July 10, 2019

Duckworth Highlights Need to Protect Veterans and Military Families from Trump Administration Deportation Policies


[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) spoke about the need to protect Veterans and military families from deportation by the Trump Administration at a panel discussion hosted by HillVets in the United States Capitol. Earlier this year, Duckworth reintroduced a package of legislation to prevent the deportation on Veterans who are not violent offenders, allow deported Veterans to return to America and access the VA benefits they earned, and make it easier for servicemembers to become citizens.

“No one willing to wear our uniform should be deported by the same nation they sacrificed to defend. No one serving overseas should be worried that their loved ones back at home will be deported by the time they finish the mission at hand,” Duckworth said. “The Trump Administration’s efforts to deport Veterans and proposal to deport military families is a direct threat to military readiness—and it’s senseless and counterproductive, too.”

Duckworth has been a strong critic of the Trump Administration’s deportation of Veterans as well as their recent proposal to end protections against the deportation of military families whose loved ones are deployed. Duckworth recently reintroduced a package of three bills after the one-year anniversary of the deportation of Afghanistan War Veteran Miguel Perez Jr. – whose wife and children are U.S. citizens – after he was not offered the proper support from the U.S. Army to naturalize as a U.S. citizen. Like many Veterans, Perez returned from service and struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and self-medicated with drugs and alcohol after not receiving the proper care for his conditions. Perez was arrested for non-violent drug crimes in 2008, and despite his long-time status as a Legal Permanent Resident and military service record, he was deported last March.

Although the exact number is not known, at least 92 Veterans were removed from the country, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last month. Despite most deported Veterans being eligible for naturalization while serving in the military, the U.S. government has often failed to prioritize assisting non-citizen servicemembers with completing the process. Due to this lack of follow-through, there have also been cases of Veterans who were either told or believed they became citizens through their military service, only to hang up their uniform and later learn that they had not obtained citizen status because their paperwork was never processed.

Duckworth spoke today at a panel organized by HillVets, a non-profit, bipartisan group of Veterans and supporters that aims to help Veterans serve their nation after their military service on Capitol Hill. Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and U.S. Representative Mark Takano (CA-41), Vincent Vincente González (TX-15) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-7) also participated in today’s panel discussion with Senator Duckworth.