According to The Hill, Tuesday’s report said that deported veterans will be sought to help them get citizenship and access to Veterans Affairs benefits.
The Department of Homeland Security made the announcement late Friday, just before the holiday weekend. It said that the plan to find deported veterans were part of a larger plan to “avoid future unfair removals” of noncitizen service members. The Hill stated.
According to the department, many deported veterans can naturalize because of their military service.
“We are committed to bringing back military service members, veterans, and their immediate family members who were unjustly removed and ensuring they receive the benefits to which they may be entitled,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated in a release.
Three DHS agencies — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — were directed to “review the cases of individuals whose removals failed to live up to our highest values.”
They were also directed to ensure that eligible noncitizen service personnel and their immediate families can remain in the U.S. or return to it.
According to a report by the Government Accountability Office in 2019, more than 44,000 non-citizens enlisted in the military between 2013-2018, according to data.
For veterans who have been convicted of a crime, the government can start removal proceedings. The Hill reported that ICE did not follow its policies regarding veterans and didn’t track the number of veterans who were deported.
Mayorkas was joined by Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
“It’s our responsibility to serve all veterans as well as they have served us – no matter who they are, where they are from, or the status of their citizenship,” McDonough said.
“Keeping that promise means ensuring that noncitizen service members, veterans, and their families are guaranteed a place in the country they swore an oath – and in many cases fought – to defend. We at VA are proud to work alongside DHS as to make that happen.”
The release said USCIS, ICE, and CBP will develop a rigorous, systematic approach to review the cases of individuals whose removals “failed to live up to our highest values.”
DHS and VA will conduct reviews in close partnership with the Department of Defense, according to the release.
“DHS and VA will also engage with the advocacy community serving noncitizen military service members, veterans, and immediate family members of service members,” the release said, “to communicate its commitments, receive feedback on proposed initiatives, and announce further actions in support of this statement and in connection with the forthcoming review.”
This announcement regarding veterans came after another effort by the administration to encourage some 9,000,000 longtime residents, to apply for U.S. citizenship.
“Becoming a United States citizen is a tremendous privilege,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “New citizens, strengthened with the power and responsibilities that American citizenship brings, make our Nation better. This strategy will ensure that aspiring citizens are able to pursue naturalization through a clear and coordinated process.”