Rep. Thompson and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Introduce Legislation to Improve Our Immigration System for Non-Citizen Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families

Feb 24, 2016


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) today introduced the Support and Defend Our Military Personnel and Their Families Act (H.R. 4600) with Representative Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). This bipartisan legislation will remove barriers to naturalization for non-citizen service members, veterans, and their families.

“The more than 20,000 brave, non-citizen men and women serving in our Armed Forces shouldn’t have to worry about their immigration status, or that of their family members,” said Thompson. “Fixing our country’s broken immigration system is a priority. And by making sure our system does not unduly burden non-citizen service members, veterans and their families, this legislation is an important first step.”

Representative Ros-Lehtinen stated, "I'm proud to join Mike, once again, in introducing the Support and Defend Our Military Personnel and Their Families Act. Those who honorably serve our nation should not have to worry about their immigration status or that of their families after having sacrificed so much for our country. Our servicemembers should be allowed the opportunity to fully participate in our great democracy, which they work to defend. Allowing them to expedite their citizenship and their families to apply for lawful residency is the least we can do to repay their courage."

The Support and Defend Our Military Personnel and Their Families Act helps veterans who have served honorably become U.S. citizens, facilitates the reunification of lawful permanent residents serving in active duty with nuclear family members, and works to preserve family unity of military personnel.

While current law does allow for expedited naturalization of non-citizens serving, or who have served, in the Armed Forces, this legislation would extend naturalization eligibility to certain soldiers not covered under existing law, such as soldiers who served in the armed conflicts in Kosovo and Bosnia in the 1990s. Veterans would also have one year, instead of six months, to apply for naturalization after being honorably discharged.

The Support and Defend Our Military Personnel and Their Families Act expedites the petitions of nuclear family members, spouses and children, of non-citizen military personnel by exempting their lawful permanent resident petitions from the numerical caps that limit the number of petitions granted each year. The legislation would also allow immediate family members of a U.S. citizen soldier who is serving, or who has served honorably, to apply for lawful permanent residence. The bill helps protect active duty service members and veterans from deportation by codifying existing guidelines for placing active duty service members and veterans into removal proceedings.

H.R. 4600 has been referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Armed Services for further consideration.

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. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.


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