Homeland Security Unilaterally Halts the Deportation of Service Members' Family

The Department of Homeland Security announced last week that family of U.S. military members will no longer have to face deportation. The constant fear that any one of their loved ones might at any time be deported out the country adds unnecessary "stress and anxiety" on troops.

Reacting to the news was Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org, a veterans organization that was pushing for the change:

This is a complete surprise. You have a huge percentage of the force that wasn't born in the United States [and] the people they love most can be kicked out of the country. That's been something a lot of them have worried about.

Under the new policy, family members without a criminal record can be placed under "parole in place," which effectively puts a stops to their deportation. The new policy also allows relatives to apply for permanent legal status without having to leave the country for numerous years.

The new policy is based on existing statutes. The Obama administration and DHS officials did not have to create any new legal status that would first require approval by Congress, a move Republicans would almost inevitably have sabotaged.

The policy took DHS officials three years to finally settle into place. Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had previously sent a letter to Congress back in 2010 concerning the problem. In the letter, she explained that for a lot of cases, as the new policy now states, undocumented family members of U.S. troops could be granted "parole in place."

"In order to reduce the uncertainty our active-duty and retired military personnel face because of the immigration status of their family members, we have decided to clarify existing policies," said Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

As Democrats bypass Republican opposition by untangling knots in our existing immigration laws, Republicans at the state level continue to obstruct reform.

Case in point: All four Republican candidates running for Lieutenant Governor of Texas.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, along with state Senator Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples have all become increasingly anti-immigrant in their pandering to Tea Party-friendly primary voters.

One of top priorities for Republicans in the 2015 Legislative Session is dismantle the Texas DREAM Act, law passed in 2001. All four Republican lieutenant governor hopefuls want to get rid of the tuition policy that allows in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Senator Dan Patrick has even previously filed legislation similar to Arizona's controversial SB 1070 immigration enforcement law.

Democrat and Texas state Senator Leticia Van de Putte - Chair of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, and also a member of the Senate Committees on Education - is the only candidate running for lieutenant governor that has dedicated her political career to improving the lives of our veterans and that of the quality of our state's education. 

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