In the final act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, each signatory, including the United States, agreed to "deal with applications in a positive and humanitarian spirit" on the subject of family reunification. Since then the American government, including Congress, has made much of the failures of the Soviet Union to implement faithfully that part of the accord.
Now, looking at another problem, a problem largely focused on Latin America, Congress has dismissed the importance of family reunification and has left vulnerable to deportation the spouses and children of persons qualifying for permanent residence under the amnesty provisions of the new immigration law. That places in jeopardy the amnesty program itself.
The explanation for this extraordinary action is that granting family reunification would give those under the amnesty program an advantage over those who migrated under normal immigration provisions but are waiting for family members to qualify for entry. It can be a long wait. For those coming from Mexico, which now has the longest list, the wait is 10 years.
We are not impressed with this argument of fairness. Two wrongs do not make a right. Furthermore, there is a distinction to be made. The families under the amnesty program are already present in the United States, already united, albeit without the sanction of law. The others with kin on the waiting list were married after they obtained immigrant status with the full knowledge that their spouses and children faced the delay.