Federal immigration authorities will no longer deport non-criminal immigrant family members of former and active duty members serving in the U.S. military, according to a new Department of Homeland Security memo released on Friday. Most notably, some undocumented family members of military personnel would also have a chance to adjust to permanent legal status.
The memo in part states that relatives without criminal records and who aren’t national security risks could apply for a “parole in place” status, thereby having their deportations suspended. The parole status is authorized in one-year increments and allows relatives who are legally here to adjust for permanent legal status. Others who can adjust their status include undocumented immediate relatives and employment-based immigrants who fell out of status for less than six months.
About five percent of the force, or more than 65,000 military immigrants, currently serve on active-duty. The memo indicates that halting the deportation of immigrant family members would help to alleviate the “stress and anxiety” of military personnel.
Since 2010, relatives without criminal records were allowed to apply for “parole in place,” but it was so unknown that very few immigration lawyers and members of the military knew about it.
This memo is the latest in a series of immigration policy changes released by the Obama administration that focuses on deporting high-priority criminal immigrants, rather than low-priority non-criminal immigrants. In August, the administration issued a directive that advised immigration authorities to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” when they detain undocumented immigrant parents. And in June 2012, the Obama administration created the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, which would halt the deportation of undocumented youths and allow those immigrants to work in two year increments.