Rep. Cisneros Introduces Bill to Protect Undocumented Family of Servicemembers and Veterans

December 4, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC –  Today, Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), along with original co-sponsors Representatives Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Jason Crow (CO-06), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), and Ruben Gallego (AZ-7) introduced the Military Family Parole in Place Act, which would protect the family of veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces from the threat of deportation. Specifically, the Act would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act and preserve the parole in place (PIP) program, requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to grant parole in one-year increments to parents, children, spouses, and widow or widowers of servicemembers and veterans who were not dishonorably discharged. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“Families belong together, especially the families of our active-duty servicemembers who serve overseas and our veterans,” said Rep. Cisneros. “I’m deeply troubled by reports that the Department of Homeland Security is considering ending the parole in place program that protects military families as they seek a pathway to citizenship. Tearing these families apart would cause undue stress to our servicemembers and undermine our military readiness and national security. We need to move forward with common-sense fixes to our immigration policy to keep military families together and strengthen the link between service and citizenship. The Military Family Parole in Place Act will provide much-needed certainty to military families and uphold our American values.”

“As a veteran and an immigrant, I cannot overstate the importance of our Military Family Parole in Place Act,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Service members make voluntary sacrifices and endure stressful situations every day to protect our country, we must make sure they are not under additional stress worrying about the safety of their loved ones. Parole in place is a lawful program, and we know it works. This bill ensures the Trump administration can’t continue rolling back protections for our military and their families.”

"There is a scared promise in this country that if you step up to serve, we will be there for you,” said Rep. Crow. “The idea that we would deport the families of service members is an insult to those who have given so much to this country. Separating families does nothing to make our communities stronger or modernize our immigration system, rather it places undue stress on our service members and risks the morale of our troops. I'm proud to be joining Representative Cisneros in this effort to protect our military families.”

“Our men and women in uniform stand ready to put their lives on the line for the nation they love every single day, and we have the moral obligation to support and protect them, as well as their loved ones,” said Congresswoman Veronica Escobar. “I’m proud to join Congressman Cisneros to introduce the Military Family Parole in Place Act to show our gratitude and protect military and veteran families against deportation.”

“Military families also serve. We cannot expect servicemembers to put their lives on the line for the United States when their families are under threat of deportation,” said Rep. Gallego. “Parole in place is a humane policy that protects the morale and readiness of our military and should therefore be protected. Representative Cisneros’ Military Family Parole in Place Act provides that protection, and it’s why I’m pleased to stand with him to introduce it.”

“When our troops are serving our nation overseas, they should be focused on doing their job – not worrying about whether or not their family members will be deported,” said Senator Duckworth. “It would be cruel and inhumane to end these deportation protections and would pose a threat to our military readiness. I’m glad Rep. Cisneros is introducing my bill in the House today to support our men and women in combat by protecting their families from deportation.”

For more than a decade, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has used its discretionary legal authority to protect military families through the PIP program. Public reports indicate that the program is currently under review and DHS is considering terminating this critical protection for military families. The Military Family Parole in Place Act would provide military members and veterans peace of mind and protect their loved ones and immediate family members who are vulnerable to deportation. The Act is endorsed by the Military Officers Association of America, Veterans for American Ideals, UnidosUS, and the National Immigration Forum.

Rep. Cisneros is a Navy veteran and a member of the House Armed Services Committee and House Veterans Affairs Committee. Rep. Cisneros wrote a letter signed by 46 other Members of Congress seeking answers regarding Department of Defense (DoD) policy on the process for non-citizen servicemembers seeking naturalization and how DHS, specifically the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), evaluates servicemember applications for naturalization. Rep. Cisneros also led a letter asking USCIS to reconsider a rule change that impacted children of military and civil servants born overseas, preventing them from establishing U.S. residency and obtaining automatic citizenship. Rep. Cisneros is also a cosponsor of H.R. 1078, Repatriate Our Patriots Act, a bill to allow deported veterans who were honorably discharged or released to go through the naturalization process abroad.