A new Department of Homeland Security protocol states that illegal migrants having previously been removed from the U.S. is "irrelevant" to their eligibility to apply for a new legal status, according to at least one legal expert's interpretation.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services previously would have quashed any application from a migrant who had been deported under a law requiring a former illegal immigrants to wait outside the U.S. for as long as a decade before coming back legally.
Now, however, experts are arguing that the policy doesn't in fact require a migrants to wait somewhere else, so long as they fail to pop up on DHS's radar during the waiting period. The policy was initially established to deter immigrants from attempting to reside in the country illegally.
"This is basically an invitation for any deported alien to pay the cartels to smuggle them back into the U.S. while they let the clock run out," Robert Law, who led the USCIS policy office for the Trump administration, told The Washington Times.
The so-called "3-year-10-year bar" stipulated that an individual residing in the U.S. without status at least six months, but less than a year, must leave and wait three years prior to applying to return legally. An individual who resided in the U.S. illegally for more than a year must leave and wait 10 before applying.
Previously, those who returned before their time was up would have their applications denied, but that is no longer the case.
The new policy, which is dated from late June, states, "noncitizen’s location during the statutory 3-year or 10-year period and the noncitizen’s manner of return to the United States during the statutory 3-year or 10-year period are irrelevant for purposes of determining inadmissibility."
According to the Washington Times, the policy will apply retroactively, meaning migrants previously denied can now file motions to reopen their cases.