Caitlin Doornbos, New York Post, December 6, 2022
The House passed a bill Tuesday that would make it easier for illegal immigrant US veterans and their families to stay in the country — as Republicans derided the measure as another Biden administration step toward enabling open borders.
The Veteran Service Recognition Act, passed with a 219-208 vote, would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish protocols for identifying noncitizen veterans, require immigration adjudicators to consider their service records in deportation proceedings and allow veterans to stay in the US until they conclude.
Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.) accused Democrats of using the “flowery” title to “mask the bills’ true meaning,” alleging they would open “a path for criminals” to stay in the country.
“It leads the public to believe we are looking at a bill that would recognize the service of our veterans,” Fischbach said. “But once again, you take a closer look, it becomes painfully clear that this is another push for open borders.”
The act would require DHS to establish a nine-member advisory committee to “provide recommendations to the Secretary of Homeland Security on the exercise of discretion in any case” involving deportation proceedings for active US troops, veterans and their families.
Additionally, it would order the Departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security to conduct a study to identify the number of noncitizen veterans the US deported since 1990.
The bill would also allow the DHS secretary to reverse previous deportation decisions for noncitizen veterans, offering them lawful permanent resident status unless found inadmissible due to an aggravated felony conviction or five driving-while-intoxicated convictions in the past 25 years, according to the bill.
But Fischbach said it should include more criminal convictions as disqualifications and criticized Democrats for shooting down GOP amendments proposed in earlier committee meetings that she said would have barred those convicted of crimes including “illicit trafficking, trafficking and firearms [and] human trafficking.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), an Army veteran, said the bill should block those discharged for bad conduct from receiving citizenship benefits.
The bill would also change the country’s citizenship through military service program to allow immigrant troops to apply for citizenship at any point after their first day of military service. Current law requires noncitizen troops to wait one year before applying for citizenship.
USCIS has naturalized more than 158,000 troops over the past two decades, including 10,600 in fiscal year 2022 alone, according to DHS.
Fischbach argued the legislation “is just one more example of the Democrats exploiting a sympathetic population to push their open border policies,” adding that “they should be ashamed.”