WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler today delivered the following remarks, as prepared, during a markup of the Veteran Service Recognition Act of 2022 (H.R. 7946):
“The “Veteran Service Recognition Act of 2022” would finally ensure that noncitizen active-duty military, veterans, and their families are treated with the dignity and respect befitting the sacrifice they have given to this country.
“As we discussed at our hearing last month in the Immigration Subcommittee, immigrants have served in the U.S. armed forces in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War. Every day, 45,000 immigrants actively serving in the U.S. armed forces risk their lives in support of our country.
“While military service can offer an expedited pathway to naturalization, many noncitizen service members leave the military without becoming a U.S. citizen because of unnecessarily burdensome requirements that they must meet. Further, many service members have family members who lack lawful status in the United States with no ability to adjust their status. As a result, while our military personnel are deployed protecting U.S. global interests and keeping our nation safe, they must worry if their loved ones will be apprehended in an immigration raid and potentially be deported.
“We must do better by those who risk their lives to protect our country.
“President Biden has taken significant actions to remove barriers to naturalization for service members. Additionally, the Departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs have collaborated to create the Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative.
“This initiative helps immigrant veterans access VA benefits and, when appropriate, apply to be paroled into the United States. In addition to the Biden Administration’s actions, there has been a bipartisan commitment since 2007 to protecting immediate family members of U.S. service members and veterans through the Parole in Place in Military Families initiative.
“However, more must be done, and that is why we are considering H.R. 7946 today.
“The Veteran Service Recognition Act would:
- direct the DHS and the DOD to implement a program that allows non-citizen service members to file for naturalization during basic training, or as early as otherwise possible;
- establish the Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee to review and provide recommendations on the cases of noncitizen veterans, active service members, and their families who are in removal proceedings;
- provide an opportunity for noncitizen veterans who have been removed or ordered removed and who have not been convicted of serious crimes, to apply for legal permanent resident status; and
- allow immediate relatives of service members or veterans with an approved immigrant petition to adjust their status and obtain a green card as long as they are otherwise admissible.
“This legislation recognizes and honors the sacrifices of our service members by supporting them and their families, and by giving them every opportunity to become U.S. citizens if they so desire. This is modest, but important, legislation that deserves bipartisan support.
“The Veteran Service Recognition Act is a narrowly tailored solution to a specific problem. The number of deported veterans is a closed universe with a small and finite number of individuals who are eligible for relief. DHS estimates that the number of deported noncitizen veterans is in the hundreds. Additionally, by addressing the naturalization of noncitizen service members during basic training, this bill will eventually eliminate the need to assist deported veterans in returning to the United States.
“I would like to thank Chairman Takano of the Veterans Affairs Committee as well as our Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chair, Zoe Lofgren, for their leadership on this issue. I was honored to join them in introducing the Veteran Service Recognition Act and I urge all my colleagues to support this important legislation.”