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Lawmakers seek permanent resident status for soldier families

In America, we greatly appreciate the sacrifices that our servicemen and women make for our country and our freedom. Many of these servicemen and women have relatives who are not United States citizens, who could soon be made permanent residents if a new bill is passed.

It was reported last week that seven lawmakers in the United States Senate have revived an earlier legislative effort to give permanent residency status to relatives of those who have served in the military on active duty.

The bill known as the Military Families Act would offer permanent residency status to parents, husbands, wives and children of soldiers who have served in the military since 2001, or who have died serving in the military.

The bill was first introduced in 2009 to the United States Senate which failed to take action on the bill. The DREAM Act, which also stalled in the United States Senate, would offer citizenship to immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. The DREAM Act has also been revived by Democratic lawmakers and has been reintroduced to the Senate.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are thousands of immediate family members of active-duty service men and women who are undocumented and could be subject to deportation if discovered.

If the act passes, it would dramatically expand the residency rights of any immigrant with a family member in the military. The bill would create a fast-track path to becoming a United States citizen for these people. Thousands of green card holders have been granted citizenship rights since 2001.

The Military Families Act is widely viewed as being part of a total compensation package for active duty military personnel. Democratic leadership in the Senate is in favor of passage of the bill saying that this kind of immigration reform is long overdue.

"No service member should receive a call on the battlefield one day to learn that a spouse or a parent is being deported," one lawmaker said in support of the bill.

Source: Boston Herald, "Democratic bill seeks green card status for soldiers' kin," Erik Shilling, 5/29/2011.

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