Congressmen Gonzalez and Young introduce the Repatriate Our Patriots Act in 117th Congress
On Monday, July 12, Congressmen Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) and Don Young (AK-AL) reintroduced the Repatriate Our Patriots Act (ROPA), bipartisan legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for deported veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
In December of 2018, deported U.S. Army veteran, Carlos Jaime Torres returned home, but did so in death. He passed away in Reynosa, Mexico – across the river from his home in McAllen, Texas. This bill is reintroduced in dedication to Carlos Torres and for the thousands of deported veterans around the world like him. Many of these honorably discharged veterans are highly decorated and all had clean records before serving. At the same time, many suffer from PTSD and other combat injuries incurred as a result of their service to the nation.
“As we work to reform our immigration system, we must include bringing our veterans who have served our country back home,” said Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15). “It is inexcusable that the United States deported its veterans instead of working with them to get the help they needed. President Biden ran on the promise that he would return our deported veterans from abroad and now is the time. I look forward to working with the President and Congressional leadership to bring this bill to the floor.”
"If you are willing to put your life on the line to defend this great nation and our values, you should be able to become a U.S. citizen," said Congressman Don Young (AK-AL), Dean of the House of Representatives. "It is inexcusable that service members who risked it all to protect us would be put through the deportation process. The recent announcement by the Administration that they would review the deportation of veterans is welcome news, but we must not forget that executive actions are not law. It is up to Congress to find a legislative solution for these heroes, which is the only way to provide a lasting sense of safety and peace of mind. I am proud to join my friend, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, as we introduce the Repatriate Our Patriots Act, which will finally bring our veterans back to the country they so bravely fought for. We must do all we can to help this bill become law, and I will be working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get it across the finish line."
“Those who served our country and kept us safe from harm deserve our utmost respect and gratitude – not to be deported or to have their families deported. The Repatriate Our Patriots Act will rightly bring back home our servicemembers and their families. I thank Congressman Gonzalez for his leadership and am proud to join him in introducing this bill,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Chair of the House Committee on Oversight.
“Those who serve our nation in uniform deserve to feel like the United States has their back, regardless of their immigration status. It is shameful that we would deport veterans from a country they swore to protect and defend. On the battlefield, our military pledges to leave no soldier behind. The Repatriate Our Patriots Act would grant deported veterans an expedited path to citizenship and fulfill our moral obligation to ensure no veteran is left behind once they return home. I am grateful to Congressman Gonzalez for introducing this legislation so we can stand up for those who selflessly fought for us,” said Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), Chair of the House Rules Committee.
This bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Representatives Don Young (AK-At Large), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Janice Schakowsky (IL-09), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Ed Perlmutter (CO-7), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Brad Sherman (CA-30), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Bill Foster (IL-11), Mike Levin (CA-49), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Conor Lamb (PA-17), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Tom Reed (NY-23).
The Repatriate Our Patriots Act would:
- Allow deported veterans who were honorably discharged or released to go through the naturalization process abroad. This excludes those who have been convicted of crimes such as voluntary manslaughter, murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, child abuse, and/or terrorism.
- Order the Attorney General to cancel or rescind a removal order that affects any eligible veteran, and subsequently change his or her status to legal permanent resident.
- Require the Secretary of Homeland Security to create a program and application procedure to allow veterans, who are eligible and were removed prior to the bill’s enactment, to return to the U.S. lawfully and be admitted as a permanent resident.
- Require the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify and maintain records of immigration cases involving qualifying veterans.