the USA). The spouse and unmarried children of Green Card holders are in "Family-Based Priority 2" under the US Immigration and Nationality Act, and this category limits the number of green cards to be given out in any one year under this priority. This quota creates HUGE backlogs and wait lists.

In a speech today before the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), republican Mitt Romney said that he would "left the cap" on these Priority 2 immigrants. The effect of this would be to cut short all the waiting and allow these ever-patient relatives to process their green cards right away.

Did Romney mean to say this?

It's not clear. The Immigration and Nationality Act is frighteningly complex. Many people do not clearly understand the immigration law, and that includes immigration officials as well as laypersons. They toss around words like "immigrant," and "citizen," and "legal," and "illegal," and "quota," and "lift the cap." Taking his words literally, it would seem that Romney has signaled one facet of his immigration policy. We can only wait to see if this was really what he had in mind. Keep your ears open! --jcf