Government Stops Deportation of Family Members of the Military

The Obama administration using executive powers and after three years of deliberations issued a memorandum through Department of Homeland Security in an effort to help worried soldiers that their immigrant family members could be deported while they were deployed. The Obama administration issued a new policy on Friday (11/15/2013) that will allow immigrants in the United States illegally who are close relatives of active military troops and veterans to stay and move toward becoming permanent residents.

The administration applied the policy broadly, extending it to all active-duty members of the armed forces, to reservists including the National Guard, and to all veterans. Their spouses, children and parents will be eligible for a “parole in place,” a term that means they will be authorized to remain in the United States and many can proceed with applications for legal residency.

The shift comes as legislation to grant legal status to millions of illegal immigrants has stalled in Congress, with Republican leaders in the House saying that there is not enough time left in 2013 to debate and vote on the immigration bill that the Senate passed in June. The Obama administration states that the new rules for military families were based on existing statutes, and did not create any new legal status that would require action by Congress. According to the administration the new rules were created to clarify existing rules and in order to reduce the uncertainty for military families.

Immigrants who entered illegally generally have to leave the country to apply for their some other family tie. Unfortunately once those immigrants would leave to get their visa they would barred from returning for up to 10 years in some cases. Under the new policy, those immigrants who are in military families will not have to leave to complete their visa applications and would be eligible to apply for adjustment of status in the United States. This is a groundbreaking interpretation of the law for military family members and provides tremendous benefits including work permits. The parole in place, if adjustment is not possible, will have to be renewed annually.

There is no way of knowing how many immigrants will be affected by the new policy, but it could be tens of thousands according to the administration. Immigrant groups are quick to point out that the President has broad powers to help families and with immigration reform uncertain they urged the administration to enact similar relief to other immigrant family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

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