Recently announced by the Obama administration, a policy change that will permit immigrants who are close relatives of any and all active military troops and/or veterans to remain in the U.S. and continue to move towards permanent resident status.
Many involved in this field feel this memorandum is overdue as it has only succeeded now after three years of deliberation by officials in the Department of Homeland Security. Previous to this decision, there were numerous soldiers who were burdened with the fear that their close family members may be deported while they were away on active service.
This policy can be described as “broad” as it extends to all active-duty members of all fields of the armed forces, reservists, the National Guard as well as all veterans. Spouses, children and parents will be made eligible for what is termed as “parole in place” which means that they are authorized to remain in the U.S. and even further, many are eligible to pursue legal residency.
This shift was able to occur despite the standstill in congress. Although Republican leaders are starkly against holding immigration votes this year or even entering into a broad discussion over the bill that the Senate passed in June, the Obama administration posits that this new rule was based on previously existing statute, therefore it did not create any new types of legal statuses that would make congressional action necessary.
Currently, immigrants who do not possess papers must leave the country in order to collect the necessary visa which was applied for through marriage to a U.S. citizen or other family tie. However, this results in a harmful situation when those immigrants are prohibited from returning to the U.S. for several years. Under this new policy, these immigrants who are in military families will not be required to leave the U.S. to complete their visas.
On the other side of the issue, many service members are electing not to apply for papers for their spouses and relatives and are keeping their immigration status a secret. This means that there is no sure-fire way of calculating how many immigrants will be affected by this policy, but it could certainly be in the tens of thousands.