CNN/ORC poll: Guns, immigration, abortion increasingly important to voters

Washington (CNN)Across three domestic issues that are shaping up to be more important to the 2016 presidential election than they were in 2012 — gun control, illegal immigration and abortion — polling generally suggests Democrats have the upper hand in terms of public opinion, but a new CNN/ORC Poll finds the nuances in views on these issues don’t always favor one party over the other.

All three have become increasingly important to voters and prominent within the campaign itself and could come up during Wednesday’s Republican debate hosted by CNN in Simi Valley, California.

In June 2011, 22% of voters called gun policy an “extremely important” issue in their vote for president, that’s risen 20 points since to 42%. Likewise, 29% called illegal immigration a top issue in June 2011, that’s up 10 points to 39%, while the share calling abortion an extremely important issue is up 7 points to 27%. Here’s a look at where the public stands on each.

Gun policy

Most polling has shown the public broadly in favor of expanded background checks for gun buyers and preventing those with mental health issues from purchasing guns, but the new poll shows majorities think current laws are about right or even too harsh, and doubt that expanded background checks would keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill or convicted criminals.

Overall, 41% say existing laws make it too easy for people to buy guns, down from 56% saying so about a month after the shooting deaths of 27 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. About half, 49%, say current laws are about right, and 10% that they make it too difficult to buy a gun.

These mixed overall views mask sharp divides by sex, partisanship, age and urbanity. Among women, 52% say the current laws make it too easy to buy a gun, while just 30% of men agree. Two-thirds of Republicans, 65%, think current laws are about right, just 28% of Democrats agree. And a majority of seniors, 51%, say it’s too easy to get a gun, while only 37% of those under age 50 think the same. Urban residents are more apt than suburbanites or rural residents to say it’s too easy to get a gun, 46% who live in urban areas say that compared with 40% in the suburbs and 37% in rural areas.

At the same time, many express doubts that expanded gun laws would be able to prevent those with mental health problems from buying guns (44% see that as likely, 56% unlikely), or that such laws would keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals (42% say that’s likely, 58% unlikely). But most also say it wouldn’t necessarily make it harder for a law-abiding citizen without mental health problems to buy one, 57% say it’s unlikely to do that.

Even among those who say it is now too easy to buy a gun, just small majorities believe that implementing more comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases would be likely to stop gun purchases by the mentally ill (53%) or convicted criminals (55%).

President Barack Obama receives mostly negative reviews for his handling of gun policy, 59% disapprove of his handling of the issue on which he said he’s been the “most frustrated and most stymied” during his presidency; just 35% approve of his work. That’s worsened since a June poll, and nears his 2014 low of 33% approval on it. That drop off comes particularly among liberals. In the new poll, just 53% of liberals approve of Obama’s handling of gun policy, down from 63% in June. Among moderates (44% then, 41% now) and conservatives (23% then, 19% now), the declines have been smaller.


Illegal immigration has become a defining issue in the race for the Republican nomination for president, as GOP front-runner Donald Trump has focused his campaign on claims that illegal immigration is destroying the country and his ideas for solving the problem. Most Americans say the solutions ought to focus more on border security and a path to citizenship over deportation, but about half are receptive to Trump’s proposals including building a wall along the entire border with Mexico and ending birthright citizenship for children of those in the country illegally.

Asked whether the nation’s top priority in dealing with illegal immigration should be deporting those already in the country, developing a plan to stop new illegal immigration, or developing a plan to allow those already in the U.S. illegally with jobs to become legal residents, a plurality say a plan to make those here illegally legal residents is most important (46%), next, 39% chose border security, and just 14% called deportation the top priority.

Border security leaps to the top of the list when Americans are asked what the next priority should be, with 88% overall choosing it as a first or second priority, 70% choosing a path to legal residency and 37% deportation. Republicans are most apt to have selected deportation as a top or second priority, 48% do so, compared with 38% of independents and 26% of Democrats.

Still, 52% say they favor building a fence along the entire border with Mexico, up from 45% who backed that idea in 2006. The public is more evenly divided on ending birthright citizenship for children born to parents in the country illegally, 50% say such children should be granted automatic citizenship, 49% that they should not.

