July 08, 2019

Following Reports That Trump Administration Is Considering Eliminating Deportation Protections For The Families Of Service Members, Gillibrand, Warren Call On Trump Administration To Keep Military Families Together

Department of Homeland Security Is Reportedly Seeking to Eliminate Parole in Place and Deferred Action Programs, Which Provide Protections Against Deportation for Undocumented Family Members of Service Members, Reservists, and Veterans; Eliminating Programs Would Threaten Military Families and Military Readiness

Washington, DC – Following reports that the Trump Administration is considering eliminating programs that protect undocumented family members of service members, reservists, and veterans from being deported, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) today announced their letter to the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, raising their concerns that the Administration intends to eliminate the Parole in Place and Deferred Action programs. Both programs were implemented to give service members ease of mind that their families will not be deported while they are serving abroad. Gillibrand and Warren, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are urging the Administration to ensure the Parole in Place and Deferred Action programs remain fully available to help keep military families together.

“Reports that the Trump Administration will cancel Parole in Place and Deferred Action are deeply troubling because such a decision would eliminate a critical lifeline that enables eligible undocumented family members of servicemembers to safely and lawfully remain in the country,” Gillibrand and Warren wrote. “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. 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 Parole in Place and Deferred Action programs provide the opportunity to keep military families together, helping to enhance military readiness by easing concerns of service members deployed overseas about whether their family members are going to be deported. Parole in Place grants eligible undocumented family members of service members with permission to remain in the country in one-year intervals, while Deferred Action protects undocumented family members from deportation for up to two years. In their letter to Acting Secretary McAleenan, Gillibrand and Warren call on the Administration to consider the harmful effects eliminating these programs would have on military families and military readiness. In March 2017, Gillibrand and Warren also wrote to President Trump and then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis to raise their concerns that Trump’s “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” Executive Order may roll back these deportation protections.

The full text of Gillibrand and Warren’s letter to Acting Secretary McAleenan can be found here and below:

The Honorable Kevin McAleenan

Acting Secretary

Department of Homeland Security

300 7th Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Acting Secretary McAleenan:

We write to express our concern that the Trump Administration reportedly intends to eliminate the Parole in Place and Deferred Action programs,[1] which collectively protect certain eligible undocumented family members (i.e., spouse, widow(er), parent, son, or daughter) of active duty servicemembers, reservists, and veterans from deportation. The rationale for these programs is that “[m]ilitary preparedness can potentially be adversely affected if active members of the U.S. Armed Forces and individuals serving in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, who can be quickly called into active duty, worry about the immigration status of their spouses, parents and children.”[2] We call on you to ensure that Parole in Place and Deferred Action remain fully available so that the United States government provides common sense options to keep military families together.

According to recent reports from National Public Radio (NPR) and other outlets,[3] the Trump Administration is considering the elimination of Parole in Place, a program in which 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.[4] In addition, reports indicate that the Administration is considering the elimination of Deferred Action, in which USCIS refrains from deporting certain eligible undocumented family members of servicemembers for up to two years and regards these individuals as lawfully present for the deferral period. Under these programs, beneficiaries can apply for work authorization if they “demonstrate ‘an economic necessity for employment.’”[5] 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.’”[6]

If true, reports that the Trump Administration will cancel Parole in Place and Deferred Action are deeply troubling because such a decision would eliminate a critical lifeline that enables eligible undocumented family members of servicemembers to safely and lawfully remain in the country. Moreover, 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. 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.

We urge the Trump Administration to maintain Parole in Place and Deferred Action, and to consider the harmful effects that eliminating these programs would have on military families and military readiness. Accordingly, we request complete and accurate responses to the following questions:

  1. Reports indicate that “[m]emos are circulating among Homeland Security and Defense Department personnel … announcing the end of a handful of policies” including Parole in Place and Deferred Action.[7] Please identify any programs or policies protecting servicemembers, veterans, enlistees, and their families from deportation that are currently under consideration for termination or have been considered for termination since January 20, 2017.
    1. Please provide copies of all memoranda, notes, or other written materials discussing the termination of these programs and policies.
  1. Has USCIS established a timeline for the termination of Parole in Place or Deferred Action? If yes, please provide specific dates for when one or both of these programs will be terminated.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to your response by no later than Friday July 19, 2019. 

Sincerely,


[1] U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Discretionary Options for Military Members, Enlistees and Their Families,” https://www.uscis.gov/military/discretionary-options-military-members-enlistees-and-their-families.

[2] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Policy Memorandum, “Parole of Spouses, Children and Parents of Active Duty Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, and Former Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and the Effect of Parole on

Inadmissibility under Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(a)(6)(A)(i),” November 15, 2013, p. 2, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Laws/Memoranda/2013/2013-1115_Parole_in_Place_Memo_.pdf.

[3] National Public Radio, “Trump Wants To Withdraw Deportation Protections For Families Of Active Troops,” Franco Ordonez, June 27, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/06/27/736362986/trump-wants-to-withdraw-deportation-protections-for-families-of-active-troops; Military Times, “New Trump policies could end in deportations for some active duty troops,” Meghann Myers, June 28, 2019, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/06/28/new-trump-policies-could-end-in-deporations-for-some-active-duty-troops/.

[4] U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Discretionary Options for Military Members, Enlistees and Their Families,” https://www.uscis.gov/military/discretionary-options-military-members-enlistees-and-their-families.

[5] Id.

[6] National Public Radio, “Trump Wants To Withdraw Deportation Protections For Families Of Active Troops,” Franco Ordonez, June 27, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/06/27/736362986/trump-wants-to-withdraw-deportation-protections-for-families-of-active-troops.

[7] Military Times, “New Trump policies could end in deportations for some active duty troops,” Meghann Myers, June 28, 2019, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/06/28/new-trump-policies-could-end-in-deporations-for-some-active-duty-troops/.