President Donald Trump’s war on immigration is about to see yet another escalation with the administration reportedly targeting families of active-duty service members.
According to attorneys familiar with the plans who spoke to NPR on Thursday, the administration is taking aim at certain accommodations for members of the military whose family members are undocumented immigrants and have no means for adjusting their immigration status.
“Parole in place” currently grants these family members a reprieve from deportation and the opportunity to apply for a green card. It is only available, however, in one-year increments. Family members who entered the country legally but overstayed a visa are not eligible, though they could instead receive deferred action for up to two years.
The premise of the “parole in place” program is to ensure that members of the military can focus on the expectations of their deployment without worrying that their family members back home will be kicked out of the country. As immigration attorney Margaret Stock told NPR, “The troops can’t concentrate on their military jobs when they’re worried about their family members being deported.”
Though the administration has not publicly confirmed its plan to end the program, attorneys like Stock have heard tell that the option is “being terminated” and are trying to secure as many parole in place applications for their clients as they can before that happens. Once the change is made, parole in place will reportedly only be available in very rare circumstances.
The administration has already cracked down on the ways the military can provide a path to citizenship. Previously, noncitizen military recruits could apply for naturalization after serving one day of active duty. Under the Trump administration, they must serve 180 days unless they’re in a combat zone.
The Trump administration has also begun dismantling a program started by President George W. Bush called “Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI)” that recruited immigrants with special skills to serve in the military by offering them an easier path to citizenship. The program was frozen in 2016 over security concerns.
Last year, the Pentagon began discharging MAVNI recruits and apparently was subjecting those who had naturalized through the program to “continuous monitoring” with biennial security checks. Earlier this year, a federal judge ordered the Pentagon to end discrimination against these citizens.
News of the latest crackdown comes as Trump repeatedly teases unprecedented nationwide raids on undocumented immigrants. Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) typically manages no more than 400,000 deportations in any given year, Trump has promised that “millions of illegal aliens” will be deported.
Meanwhile, conditions at the border continue to deteriorate, as the administration denies blankets, soap, and toothbrushes to children in detention facilities while adults are so overcrowded they must stand on toilets to breathe.