The Lawmakers Continue Their Efforts to Bring Home Deported Veterans
WASHINGTON – Congressmen Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) and Don Young (AK-At Large) have reintroduced the Repatriate Our Patriots Act (H.R. 1078), bipartisan legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for deported veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
“These veterans served their countries, and in return, we turned our backs on them,” Congressman Gonzalez said. “In December of 2018, deported U.S. Army veteran, Carlos Jaime Torres returned home, but did so in death. He passed away in Reynosa, Mexico – across the river from his home in McAllen, Texas. We reintroduce this bill for Carlos Torres, for the thousands of deported veterans around the world like him, and to prevent this inexcusable practice from happening again. We must repatriate our patriots.”
“If you are willing to put your life on the line to defend this great nation and its values, you should be able to become a U.S. citizen,” said Congressman Young. “It is inexcusable that service members who risked it all to protect us would be put through the deportation process. We must do all we can to help this bill become law so that our service members and veterans are able to return to the nation they were willing to fight and die for.”
The bill would allow deported veterans who were honorably discharged or released to go through the naturalization process abroad. This excludes those who have been convicted of crimes such as voluntary manslaughter, murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, child abuse, and/or terrorism.
Many of these honorably discharged veterans are highly decorated and all had clean records prior to serving. At the same time, many suffer from PTSD and other combat injuries incurred as a result of their service to the nation.
The legislation would have the Attorney General cancel or rescind a removal order that affects any eligible veteran, and subsequently change his or her status to legal permanent resident.
It would also require the Secretary of Homeland Security to create a program and application procedure to allow veterans, who are eligible and were removed prior to the bill’s enactment, to return to the U.S. as a lawfully admitted permanent resident.
Veterans who meet the bill’s requirements would also regain access to all military and veteran’s benefits. Finally, the bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify and maintain records of immigration cases involving qualifying veterans.