That's the number of U.S. military veterans that were deported between 2013 and 2018, a period that was governed by both Democrat and Republican administrations.
While support of military spending often varies by political party, support of U.S. servicemembers is typically a cause that politicians on both sides of the aisle support. But in the case of deported veterans, it has felt for many years that their service and devotion to the United States has been ignored, and their status forgotten.
Today there is a community in Mexico of deported veterans who are desperate to return to the United States, a group reported by the Marine Times to be at least 1,000 people. They have been stuck in political limbo for years, waiting to be allowed back into the country that they put their lives on the line for in active duty. Although there has been much discussion over the years on how to help this population, very little has been done. Last year the Biden Administration announced a new effort to help deported veterans return to the U.S. and be put back on an immigration path, but in the last year only 31 of those veterans' requests have been granted, out of 80.
With such slow progress in reuniting the thousands of military families who have been torn apart, Congress has once again attempted to take action, this time in the House of Representatives.
Last week the House passed the Veteran Service Recognition Act (H.R. 7946), a bill aimed at speeding up the naturalization process for active service members and veterans, and providing a pathway for deported veterans to return to the United States. The Bill now goes to the Senate, where its future is unclear. If passed, the Veteran Service Recognition Act would:
- Direct the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to implement a program that allows non-citizen servicemembers to file for naturalization during basic training, or as early as otherwise possible.
- Direct the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee. This committee will review the cases of non-citizen veterans and active duty servicemembers in removal proceedings and will provide recommendations on whether prosecutorial discretion is warranted, or whether the removal proceedings should continue.
- Provide an opportunity for non-citizen veterans who have been removed or ordered removed and who have not been convicted of serious crimes to apply for and obtain legal permanent resident status if it is in the public interest.
Approximately 45,000 immigrants serve in the U.S. Armed Forces today, inspired by a desire to serve the country they love, and a promise for streamlined citizenship. If you are currently in the military you may already be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship on a direct pathway.
USCIS offers a toll-free military help line, 877-CIS-4MIL (877-247-4645, TTY: 800-877-8339) and e-mail address at [email protected] exclusively for current members of the military and their families, as well as veterans. Representatives are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central time, excluding federal holidays.
Since September 11, 2001, over 109,250 members of the Armed Forces have attained their citizenship by serving this nation. Valverde Law thanks and supports the service of all of our U.S. military members and veterans and are proud to provide immigration assistance to our military community in the Hampton Roads, Virginia.
If you are a member of our nation's military and want to naturalize to become a U.S. citizen, please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.