12.06.22

Reps. Takano, Lofgren, Nadler, Correa, Vargas, and Ruiz Celebrate Passage of Veteran Service Recognition Act

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Mark Takano (CA-41), Zoe Lofgren, (CA-19), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Lou Correa (CA-46), Juan Vargas (CA-51), and Raul Ruiz (CA-36) released a statement on the House passage of the Veteran Service Recognition Act to prevent the deportation of veterans by making the naturalization process easier for active duty servicemembers, establishing a review process for noncitizen veterans, servicemembers, and their families, and creating an opportunity for deported veterans to obtain legal permanent resident status.

“I have been fighting to prevent noncitizen veterans from falling through the cracks of our broken immigration system for years because it is shameful that they are being exiled from the same country they risked their lives to protect and defend,” said Rep. Mark Takano, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “I am thrilled that the House passed the Veteran Service Recognition Act, a critical step to ensuring that our men and women in uniform are honored for their bravery, heroism, and service, no matter where they were born.”

“Throughout our history, immigrants have served in our military with bravery and distinction. However, all too often, noncitizen veterans often face barriers to accessing the care and benefits they’ve earned and have even been deported despite their service to our country,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. “I am glad that the Veteran Service Recognition Act, which I introduced with Chair Takano, passed the House, and I hope the Senate moves it to the President’s desk. The legislation not only keeps our promise to veterans by allowing them to remain in the country, but also gives those who were unjustly removed the opportunity to be considered to return.”

“Immigrants who serve in our military should not have to worry about their immigration status,” said Rep. Jerrod Nadler, Chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary. “Every day, these brave men and women risk their lives in support of our country.  In return, we must honor their sacrifices by supporting them and their families, and by giving them every opportunity to become U.S. citizens. I thank Chair Takano and Chair Lofgren for their hard working on this important legislation.”

“If you fight and risk your life for our country, you should stay in our country. That’s why the Veteran Service Recognition Act aims to prevent the deportation of noncitizen servicemembers and gives them due process in America and a fair shot at a pathway to citizenship,” said Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Raul Ruiz. “Today’s historic passage of the Veteran Service Recognition Act moves us closer to ensuring that noncitizen veterans are not treated as second-class veterans. I now urge the Senate to act and honor their service.”

“Immigrant veterans have risked their lives to keep us safe, and they deserve a pathway to citizenship,” said Rep. Juan Vargas. “The Veteran Service Recognition Act is an important step toward giving our immigrant veterans the opportunity to become U.S. citizens. I’m honored to be an original co-sponsor and proud to have voted for this landmark legislation. We should not turn our backs on those who put their lives on the line to secure and defend our freedoms. People who serve our country deserve to stay in our country.”

“Veterans risk their lives to protect our nation, and America’s promise to take care of our veterans and service members should still apply to these individuals regardless of their immigration status. All veterans and active members gave something to ensure the freedom of our nation. This legislation rectifies a great error against noncitizen service members and honorably discharged veterans in the process of being removed by allowing the DHS Secretary to have discretion to give these veterans the opportunity to remain in the U.S.,” said Rep. Lou Correa. “I am proud to have worked alongside my colleagues to pass the Veteran Service Recognition Act to provide an opportunity for noncitizen service members and veterans to retain or apply for legal permanent resident status. This is an issue about justice for our service members and veterans and these brave individuals should be citizens.”

“Noncitizen military personnel have risked their lives in service to our country and we have a duty to make sure their service is honored,” said Senator Alex Padilla, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety and sponsor of the Senate companion bill. “These service members and veterans have worked to defend our national interests and they deserve to receive the benefits they have earned and a pathway to citizenship for their sacrifice to our country.”

“There is no greater commitment to citizenship than putting on the uniform. We have a responsibility to ensure all veterans have access to the benefits and healthcare they deserve, including American citizenship. Men and women who served honorably should not face undue barriers to citizenship or face deportation from the country they served or fought to defend. The American Legion is proud to support this important legislation and applauds the House of Representatives for passing this bill to honor the service of the immigrants who have sworn the oath of enlistment and put their lives on the line for our nation,” said Chanin Nuntavong, Executive Director of Government Affairs for the American Legion.

"It is a travesty that aspiring Americans serving in our military and putting their lives on the line in defense of our country can face obstacles in becoming a U.S. citizen, or be subjected to the threat of deportation. We applaud the passage today of the Veteran Service Recognition Act and thank Congressman Takano for his leadership in righting this wrong," said Eric Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for UnidosUS. “The tens of thousands of immigrants serving in our armed forces embody patriotism, and it is in our national interest that they are able to serve with the security and peace of mind of citizenship and knowing that their families are safe."

“At the Union Veterans Council, we know firsthand the vital role that veterans play not only in the strengthening of our military, but also in the success of our economy and labor movement,” said Will Attig, Executive Director of Union Veterans Council. “Non-citizen veterans have risked and dedicated their lives for our country, and deserve to live free from fear of deportation. We celebrate the passage of the Veteran Service Recognition Act, and applaud Rep. Takano for his leadership on this bill.”

The Veteran Service Recognition Act would allow noncitizen servicemembers to apply for naturalization during basic training, establish a review process for those who are in removal proceedings, and provide an opportunity for noncitizen veterans who have been removed or ordered removed and who have not been convicted of serious crimes to obtain legal permanent resident status.

This bill was formally endorsed by the American Legion, UnidosUS, Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO, and the AFL-CIO.

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