May 24, 2018 In The News, Media

Dallas News: Marc Veasey: Immigrants who serve their country shouldn’t get deported

Our country is at a crossroads. As a nation, we strive to embrace and uphold our Constitution, to accept all races and religions, and to welcome our neighbors. But the Trump administration has turned its back on many of our nation’s veterans, teachers and doctors who are unauthorized immigrants.

As representatives of this country, we have been called upon by our fellow Americans, as their elected members of Congress, to hold ourselves to the highest standard. The U.S. Congress has a duty to protect those who have given their blood and sweat to our country. We can and must choose a different path forward.

U.S. immigrants are our fellow Texans; they are teachers in our classrooms inspiring our children to reach higher every day, engineers who design our defense equipment, nurses who care for our families, architects who build our hospitals and schools, and moreover, members of our armed forces who fight for our country overseas.

Military service has always been an honorable path toward citizenship in this country, and immigrants without citizenship can enlist in our armed forces. However, despite their honorable service to our country, some veterans are deported after they complete their time in the military. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I introduced several amendments to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to protect veterans and active duty service members from deportation.

My first amendment would prohibit the deportation of an immigrant whose spouse is on active duty. The second amendment would ensure that service branches assist soldiers in finishing the steps they need to take toward citizenship before discharge. These commonsense ideas not only would improve military readiness, but would ensure that we are not abandoning the men and women who have served our great country.

Not only has the Trump administration turned its back on veterans and service member families, it has begun deporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, who have only known the U.S. as home.

This important program, DACA, has given more than 200,000 young Texans the chance to come forward, pass background checks, and live and work legally in this country.

However, after abruptly ending the program last year, the Trump administration has instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to begin deportations that tear families apart. American Families United estimates as many as 11,800 military families may face deportation proceedings.

I have stood beside North Texas Dreamers, immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, and the entire immigrant community in Texas, which includes many veterans. To deny these Dreamers, who are being deployed for active duty or veterans who have fought for our country, the opportunity to continue to live in the U.S., is unfathomable. It stands in stark contrast to our nation’s core values.

American diversity and patriotism provide a foundation for young immigrants to turn their skills and education into their own vision of the American dream. We need to support and expand forward-thinking programs like DACA and protect those who have served in our armed forces. Only by protecting these fellow Americans can we move our country forward.

I, along with 195 of my House Democrat and Republican colleagues, have stood up to the president and signed a discharge petition for a vote without delay on commonsense immigration reform.

We must take action.

President Donald Trump needs to remember this: Immigrants are the bedrock of this country. They are what truly makes America great, and attempting to abolish their patriotism and demoralize the communities that established this country will only impede progress. We can’t take any more steps back; we need to keep moving forward and to take care of our own, and that starts with protections for our active duty service members and veterans, and a clean Dream Act, now.

Congressman Marc Veasey represents Texas’ 33rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.