Among Trump’s backers, 87% support building a fence between the U.S. and Mexico, and 82% think children born to parents in the U.S. illegally should not be granted citizenship. Republicans who do not support Trump tend to agree with these views, but there’s greater dissent than among Trump’s backers: 65% support a fence between the U.S. and Mexico, 67% ending birthright citizenship.

Despite Trump’s claims that Mexico has been intentionally sending their least desirable citizens to the U.S. illegally and poses a threat to the nation, just 37% say they see Mexico as a threat to the United States, that’s well below the share that see Iran (82%), North Korea (76%) or Russia (70%) as a threat to the nation.

Among Republicans, however, 56% say they think Mexico is a threat, just 23% of Democrats and 37% of independents agree. Trump supporters are particularly apt to see Mexico as a threat, 64% say so compared with 48% of Republicans who do not back Trump.

Trump may be having more of an impact when it comes to perceptions of China’s threat to the U.S. About 73% in the new poll said they see China as a serious threat, up from 54% in April, with the share calling China a “very serious threat” nearly doubling from 18% to 33%.


A congressional fight looms over funding for Planned Parenthood following the release this summer of several secretly recorded, heavily edited videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue for scientific research, but the new CNN/ORC Poll shows the public would much rather continue funding Planned Parenthood than face a government shutdown.

About 71% say it’s more important for Congress to approve a budget agreement that would avoid a government shutdown than to defund Planned Parenthood, 22% say it’s a bigger priority to eliminate the organization’s federal funding. That’s more saying it’s important to avert a shutdown now than in September 2013, just before a budget fight over federal funding for some portions of the Affordable Care Act led to a partial government shutdown.

In the new poll, 87% of Democrats and 74% of independents say avoiding a shutdown is the key priority, while Republicans are just about evenly divided, with 48% saying avoiding a shutdown is more important and 44% saying ending Planned Parenthood’s funding is most important.

Even among those who say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, however, 63% say it’s a higher priority for the government to approve a budget and avoid a shutdown than to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

A CNN/ORC Poll conducted in August found that most Americans (66%) said that in general, the federal government should continue to provide funding for Planned Parenthood, 31% that the organization’s federal funding should be eliminated. That’s about the same as in April 2011, when some Republicans in Congress tried to cut funding for Planned Parenthood from the federal budget.

Overall, 39% of adults in the new poll think abortion should be legal in most circumstances, 58% that it should be illegal in most.

The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 4-8 among a random national sample of 1,012 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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‘No Comment’: NBC Covers Up Evidence of Immigration Crime Wave

by Julia Hahn

Tomorrow, the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from Americans who lost loved ones to criminal alien violence. On Sunday’s Meet The Press, Chuck Todd made a declaration that would surprise these devastated families: “We couldn’t find a single study that links violent crime and immigration.”

Apparently neither Mr. Todd nor his research staff ever thought to look up the government’s own 2011 report on criminal alien activity, published by the Government Accountability Office.

Breitbart News emailed Mr. Todd and his show to ask why the government’s own data, and a great deal more information, which would have disproven Mr. Todd’s sweeping declaration, was omitted.  A staff aid to Mr. Todd replied: “no comment.”

The 2011 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report documents crimes committed by foreign alien nationals inside the United States.  It counts as an alien any immigrant who has not been “naturalized” – that is, any alien who has applied for and been conferred with citizenship after being brought into the United States from their home country.  Therefore, even this report would not include the criminal offenses of the millions of immigrants inside the U.S. who have converted their green cards into citizenship papers, about 19.3 million.  So, for instance, the elder Boston Bomber, the recent Chattanooga Shooter, and other immigrant terrorists naturalized by the federal government would be counted by the government as citizen crimes, not alien crimes.

The report tallies approximately 3 million arrest offenses attached to the incarcerated criminal alien population. Of these offenses, half a million were drug related, 70,000 were sexual offenses, 213,000 were for assault, 125,000 were for larceny/theft, and 25,000 were for homicides. Based on the GAO’s sample of criminal aliens, they estimated that their study population of 249,000 criminal aliens was arrested about 1.7 million times, averaging about 7 arrests per criminal alien.

