The Trump administration is looking to strip undocumented family members of active-duty service members of protection from deportation as soon as next month, NPR reports. Attorneys for military families with an undocumented relative say their clients have been told the “parole in place” program is “being terminated,” prompting them to scramble to apply for its protections before it comes to an end. Parole in place is designed to offer temporary relief from deportation for military families where a spouse or loved one came to the country illegally—in order to allow troops to serve without fear that their families could be sent home while the service member is deployed.
Currently an undocumented military spouse could receive “parole,” which would allow him or her to stay in the U.S. and apply for a green card, which offers a path to change immigration status. Under the new administration guidelines, however, protection from deportation will only be granted in rare circumstances, according to NPR. The military has long been an avenue to citizenship for foreign nationals and over the past two decades more than 130,000 troops from 30 countries become naturalized American citizens. It’s not clear how many military families have used parole in place to gain residency.
“The procedures are changing as the U.S. government ramps up enforcement proceedings, including against veterans and their family members—sometimes in ways that violate its own procedures,” NPR reports. “The Trump administration has also made it harder for some immigrants to enlist in the military with hopes their service would lead to an expedited path to citizenship.”