A group of Democratic senators introduced the Military Families Act in mid-November. Under this act, the federal government can grant permanent residency to family members of those serving in the military, including in cases when the military personnel loses his or her life while serving in the military. The act would apply only to immediate relatives of those in the military. Immediate relatives are parents, spouses or children.
“A grateful nation shows gratitude for members of the military not just through statements and ceremonies on Veterans Day, which are important, but also in how we take care of military families,’’ said Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), one of the senators who introduced the bill.
Green card holders and some non-immigrants are eligible to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. The federal government has already expedited the road to citizenship for military personnel, but these changes did not apply to their family members if the military personnel were killed in action. The Military Families Act seeks to promote family unity and recognize the contribution made by non-citizens to the U.S. military.
The Military Families Act also contains a provision granting permanent residency to the sons and daughters of Filipino immigrants who served in World War II. Their permanent residency has long been deferred due to immigration quotas applying to Filipinos.
A recent report released by the Immigration Policy Center confirms that 114, 601 foreign-born individuals were serving in the U.S. military as of June 30, 2009. 10,505 members of the military were naturalized in FY 2009.