WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) re-introduced legislation he originally brought to the House Floor in 2016 to establish a veteran visa program which would permit eligible deported veterans to permanently return to the United States as Lawful Permanent Residents eligible for naturalization.
Rep. Grijalva’s legislation comes as President Trump is taking extraordinary measures to make it easier to deport anyone not born in the United States. A 2008 report issued by the Pentagon estimates that approximately 8,000 noncitizens enlist to serve our nation in uniform every year. While robust data does not exist on the number of service members who are deported for crimes as trivial as marijuana possession, advocates estimate that at least 2,000 veterans are now living in Northern Mexican border towns.
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of California released a report entitled “Discharged, Then Discarded,” which highlights how veterans who served as far back as the war in Vietnam were later deported over punitive offenses, largely as a result of two draconian immigration laws passed in 1996: the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. As a result of these laws, veterans who are eligible to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery once they die, are prohibited from entering the United States as long as they are alive. Rep. Grijalva is re-introducing this bill to reunite our veterans with their families and ensure they have access to their earned benefits.
“The idea that we would so carelessly deport veterans who have put themselves in harm’s way for our nation’s safety is utterly appalling,” Rep. Grijalva said. “To deport these brave men and women who have clearly demonstrated their patriotism and love for this country is to ignore the tremendous sacrifice they have made for each and every one of us. We should all be thanking these veterans for their service, not deporting them from the country they fought for.”
The Veteran Visa and Protection Act has been previously endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Drug Policy Alliance and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. You can access the full text of the Veteran Visa and Protection Act here.