November 17, 2021

Duckworth, Wyden Re-Introduce Bill to Help Deported Veterans Gain Citizenship

Legislation would codify and build on President Biden’s efforts to ensure our nation better supports those who were willing to sacrifice in uniform


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) today re-introduced the Strengthening Citizenship Services for Veterans Act to help ensure that 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. The proposal would facilitate access to all of the steps of the naturalization process for deported Veterans, which will allow many Veterans to finally become citizens and return to the country they bravely served. Companion legislation is expected to be re-introduced soon in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Juan Vargas (D-CA-51).

“Far too many Veterans who have been cruelly deported by the same nation they sacrificed to defend have been unable to attend their citizenship interviews because of ambiguous federal policies that keep them from re-entering the country,” Duckworth said. “This legislation would help ensure these Veterans receive a fair chance at gaining citizenship without unnecessary delays that prevent them from reuniting with their families.”

“That any veterans of our military have been deported by the same country they fought to defend is unacceptable. They deserve and have earned a fair process in their efforts to become citizens,” Wyden said. “We need to right this wrong and undo obscure federal policies that prevent our nation's veterans from re-entering the country so they can complete their citizenship process and get back home to their families as quickly as possible.”

“A number of the brave men and women who fought to protect our nation and freedom are immigrants,” said Vargas. “It’s unacceptable that those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice are unable to return to our country. Our deported veterans deserve to come home.”

In November 2021, the Biden Administration implemented a new policy aimed at supporting deported Veterans by allowing them to conduct their citizenship interviews at landed ports of entries after Duckworth sent a letter to Biden asking him to streamline the naturalization process for servicemembers. The Strengthening Citizenship Services for Veterans Act would codify this new policy and expand it to allow deported Veterans to also conduct these interviews at consulates and embassies.

This legislation was initially introduced in February of 2020 in the wake of deported U.S. Marine Veteran Roman Sabal—who served for six years and received an honorable discharge after attaining the rank of sergeant— being denied the opportunity to attend his own naturalization hearing. While Sabal eventually gained his citizenship in October of last year, the citizenship interview process remains challenging for deported Veterans.

The Strengthening Citizenship Services for Veterans Act would help address this issue by:

  • Eliminating the Need to Navigate the Complicated Advanced Parole Process—Direct the USCIS to conduct biometric collections, naturalization examinations and oath ceremonies at a port of entry, embassy or consulate for Veterans, and require DHS to issue guidance for biometric collections, naturalization examinations and oath ceremonies for Veterans.
  • Implementing Transparency Requirements for DHS—Direct the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State to jointly report to Congress an analysis of the implementation of this policy and the effectiveness of the guidance issued, and update the guidance if any shortcoming are identified.