By definition, not one one of these crimes would have occurred absent the immigrant who committed it – in other words, without admitting these individuals, there would have been at least 70,000 fewer sexual assaults, 25,000 fewer slayings, 125,000 fewer robberies, and so forth.

According to the GAO report, just looking at the federal prison population, of 51,000 criminal aliens incarcerated in federal prison in December 2010, 68 percent were citizens of Mexico, and almost 90 percent were from one of seven Latin American countries: Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Mr. Todd and his research staff apparently also did not see the recent U.S. Sentencing Commission data that showed that although illegal aliens only account for 3.5 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 36.7 percent of federal sentences in Fiscal Year 2014.

Mr. Todd and his research staff were also apparently not aware that, in 2009, 57 percent of the 76 fugitive murderers most wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) were foreign-born (either illegal aliens or aliens given visas).

Perhaps even more shocking, but not mentioned by Mr. Todd or his staff, is that although six times more U.S. residents are U.S.-born than foreign-born, foreign-born are responsible for four-times more terrorism convictions.  Or, put another way, 13.5% of the population is responsible for 64% of terrorism convictions. The vast majority of the foreign-born present in the United States are granted entrance as part of our nation’s historic dispensation of millions of visas to foreign workers, their families, and lifetime immigrants seeking permanent settlement inside the United States.

However, even these statistics documenting the relationship between terror convictions and the foreign-born population undercounts the affect of immigration on terrorism because the children of immigrants charged with terrorism — who would not be in the United States but for immigration — would count as native crimes.  Additionally, these statistics do not account for the role of immigrants responsible for radicalizing “homegrown” jihadis; consider, for instance, that the Islamic Society of Boston — a mosque whose terror network has been well-documented and evidenced in attacks ranging from the Boston bombing to the last year’s Oklahoma beheading — was founded by immigrants.

Moreover, Mr. Todd and his research staff were apparently also not familiar with the acclaimed work of Manhattan Institute Scholar Heather Mac Donald, who has published extensively on this topic. In an exclusive quote to Breitbart News, Mac Donald observes:

What’s telling is that there’s not a single amnesty proposal that has ever required a clean criminal record from the targets of amnesty. [Amnesty advocates] inevitably wink at two misdemeanor convictions– and to get a misdemeanor condition you have to work pretty hard in your criminal offending. That’s an acknowledgement on the part of advocates that they’re not dealing with a completely crime free population, otherwise it should be no sweat to require a clean criminal record.

The media also relies on some confused data sets when discussing alien versus native crime rates. For instance, studies cited by the media consider all crimes committed by the children of illegal aliens to be native crimes — not foreign crimes. The same goes with all aliens in general: their children’s crimes are counted as native crimes, not as result of immigration policy. The media also typically does not draw distinctions for country of origin, economic status, or any other useful information considering the immigrant population.  So, when discussing immigrant crime rates, the media would average together both the criminal record of a billionaire investor from Canada and an MS-13 gang member from El Salvador.  And when discussing native crime rate, the media would average together the U.S-born child of an MS-13 gang member with a 10th generation American whose ancestors fought in the War of 1812.

This is important because (as Mac Donald has explained in previous writings) data from the pro-immigration Migration Policy Institute has shown that “between the foreign-born generation and their American children, the incarceration rate of Mexican-Americans jumps more than eightfold, resulting in an incarceration rate that is 3.45 times higher than that of whites”– yet not one of these crimes would be attributed to the consequences of immigration policy by Mr. Todd or his research staff.

Census data shows that incarceration rates amongst U.S-born Hispanic men are 157 percent higher than the incarceration rates of white men.

In 2008, Heather Mac Donald wrote:

California, with one-quarter of the nation’s immigrants and its greatest concentration of Mexicans and Central Americans, is the bellwether state for all things relating to unbridled Hispanic immigration, including crime. The Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study, conducted by sociologists Alejandro Portes of Princeton and Rubén G. Rumbaut of the University of California, Irvine, followed the children of immigrants in San Diego and Miami from 1992 to 2003. A whopping 28 percent of Mexican-American males between the ages of 18 and 24 reported having been arrested since 1995, and 20 percent reported having been incarcerated—a rate twice that of other immigrant groups. Anyone who speaks to Hispanic students in immigrant-saturated schools in Southern California will invariably hear the estimate that 50 percent of a student’s peers have ended up in gangs or other criminal activities.

