Trump Wants To Withdraw Deportation Protections For Spouses Of Active Troops The Trump administration wants to scale back a provision that protects the undocumented spouses of military members currently deployed. Activists warn it could be highly disruptive.

Trump Wants To Withdraw Deportation Protections For Families Of Active Troops

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NOEL KING, BYLINE: The Trump administration might be scaling back a program that protects some family members of active duty troops from being deported. NPR's White House reporter Franco Ordoñez has exclusive reporting on this developing story. He's in the studio with us now.

Good morning, Franco.


KING: So we're talking about an established government program. What does it do exactly?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. It's a program called parole in place. It essentially provides temporary protection for immigrant families of active-duty soldiers in the military. You can imagine if someone is fighting overseas in Afghanistan or elsewhere, you don't want them to be worried about their spouse in the United States potentially being deported. I probably should note that this does not apply to all immigrants or all families of military officials - military active-duty members. If you overstay a visa, for example, this does not apply. It is specific to family members who have entered the country illegally and cannot change their status.

KING: And it sounds like there are specific reasons for it. So why are you learning that the Trump administration might withdraw or end or change this program?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, we've heard from lawyers of people who are dealing with this situation on behalf of their clients. And they're essentially racing to get their applications in before it's ending. We heard from a lawyer - one government lawyer who warned other attorneys to act quickly before the program is officially ended. And I'm reading from the message that we obtained - (reading) I would advise clients that if they are eligible for parole in place to submit it ASAP. They continue to go on - (reading) wish there was better news to share. Big takeaway is that no group is safe any longer.

KING: Do we know how many people are using this parole in place program, how many troops this might affect?

ORDOÑEZ: We don't know exactly how many people are using the status or how many troops it affects. But clearly, the Trump administration has tightened immigration policy across the board, and it includes policies connected with the military.

KING: I mean, how would this affect military families? Immigrants are a big part of the United States military. You imagine, as we've said, that a program like this is in place for a reason. What could be the ripple effect? What are attorneys telling you? What are families telling you?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, we know that there are troops currently being deployed overseas who are dealing with loved ones who are potentially going to be put in removal proceedings. It is very disruptive. This impacts a lot of families. Immigration has been part of the military since basically Day 1.

KING: Yeah.

ORDOÑEZ: They are weaved into the fabric of the military. The United States recruits immigrants for the armed forces. They recruit spouses of immigrants. They recruit the children of immigrants. There are nearly 130,000 troops who have actually been naturalized from over 30 foreign countries while in the military since October 1 of 2001.

KING: Those are huge numbers. When could this policy actually be withdrawn? What have you learned there?

ORDOÑEZ: We're being told from the attorneys that they have been told that it could be ended by next month. So as I mentioned, there is a race to get these applications in. The expectation is that if they can get them in, that they will be grandfathered. That may be perhaps more of a hope. But really, word is just starting to get out in the immigrant and immigrant lawyer community. They will fight this issue, they tell me. But right now they're just trying to get more bits of information about it, learn who their allies may be - allies in the community but also inside the government - and try to come up with a good strategy.

KING: NPR's Franco Ordoñez with some exclusive reporting.

Franco, thanks so much.

ORDOÑEZ: Thanks for having me.

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