Trump Seeks to Withdraw Deportation Protections for Families of Active Troops

The Trump administration is reportedly looking into scaling back a program that grants protection to undocumented family members of active-duty US service members.

According to a recent NPR report, Trump is targeting the 'parole in place program,' a temporary program that protects undocumented family members of US military service members from being deported. Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney, told the news station that the program would only be granted in rare circumstances, if the administration scales back the program.

"It's going to create chaos in the military," Stock told NPR. "The troops can't concentrate on their military jobs when they're worried about their family members being deported."The parole in program is granted “on a case-by-case basis,” according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). According to the USCIS website, the program, which is granted in one-year increments, is only eligible for specific family members. One must be a “spouse, widow(er), son or daughter” of an active-duty US service member, an individual currently in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or someone who “previously served on active duty or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and was not dishonorably discharged,” the website states.“It used to be, under the Bush administration and the Obama administration, that they would terminate removal proceedings for military members and their family members, and that’s changed under Trump," Stock told The Military Times.

Those who have overstayed their visas are not eligible for the one-year extension, according to the USCIS website. Those who do not qualify because they overstayed their visas may qualify for Deferred Action, which grants two years of legal residency in the US. The program, which is also known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, is currently being discussed in court, as President Donald Trump tried to end the program back in 2017, Reuters previously reported.

Stock told The Military Times that she found out about the changes during an American Immigration Lawyers Association meeting on June 22. She told the publication that the changes would go into effect in four weeks.Earlier this month, the new acting director for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, Mark Morgan, announced that he was considering increasing the deportation of migrant families. He told reporters at ICE headquarters in Washington, DC that no one is exempt and the agency would prioritize those who have a criminal background, CNN previously reported.

“I think we can’t exempt anybody,” Morgan said, according to the news station. “That will include families.”

Following the news of the increased deportations, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were set to perform nationwide raids in 10 different cities across the US on Sunday June 23, Buzzfeed News previously reported. On June 22, President Trump announced that he was delaying the plan and would resume the raids if Democrats did not approve of the changes to the asylum laws.“At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!” Trump tweeted. In April, Democratic lawmakers introduced three bills that would grant healthcare and prohibit deportation for US veterans: the Veterans Visa and Protection Act, the Healthcare Opportunities for Patriots in Exile (HOPE) Act, and the Immigrant Veterans Eligibility Tracking System (I-VETS) Act, according to a previous press release from Senator Mazie Hirono’s (D-Hawaii).

According to press release, the Veterans Visa and Protection Act of 2019 would create a visa program where “deported veterans may enter the United States as legal permanent residents” and would also “enable legal permanent residents to become naturalized citizens through military service.” Other sponsors of the three bills include Senators Richard Blumental (D-Conn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

“When immigrants step up to serve our country, it is unacceptable to deny them the very same rights and opportunities they risk their lives defending. We must appropriately recognize these veterans, and that starts with protecting their access to care and their right to remain in their communities,” Hirono said in the press release. “The Veterans Visa and Protection Act, the HOPE Act, and the I-VETS Act would help veterans seek legal permanent residency and citizenship. It would also ensure all veterans can access medical care for service-connected medical conditions.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.