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
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Friday November 15, 2013, that they will begin offering "parole in place" to active duty military, reserve and veteran family members (spouses, children and parents) who are undocumented. USCIS has done this for active duty spouses for some time but have expanded it to additional family members and to veterans as well as active duty. This will offer protection from deportation for family members without a criminal conviction or other adverse factors and a path to obtaining permanent residence without leaving the U.S. for some.
What is Parole in Place?
Parole is most frequently used to permit an alien who is outside the U.S. to come into the U.S. Parole in Place may be granted to an alien who is already physically present in the U.S. without inspection or admission.
Who is eligible to apply for Parole in Place under this new policy?
Unmarried children under 21
Active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces
Individuals in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve
Individual who perviously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve
WHO DO NOT HAVE
A criminal conviction
Other serious adverse factors
What are the benefits of receiving Parole in Place?
Eligible relatives of an active duty military, reserve or veteran who is a U.S. citizen who receive parole in place may be eligible to apply for adjustment of status to permanent resident without leaving the U.S.
This is a particularly important benefit for parents of U.S. citizens who would not be eligible for a waiver of unlawful presence if they leave the U.S. to apply for permanent residence at a consulate.
Eligible relatives of lawful permanent resident military members or veterans will be eligible for parole status in increments of one (1) year which will provide protection from deportation or removal and the opportunity to apply for employment authorization.
What are the risks of filing for Parole in Place?
Because filing for an immigration benefit involves coming forward and giving information to USCIS, there is always a risk involved. Anyone with a criminal record or adverse factors, for example, former gang membership or prior deportations, should consult an attorney before applying. Additionally, this program could be discontinued by the next administration.
What should I do if I think I am eligible for Parole in Place?
Consult an immigation attorney or BIA accredited representative to determine if you are eligible to apply and for assistance in filing the proper documents.
Today, USCIS issued guidance that is intended to prevent current and former members of the U.S. armed forces from being separated from their noncitizen family members. The memo indicates that the noncitizen family members may be afforded “parole in place.”
“Parole in place” is a discretionary tool that allows a noncitizen who is in the United States without authorization to remain here, at least temporarily. The memo says that “absent a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factors,” spouses, children and parents of active duty members, members of the reserves, and veterans should be granted parole in one-year increments. The new guidance also clarifies that some individuals granted “parole in place” may be eligible to apply for permanent residency (i.e., adjust status), if they are otherwise eligible.