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Protection for Military Families: Parole in Place

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

Yaderlin Jimenez, an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic, had been fighting deportation proceedings for a year when she heard that her husband, Army Spec. Alex Jimenez, 25, was reported missing. On May 12, 2007, his military unit was ambushed by insurgents in Iraq. Fortunately, U.S. Senator John Kerry and prominent lawyers took interest in the Jimenezes’ case. They secured a pardon for Yaderlin, halting her deportation on a single consideration basis. Her husband’s remains where later found.

But should this have happened in the first place? Wouldn’t you agree that our men and women in the military need not worry if a spouse will be deported? Or a parent? Or a child?

Due to the inability of the U.S. Congress to address immigration reform, President Obama’s administration has chosen to use executive powers to make small but significant changes to certain immigration policies.

Parole in Place (PIP) is one of those policies, and it pertains to undocumented military family members. It protects spouses, children and parents of active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces, current members of the Selected Reserve or the Ready Reserve, and those who have previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces, Selected Reserve, or the Ready Reserve.

As expected, GOP members of Congress criticized this executive action, calling it “backdoor amnesty.” But in reality, this policy was an act of justice for the people who choose to serve the country in the armed forces.

Family members of military personnel who are granted this Parole in Place can request an employment authorization card (EAC) and, for some individuals, eligibility for adjustment of status.

How does a family member apply for Parole in Place?

Applicants need to file the following to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  • A completed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
  • Evidence of relationship to the armed forces member
  • Evidence of the person’s active duty membership or past membership in the U.S. Armed Forces, the Selected Reserve, or the Ready Reserve, such as a copy of the service member’s military identification card (DD Form 1173)
  • Two identical, color, passport-style photographs
  • Evidence of favorable discretionary factors (e.g. statement of hardship, applicant’s participation in the community)

Click here for a detailed list of documents to add to the petition for PIP.

The PIP application process is a little patchy. As you can see, there is not a specific form to fill out, as there is with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Parole in Place can also be requested simply with a letter. Click here and go to page 608 to read a sample letter for PIP.

Since PIP is only an official pardon for being undocumented, it is the responsibility of the applicants to follow up by requesting benefits that come with the pardon, such as the application for a work permit and, in certain cases, an adjustment of immigration status.

Unless there are serious adverse factors such as a criminal conviction, Parole in Place is generally granted. Consult with an experienced immigration lawyer if you or a family member qualify for PIP.

Follow our Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund guide to choosing a good immigration lawyer here.