Academically, there are several reasons why statisticians would need to look at second- and third-generation offending rates from certain immigrant groups to gain a sense for policymakers of the intersection between immigration from poor countries and crime rates. For one, most criminals have high rates of recidivism, but if an alien commits a crime, they are eligible for deportation — reducing the opportunities for recidivism in the first generation compared to the second and third. Also, most crimes are committed by males between the ages of 16 to 24, but most foreigners tend to immigrate outside that age range.

It is also easier for aliens to evade conviction as they can flee the jurisdiction or the country altogether.  These, and other factors, require looking at second- and third-generation immigrant families to determine how immigration from certain regions of the world impacts community crime.

A 2006 article from the LA Timeswhich cites LAPD chief William Bratton, reported:

The numbers reveal a wide racial divide regarding violent crime.

Blacks make up about 11% of the city’s population but account for 38% of all homicide victims and 29% of suspects, according to the statistics. By contrast, whites make up 30% of the population but account for just 6% of homicide victims and 2% of suspects. Latinos make up 47% of the population and constitute 50% of homicide victims and 66% of suspects.

Ann Coulter has repeatedly made a broader point not addressed by Mr. Todd on his program — that the proper number of crimes we should be satisfied with immigrants committing is zero yet, instead, we bring in millions of immigrants “from countries with far worse crime rates than our own.”

U.S. Census data shows that the overall population of immigrants is at an all-time high of 41.3 million. As many as 8 million immigrants have entered the United States since President Obama came into office, including 2.5 million illegally (either by crossing the border or overstaying an admissions ticket). Those who came legally — that is, those who were given a visa by the federal government — have federal permits to take jobs and collect benefits, something illegal immigrants do not have. Visa-based immigration is, therefore, the primary way corporations substitute foreigners for Americans.

Boehner blames Obama for immigration inaction

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is putting the blame for Congress’s failure to move immigration reform squarely on the shoulders of President Obama.

The House Speaker said he’s been pushing immigration reform since he took the gavel four years ago, but the president has “poisoned the well” with his executive actions on the issue.”He’s stirred up the American people in such a way that it would almost be impossible to do immigration reform, given the environment that we’re dealing with,” Boehner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program, which aired Sunday morning.

“I want to do immigration reform, and the president knows it. I asked the president about a year ago, gave him some ideas about things that should happen if he wanted to do immigration reform, and some things that he shouldn’t do,” he added. “Well, the president didn’t take my advice. And he doubled down on the executive orders that, frankly, far exceeded his authority, and the courts have got him stopped.

“He’s really poisoned the well.”

The immigration issue has been a perilous one for Boehner and House GOP leaders, caught between national Republican leaders who want to move legislation to make gains with Hispanic voters and conservatives in their conference who are opposed to any steps to legalize the 11 million undocumented immigrants estimated to live in the country.

National GOP leaders have long-warned that a failure to act could solidify the Hispanic vote for Democrats and threaten the Republicans’ chances in 2016 — a fear heightened by Obama’s 2012 victory, when roughly 70 percent of Hispanic voters chose the president over Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

In response, Boehner and GOP leaders seemed poised to move on immigration reform at the start of 2014, roughly six months after the Senate passed a comprehensive reform bill with broad bipartisan support. To launch that effort, the Republicans floated a set of reform “principles” designed to govern the House debate and ease conservative concerns that Congress would go too soft on illegal immigrants.

It didn’t work. Instead, conservative Republicans revolted, largely due to a provision allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country and work without fear of deportation. Faced with the pressure from his right, Boehner shelved the issue within days.

Boehner on Sunday soundly rejected the notion that Republicans are avoiding the issue to prevent a high-profile civil war within the party. Still, he also cited the 2014 primary loss of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as a reason Republicans haven’t taken up comprehensive reforms. Cantor was ousted by a Tea Party-backed conservative who made Cantor’s openness to some legalization efforts a central issue of that campaign.

“Some of our members thought that it had something to do with immigration reform,” Boehner said, highlighting the pressure he faces from the right.

