Amendments for relief

Community leaders and elected officials work to amend Immigration and Nationality Act

By Ashourina Slewo


In response to the raids carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in June of last year, several elected officials and community leaders have come forward to help, with some even mobilizing efforts to help those at risk of deportation.

Currently, the foundation has spearheaded efforts to amend the 212(c) Immigration and Nationality Act. “Congressman John Moolenaar is leading efforts in Congress. He may co-sponsor the amendment,” said Chaldean Community Foundation president, Martin Manna.

Congressman Moolenaar has worked closely with Manna and the Chaldean Community Foundation in these efforts. Moolenaar penned a piece for the Chaldean News last month explaining his efforts as he introduced a bipartisan House Resolution that would halt deportations if passed. Twelve members of the House co-sponsored the resolution.

Additionally, Moolenaar has continued to work closely with the Chaldean Community Foundation in finding a way to aid those that continue to be at risk for deportation.

The foundation believes that amending the 212 (c) Immigration and Nationality Act “may provide relief to Iraqi Christian Nationals that are currently at-risk of deportation.”

The 212(c) waiver is intended for lawful permanent residents who are deemed deportable by the United States. Typically, lawful permanent residents are deemed deportable after having committed a crime. An individual placed in deportation proceedings as a result of criminal activity could, through a 212(c) waiver, have their convictions waived and avoid deportation.

In addition to avoiding deportation, the 212(c) waiver would make a lawful permanent resident eligible to retain their status in the United States. Applicants must establish that they have been continuously resident for at least seven years since their admission to the United States. Additionally, if the applicant was convicted for an aggravated felony, a sentence of five or more years was not served.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, those seeking relief through the 212(c) waiver must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible:

·         Lawful permanent resident of the United States or was a lawful permanent resident before getting a final order of removal.

·         a) The alien is returning to lawful, un-relinquished domicile of seven consecutive years, OR b) the former lawful permanent resident had established lawful, un-relinquished domicile of at least seven consecutive years before getting their final order of removal.

·         Alien is not inadmissible on terrorism or national security grounds and is not unlawfully present after previous immigration violations.

·         Alien would not have been barred from applying for 212(c) due to their pleas based on the law that existed at the time the pleas were entered into.

·         Convicted of an aggravated felony or firearms offense and a sentence of more than five years imprisonment was not served for that conviction. 

Previous amendments of this waiver included lawful permanent residents convicted between 1990-1997, and 2010. The foundation is working towards an amendment that would include those convicted prior to 2014.

In a memo to Moolenaar, Manna states that, “We are working with Congressional leaders to follow historical precedent and amend Section 212(c) of the INA that provides relief from deportation or removal for aliens with certain criminal convictions in a particular timeframe…

This would also set forth procedures and deadlines for filing special motions to seek such relief from a judge for those currently in proceedings or under final orders of deportation or removal.  Members of the community have been granted relief under 212 (c) on an individual basis by judges adjudicating the case.”

Manna estimates that 85 percent of community members currently at risk of deportation will qualify for the waiver if it is amended. While they would still have to win their overall case, he believes the waiver is a better option than the Conventions Against Torture (CAT).

“The CCF has always advocated for our community,” explained Manna. “Several community members approached us about the idea. It will allow several others to be considered for a 212c waiver.