As many California residents may know, the immigration system is often confusing and, at times, even contradictory. Unintentional results may spring from laws designed to address issues very different from what they are intended for. One woman has experienced this firsthand after she applied for an adjustment of status.
The 24-year-old woman had been living in the United States since the age of 3, when she entered the country illegally with her parents. Since then, she has finished high school and enrolled in college. Moreover, she has even married a U.S. citizen and bought a home here. In cases like hers, it is typically relatively simple to obtain legal status.
To do so, though, one must first return to their home nation and then apply for legal status from there. However, under a 1996 immigration law, they may be prevented from adjusting their legal status if they previously left the country and returned. In the case of the young woman, she left the country for a short period when she was just a child. That short trip, though, is now preventing her from seeking legal status and returning to the United States. At the moment, she is pregnant and staying with a relative she barely knows in Mexico.
Fortunately in her case, it appears that the law was mistakenly applied as her trip appears to have come before the 1996 immigration law was passed. However, many others may not be so lucky. In dealing with immigration laws and seeking an adjustment of status, many may come across regulations that appear confusing and may even seem bizarre. For undocumented immigrants living in California, there may be options available that could allow them to stay here legally.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Young immigrants' legal status threatened by parents' choices," Paloma Esquivel, March 24, 2012