Local Stories

A little-known policy helps military spouses stay in U.S. legally

A little-known policy helps military spouses stay in U.S. legally

By Kendra Szabo
Cronkite News Service

NewPhoenixLogo

Maria Quiring’s son was just months old the day the deportation notice arrived at her El Mirage home. Despite her marriage of five years to a U.S. Air Force serviceman, Quiring was ordered back to her native Mexico.

“I was so afraid of the door,” Quiring said. “My little one was a baby. You see all this on the news so I thought they would come to my door with guns and take me and leave my kids.”

“I didn’t know if I would lose her,” said her husband Jared Quiring, a technical sergeant stationed at Luke Air Force Base.
Had a Department of Homeland Security policy called Parole in Place not found her a loophole, Maria Quiring would not be where she is today, watching her now 5-year-old son J.J. assemble a Hungry Hungry Hippos game on the floor.

Parole in Place, an unofficial policy allowing certain immigrants to adjust their legal status, started as a means of protecting citizens of Cuba, crime victims and battered women. But in 2008, under the George W. Bush administration, the U.S. government announced military families could qualify under the policy.

Maria Quiring left her home country of Mexico as a 19-year-old in 1999 when her former husband brought her to the United States as an undocumented citizen. After a year and a half, they were divorced.

Three years later, in 2004, she married Jared Quiring. She applied for citizenship, but because she entered the country unlawfully, the letter she received in 2009 notified her she would be deported and barred from returning to the United States for 10 years before she could return and apply for citizenship again.

“I was devastated,” Maria Quiring said. “My whole world was turned upside down. It meant not getting to be with my kids or husband for up to 10 years. It was chaotic.”

Military personnel are not allowed to travel to Mexico, which meant Jared Quiring would not be able to even see her.

“The first thing I did was ask my commander for permission to visit her and he pretty much said no,” he said.

It was Phoenix immigration attorney Judy Flanagan who told Maria Quiring about Parole in Place.

“This allows people with unlawful presence who have a spouse in active duty military to be granted a legal fiction saying they entered legally, circumventing having to leave and having to get the waiver,” Flanagan said.

In a letter to Congress in August 2010, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wrote that, “On a case-by-case basis, DHS utilizes parole and deferred action to minimize periods of family separation, and to facilitate adjustment of status within the United States by immigrants who are the spouses, parents and children of military members.”

Immigration attorney Margaret Stock said that because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has no official memorandum for Parole in Place, not many attorneys know about it and not many people have utilized it. For Maria Quiring, the process turned out to be simple.

“All they did was look at my paperwork and approved my residency for one year,” she said. Then, after that, it was only three months until I had my interview (for Legal Permanent Residency).”

At the interview, on Nov. 1, 2011, Maria Quiring was approved as a Legal Permanent Resident. Two weeks later, she got her green card.

“I call it the military pass,” Flanagan said. “You have a spouse in the military and you get some special benefits. It’s totally out of the ordinary. It’s like a magic button.”

The Quiring family felt the same way.

“That was probably the best news I had heard in a long time,” Jared Quiring said. “I leave in a couple months for Korea for a year. I know she’s going to be okay when I return.”

And his wife feels safe, too, knowing she’s residing in the country legally.

“I’m at peace and at ease knowing I’m safe and fine here,” Maria Quiring said. “But, I do want to become a U.S. citizen. I’m already studying for my test.”

Next year, she can apply for citizenship.

“I told my husband it’s better they messed up my paperwork the first time,” she said. “What people intend for evil, God intends for good.”

Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Local Stories

More in Local Stories

20141222_0092-1-copy-e1435254669268

Mission District’s Bolivian dance group celebrates 15 years

Latina ListaJune 29, 2015
544b55bccf868.image

U.S.-Mexico Border Wells Drying Up

Latina ListaJune 26, 2015
1743525_851156791635964_1258547508640946199_n

San Antonio artist establishes “M.A.S for the Masses

Latina ListaJune 25, 2015
Critics say one disadvantage of Structured English Immersion is that the only English speaker, the teacher, may have 20 students, which makes it hard for students to practice their English.

Federal court upholds Arizona’s process for teaching non-English speakers

Latina ListaJune 23, 2015
33688848_19ee6ca849_o

Latin American flags coming to streetlights in Chicago’s Humboldt Park

Latina ListaJune 22, 2015
Chicano Legacy 40 Anos

Campaign for ethnic studies in San Diego schools is getting results

Latina ListaJune 19, 2015
heirloom-bassinette

Texas’ denial of birth certificates being challenged in court

Latina ListaJune 17, 2015
iphone-import-3-17-14-387

Univ. of Texas El Paso’s researchers developing water filter to help colonias

Latina ListaJune 16, 2015
istock_000016475829medium

Stamford’s Miriam Arzola Immigration Status Unknown – But City Honors Her For Exceptional Volunteerism

Latina ListaJune 15, 2015