Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth Intro Package of Bills to Assist Veterans with Immigration System
The exact number is unknown, but it’s estimated that hundreds of noncitizen veterans have been deported from the U.S. in recent years. And there’s a reason why -- Donald Trump signed an executive order to expand the grounds for deportation, which can be blamed for the increase in deported veterans. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) have reintroduced a package of veterans’ bills to stop the deportations and to improve veterans’ access to healthcare. They were joined by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The first is the Veterans Visa and Protection Act, which would prohibit the deportation of veterans who are not violent offenders, establish a visa program through which deported veterans may enter the U.S. as legal permanent residents, enable legal permanent residents to become naturalized citizens through military service, and extend military and veterans benefits to those who would be eligible for those benefits if they were not deported. “Men and women willing to wear our uniform shouldn’t be deported by the same nation they risked their lives to defend,” said Duckworth, a former Army Lt. Colonel. The second bill is the Immigrant Veterans Eligibility Tracking System Act, which would identify noncitizens who are currently serving or who have served in the armed forces when they are applying for immigration benefits or when placed in immigration enforcement proceedings to enable Homeland Security to “fast track” veterans and servicemembers who are applying for naturalization. “When immigrants step up to serve our country, it is unacceptable to deny them the very same rights and opportunities they risk their lives defending,” said Hirono. “We must appropriately recognize these veterans, and that starts with protecting their access to care and their right to remain in their communities.” And finally, the lawmakers introduced the Healthcare Opportunities for Patriots in Exile Act, which would allow deported veterans who committed nonviolent crimes the opportunity to temporarily re-enter the U.S. to receive medical care from a VA facility for service-connected medical conditions. More about the bill here.