Attorney weighs in on immigration issues
FRISCO Frisco immigration attorney Eric Fisher sees situations like Bradley and Michele Dorcas’ all too often at his practice. “I have people come in every day who marry U.S. citizens and think, ‘Oh, this is going to be easy,'” Fisher said.In his opinion, one of the biggest problems stems from the immigration law signed by President Clinton in September 1996. Part of the law states that anyone who’s in the U.S. illegally for more than a year, and leaves, can’t come back for 10 years, regardless of whether they’re married to a U.S. citizen or work for a U.S. company.In the past, immigrants would travel back and forth between the U.S. and their country of origin, but now they’re too scared to leave, he said.”So that’s why you’ve got 20 million illegal people living here now because that ’96 law just really put a layer of bureaucratic red tape on anybody’s ability to get legal,” he said.He cited a case similar to the Dorcases in which one of his clients, who was a New Zealand citizen illegally living in the U.S., married a U.S. citizen. The couple honeymooned in New Zealand, then came back to the states without any problems crossing the border. Then, he decided to apply for legal status through his wife. He submitted the forms, but was told he had to prove an extreme and unusual hardship to become a U.S. citizen – a situation like one partner is ailing and the illegal alien spouse is a nurse – because of the 1996 law. They went so far as to hire a psychiatrist to testify that his wife was afraid of flying and wouldn’t be able to travel back and forth to New Zealand for the 10 years he was required to stay out of the U.S. The application was denied.”He decided he didn’t want to appeal and he’s just here illegally,” Fisher said.The same thought crossed the Dorcases’ minds, particularly because the family had already been living illegally in the U.S. for more than three years. But, they didn’t want their sons to be restricted from getting a driver’s license or going to college in the U.S.”I don’t agree with illegal immigration, but I understand why it’s there. If (people) have to go through this process, they’re not going to,” Bradley Dorcas said.While Fisher said 90 percent of his cases sail through the system in three to four months, there are always some that get held up.When that happens, the process of filling out the numerous forms laden with hidden traps and seeking help from uneducated telephone operators at the immigration service can make the process prohibitive, Fisher said.”I mean it seems like they have marching orders to make everybody leave: Make life so miserable for them that they want to leave on their own so we don’t have to go through the trouble of arresting them and deporting them,” Fisher said. “And we don’t care if they marry U.S. citizens or they’re a primary benefit for some employer. Go home. You weren’t born here? Go home.” Even when the process works like it should, it can be a time consuming ordeal.Last year, Fisher helped a Canadian husband and wife who had been living in U.S. for 40 years on green cards apply for U.S. citizenship. The couple filed the paperwork and went to the interview on the same day.”She got approved, he had to wait over a year because his name was similar to some name on some FBI hit list,” Fisher said. “He was like a 70-year-old guy. He wasn’t a terrorist, but he had a name that maybe sounded like some Irish terrorist, and it took over a year to clear it.”Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at email@example.com.
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