June 22, 2021

Duckworth Releases New Report on the State of Deported Veterans


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today released a new report titled “Immigrant Veterans: Deported By The Same Nation They Sacrificed To Defend,” which details the history of immigrants enlisting in the U.S. military, the complicated path to military naturalization, barriers deported Veterans face in accessing Veteran Affairs’ benefits, recommended policy solutions to this critical issue and much more. Senator Duckworth plans to present the findings of this report at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety hearing focused on these issues on Wednesday. A copy of the full report is available here.

Key Quotes:

  • “Immigrant servicemembers possess critical skills that enhance military readiness and strengthen national security. That is why for more than 200 years, the U.S. Government has passed laws, promulgated policies and created initiatives that provide servicemembers an expedited path to citizenship. Prior to the Trump administration, Republican and Democratic administrations alike at least sought to streamline the naturalization process for the brave men and women who answered the call to serve.”
  • “The U.S. Government must resolve citizenship challenges for Veterans and active-duty troops through executive actions and legislation. President Joe Biden has signaled his commitment to supporting active duty troops naturalize. He issued Executive Order 14012 to facilitate naturalizations for immigrant servicemembers. Public reports indicate that the Biden administration plans to review Veteran deportations under the Trump administration. While this is commendable start, there are greater policy changes the administration must enact.”
  • “Rather than removing those who risked their lives to defend our Nation, the U.S. Government must end the practice of deporting immigrant servicemembers and provide robust VA services for all impacted Veterans. Immigrants willing to serve and defend our Nation deserve a real opportunity to earn citizenship, and it is the U.S. Government’s responsibility to uphold this promise for those who bravely served.”

Key Findings:

  1. Former President Donald Trump eliminated military naturalization resources and created barriers to prevent expedited citizenship for servicemembers
  2. The U.S. government deported Veterans without considering military service
  3. Deported Veterans are denied full access to Veteran Affairs’ benefits
  4. Deported Veterans have no clear pathway to citizenship

Duckworth has been active in protecting Veterans from deportation and helping those who have been deported gain citizenship and access to important VA services. In January of this year, Duckworth asked President Biden to prohibit the deportation of Veterans and strengthen the naturalization process for Servicemembers. Last Congress, she introduced the Strengthening Citizenship Services for Veterans Act, legislation that would ensure deported Veterans who have successfully completed the preliminary naturalization process can attend their citizenship interview at a port of entry, embassy or consulate without navigating the complex process of advance parole.

Duckworth also introduced legislation to prohibit the deportation of Veterans who are not violent offenders, give legal permanent residents a path to citizenship through military service and strengthen VA healthcare services for Veterans. In 2019, Duckworth traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, on Veterans Day to meet with a group of Veterans who have been deported to hear about their efforts to access the VA healthcare benefits they’ve earned.