WASHINGTON, D.C. â€” On September 22, Congressman Juan VargasÂ (CA-51) introduced a bill package that will prevent veterans from beingÂ deported and help veterans that have been deported get access to theÂ medical service they deserve. The “Immigrant Veterans EligibilityÂ Tracking System (I-VETS) Act of 2016” (H.R. 6091), “HealthcareÂ Opportunities for Patriots in Exile (HOPE) Act of 2016” (H.R. 6092), andÂ “Naturalization at Training Sites (NATS) Act of 2016” (H.R. 6093) areÂ part of this legislative package.
“Many immigrants are committed to making the ultimate sacrifice byÂ joining the armed forces,” said Rep. Vargas. “These bills are aÂ necessary step in ensuring that these individuals are well informed onÂ their path to naturalization and that deported veterans have access toÂ healthcare services they need.”
Sadly, many non-citizen service members and veterans are deported everyÂ year due to a lack of information and tracking of these individuals.Â This effectively denies these deported service members the medical careÂ they earned and in many cases require. H.R. 6092 would allow deportedÂ veterans the opportunity to temporarily parole back into the UnitedÂ States to seek care from a VA facility.
“Regardless of immigration status, all U.S. military veterans deserveÂ access to treatment from VA medical facilities,” stated Rep. Vargas.Â “It’s time that we do something to ensure that all of our veterans,Â including those that have been deported, are well taken care of.”
Many foreign-born soldiers enlist in the military under the belief thatÂ military service will automatically make them U.S. citizens.Â Unfortunately, the federal government does not adequately inform them ofÂ the necessary steps for naturalization. H.R. 6093 aims to provideÂ naturalization services at training sites.
Currently, neither the Department of Defense, nor the Department ofÂ Homeland Security, track the progress of service members and veterans’Â immigration status. H.R. 6091 will establish an immigrant veteran’sÂ eligibility tracking system.
About H.R. 6091 – I-VETS Act of 2016
The _Immigrant Veterans Eligibility Tracking System (I-VETS) Act ofÂ 2016 _helps identify active and retired non-citizen servicemembers. TheÂ bill directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify non-citizensÂ who have served in the armed forces when applying for immigrationÂ benefits or when placed in immigration enforcement proceedings. ThisÂ information will enable DHS to “fast track” veterans and service membersÂ who are applying for naturalization, while also allowing officials toÂ practice prosecutorial discretion, if appropriate, when adjudicatingÂ their cases.
About H.R. 6092 – HOPE Act of 2016
The _Healthcare Opportunities for Patriots in Exile (HOPE) Act ofÂ 2016_ will allow deported veterans the opportunity to temporarily paroleÂ back into the United States to seek care from a VA facility. The billÂ amends section 212 (d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality ActÂ accordingly to give the Secretary of Homeland Security the discretion toÂ temporarily parole deported veterans into the U.S. on a case by caseÂ basis to seek healthcare then return home.
About H.R. 6093 – NATS Act of 2016
The _Naturalization at Training Sites (NATS) Act of 2016_ ensuresÂ that non-citizen servicemembers are well informed of the naturalizationÂ options available to them. The bill will (1) direct each branch of theÂ Armed Forces to establish a naturalization office at their initialÂ training sites; (2) instruct the Secretary of Defense to identify andÂ contact non-citizen service members and inform them of their options;Â (3) require the Department of Defense (DOD) to retain trained staff atÂ the established naturalization offices; and (4) encourage the SecretaryÂ to assign non-citizen recruits to training sites with operatingÂ naturalization offices pending the completion of said offices at allÂ training sites.
Rep. Vargas represents California’s 51st Congressional District whichÂ includes the southern portion of San Diego County, all of ImperialÂ County and California’s entire US/Mexico border. Vargas was firstÂ elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and is currentlyÂ serving his second term in Congress. He represented the 40th CaliforniaÂ State Senate District from 2010-2012, the 79th California State AssemblyÂ District from 2000-2006 and served on the San Diego City Council fromÂ 1993-2000.