While Fighting for America, Members of the Armed Forces Should Not Face the Deportation of Loved Ones Back Home
New legislation introduced today by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) would provide some stability to members of the U.S. Armed Forces whose loved ones are caught up in the broken immigration system. The government estimates that thousands of men and women currently serving in the military have spouses or other close family members who are undocumented. The Military Families Act would allow the spouses, parents, sons, and daughters of active duty military servicemen and women to apply for green cards if they are otherwise eligible.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “The lack of progress on federal immigration reform has created a cruel irony for many in our nation’s military. While they bravely defend the country they love, the government is trying to deport their family members. Still others have loved ones living in the shadows, worrying every day that the letter could come that begins their deportation proceedings. No one should have to face these stresses while putting their lives on the line to protect our nation. The Military Families Act is common sense legislation that should become law. We applaud Senator Menendez and others for introducing this important legislation, and call on Members of Congress in both parties to come together and swiftly pass it.”
Immigrants have long and proud tradition of giving back to their adopted nation by serving in the U.S. armed forces. In 2009, 114,601 foreign-born people served in the United States military—including citizens and legal residents. They comprised almost 8% of all active-duty military personnel. While Congress has recognized the sacrifices that immigrant members of our armed services make, and accelerated access to citizenship for legal permanent residents in the U.S. military, it has not addressed the issue of loved ones’ deportations. Although some private bills to address individual cases have advanced, they are extremely rare and their impact is limited to just one family. There are many more men and women in our armed forces who need this legislation to bring a measure of stability and security to their lives. Some stories of military families from California, Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, and Virginia who are facing this struggle can be found here.
The Obama Administration should also use its executive authority to address this problem to the fullest extent of the law. Doing so would be wholly consistent with the goals and purpose of the Administration’s “Strengthening Our Military Families” initiative. Two recent memos from immigration law experts and the Immigration Policy Center outline the options available to the Administration to address the nightmare these families are facing.
“By passing this common sense legislation, Congress could grant American soldiers important peace of mind while they are off fighting for this country. In the meantime, the Administration should use its executive authority to stabilize these families to the maximum extent allowed by law,” Tramonte concluded.
Case examples for the Military Families Act: http://americasvoiceonline.org/militaryfamilycases.
America’s Voice Education Fund — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.