American Legion testifies before House Committee on Citizenship for Service and Deported Veterans

The American Legion has advocated for those seeking a legal path to naturalization for over 100 years. Non-citizen immigrants have served in the US military in every conflict since the nation’s inception. About 760,000 people have obtained US citizenship through military service over the past 100 years. Nearly 24,000 non-citizen immigrants currently serve in the U.S. military and 5,000 join each year.

The American Legion again advocated for these veterans and service members in a memorandum statement submitted to the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship for a hearing on oversight of immigrant service members and veterans.

“Every day, brave members of the immigration service risk their lives to support our country,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, DN.Y., said in his opening remarks. “We rely on them to keep our nation safe and to protect the United States. In return, we must honor their sacrifices by supporting them and their families, and by giving them every opportunity to become American citizens.” they want it.

The process of obtaining citizenship through military service is complicated, leaving many military personnel to assume that they automatically obtained their citizenship through their service. Branches of the armed forces were to work with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to begin the process of establishing the serviceman’s citizenship. Often, the service member was unaware of the need to begin the process through USCIS, and individual service branches did not notify the service member while on active duty. Servicemen were often left on their own to obtain citizenship with little help or guidance.

This has resulted in the deportation of many veterans for minor, non-violent or drug-related crimes, which could result in the banning of naturalization for life, despite meeting all other criteria for citizenship. .

“The American Legion believes that all non-citizen immigrant veterans should be given every opportunity to complete the citizenship process before leaving the military,” the American Legion wrote in the statement. “After-service opportunities should also be strengthened for veterans and their family members.

“The American Legion believes in honoring the promise this nation makes to immigrants seeking naturalization through military service: if you enlist and serve honorably, this nation will make you a citizen.”

Based on Resolutions No. 15: Accelerated Citizenship Through Military Service; No. 10: Accelerated Citizenship Applications for Deported Veterans; No. 19: Oppose the deportation of non-citizen immigrant veterans; and No. 20: Oppose the Deportation of Immediate Family Members of Non-Citizen Immigrant Veterans, the American Legion recommended certain changes to the subcommittee. These include the implementation of measures within the Ministry of Defense to ensure that the process of naturalization through honorable military service is completed before release, the reopening of 19 overseas field offices for supporting the naturalization process for deployed military members, providing expedited citizenship applications and the resources needed to complete the applications. to deported veterans if their discharge is honorable and they do not have a felony conviction and establish a pathway to lawful permanent residence for immediate family members of service members and non-citizen veterans and strengthen the pathway to the citizenship.

“Immigrants have served in the US military since the founding of our nation. In recognition of their honorable service, we promised the opportunity to become American citizens. Although the path to citizenship has been cleared for many non-citizen immigrant service members and veterans, there are still many obstacles. The position of the American Legion is clear. These brave men and women served our nation honourably. It is right that we recognize their service with the pathways to citizenship they deserve,” the American Legion concluded.

Watch the full hearing here.

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