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Suspending Immigration Status Petition and Interview Time Requirement for Members of Armed Forces

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

As the author of H.R. 398, I support this bill. It's a small measure to help support members of our Armed Forces who are serving overseas and their families here at home.

Our troops, who take up our country's call to service and volunteer to place themselves in harm's way, face uncertainties every day. For countless soldiers, the peace of mind that they get from family back home helps to keep them focused on the important job at hand. For that reason, it is critical that we not add to their burdens and instead seize the opportunity to alleviate even a small amount of the anxiety they feel.

As the chairman has indicated, there is a conditionality placed on residents gained through marriage. Couples are given a 90-day period just before the second anniversary of the grant to file to remove the conditions, and then they get only 90 days to appear in person for an interview. Now, only after this is done are the conditions removed. And if the conditional status is not removed in this way, the residence is terminated and the foreign national spouse could be deported. That means that either the spouse of one of our soldiers could be deported or the soldier himself could be deported.

Now, it's pretty hard to appear for the interview if you're serving in Iraq, and we certainly don't want our soldiers or their spouses to be deported. So I support this measure.

In 2008, as chairwoman of the House Immigration Subcommittee, I convened a hearing on the immigration needs of America's fighting men and women. At the hearing, we heard from members of the Armed Forces about countless challenges that they face because of our rigid and unyielding immigration system.

This bill will help to resolve just one of those challenges. It will not excuse military families from the requirements. It will simply allow them to put off those requirements if they choose during overseas deployments.

Of course, there are many problems with our country's immigration laws that this bill does not address, too many to count. And as we know from our 2008 hearing, those problems will continue to unnecessarily tear military families apart, distract from our mission abroad, and betray the fundamental values that we claim to hold dear.

But despite this great need, it is only this small bill, a bill that should help a few dozen service members a year, that is on the floor for action.

I commend my colleagues Lamar Smith, Elton Gallegly, and John Conyers for joining me in introducing this very modest measure.

Our men and women on the front lines are standing in defense of our country, and their loved ones back home stand in defense of them. As Members of Congress, it's both a responsibility and an honor to provide whatever support we can. And while this bill may be small, it is important for the few dozen soldiers it may help each year. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to support the bill.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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