We often hear about people slipping through governmental cracks and failing to get the help they need and, seemingly, deserve. Lauren Gray, of Trenton, is one such person. And, it is because of her plight that we urge lawmakers to consider changes within the immigration system.
We often hear about people slipping through governmental cracks and failing to get the help they need and, seemingly, deserve. Lauren Gray, of Trenton, is one such person. And, it is because of her plight that we urge lawmakers to consider changes within the immigration system. In 1995, at four years of age, Lauren moved with her parents and younger sister from England, and settled in the small northwest Missouri community of Trenton. There, her parents were granted temporary work visas, and took over operation of Lakeview Motor Lodge and Restaurant, a business they continue to operate today. Lauren and her sister were allowed to stay in the U.S. legally as dependents under their parents' visas. In 2003, Lauren's grandparents — who had become naturalized U.S. citizens — applied for 'green cards' for their entire family so that they could obtain permanent resident status. Nine years later, Lauren and her family, although approved for green cards, are still waiting. The process is long because, by law, only a certain number of people each year are granted green cards, and the requests for them far exceed the number of green cards available. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, authorities are processing green cards for people who applied in May 2002 in the same status category as the Grays. When the Grays applied in September 2003, they thought they'd have plenty of time before their children “aged out” at 21 years, and no longer could be covered as dependents. They were wrong. Lauren turns 21 on Wednesday. The recent college graduate wants to pursue a career as a classical dancer in America — the only place she knows as home — but, now is preparing to return to her native land if she is not allowed to lawfully stay in the United States. It is likely that her family's turn for green cards won't come for another 18 months. The USCIS on Friday detailed the next steps for a new immigration policy, called deferred action, which specifically addresses individuals who came to the United States as children. It would seem Lauren should qualify for deferred action. However, she apparently fails to meet all of the criteria because 1) she entered the U.S. lawfully; and 2) she was lawfully living in the U.S. as of June 15, 2012. Following the criteria set forth for deferred action, Lauren could have qualified had she entered the U.S. without inspection, or if her lawful immigration status had expired as of June 15, 2012. In our opinion, the policy as it stands now appears to unintentionally favor children of immigrants who are in America unlawfully, over children of law-abiding immigrants. We suggest lawmakers take a good look at this new immigration policy and consider a change. If the law allows children of undocumented immigrants to be granted deferred action, then we question why, especially the children of law-abiding immigrants, are penalized. We also suggest lawmakers review immigration policies and consider a change addressing the children of immigrants who “age-out” while waiting for their green cards.