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Immigration Reform a Priority. What should you do?

The morning after the partial government shutdown came to a close, President Obama made an announcement. His message was that he wanted to get America’s elected representatives back to “accomplishing things.” One of those “things” was to get Congress back on the task of passing comprehensive immigration reform.

Shortly after the 2012 election, immigration reform carried political urgency on both sides of the aisle. Now, in October of 2013 Congress and the President, once again, are pushing for a bill that addresses the status of over 12 million undocumented people in the United States.

Earlier this month, House Democrats introduced their own version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. House Republicans have their own, albeit piecemealed, ideas of what immigration reform should look like. The simple fact is that immigration reform is back at the forefront of the minds of our legislators. Long negotiations and compromise lay ahead. The final law could change dramatically as these varying opinions and interests mold a bill for the President’s final signature.

What should you do when it comes to immigration?

Many people find themselves on the proverbial fence. People in unlawful status are wondering if they should pursue current immigration remedies or ‘sit tight’ and wait for reform to pass. However, in most cases it is highly advised to pursue whatever benefits you have available. This includes filing that long-overdue petition for your family member or seeking a waiver of your spouse’s unlawful status. Establishing some type of status and progress towards your immigration case now, may entitle you to prioritization once immigration reform takes shape.

As we suggested with our article ‘Patience or Pursuit?’, seeking a benefit now will most likely place you at the front of the line when other newer or updated benefits become available. You cannot harm your immigration case by seeking lawful adjustment of status, a waiver, or a petition for a family member. If immigration reform does not materialize after all, you still have begun the long road towards legal status in the United States.

+Mark Naugle is an attorney at Higbee & Associates, a national immigration law firm. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (714) 617-8395. Please also visit

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