A Good Amnesty

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 06:41

President Obama takes a lot of heat from both sides of the immigration debate. One side accuses him of increasing deportations and the other side says he is giving a rolling amnesty. Here is a case where he has done a very good thing for a very large number of immigrants and been given very little credit.


A decade from now a good portion of the “illegal immigrant issue” will have been solved and the ethnic make-up of US armed forces will have significantly changed, even if Congress doesn't act. How do we know this? It is already immigration policy, the numbers are huge and the effect is just starting to be felt.

It all started in 2004 under President GW Bush. A small immigration bill was passed that mainly increased security on the southern border and among other things it also allowed US Citizens who were in the military to get green cards (vernacular for permanent legal residence) for their non-US Citizen spouses and parents. The effect was small because it didn't do away with the need for these qualified applicants to leave the country and to not have “undocumented immigrant” status.

The DHS knew that this Bush era law couldn't help many people but they figured out that combined with discretionary “parole” military personnel could get green cards for their spouses and parents. On November 15, 2013, USCIS established a formal policy of providing parole on a case-by-case basis to the undocumented parents, spouses, and children of veterans and active military members.

Under INA § 212(d)(5)(A) the DHS is permitted at its discretion, to grant temporary entry to non-citizens "on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit."

All this is being done within the law and is being done for the benefit of soldiers but how big of a group is it likely to be. In 2009 it was estimated that there were 4 to 5 million US citizen children of undocumented parents living in the USA. If 10% on them join the military and get green cards for their parents it can amount to more than a million people. This is a big number.

This special bonus for Hispanics will also effect the makeup of the military. In 2012 roughly 12% of the armed forces were Hispanic by the time this effect has washed through the system it will double or triple. Some of the undocumented have been here for 15 or 20 years and their US born children are just getting to be old enough to start to take advantage of this deal. For the next twenty years OTBE (Other Things Being Equal) the numbers of Hispanics in the military will be increasing and the number of undocumented will be decreasing.

This special treatment for the parents of children in the military is a good thing but it is an anomaly. Most of the undocumented are living in the shadows hoping that they won't be stopped for speeding, be subject to an INS audit at work or turned in by an angry neighbor. It is wrong and we need as a country to fix it. Maybe finding another sympathetic group, like soldiers, and offering them a similar deal is a possibility since CIR doesn't seem to be going anywhere.