Fidelino Gomez, right, shows the U.S. passport of his son Dayson Cristopher as his wife Maria Griselda watches in San Jose Calderas May 1, 2012 (Photo : Reuters)
Just days after a new law passed designed to make it easier for immigrants with family members in the U.S. to be reunited with their loved ones, the new regulation is drawing reaction from both supporters and critics.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services made adjustments this week to previous regulations that made immigrants who entered the country illegally and had a family in the U.S. return to their homeland and apply for an immigrant visa there in order to re-enter the country.
Those who entered the U.S. illegally could be barred from reentry for between three to 10 years in some instances. However, the new adjustment to the law allows such immigrants to stay in the country with a provisional waiver while they apply for U.S. citizenship.
However, the waiver is conditional, and available only to immigrants who have relatives in the U.S. that can prove that their family member would suffer hardships without them.
Immigration attorney Chris Macaraeg told NBC San Diego that while the new law was a step in the right direction, it didn't mean that all immigrants who applied would automatically be accepted under the new provisions.
"It's something good, but it's also not something that's a slam dunk," he said.
The process includes a stack of papers for applying immigrants to fill out, only a few of which were the application, while the rest were declarations proving said applicant's case.
"It's discretionary. The [immigration] officer is the one who will decide whether or not this person, based on their relatives in the United States, deserves a chance to come back in and help that relative," he added.
On social media, reaction was widespread.
Shannon O' Neil, author of "Two Nations Indivisible" and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted, "For 4.5 million U.S. citizens that have undocumented parents, new#immigration rules will help keep families together #TwoNationsIndivisible."
Rinku Sen, President & Executive Director of the Applied Research Center, retweeted the news, calling it "good news."
On Facebook in the group page titled "Reform Immigration FOR America," the news drew both praise and criticism.
"This is a big step forward i'm absolutely happy we have this opportunity....last year it was only a dream this year its a reality!!! Be thankful!!" wrote Bethy Felt Sanchez.
Gerardo Diaz was also welcoming of the news. "It will help out a lot people. Then we could look at helping the rest."
Eve Morey Christiansen was particularly glad that the rule was changed, writing, "My husband and I have been waiting for this one for over 10 years..."
Pierre Xyooj, a user who claims to hail from Paris, France, was less enthusiastic. "This DOES NOT help people who have already been deported and are CURRENTLY separated from their family!" he wrote. "Read the details folks! This provisional unlawful presence waiver DOES NOT do anything!! Q18 To me it's just another money grossing scheme!!"
Daniel S. Garcia believed that the law should be more inclusive. "My wife was in Mexico for one year and 1 month waiting for her visa, I am a [U.S.] Citizen, this new process should be open to all immigrants not just [U.S.]Citizens and only if they qualify."