Boehner also referenced last summer’s migrant surge at the southern border, saying the media attention on the crisis also contributed to the Republicans’ decision not to move legislation.

“Between the two, the window for doing immigration reform last summer dissipated,” he said.

Obama has been a lightening rod of GOP criticism on the immigration issue since the summer of 2012, when he launched an executive program allowing qualified illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to remain and work without being targeted for deportation.

In November, just weeks following the elections, the president both expanded that program and created a new initiative offering similar benefits to the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents — programs that are currently postponed by legal challenges.

Republicans have howled, accusing Obama of abusing his executive power. Obama has countered by challenging GOP leaders to make his actions obsolete by sending him legislation to address the same issues.

Asked why the Republicans don’t do just that, Boehner deflected the question.

“I don’t think there’s that big of a difference in terms of how to reform our immigration laws,” he said. “There’s been a lot of bipartisan work done on this for years. I want to do it.”

Obama’s immigration orders face dim outlook at federal court

By Jordan Fabian

The Obama administration faces an uphill battle on Friday when it seeks to convince a panel of federal judges to let the president’s executive actions on immigration take effect.

The same two Republican-appointed judges who denied an earlier administration attempt to lift a hold on Obama’s immigration actions will hear arguments at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Court watchers expect an unfavorable ruling for Obama from the three-judge panel, which sits on the most conservative circuit in the country.
“It’s likely to be a similar result,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. “It’s unlikely that [the two judges] will change their views.”
The White House is encountering legal roadblocks on immigration after two recent Supreme Court victories on same-sex marriage and healthcare, which gave the president a jolt of momentum late in his second term.
With just 18 months left in Obama’s presidency, the court battle has put his programs in peril. Experts believe the case will eventually end up before the Supreme Court, which could rule on the case as late as June 2016.
If the White House eventually wins, it could leave just a few months to implement the program. But if it loses, it would strip away a major promise Obama made to Hispanic groups in the run up to the 2014 midterm elections.
The atmosphere surrounding the hearing is certain to be charged. Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), as well as immigrant-rights advocates, plan to demonstrate outside the courthouse to call on the judges to allow the programs to go into effect.
It will also take place against the backdrop of the recent fatal shooting of a California woman, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant, and amid fallout from incendiary remarks on immigration from Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump — both of which have further roiled the debate nationwide.
After Congress failed to pass a sweeping immigration overhaul last year, Obama issued executive orders in November allowing certain immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or legal resident children to apply for deportation reprieves and work permits.
They also expanded a 2012 program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), providing similar relief to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The orders, if fully enacted, could affect as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants.
Led by Texas, 26 mostly Republican-led states sued the administration, arguing the moves overstepped Obama’s executive authority.
They also claimed the programs would harm the states by imposing added costs related to driver’s licenses for people who receive deportation referrals.
The White House has steadfastly maintained that the president acted within the law by using “prosecutorial discretion” to exempt noncriminal immigrants from deportation. They also say the states ignored economic benefits, such as added tax revenue.
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee, sided with the states in February, handing down an injunction blocking the programs from taking effect while the court considers the lawsuit.
In May, circuit court Judges Jennifer Elrod and Jerry Smith rejected an emergency request from the Department of Justice to allow the actions to proceed.
They argued the states made a compelling case they would suffer harm if the program was allowed to move forward and that the administration’s appeal was unlikely to succeed on the broader legal issues.
The administration also contended the 26 states that brought the suit don’t have standing, though the two judges appeared skeptical of that argument as well.

On Friday, Smith and Elrod will again hear arguments from Obama administration lawyers and attorneys representing the states — this time focusing on whether the Texas judge’s order was legal.
“The two judges were convinced that Texas was likely to prevail on the merits,” said Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law, who helped file a legal brief backing the lawsuit against Obama’s programs.
Joining them on the panel will be Judge Carolyn King, who was appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter.

King in April ruled in favor of the Obama administration on a separate lawsuit challenging his 2012 immigration action, and advocates hope she will side with the president again.
Obama was set to huddle with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the White House Thursday afternoon, one day before the arguments.
“The administration continues to have a lot of confidence in the power of [our] legal arguments,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday.

