Aging Out of a Dysfunctional Immigration System

I’ve been buried in emails for the past 24 hours, trying to answer questions and ascertain whether someone would qualify for adjustment of status if not for BIA’s interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act under Matter of Wang. Since the Ninth Circuit has miraculously agreed to re-hear the Cuellar De Osorio v. Holder nationwide class action suit, there is a tiny window of opportunity to influence the judges through stories of young people who’ve been adversely impacted. I sent out an email to over 102K people on Friday morning to see how many DREAM Act eligible youth or just undocumented youth would be impacted by the litigation.

I’ve received a tremendous response that is overwhelming. Since the matter in front of the court deals with the part of CSPA that provides for retention of priority dates, I’ve heard from people who have fallen through the cracks due to the natural process of aging. These include cases of young adults who have aged-out of the EB-3 process; young people on dependent H-4 visas who’ve aged out of the H-1B process; cases where the principal petitioner and the principal beneficiary have died tragically; people who are left out of the loop because their parents adjusted their status through a U.S. citizen sibling or through marriage to a US citizen; cases where young people were left out of the 1986 amnesty even though their parents gained legal residency and filed for them; cases where young adults age out of VAWA and U-2 visas. That is just the gist of it.

Save for family preference and employment based visas, these cases are not covered by CSPA. Some of them may qualify for humanitarian reinstatement so I referred them to a lawyer. But most of these cases are a result of an ill-conceived and outdated immigration process that is a complete bureaucratic nightmare for anyone unfortunate enough to get caught up in ut. There should be no doubt that we have a huge problem on our hands — a broken legal immigration system that makes people fall out of status, even when they do everything right. It is not going to get fixed anytime soon, absent a comprehensive overhaul of the system.

But the cynical part of my brain does not believe the system is broken. It works precisely how it is supposed to work — dysfunctionally. We are all agents of that dysfunction, losing and gaining from  a convoluted process and we can’t expect a human-created system to be perfect when we are not. Maybe there is a critique of debilitating bodies and systems here.

Thus far, I’ve received 5-8 good candidate stories for the amicus brief, not including myself. If you think you qualify or know anyone else that qualifies for adjustment of status if not for the fact that they aged-out, please send them my way.

Doing this work entails quite a bit of emotional stress and responsibility towards our community. But it also comes with the knowledge that I am in a better place and doing everything I can to make sure that everyone in a similar situation gets the chance to live better lives.

Briefs are due May 11. Arguments will be heard the week of June 18. I go back to immigration court on October 11, and hopefully, the judge would have a long-awaited green-card for me.

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