DHS Says 'Yes' to Thousands of Illegals Wanting to Leave the U.S. and Return

By David North on September 16, 2011

The immigration law and practices of the U.S. include many quirks, some that simply chew up valuable staff time, and some that are down-right dangerous; here is one of the latter.

Suppose you are a thoroughly documented illegal alien, now in the U.S., and you want to leave the country and come back legally.

Two questions: Is there a way to do that? And if so, what are your chances of success?

You might think that a rational nation would say to such an illegal: Good riddance, we never want to see you again. But that's not the U.S. policy.

So, the answer to the first question is yes, and the system has been in place for years; it has nothing to do with the current administration's all-too-successful efforts to cut back on deportations, as recently described by Mark Krikorian.

And as to the second question: your chances of success are excellent. USCIS statistics (often murky) seem to indicate that you have more than five chances out of six of getting official approval for your re-entry.

Do you have to pay the usual $585 fee for this boon? Not if you don't want to. The USCIS stats are more understandable on this variable, and indicate that more than 99 out of 100 applicants for a fee waiver in this connection are approved, as I showed in an earlier blog.

One more question: is this one of those tiny quirks of public policy, like the green cards for handfuls of alien step-parents abused by their citizen children, as described earlier? Or the small number of alien live-in lovers (straights and gays) of diplomats (theirs and ours) who were recently granted employment authorization, as I reported in another blog.

No. Up-to-date USCIS data, as projected for the full current fiscal year, indicates that there will be about 25,000 approvals of Form I-192, the "Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant".

Those applying include persons inside and outside the U.S. who have earlier been ruled inadmissable (i.e., deportable), and people who are applying for U (crime victim) or T (trafficking victim) status; the numbers of each of these three subcategories are not known, but we do know that those in the first group could be deported by the U.S. in a flick of a writ were the government interested in doing so, and that those in the latter two groups have much, much higher incidences of application rejections by the highly-tolerant USCIS than the run-of-the-mill alien applicants for benefits.

In short, the I-192 population is medium-large, and it is full of problem cases.

The I-192 population came to my attention when I was reading a dull little item in the August 22 edition of Interpreter Releases, the immigration bar's trade paper. Its headline (p. 1977) was "USCIS Seeks Comments on Information Collections". There are a group of eight forms that the agency is thinking about modifying, including three dealing with waivers of various kinds, all breaks for aliens. Federal agencies routinely go through this consulting process when revising their documents.

While I am not an expert on government forms – though I think the IRS 1040 is a little masterpiece of form design – I looked over the text of the I-192, which is a form for someone briefly (one hopes) in this country.

Then I played back something that happened to me in Santa Fe earlier this month, when I was briefly in that area and was renting a car. The rental car agency wanted to know not only my home phone and home address, but also a phone number where I could be reached during my visit.

Why not ask the I-192 alien a comparable question: "Provide the name of a person who will know where you are in the U.S. and that person's phone number, and, if you have one, your cell number". There is no such question on the current form. Such a question might help locate non-complying I-192 holders.

Similarly, let's copy from the rental car people, and ask these aliens the usual question about their credit card numbers. A credit card, if used, tells a lot about where you are and what you are doing.

Before approving the application, DHS would check to make sure that the named person for providing information, in fact, exists; that the phone numbers shown are correct; and that the person named knows that the alien is coming. If the data provided is fraudulent, then there should be no approval. No need to change the law, just the agency practice. Given the problem-laden nature of this subset of the alien population, why not ask these few additional questions?

If readers agree, then they might do what I plan to do, which is to respond to the Federal Register notice urging similar changes to the form, and responding prior to October 11, preferably choosing words other than those used above. Agencies tend to discount multiple comments using the same text.