The bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill expected to be released as early as tomorrow will allow some deported immigrants to apply for waivers to return to the U.S., according to two people who have seen the draft legislation. The provision, according to sources, will permit deportees whose children, parents or spouses are United States citizens or legal permanent residents to ask the government for permission to come back. Immigration reform advocates considered a provision like this unattainable at the outset of negotiations.
The separation of hundreds of thousands of families because of deportation has in recent years become a core rallying cry for advocates pushing for immigration reform. The majority of undocumented immigrants have families in the United States and nearly half are the parents of young children. In December, Colorlines.com reported government data, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, that revealed that nearly 205,000 mothers and fathers of U.S. citizens children were deported in a period of just over two years.
The deportation of parents and spouses as well as children of citizens and residents has left many families and communities in shambles. Thousands of children are stuck in foster care when their parents are deported, according to a 2011 Colorlines.com investigation. The return would not be automatic and many deportees who wish to return would likely be denied a waiver, sources said. Those who were convicted of many crimes would not be allowed back and sources were not sure when deportees could start to apply. But many immigrants who would have been eligible for provisional immigration status under the reform bill had they not been deported will be permitted to apply to return to their families.