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The Biden administration announced that it is formalizing a new process to allow immigrants who served in the U.S. military and were later deported to return to the country legally.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered immigration agencies to develop a “rigorous and systematic approach” to review cases of immigrants whose deportations “did not meet our highest values.”
“Together with our partner the Department of Veterans Affairs, we are committed to bringing back military service members, veterans, and their immediate family members who were unjustly removed and ensuring they receive the benefits to which they may be entitled. Today we are taking important steps to make that a reality,” Mayorkas said last Friday, July 2.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will conduct a review of policies and practices to ensure that all immigrant veterans and immediate families of members of the military can remain in or return to America, remove barriers to naturalization for those eligible, and improve access to immigration services.
USCIS, ICE and CBP are also committed to protecting and expanding naturalization opportunities for current and former noncitizen military service members and the immediate family of military members.
Deported veterans will benefit
Returning to the United States, DHS explained in the missive, would grant deported veterans access to Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, attorneys and the U.S. immigration system, where they could reopen their cases and seek forms of relief to remain in the country legally.
Deported veterans generally enlisted in the U.S. Army as “Green Card” holders and then found themselves in deportation proceedings after being convicted of certain crimes, including non-violent crimes, which make immigrants deportable under U.S. Immigration law.
Once deported they can be banned from entering the U.S. for up to 20 years or permanently, even if they served in the military.
For its part, DHS will establish an online resource center to help service members and their families with immigration issues, according to Friday’s memo.