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Legal Status for Undocumented Relatives of U.S. Military

The Obama administration has recently introduced an immigration policy, which allows the undocumented, immigrant relatives of U.S. military affiliates, to obtain legal status and military benefits. This means that any undocumented immigrant, who is the spouse, child, or parent of a member of the U.S. military, is entitled to receive a social security number, healthcare, and education, as well as survivor benefits and a U.S. driver’s license. This new immigration law is widely debated, as some critics believe the U.S. government is, in essence, providing a waiver for legal status to immigrants that have not earned it. In contrast, supporters of this law believe that U.S. military members have the right to serve without the worry of a possible removal proceeding or deportation of a loved one.

Up until now, there have been no limitations noted in regards to how long one needs to serve in the U.S. military in order for their families to receive this amnesty, nor whether or not the families of dishonorably discharged veteran’s may also receive amnesty. Some believe that it would have been mentioned in the original memo of the policy if the relatives of these dishonorably discharged military members were unable to receive amnesty. Therefore, they have concluded that these undocumented immigrants will also be granted legal status since the law never specifically commented on it.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the power to stop deportation of undocumented immigrants who have family ties to veterans or active military members. This new law was mentioned by DHS on November 15, 2013, based on pre-existing policies. Prior to November 15, 2013, Janet Napolitano, the first woman to serve in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, introduced an unofficial policy called, “parole-in-place”. Due to it’s informal and unofficial status this policy was never consistently followed. Essentially, this course of action allowed for undocumented immigrant husbands and wives of active duty, U.S. armed forces members, to receive parole and then apply for a Green Card. In most cases they were required to leave the country and apply for their green card in their home country, and were able to do so without penalty. However there were still various cases, which were denied. After, November 15, 2013, this law was expanded to include undocumented immigrant spouses, parents and children of U.S. military veterans and active duty members who could apply for their Green Card from within the United States.

In an interview with Fox News, U.S. veteran, Christian Gonzalez, explains that he continues to suffer with the permanent residual health issues from temporary paralysis. His wife Laura, an undocumented immigrant, manages and cares for he and his family and that if she was granted legal status she could get a job or go to school, and help to provide and contribute to their family. He also states, “I’m covered, my kids are covered, but the woman that runs the house, she’s not covered. So that’s probably the hardest part.” It is still in great dispute as to whether the families of the men and women who fight for this country should receive amnesty, however despite the turmoil, the general idea of this policy continues to be for the benefit of the people through encouraging family unity for those who fight for our country.

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