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US grants reprieve to Caribbean, other illegal immigrants with relatives in military

Published:Sunday | November 17, 2013 | 5:51 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, CMC – The United States has offered a reprieve to illegal Caribbean and other immigrants who are close relatives of active military troops and veterans by allowing them to stay in the country and move towards becoming permanent residents.

After deliberating for over three years, the US Department of Homeland Security said in a memorandum that the new policy seeks to appease troops who are concerned that their immigrant family members could be deported while they were deployed.

“In order to reduce the uncertainty our active-duty and retired military personnel face because of the immigration status of their family members, we have decided to clarify existing policies,” Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, told reporters here.

He said the new rules are based on existing statutes, not the creation of any new legal status that would require US congressional action.

The Homeland Security Department said the new rules apply to all active-duty members of the armed forces, to reservists, including the National Guard, and to all veterans.

Officials also said the spouses, children and parents of troops will be eligible for a “parole in place,” meaning that they will be allowed to remain in the US while applying for legal residency.

The shift in US policy comes as legislation to grant legal status to millions of undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants stalls in the US Congress.

Last week, Republicans in the House of Representatives vowed not to hold any votes on immigration this year or enter into any negotiations over a broad bill that the US Senate passed in June.

But while many immigrant groups welcome the new immigration policy, they also urged that it be extended to more illegal immigrants, according to the New York Times.

“The administration’s action clearly shows that the president can use his power to stop the pain in our communities and grant relief to our families,” Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, a youth organization, told the paper.