Millions of members of the U.S military were born abroad. Many of these people have undocumented family members living in the United States.
For years, U.S. military service member advocates have argued that the nation’s current deportation policy often places undue stress on these members. The idea of deporting the loved ones of someone serving their country just doesn’t quite seem right.
Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security made an announcement that should alleviate some of these stresses. Undocumented family members of U.S. military members will no longer be deported. Instead, they will be given a “parole in place” permit that will allow them to apply for permanent legal status while remaining in the U.S.
"The Department of Homeland Security is dedicated to helping families of the military navigate through our complex immigration system," Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for the DHS said. Boogaard said the permits should "reduce the uncertainty that our soldiers on active duty and retired military personnel face due to the immigrant status of their family members."
The permits will be awarded on a case-by-case basis and will have to be renewed annually. Ordinarily, undocumented immigrants facing deportation must return to their home country before applying for permanent legal status, more commonly referred to as a green card, in the U.S. If the undocumented immigrant lived in the U.S. for under one year, they have to return to their home country for three years before applying. Undocumented immigrants who lived in the U.S. for over one year must return home for 10 years before applying.
Jon Soltz, chairman of veteran advocacy group VoteVets.org, calls the announcement a huge victory for members of the military with foreign family members.
"This is a complete surprise," Soltz said. "You have a huge percentage of the force that wasn't born in the United States...and the people they love most can be kicked out of the country. That's been something a lot of them have worried about."