Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect military families from deportation

Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect military families from deportation
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthJoe Walsh ends GOP primary challenge to Trump Illinois senators meet with Amtrak CEO over ,000 price tag for wheelchair users Democrats ask Amtrak to review policies after wheelchair users quoted K ticket price MORE (D-Ill.) on Wednesday introduced legislation aimed at shoring up a program that allows undocumented relatives of military members and veterans to remain in the U.S. temporarily.

The Military Family Parole in Place Act would codify into law an existing executive branch program known as "Parole in Place," which allows current and former service members' undocumented parents, children, spouses or widowers to temporarily stay in the country.

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The legislation would require that parole denials be approved by the heads of the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, according to a draft statement obtained by The Hill, adding a new procedure before certain undocumented relatives are removed.

The Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security secretaries would also be required to provide public justifications for each denial. 

“Our troops serving overseas should be focused on doing their jobs, not worrying about whether their family members will be deported,” Duckworth, who is a veteran, said in the statement.

“Ending these deportation protections would be a cruel, inhumane and a direct threat to our military readiness, which is why I’m introducing this legislation that would support our men and women in combat by protecting their families from deportation,” she added.

The legislation was co-sponsored by six other Democratic senators, including Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar campaign gets first super PAC Sanders leads among Latino voters: poll How the media fall in and out of love with candidates MORE (D-Minn.), who is running for president.

Its introduction follows a June NPR report that said the Trump administration was seeking to scale back parole in place, which allows certain foreign nationals who enter the U.S. without authorization from an immigration officer to stay for some period of time.

Securing parole allows recipients to apply for certain work permits and immigration benefits, depending on eligibility.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a memorandum for parole in place in 2013, and released an updated policy memo in November 2016.

According to the USCIS website, parole in place is granted on a case-by-case basis for humanitarian reasons and relation to a current or former military member "weighs heavily in favor of parole in place."

"Absent a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factors, parole in place would generally be an appropriate exercise of discretion for such an individual," it says.