Learning from the Recent Interpretation of INA Section 245(a): Factors to Consider When Interpreting Immigration Law

01 Dec 2008 02:54pm Mayte Santacruz Benavidez 

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA 1994). VAWA 1994 established the self-petitioning process, which permits undocumented battered victims to adjust their immigration status to Legal Permanent Residents (“LPRs”) in the United States without the aid or knowledge of the abusive spouse. In VAWA 2000, Congress added certain abused immigrants to those eligible for adjustment of status, exempting this class from having to have been inspected, admitted, or paroled into the United States as a prerequisite for adjustment of status. Despite Congress’ attempt to assist immigrant victims of domestic violence, however, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) still refuses to give full effect to the provisions in VAWA 1994 and the VAWA 2000 amendments.

This comment argues that CIS’s refusal to grant adjustment of status to approved VAWA self-petitioners is clearly wrong for several reasons. First, CIS is blatantly disregarding Congress’ intent by failing to implement the immigration provisions of VAWA 1994 and VAWA 2000. Not only that, but CIS is also circumventing the statutory scheme of VAWA by misconstruing the language and application of several provisions in the INA. In addition, CIS’s policy on this matter produces odd legal consequences for most battered victims, since they will never be able to become LPRs in the United States despite having an approved VAWA application.

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