Immigrant rights advocates, meanwhile, have expressed frustration at the delay. While they continue to press for the programs to go into effect, some advocates are turning their attention to other efforts as the lawsuit works its way through the courts.

“I think there is a realization the delay is longer than we have hoped for,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
Four different advocacy groups are convening a strategy session in New Orleans to raise awareness of other immigration actions not affected by the lawsuit, Hincapié said, including new guidelines that seek to reduce deportations of immigrants who are not deemed to pose a threat to public safety.

Advocates remain confident the orders will eventually go into place. But until then, they intend to punish Republicans for supporting the lawsuit.
The executive actions are popular with Hispanic voters, who will play an influential role in the 2016 elections. Candidates such as Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) want to end Obama’s programs.
House Republicans introduced a bill this week that would cut off funding for the initiatives if they take effect.

“This might be short term victory for the GOP. But a year from now, they are going to be looking at a much bigger lawsuit before the Supreme Court, which will be magnified by the fact it will take place in an election year,” said David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and a backer of Obama’s programs. “In the long term, they are going to be the big losers.”

A victory in court, however, could embolden Republicans who have accused Obama of abusing his executive powers.
“It is inconsistent with the law,” Cruz said during a recent interview with Jorge Ramos. “What Barack Obama is doing is what dictators in other nations have done?”

Video: O-1 Visas For Extraordinary Ability Visas

The Immigration Professor, Attorney Robert Perkins, discusses the criteria and procedures for O-1 visas for people of extraordinary ability in the arts, science, business or athletics.

All of our videos on immigration topics are available on our website (, Viddler ( and on YouTube (

This video is not legal advice or a legal opinion. To get legal advice, please call our offices at 310-384-0200.

Video: H-2B Work Visas for Foreign Workers

The Immigration Professor, Attorney Robert Perkins, discusses the H-2B Visa. The discussion includes the qualifications for the visa as well as the procedures for obtaining the Visa.

All of our videos on immigration topics are available on our website (, Viddler ( and on YouTube (

This video is not legal advice or a legal opinion. To get legal advice, please call our offices at 310-384-0200.

Video: Immigration Consulting Services for Attorneys

The Immigration Professor, Attorney Robert Perkins, comments on their program for providing consulting services to other immigration attorneys, criminal attorneys and others seeking to develop an immigration practice.

All of our videos on immigration topics are available on our website (, Viddler ( and on YouTube (

This video is not legal advice or a legal opinion. To get legal advice, please call our offices at 310-384-0200.

Video: Battered/Abused Spouses of United States Citizens (and Self Petitioning)

Immigration Professor, Immigration Attorney Robert Perkins, discusses green cards for self-petitioning battered spouses of United States Citizens. This remedy is available when a person is married to a US Citizen who subjects them to battery or extreme cruely. The Professor discusses who such a person may get divorced and self petition for a green card.

All of our videos on immigration topics are available on our website (, Viddler ( and on YouTube (

This video is not legal advice or a legal opinion. To get legal advice, please call our offices at 310-384-0200.

Video: Immigration Reform and/or Amnesty

Robert Perkins, the Immigration Professor, talks about the recent proposal by Senators Schumer and Graham on immigration reform (Amnesty). The proposal includes increased penalties and immigration enforcement against employers, enhanced border security, a temporary workers program and an earned legalization program (rather than blanket amnesty).

All of our videos on immigration topics are available on our website (, Viddler ( and on YouTube (

This video is not legal advice or a legal opinion. To get legal advice, please call our offices at 310-384-0200.

Marrying an Illegal Alien: Getting a Green Card Based on Marriage to a United States Citizen

Filing immigration papers for your husband or wife can be a frightening experience, especially if they are here illegally. There is a great deal of misinformation about this process: when to do it, whether to do it, where and what to file. This article briefly addresses some of the questions that come up when a U.S. Citizen files for an illegal. However, it is very important in any case to get good legal advice before filing. If the case is filed without getting good legal advice, it could result in deportation of the foreign national.

