Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) yesterday introduced H.R. 3761, The Support and Defend Our Military Personnel and their Families Act. The bi-partisan legislation cosponsored by 11 other members of Congress allows active duty soldiers and veterans who serve honorably to expedite the citizenship of their family members.
"This legislation will help fix our broken immigration system that unnecessarily burdens active-duty service members and veterans who honorably serve our nation, and their families," said Thompson. "The brave men and women who serve in our armed forces are willing to fight and die for our nation -- the last thing they should have to worry about is their family's immigration status while they are on the battlefield."
"I am proud to cosponsor this piece of legislation. This bill will help veterans, who have served honorably, attain U.S. citizenship," said Ros-Lehtinen. "It will also help reunite active-duty servicemen and women with their families. Our veterans and active-duty personnel are selfless patriots who have put their lives on the line so that we can enjoy the freedoms this country has to offer. This bill honors our brave men and women while helping promote family unity."
The Congressional Research Service reports that more than 45,000 non-citizens are serving in the United States Armed Forces (Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, National Guard, Reserves). In addition, many U.S. citizens serving in the military have close non-citizen family members. Such individuals represent a significant portion of U.S. Armed Forces, and they often face daunting and complex immigration law and procedure.
The Support and Defend Our Military Personnel and their Families Act addresses these immigration concerns of America's military personnel, our veterans, and their family members back home by:
Helping Veterans Who Have Served Honorably Become U.S. Citizens: The legislation allows soldiers who serve honorably during times of war to become U.S. citizens expeditiously.
Reuniting Lawful Permanent Residents Serving in Active-Duty with Family Members: The bill exempts immigrant petitions filed for the spouses and children of military personnel from numerical caps that limit the number of immigration petitions that can be granted each year.
Preserving Family Unity of Military Personnel: The bill permits immediate family members of military personnel to apply for lawful immigration status, subject to all necessary criminal and security background checks; and codifies existing guidelines for placing active-duty soldiers or veterans into removal proceedings.
H.R. 3761 has since been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Armed Services where it awaits further action.