Mar 04, 2013 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) --
Washington, Mar 1 - Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) yesterday introduced H.R. 932 The Support and Defend Our Military Personnel and their Families Act. The bi-partisan legislation cosponsored by 4 other members of Congress allows active duty soldiers and veterans who serve honorably to expedite the citizenship of their family members and helps to protect them from deportation.
"This legislation will help fix our broken immigration system that unnecessarily burdens active-duty service members, veterans who honorably served our nation, and military families," said Thompson. "The brave men and women of our armed forces are willing to fight and die for our nation - the last thing they should have to worry about on the battlefield is their family's immigration status."
"I thank Mike for his leadership in introducing this important legislation," said Ros-Lehtinen. "This bill will expedite the U.S. citizenship of the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect the freedoms and principles upon which our nation was founded. It will also promote family unity by allowing their immediate family members to apply for lawful immigration status. Our patriots have risked their lives to secure our nation's ideals of opportunity and democracy for future generations to come. These brave servicemen and servicewomen deserve our support; we will keep fighting for their rights."
"This bill is an important step forward in resolving the serious immigration problems of America's military families and of military veterans," said Margaret D. Stock, Counsel to the Firm, Lane Powell PC, and Lieutenant Colonel (retired), US Army Reserve, Military Police Corps. "For too long, our complex and dysfunctional immigration system has imposed grave hardships on military families and military veterans. In the face of Executive Branch inaction on the issue, Congress needs to take action."
The Congressional Research Service reports that more than 45,000 non-citizens are serving in the United States Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard). In addition, many U.S. citizens serving in the military have family members who are not U.S. citizens. Non-citizen servicemembers and service members with non-citizen family members 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 certain contingency operations 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. 932 has since been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Armed Services where it awaits further action.
Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California's 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.