July 11, 2019

Duckworth: Deporting military families 'cruel, inhumane, a threat to national security'

Source: Crain's Chicago Business


As the nation’s civil war over how to handle immigration turns even meaner, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth is taking aim at a new move by the Trump administration to deport family members of active-duty military personnel if they originally entered the country illegally.

In a letter signed by Duckworth and 21 colleagues, all Democrats, Illinois' junior senator said terminating the “parole in place program” would be “cruel, inhumane and will result in separating military families.” Beyond that, she added, such an action would be “a direct threat to our military readiness and national security.” (You can read the full letter below.)

The program involved effectively allows officials to parole an illegal immigrant if their spouse or parent is on duty, sometimes in the country and sometimes abroad. Eventually they can apply for a green card allowing permanent residency.

For at least a couple of decades the program has been based on the notion that troops have higher priorities than wondering if their spouse and children are being deported. But Trump recently has moved to close what he’s called loopholes, and recent media reports indicate this program is on the list.

“At a time when our Armed Forces are fighting dangerous wars overseas, we must enact policies that support our men and women in combat, rather than repeal policies that cause unnecessary harm,” said the letter from Duckworth, a veteran who lost both her legs during the Iraq War. “The Trump administration should provide favorable immigration solutions for military families, not break them up.”

The letter comes as the city and local civic groups prepare for raids promised by the Trump administration to remove some immigrants who have been ordered deported by the courts but who failed to comply. Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she has directed the Chicago Police Department not to cooperate with such actions.

The letter was sent to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Neither has commented, with a spokesman for McAleenan saying the agency does not publicly respond to congressional correspondence.

In a related development, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, the son of Haitian immigrants, joined with 19 attorneys general to file an amicus brief asking a federal judge in California to order DHS and others to provide humane treatment to children who have been stopped at the border and are being held in internment facilities.

“I am absolutely appalled at the inhumane conditions in which our federal government is housing children. These children were brought to the United States for better, safer lives; instead they will be forever traumatized by the cruelty they experienced on U.S. soil,” Raoul said. “Every American should be outraged by our government’s treatment of migrant children at the border, and I am proud to stand with my counterparts to fight for their health and welfare.”

By:  Greg Hinz