Under the the Registry provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), those people of good moral character who have continuously resided in the US since January 1, 1972 and are not otherwise inadmissible, can apply to adjust to legal permanent resident status or green card.
This is actually what is posted on USCIS’ website. The gist of the registry date is simply that those who have been here in the US for an extended period of time, here prescribed by the Registry date of January 1, 1972 and prior, have arguably elected and established residency in the US and their status should be so adjusted upon request and if they meet the other criteria stated above.
This is yet another tool in the basket that Congress is neglecting to use in order to boost the revenues, numbers and demand for goods and services among other things. The last time that the registry provision was changed was 40 years ago. Prior to that, it had taken Congress another 41 years to update the Registry provision. This provision seems ripe for updating lest it should become insignificant in the fabric of our immigration laws.
Among the “grown-ups” of both conservative and liberal persuasion, a consensus exists as to the need to update all of our immigration laws. It was President John F. Kennedy who said in his book published in 1958, A Nation of Immigrants, that Immigration policy should be generous, fair and flexible. JFK posited that “[e]very ethnic minority, in seeking its own freedom, helped strengthen the fabric of liberty in American life. Similarly, every aspect of the American economy has profited from the contributions of immigrants.”
40 years is close to human life expectancy for some in the developing world and yet adulthood is determined to occur at age 18 around the world. Therefore it is possible, as we know, that a person could live their entire life save birth and die in the US without ever establishing residency in the US. The point is that some other reasonable benchmark need to be developed to determine the registry date since all things in life are relative.
Unless the point of the Registry provision under IRCA is to bestow the privilege of residency upon those at the “bottoming arch” of their lives and usefulness, it should be updated at more regular intervals so that those able to qualify for it may be able to repay the kindness visited upon them during the height of their usefulness in life. This is preferable in order to minimize the time that a potentially qualified applicant spends at the fringes of the “legal productive society.”
A qualified applicant under this provision will probably start out at a lower economic stratus prior to registry and by the time she does qualify for it, all the “pep and vim” required to hoist herself to a higher stratus through education, meaningful work, etc. would have been snuffed out by the day-to-day vicissitudes of life while staying safe from ICE’s wide net. Let’s face it, there can be no doubt that a younger body is in general more productive than an older one.
Aime M. Katambwe, Esq. 9/11/2012
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