The first issue to consider in filing for your husband or wife is whether to file at all. People with criminal convictions (aside from traffic violations) or with deportation/removal orders need to see an immigration attorney immediately to determine whether to file. Also, as discussed below, people whose original entrance into the country was illegal should also consult with an attorney before filing. One issue that comes up frequently is whether you can file a petition for a person here illegally. The answer is maybe. Part of the answer depend on if the person originally entered legally or whether they entered legally and their visa has now expired. Each of these situations is addressed below.

Filing for Someone on an Expired Visa.

If the person entered legally on a visa which is now expired, in most cases a petition may be filed and processed in the United States – it doesn’t matter that the visa may have expired many years ago. The fact that the visa expired does not, in and of itself, bar the person from successfully processing for a green card. Additionally, the fact that the foreign national may have worked illegally without authorization is not an obstacle to them getting their green card. The process involves filing a group of forms and supporting documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and tax returns. The immigrant must also pass a special immigration medical examination. The United States Citizen must also show that they are financially able to support the immigrant.

Once the paperwork is filed ,the immigrant gets a work card within a short time. Some time thereafter, the citizen and the immigrant are called for an interview at which an immigration officer determines whether the marriage is “real” or was just entered into to get a green card. Assuming the person passes the interview, they soon receive a “green card” and a few years later may apply to become a naturalized United States Citizen.


Filing for Someone Who Entered Illegally, i.e., Without a Visa

A. Processing the Petition in the United States

If someone’s original entrance into the United States was illegal, the only way they can process in the United States is if they are covered by a law called section 245(i). Section 245(i) allows people who came illegally to adjust their status in the United States as long as they pay the government a penalty fee, currently $1000. The sections covers people who filed any type of immigration petition on or before April 30, 2001. Even if the petition was denied, the person may still be covered under section 245(i) and can process in the United States through a different petition filed by their current husband/wife. Here are two examples where 245(i) might apply: (1) Brother files a petition for sister on or before April 30, 2001. It takes 12 years for that petition to be processed. In the meantime, the sister marries a United States Citizen. A U.S. Citizen husband can file a petition for the sister right away and she would be allowed to process in the US under section 245(i); (2) Employer files a petition for Mr. Jones. At the time, Jones’ daughter is under 21. The employer later goes bankrupt. Both Jones and his daughter are still eligible to immigrate under section 245(i) through a petition filed by a United States Citizen husband or wife and can process their cases in the United States.

Section 245(i) is very broad and can cover may people, sparing them inconvenience, cost and issues with processing at an embassy or consulate. It is very important to assess whether someone may be covered by this important law before filing.

B. Processing the Petition at an Embassy or Consulate

The last scenario involves cases where the person entered illegally and is not covered under section 245(i). In that situation, the person’s husband/wife must file a petition and once that petition is approved, the immigrant will have to leave the United States for a visa interview in their home country. If they have been here illegally for more than 180 days, they then will be charged with being “unlawfully present”. However, the government may pardon or “waive” this charge if the immigrant can show that they have a spouse, parent or child that would suffer extreme and unusual hardship. Extreme and unusual hardship is very difficult to prove. The mere fact that one would be separated from their husband or wife, standing alone, is not sufficient. The government looks at medical hardship, psychological hardship, financial hardship, and other factors when deciding to grant a waiver/pardon. Not all cases and granted and many are denied. Also, it can take some months before a waiver/pardon is decided and the immigrant must wait in their home country until a decision is made. It is important to have your case assessed by our office before even beginning the immigration process.

In conclusion, filing a petition for someone here illegally can be done but it can be a complicated process. People often think that once they are married to a Citizen it’s an easy process but that’s not always the case. The most important thing is to assess the case in the beginning to see if there are any problems. To avoid pitfalls, contact our office for advice and help at 310-384-0200.

Robert A. Perkins has been practicing immigration law for twenty (20) years and has also taught the subject as an adjunct professor at University of Illinois law school. Perkins, who is known nationally as “The Immigration Professor”, has appeared on numerous television shows, radio programs as a guest and speaker on various immigration topics. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and two kids. Mr. Perkins is admitted to the Illinois and United States Supreme Courts.

ii. There are some cases where even someone who entered legally may not process in the United States, for example, if they originally entered on a crewman’s visa. For more information about this, please contact our office at 310-384-0200 for a consultation.