The Obama administration says illegal immigrants who are relatives of U.S. active military and veterans will no longer be deported, and can apply to stay in the United States.
The move is being made because the government is concerned about the "stress and anxiety" faced by troops whose relatives were in danger of being deported, reports The Washington Times
. Further, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services says veterans have earned the right to keep their relatives in the United States.
“Similarly, our veterans, who have served and sacrificed for our nation, can face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members in the United States," says an agency memo. " We as a nation have made a commitment to our veterans, to support and care for them. It is a commitment that begins at enlistment, and continues as they become veterans."
The new policy will apply to troops' and veterans' spouses, children and parents, who can apply for parole status that will allow them to stay in the United States in one-year increments that can be renewed by the USCIS.
Immigrant groups applauded the move, but said President Barack Obama can still halt more deportations.
The new policy comes as part of a series of immigrants that are no longer deported. Last year, the Obama administration ordered agents to stop deporting young illegals who would have qualified for the Dream Act, proposed legislation which would have allowed citizenship for immigrants brought to the United States as children and who were pursuing a military career or furthering their educations. While the law failed, Obama agreed to allow the younger immigrants to stay, which brought a great deal of criticism from conservatives, who say Obama is using such moves to circumvent the nation's immigration laws.
But the Obama administration said that he is able to suspend the immigration laws, under the same prosecutorial discretion powers h
e used to postpone a key part of Obamacare on Thursday.
“The secretary’s authority can be used in narrow circumstances to ease implementation short of legislative changes — and this is one of those instances,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said, while defending the Obamacare changes.. “This type of action was used for last year in the administration’s policy on deferred action for childhood arrivals pending immigration reform, for example. That was something that DHS did.”
USCIS on Friday said it shares legal authority, under a section of the nation's immigration laws, that allows Homeland Security to parole foreigners on a "case-by-case basis." While parole is often used to allow foreigners to come into the country, USCIS said the status can also be used to let immigrants remain legally.
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