The Department of Homeland Security announced today that relatives of U.S. military members with clean criminal records can obtain “parole in place,” which gives them protection from deportation and the ability to apply for a green card if they qualify. From Alan Gomez at USA Today:
The Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that it will halt the deportations of relatives of U.S. military members, arguing that it puts an unnecessary “stress and anxiety” on troops that are protecting the nation.
Relatives who have extensive criminal records or pose other risks to the country can still be deported. But those with clean criminal records can be placed on a “parole in place” that stops their deportation and allows them to apply for permanent legal status while remaining in the U.S.
This is a big deal – and welcome news. It shows again that the Obama administration has authority to stop deportations.
Here’s the key passage from the DHS memo, which was released today:
For an alien who entered without inspection, a grant of parole under INA § 212(d)(5)(A) affects at least two of the eligibility requirements for adjustment of status. First, adjustment of status requires that the person be “admissible.” INA § 245(a)(2). As discussed above, parole eliminates one ground of inadmissibility, section 212(a)(6)(A)(i). Second, adjustment of status requires that the alien have been “inspected and admitted or paroled.” INA § 245(a). The grant of parole under INA §212(d)(5)(A) overcomes that obstacle as well. The alien must still, however, satisfy all the other requirements for adjustment of status. One of those requirements is that, except for immediate relatives of United States citizens and certain other individuals,13 the person has to have “maintain[ed] continuously a lawful status since entry into the United States.” INA § 245(c)(2). Parole does not erase any periods of prior unlawful status. Thus, an alien who entered without inspection will remain ineligible for adjustment, even after a grant of parole, unless he or she is an immediate relative or falls within one of the other designated exemptions. Moreover, even an alien who satisfies all the statutory prerequisites for adjustment of status additionally requires the favorable exercise of discretion.
Currently, U.S. law requires undocumented immigrants applying for such a change in status return to their “country of origin” and be hit with the infamous three or ten year bar. DHS officials are rightfully claiming that such bars put unnecessary “stress and anxiety” on troops that are protecting the nation. More from USA Today:
With the new memo issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday, spouses, children and parents of active-duty military members, reservists who may be called up as part of the “Ready Force,” and other veterans can have their deportations halted and can apply for their green cards without leaving the country.
Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard said the cases would still be decided on a case-by-case basis, but said the memorandum formalizes the process to reduce the stress on the nation’s military force.
“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.”
We have to wonder if Rep. Steve King has already drafted an amendment to end this policy, like he did with DACA. And, would Speaker Boehner give him a vote on that, too?