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Jayapal, Escobar Call for the Protection of Spouses of US Citizens

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Veronica Escobar (TX-16) are leading 86 of their colleagues in calling on the Administration to take steps to protect the spouses of U.S. citizens residing in the country and to create a family reunification process for those outside the country. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could do so through the use of parole for individuals on a case-by-case basis.

“Reports indicate that nearly 1.1 million U.S. citizens are married to an undocumented person, and approximately 4.9 million U.S. citizen children have at least one undocumented parent. These families live in a constant state of fear and uncertainty,” wrote the lawmakers. “Granting parole in place, on a case-by-case basis, to the spouses of U.S. citizens who are physically present in the country without admission would provide immediate relief to millions of mixed-status families in our communities.”

Mixed-status families too often live in fear of driving, accessing health care, and reporting crimes for risk of deportation. Granting parole in place would allow undocumented family members to come out of the shadows and would grant DHS the ability to thoroughly vet applicants while allowing them to apply for work authorization. It’s estimated that giving these individuals the ability to work would also add $16 billion to the U.S. economy.

“The administration has the ability to make significant and meaningful reforms through the statutory parole authority already granted to it by Congress. We strongly urge the administration to use this authority to the fullest extent possible,” continued the lawmakers.

Parole in place is a program through US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows for foreign nationals to stay for a certain period of time and is granted on a case-by-case basis. The program has been used extensively by both Democratic and Republican administrations. 

Along with Jayapal and Escobar, today’s letter was signed by Representatives Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Colin Z. Alred (TX-32), Becca Balint (VT-At Large), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Cori Bush (MO-01), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN-07), Greg Casar (TX-35), Sean Casten (IL-06), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Judy Chu (CA-28), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Jason Crow (CO-6), Madeleine Dean (PA-4), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Robert Garcia (CA-42),  Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Daniel S. Goldman (NY-10), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Summer Lee (PA-12), Mike Levin (CA-49), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Doris Matsui (CA-07), Betty McCollum (MN-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Robert Menendez (NJ-08), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-31), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Brittany Pettersen (CO-07), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-47), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Delia C. Ramirez (IL-03), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Deborah K. Ross (NC-2), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Adam B. Schiff (CA-30), Darren Soto (FL-09), Melanie Ann Stansbury (NM-01), Haley M. Stevens (MI-11), Mark Takano (CA-39), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Norma J. Torres (CA-35), David Trone (MD-06), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Marc A. Veasey (TX-33), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), Nikema Williams (GA-05), and Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24).

It is endorsed by the American Families United; American Business Immigration Coalition; Church World Service;; Unified US Deported Veterans Resource Center; Value our Families; Arkansas United; Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA); Immigrant Defenders Law Center; Northwest Immigrant Rights Project; and Ohio Immigrant Alliance.

The full text of the letter can be found here.