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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Military Families Act Protects Families Who Protect US

This press release comes from our allies at the National Immigration Forum. The National Immigration Forum is the leading immigrant advocacy organization in the country with a mission to advocate for the value of immigrants and immigration to the nation.

For Immediate Release
November 10, 2009

Shu Ohno,
(202) 309-5645 (mobile)

Military Families Act Protects Families Who Protect US

Washington, DC - On the eve of Veteran's Day, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced in the Senate, the Military Families Act, S. 2757, joined by co-sponsors Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The bill seeks to provide immigration relief to parents, spouses, or children of US Armed Forces members. Senator Menendez announced the introduction of the bill with Army Specialist Jack Barrios, his wife Frances, and with Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

Today, US military families are impacted by our broken immigration system which forces men and women in uniform into the same predicament as millions of other Americans who have spouses, parents, or children who are undocumented and may face deportation proceedings even though they have qualifying relationships to obtain legal status.

The introduction of this bill is especially meaningful today on Veterans Day, as the nation, engaged in two wars, mourns the recent tragedy at Fort Hood, and reflects on the enormous sacrifices made by members of the US Armed Forces and their families.

Senator Robert Menendez articulated why he was moved to draft the bill, stating, "We owe the men and women who risk their lives in service of our nation so much, and that should include the right to be united with their closest family members in our country on a permanent basis."

Menendez continued, "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. This bill will help ensure the families of those that have served our country with pride and valor don't face unfair and unexpected deportation and are able to remain in this land they call home, close to their loved ones. As we prepare to celebrate Veteran's Day, we keep in our prayers and thoughts those who have died while serving our nation and their family members. We also honor those that put their life on the line on our behalf. With this bill, we can show one measure of our appreciation for their service and sacrifice."

Noorani stated, "This bill recognizes the patriotism, contributions and sacrifices made by our servicemen and women and their families. The bill seeks to remedy the second battle these patriots face at home because their families face being torn apart by a broken immigration system. This bill will protect those families, just as these servicemen and women protect ours."
Joining Senator Menendez in announcing the introduction of the bill was Army Specialist Jack Barrios and his wife Frances. Frances was brought to the United States when she was only six years old. A recent documentary, "Second Battle," profiled Frances and Jack Barrios' story. Frances lacked immigration status and was facing deportation until she was granted an adjustment of status from the Department of Homeland Security last week. While this documentary had a direct impact in securing some relief for the families featured in the film, there are many other families undergoing similar crises with the broken immigration system. (The film "Second Battle" is available at

Army Specialist Jack Barrios stated, "What we went through, no American family should have to go through. I think about all my fellow soldiers who might be going through the same pain and stress of being worried about their wife or family, and I know that we need better immigration laws. We need to fix this problem now."

While the estimate of the number of US Military families currently facing similar crises because of the broken immigration system range from hundreds to thousands, a report released yesterday by the Immigration Policy Center finds that there are over 114,000 immigrants currently serving in the US Armed Forces. Last year, over 10 thousand were naturalized as US citizens. Over 12 thousand are serving our nation, while still waiting to become naturalized as American citizens. Since Sept 11, 2001, over 53 thousand men and women in the services have become US citizens.



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