Padilla Applauds DHS, VA Initiative to Support Noncitizen Servicemembers and Veterans

New initiative includes reexamining deported veterans policy and improving naturalization process

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, released the following statement after the Biden Administration’s announcement of a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) initiative to support our nation’s noncitizen service members, veterans, and the immediate family members of service members.

“I’m grateful to see the Biden Administration prioritizing our nation’s deported veterans. Harmful immigration policies for our veterans and service members, including obstacles to pathways to citizenship imposed by the Trump Administration, have hurt our military readiness. 

“We know our armed forces rely on the bravery, dedication and skills of immigrant recruits – and they deserve more from the country they risked their lives to defend. Today’s announcement is an important step for our immigrant communities and I look forward to continuing to work with the administration to ensure we bring back humanity to our immigration system.”

As part of the DHS initiative, Secretary Mayorkas directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to immediately conduct a review of policies and practices to ensure that all eligible current and former noncitizen service members and the immediate families of military members are able to remain in or return to the United States, remove barriers to naturalization for those eligible, and improve access to immigration services. 

Last week, Padilla chaired a Judiciary Subcommittee hearing that examined immigration policies for our military service members and veterans – including deported veterans policies. One of the witnesses was Howard Bailey, a United States Navy veteran who was deported to Jamaica in 2012 for a conviction that has since been pardoned. Padilla recently sent a letter to Secretary Mayorkas urging him to reopen Howard Bailey’s immigration proceedings and grant him humanitarian parole.

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