Nancy Sanchez has happily sponsored two of her husband’s children in El Salvador, so they could come to live as legal permanent residents with the couple in Herndon, Virginia. Legally, for immigration purposes, she’s considered their mother. A third child is also coming.
But if Sanchez were to sponsor her undocumented husband of six years for legal status, the U.S. immigration system would require that he first be punished—severely. Under a 1996 law, he’d have to endure a minimum 10-year exile from the United States. So even though Sanchez could sponsor the kids, she doesn’t dare come forward to try to also get a green card for her husband.