A public policy that is hard to understand grants legal migration status if an alien (usually a woman but sometimes a man) can argue successfully that the citizen or resident alien spouse was abusive.
Yes, society should provide short-term shelter for battered wives and issue court orders to prevent the repetition of the abuse; and it should probably extend medical care and counseling to the victims. But instant immigrant status for illegal aliens (or legal nonimmigrants) in this situation, regardless of numerical limitations?
This certainly is a nice benefit for the spouse in question, but is that the way we should distribute our limited supply of immigrant visas? What is the public good that is being provided?
CIS has written on the subject of the extensive fraud involved in this part of the immigration program, but a new and totally needless flourish to this questionable program has just been added by the Department of Homeland Security.
Let's ask a related question, but first let's set the scene:
There is an illegal alien who was, within the last two years, married to, and living with, a resident of the United States.
- The resident is now dead.
- Before the resident died, the alien secured a divorce from the resident.
- Sometime in the prior two years the resident was, according to the alien, abusive.
- The resident was neither a U.S. citizen nor a holder of a green card.
The question is: Can the illegal alien claim legal immigration status under these circumstances?
The answer: It depends.
Under most circumstances the answer would be "no", but it would be "yes" if the abuser had been a Cuban entrant with the right kind of credentials. The Cuban would qualify if he were eligible for admission under the Cuban Adjustment Act and had applied for it, but had not yet granted this status.
All of this was reported, albeit in somewhat different terms, in the September 12 issue of Interpreter Releases, the immigration bar's trade paper, based on the issuance by USCIS on July 29 of a policy memorandum related to the interaction of the Violence Against Women Act and the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which under the "wet foot, dry foot" policy grants instant legal status to what otherwise would be illegal aliens from Cuba. The full text of the memorandum, which covers a broader set of issues than the one noted above, can be seen here.
Thus, we have the foolish generosity of the VAWA provisions linked to the lunacy of the Cuban Adjustment Act; it is a symbol of how far the Obama administration will go to stretch the bounds of the immigration laws.
We can be sure that there will not be many illegal aliens adjusting under the precise scenario noted above, but it is significant that the administration will go the trouble of codifying the rules for such unlikely possibilities. This is, after all the same administration that created special rules for "immigrant investors" in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who were, simultaneously flush enough to be regarded as investors, but too poor to pay modest DHS fees.