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Trump Wants To Withdraw Deportation Protections For Families Of Active Duty Troops

Latino soldier in Afghanistan
Latino soldiers abroad worried about families in U.S.
Report by Franco Ordoñez | National Public Radio (NPR)

The Trump administration wants to scale back a program that protects undocumented family members of active-duty troops from being deported, according to attorneys familiar with those plans.

The attorneys are racing to submit applications for what is known as parole in place after hearing from the wives and loved ones of deployed soldiers who have been told that option is "being terminated."

The protections will only be available under rare circumstances, the lawyers said they've been told. "It's going to create chaos in the military," said Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney who represents recruits and veterans in deportation proceedings. "The troops can't concentrate on their military jobs when they're worried about their family members being deported."

Officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which offers parole in place as a "discretionary option," declined to discuss questions about the ending of the program. Defense Department and military service officials also didn't immediately respond to questions about the program.

PAROLE IN PLACE

The program the Trump administration wants to curtail does not protect all immigrants facing removal proceedings from being deported. It specifically allows military family members who have come to the country illegally — and can't adjust their immigration status — to stay in the U.S. temporarily. A spouse who overstayed a visa, for example, would not be protected under the program.

The original objective of the policy was to minimize disruption to the life of a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine whose family member might have been subject to deportation. Parole in place enables a soldier serving in Afghanistan, for instance, not to worry that a spouse at home who entered the U.S. illegally might be thrown out of the country while the soldier is deployed.

The spouse has the ability to receive "parole" within the U.S. and apply for a green card — unlike someone without that privilege, who might be deported and required to wait for years to apply. It wasn't immediately clear how many people are using this now or have in the past.

A NEW BATTLE WITHING THE BROADER IMMIGRATION WAR

The procedures are changing as the U.S. government ramps up enforcement proceedings, including against veterans and their family members — sometimes in ways that violate the government's own procedures.

For example, a federal watchdog reported earlier this month that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not follow its own policies on deporting former service members since 2013, which included during the Obama administration. Immigrants have always served in the military and often become citizens. Nearly 130,000 troops have been naturalized from more than 30 foreign countries since Oct. 1, 2001.

Service doesn't necessarily guarantee citizenship for troops, but it can offer them a path to that, as well as some benefits for people related to those serving, such as the parole privilege.

Read more about this topic at: NPR