EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Eduardo is one of the lucky ones.
He was born in Mexico but served in the U.S. military, and now, he is a U.S. citizen.
He knows many of his fellow veterans are not as fortunate as him, and he wants to change that.
At the foot of the Paso Del Norte Bridge on Friday in Downtown El Paso, Eduardo, other veterans and LULAC renewed calls to repatriate deported Latino veterans.
“They deserve not only to return with their families here to El Paso or anywhere in the U.S., but they need access to the benefits they deserve, whether it’s medical or everything from the VA,” he said.
The White House recently announced a new initiative to support noncitizen service members, veterans, and their families, and as recently as February announced resources to support them.
LULAC, the nation’s largest and oldest Latino civil rights organization, believes the U.S. can do more for deported veterans.
“We need to do everything possible to return every veteran who has been deported to Mexico or other countries,” Domingo Garcia, LULAC’s national president, said during Friday’s event. “We think President Joe Biden can issue an order pardoning these deported veterans so that they can return to the U.S. And Congress needs to enact a law prohibiting the deportation of veterans in the future.”
Last July, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis R. McDonough announced that their agencies were working together, and with other partners, to identify deported veterans to ensure they can obtain VA benefits. The VA is also working to ensure all veterans, including deported veterans and their families, are vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The Department of Homeland Security recognizes the profound commitment and sacrifice that service members and their families have made to the United States of America,” Mayorkas said. “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.”
In early February, DHS, the VA, and the Department of Defense launched two new resources as part of the Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative.
DHS will provide a one-stop online center that will consolidate resources and forms from DHS, the VA, the DoD, and other agencies to make them more easily accessible. DHS also created a portal for veterans who need assistance in applying to return to the United States or accessing VA benefits.
DHS said the initiative has helped dozens of veterans access the U.S. immigration system and their VA benefits, and several individuals have been able to return to the U.S.
“They risked the lives for the flag … for this country,” Garcia said. “For them to be deported and treated like second-class citizens is not fair.”