AILA Leadership Blog by T. Douglas Stump
A couple of weeks ago we heard from USCIS that adjudicators would be encouraged to use “Parole in Place” for many close relatives of active duty, reservists, and veterans in our nation’s armed services. It seemed like a no-brainer to many since these brave men and women have served our country and this policy, broadly applied, would free many of them from the stress and fear of their family members being deported.
But in something that feels kind of like a bait and switch to me, we heard just a few days later that some of our armed services have been refusing to enlist American citizens and green card holders because they have spouses or children that are undocumented.
America wants to encourage military service and protect those who serve and their families, but pretty soon you probably won’t have to offer parole in place any more–because you won’t have any enlistees who have undocumented relatives. Because you will have refused their service. Turned down these people for no other reason than they are related to immigrants without papers.
You’re not turning them down because they committed a crime—you’re turning them down because of who they love.
I’m happy to report though that this news hasn’t fallen on deaf ears and that a bipartisan group of 31 Congressional members, led by Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), has demanded an explanation from our nation’s military leaders. They want to know some pretty basic information, and I do as well. (I paraphrase four of their questions below):
- How long has this been going on?
- Are the Army and Air Force doing this too?
- How many American citizens and green card holders has this already affected?
- How do recruiters determine whether someone has undocumented dependents?
Just to be clear, I understand that for security reasons you need to know who you are swearing in to our country’s service. I have no problems with that. If the person trying to enlist doesn’t meet eligibility criteria themselves, don’t let them in. I get it.
But I do have a problem with predicating whether you get to volunteer to serve—and possibly die for our country—solely on who you love and care for.
T. Douglas Stump is President of American Immigration Lawyers Association, and an immigration lawyer from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma