Families look for relief from immigration bill
President Barack Obama and the Senate negotiators have committed to reducing the existing backlog of people waiting for family visas, and this would probably happen by adding visas to speed the process.
The bill would also probably raise the country cap that limits any one country to 7 percent of total immigrants per year, probably to 15 percent.
Those changes are good news for advocates of family immigration, who are also encouraged by Obama's longstanding commitment to family unification and pledges by Democrats in the negotiating group, including Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, to safeguard the family system. Obama is preparing his own immigration bill to unveil if the Senate process stalls.
The more contentious decisions will surround whether any of the current family categories - such as sibling - is reduced or eliminated. Lawmakers have made such attempts in the past, arguing that a focus on immediate family members is more appropriate. Such changes could mean that people who once would have eventually been eligible for U.S. citizenship wouldn't have that opportunity.
It also remains to be seen whether lawmakers choose to make more green cards available overall, as advocates want, or shift visas from the family category to boost employment categories.
Another question is how quickly illegal immigrants who would be put on a path to citizenship by the new bill could petition to reunite with family members.
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