How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Why it's so difficult to legalize through marriage - as explained by cuddly creatures (Video)

Thanks to immigration attorney Jonathan Montag for supplying this bizarre little video that explains the immigration dilemma faced by mixed-status couples - in this case a U.S. citizen hoping to legalize his wife - via cuddly creatures with oddly robotic voices.

Montag posted the video in the comments section beneath a Q&A from Friday. In that post, former American Immigration Lawyers Association president David Leopold debunked the myth that having a U.S. citizen spouse (or immediate relatives, even) equals a path to legal status.

Especially for many people who entered the U.S. illegally, it's next to impossible to adjust one's status, even through marriage. The Q&A followed a series of first-person stories from people in families with mixed immigration status.

If the cuddly U.S. citizen bear telling his story in the video appears somewhat clueless about the rules, he's not alone. The rules are vague for most of the general public and myths abound, especially when it concerns marriage to a citizen or having U.S.-born children.


Why it's so hard to obtain legal status, even through marriage and family

Photo by scribbletaylor/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A recent series of posts explored the immigration limbo lived by families of mixed status, families in which some members are U.S. citizens and/or legal residents while others remain undocumented, unable to adjust their immigration status in spite of family and marriage ties to the United States.

Mixed-status families are surprisingly common. In 2009, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated there were 8.8 million people living in families of mixed immigration status in the United States. This makes for a conservative estimate, as Pew’s definition was limited to families with unauthorized immigrants and their U.S. citizen children. Even more common are mixed-status extended families, one example being the Kenyan-born family of President Obama, whose undocumented half-uncle was arrested in August, and whose aunt was up for deportation until being granted asylum.


Obama administration's new deportation policy being applied unevenly

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A man is prepared for a deportation flight bound for San Salvador in Mesa, Arizona, December 2010

A series of recent posts on Multi-American highlighted how a new deportation policy announced in August by the Obama administration, which promised to potentially spare thousands from deportation, was being applied unevenly.

Homeland Security officials announced that they would review the deportation cases of some 300,000 immigrants deemed a low priority for removal, among them young people who arrived here as minors and had no criminal record. But people who meet the criteria for leniency have continued moving through the deportation pipeline. One prominent recent example was Matias Ramos, a UCLA graduate and student activist who in September suddenly found himself wearing an electronic shackle and informed that he was to be deported to Argentina, where he was born.

Ramos was granted a last-minute temporary reprieve, as have other potential young deportees who have been the focus of social media campaigns by student activists and advocacy groups. But while some like these have been spared, others who meet the criteria and have similar backgrounds and similarly clean records continue to be deported.