The Pew Hispanic Center calculates that up to 9.5 million people in the United States belong to families whose members are in different legal situations, one of the most delicate issues of those that must be confronted in any comprehensive immigration reform.
An example of the problems that these types of situations can create is the family of Victor Galvan, a young undocumented Mexican.
Victor's mother is also undocumented, while his younger brother is a U.S. citizen and his older sibling was deported to Mexico 18 months ago.
"When they deported my older brother, my family collapsed," Galvan said in an interview with Efe.
His older brother was deported despite the fact that he is married to a U.S. citizen and is the father of two U.S.-born children.
"Now, my brother has been living in Chihuahua for more than a year-and-a-half and since then we haven't gone back to see him and he hasn't come to see his wife and his kids," Galvan said.
Current U.S. law includes certain ways in which undocumented immigrants can reunite with relatives who are U.S. citizens and also ways in which legal residents who want to undertake a process of family reunification can do so.
However, these processes often devolve into almost endless rounds of bureaucratic red tape, waiting and delay.
The immigrants who last month received a visa for being the spouses or minor children of permanent residents mad made their requests in September 2010.
The situation is even more complicated when a person who asks to enter the United States to reunite with their parents is an adult, in which case the waiting time can drag out for longer than eight years.
"If I had the chance to speak with the president or with a congressman, I'd ask them to move forward on the reform applying the criteria they'd use if it involved their own family," Galvan said. EFE