Deport families of deployed soldiers? And Donald Trump calls himself a patriot? “Parole in Place” is an immigration law that allowed key protections for military families, and now it’s gone.
When our soldiers abroad worry about loved ones at home, that endangers all of us. That’s why the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) expanded the Parole in Place program back in 2013. As Harlan York, an immigration lawyer, explains:
Parole in place promotes family unity for those who serve our country, by offering green cards to immigrant parents, spouses and children of Active Duty Military, as well as immigrant relatives of Reserves, Veterans and the National Guard.
Parole in Place (PIP for short) means that although these soldiers’ family members are technically breaking the law, they can serve their “parole” where they live. That’s usually on or near their loved ones’ military base. Only those with clean criminal records are eligible.
Rescinding the Parole in Place program breaks the promise we’ve made to our soldiers.
Now, as Nathan Fletcher writes in The San Diego Tribune, the GOP’s President Donald Trump is breaking the promise we’ve made to recent recruits:
The Trump administration’s draconian and hastily drafted immigration orders rescind a key protection for military families so that now even military spouses and children can be rounded up and deported. This will weaken our armed forces. It will harm thousands of military families. And it’s wrong.
And Fletcher knows what he’s talking about. He’s a U.S. Marines combat vet, has served in the California State Assembly, and is a professor of political science at U.C. San Diego.
When you deploy to war, your greatest worry is not yourself. You worry about your family left behind. The least we can promise those willing to give their life for our country is that their immediate family members can remain in that same country. By all accounts, the policy has worked well.
The well-being of our military families isn’t just a moral issue, Fletcher adds, it’s a national security issue.
That may be good politics for the red states, but it’s terrible national security policy for the United States, and a slap in the face to thousands of deployed troops with immigrant roots. […] We cannot allow our troops to be consumed with fear and anxiety about their families while deployed on the front lines.
Of course, it’s wrong for people to enter the U.S. illegally. But what many fail to understand is that love and family don’t have borders. Our immigration system has gotten so complicated it’s harder to obey the law than you’d think. Even getting married doesn’t automatically give your non-U.S. spouse legal status here.
Take William and Denise Lyon, for example. The BBC tells us they met as children in Minnesota, because their families attended the same church. William’s a citizen, but Denise’s family crossed the border illegally. They’re married now, but William was deployed abroad in January and — thanks to Donald Trump — Denise’s immigration status is in peril.
Although Donald Trump’s executive order doesn’t specifically mention the Parole In Place program, things don’t look good for people like William and Denise. Through tears, she told the BBC:
“I’m even more scared now because I can’t communicate with my husband right now, he’s so far away. It’s so frustrating and it’s so sad – I have a job, I have a house, I do everything legal, I don’t have any felonies. You’re just hanging by a thread saying, ‘What am I going to do?”
David Kubat, a veteran and an immigration lawyer, was among the first to read the DHS memo and worry about the Parole in Place program. Specifically, the language from the memo — titled “Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest” reads:
“all existing conflicting directives, memoranda, or field guidance regarding the enforcement of our immigration laws and priorities for removal are hereby immediately rescinded […] except as specifically provided in this memorandum, prosecutorial discretion shall not be exercised in a manner that exempts or excludes a specified class or category of aliens from enforcement of the immigration laws.”
Since the DHS memo doesn’t specifically mention the Parole in Place program, David Kubat and the two other immigration law experts he spoke with say it’s gone. But he adds that perhaps it’s a mistake.
“I don’t know if this is an accident. I’m pretty sure this is something no one agrees with – I don’t think [DHS] Secretary [John] Kelly intended to rescind this program.”
That certainly wouldn’t be a first for Donald Trump, who seems to revel in the dread and uncertainty his various pronouncements create. But unfortunately, this is likely no mistake. In 2014, the GOP-led House passed a bill to get around Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012.
The bill made no exceptions for U.S. military families. Clearly, members of the Republican Party don’t care about our soldiers as much as they say they do.
WATCH: Donald Trump’s order cancels Parole in Place program for U.S. Military families.
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