In January, the Center published my Backgrounder "An Examination of the USCIS Parole-in-Place Policy", which analyzed a November 2013 policy memorandum issued by the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) directing its adjudicators to grant the immigration benefit of parole to illegal-alien parents, children, and spouses of military, and prior military, members.
As did an excellent blog by Center Legal Policy Analyst Jon Feere, which preceded it. My backgrounder asked many questions about the legality of the method by which the USCIS memorandum was issued. Mr. Feere and I also raised substantive objections to the egregious flaws embedded within it — not least of which was the fact that, as written, the memorandum extended parole benefits even to illegal-alien relatives of former members of the military who had been dishonorably discharged.
Now, as if we needed additional reminders of the thoughtless and poorly crafted way in which the memorandum was issued, on February 16 the Associated Press published an article entitled "Misconduct in Army Forcing More Soldiers Out". According to the article:
The number of U.S. soldiers forced out of the Army because of crimes or misconduct has soared in the past several years as the military emerges from a decade of war that put a greater focus on battle competence than on character.
Data obtained by the Associated Press shows that the number of officers who left the Army due to misconduct more than tripled in the past three years. The number of enlisted soldiers forced out for drugs, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct shot up from about 5,600 in 2007, as the Iraq war peaked, to more than 11,000 last year.
It seems unconscionable, at least to me, that soldiers forced out of the military because of crimes or serious misconduct should be entitled to ask the federal government to accord their relatives benefits that are not available to the general public. Why should this be so?
The policy memo artfully states that "In partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD), USCIS has launched a number of initiatives to assist military members, veterans, and their families to navigate our complex immigration system and apply for naturalization and other immigration services and benefits", although it stops short of asserting that USCIS in fact coordinated this policy memorandum with DoD.
Frankly, I would be stunned to find that the agency had, because I cannot conceive of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurring in any policy that places disgraced soldiers in a position of privilege over the public at large, or even in a position of parity with those who have been honorably discharged.