SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Immigrants’ rights groups say fear is spreading among people in the U.S. military who have undocumented family members, after word that a program that protects their families from deportation may be terminated.
The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service confirms that the “Parole in Place” program is under review, but says no decisions have been made.
Carlos Luna, a chapter president of Green Card Veterans, part of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 5310, says the ICE raids slated to start this weekend have many service members terrified.
“People will be more afraid to open their doors,” Luna warns. “The ones who are active-duty service, they fear going on base with their spouse to do shopping. If they have childcare on base, they can’t even do that. Our military bases are federal, so they will gladly hand over to ICE any military spouses that may come up on a background check as undocumented.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., along with 22 of her colleagues sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security urging the agency to keep the program intact, saying that ending it would tear families apart and be grossly unfair to those serving in the military.
A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump tweeted that ICE intends to deport millions of undocumented people in the coming months. Luna warns that the deportations that would follow termination of the Parole in Place program would hurt military readiness.
“Servicemembers cannot perform to the best of their ability if they’re worried about ICE coming to take away their family,” says Luna. “It not only affects that one individual, it affects their entire unit.”
There is no official estimate of how many people have applied for Parole in Place status, as the Department of Defense does not make that data public.