Parole in Place: A Simple Fix
In the face of a recalcitrant Congress that continues to stall the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, the New York Legal Assistance Group strongly supports all actions on the part of the Obama administration that can bring relief to deserving immigrants and benefit the nation as a whole.
We believe that one of the more prudent and expedient measures available to the administration would be to broadly expand an initiative called “parole in place.” By doing so, as many as one million undocumented immigrants would be able to secure green cards and become more productive and less fearful members of society. This option would prevent the dissolution of families, a goal that most members of Congress, from both parties, support. Click here to read NYLAG’s full Parole in Place memo.
Parole in place currently allows immediate relatives of active duty servicemen who entered the country without a visa, who have no criminal history, and are otherwise productive members of society, to apply for green cards without leaving the US. Under current law, families are torn apart as eligible relatives of US citizens seeking to become green card holders are forced to leave the US and apply for reentry through US consulates in their country of origin. This is a great financial and emotional strain for those who make the journey, while many more find it impracticable or too dangerous and must accept the struggles of being undocumented to keep their families intact.
By expanding parole in place to include individuals currently present in the US who have an immediate relative who is a US citizen (a spouse, a child who is over the age of 21, or an unmarried minor child under 21 years of age) a multitude of immigrants who entered the country without inspection, but who have an otherwise clean record and strong family and community ties in the US, would be able to pursue a more permanent and sustainable life.
Parole in place makes sense:
- It is a simple fix: no legislative or administrative action is required; the legal framework is already in place and applicable to a number of immigrant populations beyond the immediate relatives of servicemen.
- It is politically viable: it would not be labelled as “amnesty” because it would be limited to a relatively small cross section of individuals who already qualify for lawful permanent resident status based on their family relationships.
- It is cost effective: there is little to no financial or administrative cost to the federal government.
- It would reduce the number of undocumented immigrants in the US: those who have not been able or willing to return to their home countries for reentry would be far more likely to come out of the shadows.
- It is good for the economy: immigrants who benefit from the program would be able to contribute more significantly to the national economy as lawful permanent residents.
Beyond these practical advantages, parole in place gives us the opportunity to acknowledge and address the human costs of our current flawed system. It would foster greater family unity among immigrant groups and address aspects of current immigration laws that create enormous hardships for those implicated by them.