In a decision on Monday, the Supreme Court approved even longer delays for immigrant children seeking to immigrate legally to the U.S. Under current law, if a United States citizen attempts to bring in a close relative, like a brother or sister, that immigrant’s children can enter with a green card as well. The problem is that the child must be under 21. Since it can take twelve years or more for these brother and sister visas to be processed, the child often turns 21. As a result, the “aged out” child must wait for his or her parent to file a new visa petition for them. This leads to an additional seven year wait.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit out in California ruled two years ago that the time the child spent waiting for his or her parent to get a green card would count as the waiting period for the child. The Supreme Court overturned that bit of mercy. The ruling this week means that from the time the first visa application is filed until the time the child is finally allowed to come the U.S. will now be 19 years.
Many Americans are unaware of the long waits that those hoping to immigrate here have to endure. The delays are not caused just by inefficiency—they are actually embedded within the law itself. It is Congress, not the Department of Homeland Security, that keeps families apart for decades.