Senators Warren and Gillibrand Raise Concerns that the Trump Administration May Separate Military Families

Department of Homeland Security is Reportedly Seeking to Eliminate Deportation Protections for Undocumented Family Members of Servicemembers

Washington, DC July 8, 2019 – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, raising concerns about recent reports that the Trump Administration is considering eliminating Parole in Place and Deferred Action, which protect eligible undocumented family members of active duty servicemembers, reservists, and veterans from deportation. Both discretionary tools provide common sense options to keep military families together and enhance military readiness by easing concerns of servicemembers deployed overseas about whether their family members are going to be deported.

Based on NPR reporting, “attorneys are racing to submit applications for … parole in place after hearing from the wives and loved ones of deployed soldiers who have been told that option is ‘being terminated.'”¬†Elimination of these options would negatively affect military families. Under Parole in Place, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant certain eligible undocumented family members of servicemembers the permission to remain in the country in one-year intervals “on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit,” as long as they did not overstay their visa. Under Deferred Action, USCIS refrains from authorizing the deportation of certain eligible undocumented family members of servicemembers for up to two years and regards these individuals as lawfully present for the deferral period. Under Parole in Place and Deferred Action, beneficiaries can apply for work authorization if they “demonstrate ‘an economic necessity for employment.'”

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“Eliminating these programs would risk creating anxiety among deployed servicemembers that their family members will be deported and would risk distracting those servicemembers from their mission,” wrote Senators Warren and Gillibrand. “Fundamentally, we believe that there is no public benefit to separating eligible military families and that maintaining access to Parole in Place and Deferred Action honors the sacrifices made by members of our Armed Forces and their families and is consistent with our national security.”

The lawmakers requested that the Trump Administration maintain Parole in Place and Deferred Action, consider the harmful effects that eliminating these options would have on military families and military readiness, and respond to their questions about any such plans by July 19, 2019.