The week before the Memorial Day holiday, several senators honored U.S. military families caught up in our broken immigration system by introducing The Military Families Act. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the bill.
While there are certain immigrants serving in the military who can accelerate their access to legal permanent residence through their service, their families often cannot. Some spouses of active duty military are even being deported while their partners serve on active duty. The Military Families Act would allow the spouses, parents, sons, and daughters of active duty military servicemen and women to apply for green cards if they are otherwise eligible.
According to the New York Times:
Immigration lawyers and Department of Homeland Security officials say that many thousands of people in the military have spouses or close relatives who are illegal immigrants. Many of those service members have fought to gain legal status for their family members — only to hit a legal dead end created in 1996, when Congress last made major revisions to the immigration laws.
Immigrants have a long and proud tradition of giving back to their adopted nation through military service. In 2009, the Immigration Policy Center published “Essential to the Fight” which notes that as of June 30, 2009, there were 114,601 foreign‐born individuals serving in the armed forces, representing 7.91 percent of the 1.4 million military personnel on active duty. Roughly 80.97 percent of foreign‐born service members were naturalized U.S. citizens, while 12.66 percent were not U.S. citizens.
The family members of these U.S. Service members also present yet another group of worthy individuals that the Obama Administration could help right now by exercising its executive authority. While the President continues to wait on Congress to pass new laws these families continue to suffer. (Downloadable file of case examples of families who would benefit: http://americasvoiceonline.org/page/-/americasvoice/reports/Military%20Family%20Act%20Cases.docx.)
This Memorial Day is an appropriate time to remember how we can honor not only the service members of yesteryear, but those of today. Soldiers who continue to defend our nation, while at the same time fearing that the very country they seek to protect will separate them from those they love most.
Photo by superman_ha_muerto