Instinctively, we take care of our own as this seems to be the natural way. Sometimes, unexpected external forces or individual whims get in the way of fulfilling this parental duty.
What then is the standard with which to measure the “good moral character” of a parent in the care of his/her children?
US immigration laws subscribe to the preservation of family unity at all times. It seeks to ensure that immigration to this country does not mean forgetting our responsibilities as parents and ignoring the basic duty of caring for our young.
In a lot of cases, parents who hope to resettle in the United States hesitate to initially travel with multiple (three or more) children.
The reason behind this is the fear of the unknown – the uncertainty of how life would be in another country with an unfamiliar culture.
The thought of starting over in an environment where it could be taboo to ask for a pinch of salt from your neighbor is, to say the least, daunting. But the noble obligation to provide for one’s children has driven some parents to risk an uncertain life here so they can earn the greenbacks to send back to the Philippines.
Many would be surprised to know that immigration law places a high regard for the parent’s commitment to regularly give support, financial or otherwise, to their minor children left in the Philippines or elsewhere.
Failure to financially support dependents could cause a denial of a parent’s application for US citizenship. As a matter of official discretion, the failure of a parent to financially support his/her children, whether residing in this country or outside, can be deemed as “lacking in good moral character” and, therefore, undeserving to become a US citizen.
It is widespread knowledge that having a criminal conviction (in certain cases) can lead to the denial of a US citizenship application simply because it is easy to understand that criminal behavior does not equate to possessing “good moral character.”
But it is not easy to correlate failing to regularly send money for the care of your children outside of the US with “lacking in good moral character.” The law will only exempt a parent from this requirement under “extenuating circumstances,” a test that can be difficult to pass.
Societies differ in so many ways, but the standard in caring for the young is based on the laws of nature and does not make any distinction wherever we are at any given point in time.
It is never too late to comply with this parental obligation to minors when you have not yet filed your citizenship application. Renew your ties in the Philippines if need be. It is one of those rare “win-win” situations: You will not only feel good about supporting your children, but you will also feel thankful (to your attorney) and proud to tell the immigration officer during an interview that you are a good parent.