It is a sad fact that, in this country, military service members often find their own families torn apart by the immigration laws of the very country they have devoted their lives to serving. A recent article in the online publication The Daily Caller highlighted the plight of hundreds of thousands of military families that cannot be together because one or more family members is not allowed in the US, despite their family member’s military service.
The article focuses in particular on Texas resident and Retired Air Force Major Alex Gonzalez, a decorated combat veteran who served from 1989 through 2008, including service in Iraq, and now works with the Defense Department to train Iraqi pilots. Gonzalez was married in 2010 to Yuritzi Gonzalez, who had entered the United States from Mexico when she was 17 and deported when she falsely told authorities she was a US citizen while trying to visit her sick father in Mexico. After making her way back to the US, where she met and married Alex, the couple “self-deported” to Columbia where he worked for the State Department under the impression that she could reapply for a visa and they could come back to the US. Her visa was denied, however, and she was banned for life from the US. She now lives with their child in Mexico while he continues to serve his country in Texas.
The Gonzalez’ story is just one of many thousands of stories of military families that suffer under the current regime of federal immigration laws. That said, there are recently introduced avenues in place that can help military service members in obtaining immigration protection for spouses and children. In late 2013 (after the Gonzalez’ application was denied), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced what it called a “military parole in place” policy, which gives the USCIS additional powers to grant special parole consideration (in other words, the right to be in the US for at least some period of time) to undocumented individuals who are spouses, children or parents of active duty members of the US armed forces; individuals in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve (SELRES); or individuals who previously served in the US armed forces or the SELRES. While the USCIS generally grants parole very sparingly, the USCIS announced that being a family member of an active or former service member “weighs heavily in favor of parole in place,” and that, “absent a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factors, parole in place would generally be an appropriate exercise of discretion for such an individual…if USCIS decides to grant parole in that situation, the parole should be authorized in one-year increments, with extensions of parole as appropriate.”
Applying for the protections offered by parole can be a challenging and time-consuming process, and it is important that it be done properly and that all the necessary evidence is included in support of the application. It is in your best interest to find legal counsel you can trust to guide you through this confusing process.
Contact the compassionate and experienced San Antonio immigration attorney Alfredo Lozano for assistance with your claim, at 210-932-3600.