RIVERSIDE – Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released this statement on July 2 following a DHS and VA announcement of an initiative to support noncitizen servicemembers, veterans, and immediate family members.
“Deported veterans are exiled from the country they were willing to die for, and their deportation prevents them from accessing the VA benefits they earned and that they are legally entitled to.
“Servicemembers and their families also make incredible sacrifices. They shouldn’t have to suffer under the looming shadow of deportation while they risk their lives in defense of our nation. That is why we must take action to prevent the deportation of veterans, servicemembers, and their families.
“This will take a whole-of-government approach and I applaud the Biden Administration for launching this initiative and taking steps toward addressing it. I look forward to working with President Biden and my colleagues in Congress to push for comprehensive legislative solutions to this issue, including passing the Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act, which I introduced with Rep. Grijalva and Rep. Vargas. This injustice must end.”
In February, Takano introduced the Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act with Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Juan Vargas (D-Chula Vista).
The Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act:
• Requires DHS to maintain data on potentially removable noncitizen veterans. The DHS secretary would be directed to establish an annual training program for ICE personnel on handling noncitizen veterans.
• Directs DHS to establish a Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee that would provide recommendations on whether an individual should be granted a stay of removal, deferred action, parole, or be removed from the country.
• Provides a pathway of citizenship for spouses and children of members of the Armed Services through a joint program between DOD and DHS.
• Requires DHS to establish a program and application procedure that allows eligible veterans to be admitted as noncitizens lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Also directs the attorney general to reopen any removal proceedings of each noncitizen veteran issued and where appropriate, rescind any orders of removal already issued.