“I don’t know if this topic about or a three- or a 10-year bar has any meaning, considering [the federal government is not] enforcing the law in so many other areas,” says Rep. Steve King (R) of Iowa.
Margot says she isn't blind to the fact that her husband entered the country illegally. Rather, she sees the issue as a question of degree: “The punishment,” she says, “does not fit the crime.”
That was a sentiment echoed among many of the advocates on the Hill Thursday.
“For everybody who is involved in this nightmare who is an American citizen, you believe that with marriage, you’re going to be able to resolve that problem,” said Carla Wissel of Vero Beach, Fla., whose husband, Rafael, has obtained permanent legal status in the US. “It’s just such a shock. It comes as such a terrible, terrible shock.”
For lawmakers like Rep. Lamar Smith (R) of Texas, the law must be upheld.
"No one wants families to be split up. But there must be some deterrent to illegal behavior or everyone would break the law," he said in an e-mailed statement.
Legal immigrants "followed our laws and waited in line (sometimes years) to come to the U.S.," Smith said. "The 3-10 year ban is a deterrent to illegal immigration. It ensures that illegal immigrants, like millions of legal immigrants, wait in line before they enter the U.S.”