Deported Military Veterans Could Be Reunited with Families in US Thanks to Veteran Lawmakers
A group of congressional lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow deported veterans to reunite with families in the United States.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus members Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., along with Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Rep Ted Lieu, D-Calif., worked on a bill that will urge the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to exercise its authority, under current law, to readmit individuals who were deported despite serving the U.S. military. To be eligible, the deported individual must have must have a clean criminal record and served at least six months in the military.
"Immigrants, regardless of status, come to our nation because they believe in the ideals, values, and opportunities that exist here. Some feel so strongly about their adopted nation that they choose to serve in our armed forces, and we should honor and respect that service," said Serrano, an original co-sponsor of the bill titled "The Restoring Respect for Immigrant Service in Uniform Act."
Serrano acknowledged that some veterans have unfortunately encountered situations after their military service, namely deportation and forced to separation from their families. The New York lawmaker said the fact U.S. officials have deported people who have defended the country is another example of how broken the U.S. immigration system is.
"Our nation needs comprehensive immigration reform, but this is a common sense first step that no one should object to," added Serrano.
According to Gallego, who served in Iraq, the right skills and character are far more important than having the right papers identifying one's status.
"Deportation is no way to thank the men and women who sacrificed so much to serve our country," Gallego said in a statement on April 20. "Instead of separating these veterans from their families and the country they love and served, we should recognize the contributions they have made and can continue to make to the United States."
— Ruben Gallego (@RepRubenGallego) April 20, 2016
Immigrants Serving in the U.S. Military
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency within DHS, is authorized to expedite application and naturalization processes for current and discharged members in the U.S. military, as permitted through the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
According to the Migration Policy Institute, based on U.S. Department of Defense information, the USCIS naturalized over 37,250 foreign-born members serving in the U.S. armed forces between September 2001 and 2008.
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