The term “blended family” is well recognized in the field of family law. It refers, of course, to families that are formed after divorce when parents with children from earlier marriages combine those children into a new family.
There is, however, another important type of blended family. In the context of immigration, a blended family is one in which family members have different immigration statuses.
In this post, we will discuss some of challenges that these blended families face under current U.S. immigration law.
A common blended-family scenario involves the U.S. citizenship that children born in the U.S. gain at birth. If a child who is born here has parents who were undocumented immigrants, the arrival of the child creates a blended family: the child is a citizen, but the parents are not.
There are certainly also more complicated scenarios that are possible. For example, in some blended families, some children may be U.S. citizens because they were born here. But other children, if they were not born here, may be undocumented and lack legal status.
Yet another scenario arises when a husband and a wife with children have different immigration statuses from each other. For example, perhaps the mother and the children were born in the U.S., but the father was born in another country.
There are various reasons why the difference in immigration status matters. Access to social services, education and work authorization are all undeniably important.
But it is the risk of deportation for family members who lack legal status that is the elephant in the room for blended immigrant families. And the presence of that elephant can cause untold stress.
Source: Twin Cities Daily Planet, “Rudy Azurdia-Lee: Blended immigrant families face challenges,” Erin Elizabeth Collins Salinas, Dec. 26, 2013