This article discusses the issues faced by couples where one is a US citizen and the other is an undocumented immigrant.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act introduced in 1996 means that undocumented immigrants may be faced with a number of years in exile from the US before they can return and try to legalize, even if their spouses and children live in the US legally.

Due to this Act, undocumented immigrants are much less likely to apply for green cards. Trump’s administration has toughened law enforcement on this situation and as a result there has been an increase in fear and anxiety from these families that ICE could detain the undocumented immigrant at any moment.

The American Families United Act, consisting of individuals whose spouses are undocumented immigrants, are campaigning for congress to change the 1996 legislation. Before the legislation was introduced, judicial discretion was allowed when deciding whether or not an undocumented immigrant could be granted legal permanent residency in the US.

The article also briefly highlights the ignorance of Americans on this issue; many are unaware of the 1996 Act and its effects.


  • If the legislation is changed and discretion is re-introduced, should this discretion be presidential or judicial? Who should be in charge of these decisions – the city? The state?


  • What consequences would there be if the 1996 Act was abolished? Would it actually improve the situations these families are struggling with?


  • Will campaigns such as the American Families United Act truly help this cause by drawing more attention to it?