July 12, 2023

Reps. Takano, Lofgren, Nadler, Correa, Vargas, Ruiz, Salazar, Radewagen Reintroduce Veteran Service Recognition Act

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Mark Takano (CA-39), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Lou Correa (CA-46), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Raul Ruiz (CA-25), María Elvira Salazar (FL-27), and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (AS) released a statement after reintroducing the Veteran Service Recognition Act.

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 legislation passed the House in the 117th Congress. 

“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, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “I am proud to reintroduce 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.”  

“Immigrants who serve in our military should not have to worry about their immigration status,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Ranking Member 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’m proud to join to Ranking Member Takano and Rep. Lofgren in introducing the Veteran Service Recognition Act.”

“If you fight and risk your life for our country, you should be allowed to 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 Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz. “Today’s introduction of the Veteran Service Recognition Act moves us closer to ensuring that noncitizen veterans are not treated as second-class veterans.”

“Throughout our country’s history, immigrants have served in our military with bravery and distinction. However, sometimes, noncitizen veterans face barriers to accessing the care and benefits they’ve earned and have even been deported despite their service to our country. That’s unacceptable. Our Veteran Service Recognition Act rights those wrongs. 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,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren.

“Our nation should honor immigrant veterans, who have bravely risked their lives to keep us safe, and we should provide them with 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, and I’m honored to be an original co-sponsor of this legislation. People who serve our country deserve to stay in our country, and we should not turn our backs to them.”

“Veterans risk their lives to protect our nation, and America’s promise to support them must apply regardless of their immigration status,” said Rep. Lou Correa. “I am proud to reintroduce the Veteran Service Recognition Act today alongside my colleagues to provide a pathway to legal permanent resident status for our noncitizen servicemembers and veterans—and after far too long, deliver them the justice and equality they deserve.”

“All members of our Armed Forces deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Rep. Salazar. “Noncitizen veterans, just like their American peers, make the ultimate sacrifice in service of the United States. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Congressman Takano, which would streamline the naturalization process for noncitizen veterans and would provide due process for noncitizen veterans who were wrongfully deported.”

“As a nation, we make a commitment to all who serve in our military, including those who are neither U.S. nationals nor citizens. We have U.S. Service Members who volunteered from close allies and Freely Associated states, and these Veterans should have every opportunity to be permanent residents and pursue citizenship if they choose. They have bravely served alongside our American heroes and have earned our support,” said Rep. Aumua Amata Radewagen.

This bill was formally endorsed by the American Legion, UnidosUs, VoteVets, Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO, Black Deported Veterans of America, ACLU, LULAC, Project On Government Oversight, and the AFL-CIO. Companion legislation will be introduced by Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA).