Fox News: Is New Military Immigration Policy “Compassion” Or “Amnesty”?

Fox News attacked the Obama administration's decision to formally normalize longstanding U.S. immigration policy that limits deportation and makes it easier for the undocumented family members of current and former service members to attain legal status. 

As the Christian Science Monitor noted, “the Department of Homeland Security has long had the authority to halt the deportation of people related to military personnel, and it is this function that the department clarified with specific guidelines to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a Nov. 15 memorandum.”

In that November 2013 memo, DHS stressed that it was clarifying the directive to “ensure consistent adjudication of parole requests made on behalf of aliens who are present without admission or parole and who are spouses, children and parents of those serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.”

Indeed, according to the Arizona Republic:

In 2010, former Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano began an informal policy granting so called “parole-in-place” to undocumented parents, spouses, and children of active-duty military personnel.

But the informal policy was not being followed consistently in immigration field offices across the country.

As a result, many military personnel who applied for immigration parole for their undocumented parents, spouses and children still were having their cases denied even though they qualified, [immigration attorney Margaret] Stock said.

In fact, the policy has been recognized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services dating back to at least 1998 and was available on a case-by-case basis under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

But in teasing a report about the memo on America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer asked: “Is that compassion or is that amnesty?” Co-host Martha MacCallum went on to introduce the report by claiming that the Obama administration was “bypassing Congress again to expand immigration reform.”

Though Fox News' report, which was narrated by correspondent William La Jeunesse, included the story of a U.S. Marine veteran and his undocumented wife, it also featured Dan Cadman, a fellow from the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, who claimed the policy was helping a “whole class of aliens with no right to be in the United States.”

Cadman further claimed that the policy “is so broad,” it “extends to any former member of the military, no matter how short their service was and even if they were discharged dishonorably.” He added of President Obama: “I don't want to overstate it, but it sounds very similar to imperial decree, if you ask me.”

However, nowhere in the memo does USCIS state that the family members of military veterans who were dishonorably discharged can take advantage of this policy.

It seems that Cadman's claim comes from a December 2013 CIS article in which legal analyst Jon Feere arrived at that conclusion because DHS did not address the issue of whether those family members would be eligible. Feere wrote:

As to that final issue of whether illegal aliens are still eligible for amnesty even if the servicemember was dishonorably discharged, the White House would have addressed it in their nine-page memo if the goal were to prevent such situations from resulting in amnesty. The fact that it was not addressed suggests that a service member's record in the military, even if highly-problematic, will not prevent illegal aliens from obtaining legal status.

Feere advanced his claim even after acknowledging that “the government generally denies all veteran benefits to servicemembers who are discharged for problematic reasons.”

CIS, which has been labeled an anti-immigrant nativist group, has a penchant for pushing false or misleading information about immigrants.

Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham also previously criticized the policy as “yet another amnesty for still another group of illegal aliens.”