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Ms. JAYAPAL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Veteran Service Recognition Act to stop the deportation of immigrant veterans.
I thank my colleague, Representative Mark Takano, for bringing this important bill forward and our Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee chair, Zoe Lofgren, for her tremendous leadership on this issue.
Mr. Speaker, immigrants have defended the United States in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War. One of the first casualties in the Iraq war was Lance Corporal Jose Antonio Gutierrez, who was not an American citizen when he died fighting for us. He signed up for the Marines, wanting to give back to the country that gave him everything.
Today, there are 45,000 immigrants serving in the United States armed services. Yet, hundreds of immigrant veterans are estimated to have been deported.
Mr. Speaker, this is unacceptable. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is supposed to consider veteran service to the country when making removal decisions.
A 2019 GAO study found that ICE attorneys ``. . . did not consistently follow its policies involving veterans who were placed in removal proceedings . . .'' in part because ICE officials were ``. . . unaware of the policies. . . .''
Mr. Speaker, we can't leave this to chance. Even one deported veteran is one too many. Yet, hundreds of immigrant veterans are estimated to have been deported.
When people sign up to defend this country, we should be helping them to become U.S. citizens as quickly as possible, and that is exactly what this bill does.
Mr. Speaker, that is why I am so proud to support the Veteran Service Recognition Act to take crucial steps to stop the deportation of veterans and provide relief to veterans who have already been deported. No one who has put their life on the line for the United States should be deported. It is that simple, Mr. Speaker.
Vote ``yes'' to support veterans.
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