Undocumented Military Relatives Have Path To Citizenship Under New White House Policy

The Obama administration is putting a new progressive policy where its promises are: Undocumented relatives of military personnel will now be allowed to obtain legal status in the United States. The rule change, enacted quietly last month, will now allow undocumented spouses, children, and parents of military service members to be "paroled" into the United States. Seems like a fair deal.

Gabriel Zermeño, a 21-year-old U.S. born citizen, is a member of the Arizona Army National Guard. His 53-year-old father, José Zermeño, is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has faced deportation proceedings — even though he’s lived in this country for more than 30 years.

"At any moment, I could be overseas fighting for my country and he could be getting deported by the same country I was supposed to be fighting for," Gabriel Zermeño told USA Today.

Under the Obama administration’s new policy, individuals like Zermeño can help legalize their relative's citizenship status by applying for parole to remain in the United States. This will start family members on the road to permanent residency, which means they can apply for a green card without having to go back to their home countries first. That's a huge deal — especially considering most undocumented immigrants can face bans on returning to the United States while applying for a green card for up to 10 years.

“This is an enormous step forward for military families and military readiness,” said Margaret D. Stock, a lawyer at Cascadia Cross-Border Law in Anchorage. “These problems had been a complete nightmare for many military people to deal with.”

Meanwhile, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) celebrated its first anniversary this year. As Bustle reported:

The legislation allows an estimated 1.6 million undocumented immigrant youth living in the the U.S. to defer removal actions, and provides a pathway for work authorization.
While DACA doesn’t provide a legal status, (or help those who didn’t immigrate at a young age) its enactment is probably the most monumental form of immigration reform we will get in the U.S. for quite some time. Most importantly, it has already directly impacted thousands of youth across the country.

The quicker politicians can all get on the same page about immigration reform, the better.