Courtesy of Enoch Orona
Enoch Orona does not know when he will be sent for his third tour of duty. But the biggest fear of the Navy sailor is not the fight, it's his return home to find that his mother is not there.
Orona, 30, is following the news very closely. He regularly checks whether his phone contains updated information on immigration incursions that, according to President Trump, could start from one day to the next. He can not help but imagine gunmen gunning around his parents' home in Virginia.
"It would be as if the world would collapse if I came home to discover that my mother had been deported," Orona said. "She has almost always been my support – she supported my dream of being part of the army when I was younger – she supported me when I was deployed when I was there. Called home. "
Orona, a Navy petty officer, hoped that her military status would allow her to protect her mother, who entered the country illegally 35 years ago. His lawyer told him that he was eligible to participate in a program to prevent the expulsion of undocumented residents whose husbands, wives, sons or daughters are fighting at the same time. foreign to the United States.
As the NPR report reported for the first time in June, the Trump administration is now considering terminating the program or reducing it as part of its crackdown on illegal immigration. Government lawyers have learned that the family protection program for serving and veterans is "coming to an end", which families and lawmakers say could harm the state. military preparation.
Program of the Obama era
The first known cases of discretionary parole were granted under President George W. Bush, but President Barack Obama has formalized the "parole in place" program in a 2013 memorandum to ensure that fighters in Afghanistan and elsewhere do not worry about their loved ones duty.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services have acknowledged that officials "are currently reviewing the categorical use of parole".
"Under the law, parole should be used sparingly on a case-by-case basis in case of urgent humanitarian need or considerable public benefit," a USCIS official told NPR. "At the moment, the USCIS has not made a new announcement about this because it is still under review."
The Pentagon has not answered specific questions about reducing the program.
The US military has always used immigrants in wartime. Many immigrants who join the army become American citizens. According to USCIS statistics, nearly 130,000 soldiers from more than 30 foreign countries have been naturalized since October 1, 2001.
Service members aware of the proposed changes to the on-site parole program say their anxiety has increased as the Trump administration has announced plans to conduct immigration campaigns in 10 major cities.
Lewis Ramos, 22, an operations specialist with the US Army National Guard, had already received his orders to deploy in a combat zone when he had learned that raids on the US Army were still underway. immigration would probably include Chicago, where he lives with his mother and his family.
Courtesy of Michael Jarecki
Worried about his mother, who arrived illegally in Mexico 30 years ago, Ramos contacted a lawyer who was able to quickly apply for parole on the spot. Ramos was lucky. He recently learned that she would benefit from the protection at the time of her departure, later this month. But he thinks of the other soldiers and what could have happened.
"It would always stay in the back of my head," said Lewis. "I do not want to kill anyone because I think at home, but in free time, or when I get nostalgic for the country, it would really hurt me."
Ramos' lawyer, Michael Jarecki, said the US should "roll out the red carpet" for the military, instead of threatening to end protections for the loved ones of the people "who serve our country in the most remote regions of the world to protect those of us who stay at home ".
The possibility of his dismissal has attracted the attention of many citizens of Washington, including many candidates for the Democratic presidency.
Senator Kamala Harris of California called the action "beyond cruelty".
Meaning. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York accused the administration of trying to cut a "critical lifeline" for undocumented family members of the service members.
Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Who does not run for president, told NPR that the program was a national security issue and had written a letter to the Acting Heads of the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice. Homeland Security to ask them to keep parole. program in place in progress.
"He's going to focus on his family, he's not going to focus on his job, which puts him at risk, puts his team at risk, puts his unit in danger of attack," said Duckworth, a former fighter of the combat war.
Democrats in the House are trying to stop Trump from ending the program. Representative Mark Takano suggested adding to the annual defense clearance legislation a provision guaranteeing that immediate family members of the armed forces would be eligible for parole under the Immigration Act. and nationality.
Although the House is supposed to approve this provision, the issue will still have to be negotiated with the Republican-run Senate, which is working on its own version of the defense bill.
Trump supporters say it's time to end a program that the Obama administration should never have formalized.
RJ Hauman, director of government relations at FAIR, who advocates stricter enforcement of immigration, said that Obama had overstepped his constitutional powers when he had overruled Congress and formalized the program, a little as he had created DACA, the deferred action program intended for people unlawfully brought into the country. as children.
"Throughout our history, military personnel have fought to preserve and protect our constitutional form of government," said Hauman. "A fundamental principle is that the president must abide by the laws and not annul them by policy memos and decrees."
Courtesy of Enoch Orona
Orona's mother, Maria Teresa, said that she would not know what to do if she were forced to return to El Salvador. She has not come back since she left, 35 years ago. Her husband is a pastor of a local church. She says her life is now in the United States.
"It's very difficult," she said. "There are many people who live from day to day who do not know when they will be arrested, and to be sent to where we have nothing and no one."
Margaret Stock, an immigration lawyer who represents the family, said that conditional release had already been denied to Orona, but that immigration officials had admitted to not having all the correct information. Stock says it's crazy to think that Orona is going through such a situation while it could be deployed at any time.
"I think most people can imagine what it would be like if you were fighting for your country abroad and that the government that engages you in the battle is trying to evict your family," he said. she said.
Orona, the eldest of two children, says she is very protective of her family. He says that he talks with his mother almost every day.
He keeps them informed of the news. He gives them updates on reports of immigration scans. But above all, he says, he's just waiting.
He hopes the call will be positive for his mother to be protected. And not that she was arrested.
"For example, there is nothing I can do properly," he said. "And it's very scary."