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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 27th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 48 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 48

Carbajal reintroduces bill on legal status of parents of veterans

By Karen Garcia

U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) reintroduced a bill on Jan. 26 that would help parents of veterans become lawful permanent residents without needing to leave the country.

The Flores family from Goleta inspired the bill after their mother, Juana Flores, was deported in April 2019 to Jesús Maria, Aguascalientes, in Mexico. 

Juana is a mother of 10 children and 18 grandchildren who came to the United States without documentation in 1988 with her husband who worked in the country.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act passed in 1997, Congress created a penalty for immigrants without documentation (a visa, for example) or with expired visas who leave the country and return without permission. 

Individuals who cross the United States border under these circumstances are immediately barred from returning. Juana visited Mexico in 1999 to visit her dying mother and attend the funeral that followed. That trip caused her April 2019 deportation and a 10-year ban on returning. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement temporarily postponed Juana’s removal order several times on humanitarian grounds—she was a caregiver for family members who had learning disabilities. However, on Feb. 26, 2019, the Los Angeles ICE office denied Juana’s postponement request, and she was deported two months later.

One of Juana’s sons, Caesar Flores, is a Senior Airman E-4 for the U.S. Air Force and hoped to assist his mother with her legal status. Although men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible to apply for naturalization, that option isn’t available to their parents. 

Moved by the Flores family situation, Carbajal introduced the Protect Patriot Parents Act in 2019 to create a way for parents of veterans to become permanent residents while continuing to live in the U.S. The legislation would apply to parents of U.S. citizens who served in the U.S. Armed Forces either on active duty or as a reserve member. 

“It is no secret that for the past four years, all immigrants have been under constant attack by the president, who is no longer in office,” Carbajal said duiring a Jan. 26 virtual press conference. 

He said he’s hopeful that with the new Biden administration, immigration policies such as those that banned Juana from the U.S. will change. 

“The challenge is going to be that President Biden has put forth a framework that’s going to come forward in the form of legislation to address comprehensive immigration reform. The question will be is this something that could be included in that, is seen as a separate bill, or how will this bill be impacted by that,” he said.

During the conference, Juana’s legal team noted that the immigration reform Biden introduced includes a provision for eliminating or revising the three- and 10-year bars.

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