Congressman Gonzalez Calls on Texas Governor to Pardon Deported Veterans
WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) sent a letter urging Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, to pardon Texas’ deported veterans. The letter comes a week after Congressman Gonzalez introduced the Repatriate Our Patriots Act, a piece of bipartisan legislation that would bring home deported veterans and expedite their citizenship application process.
“There is national precedent for pardoning deported veterans who served their country honorably,” Congressman Gonzalez said. “In 2015, Governor Abbott was quoted in The McAllen Monitor as saying that veterans' ‘service to this nation may end when they leave the battlefield, but this country’s debt to them does not.’ I call on Governor Abbott to keep his word and invite him to work with me to create a clear path of re-entry for these heroes."
A pardon from Governor Abbott could make it more feasible for deported veterans to return to the United States.
Read the full letter below or see the official letter attached:
August 1, 2017
Governor Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor
State Insurance Building
1100 San Jacinto
Austin, Texas 78701
Dear Governor Abbott:
Since being sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year, I have made our nation’s veterans my top priority. I was appalled to learn that veterans who served our country honorably had been deported. Many of these honorably discharged veterans are highly decorated and all had clean records prior to serving. At the same time, many suffer from PTSD and other combat injuries incurred as a result of their service to the nation. I write to you today to bring this issue to your attention and to request that you pardon Texas veterans who served our country honorably and then were deported for a minor crime.
Last week, I filed the Repatriate our Patriots Act in the U.S. House of Representatives with Congressmen Don Young of Alaska and Beto O’Rourke of Texas as original co-sponsors. This bipartisan legislation 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. The legislation would have the Attorney General cancel or rescind a removal order that effects any eligible veteran, and subsequently change his or her status to legal permanent resident. It would also 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. as a lawfully admitted permanent resident. Veterans who meet the bill’s requirements would also regain access to all military and veteran’s benefits. Finally, the bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify and maintain records of immigration cases involving qualifying veterans.
The bill has been referred to the House Committees on Armed Services, Judiciary, and Veterans Affairs where it awaits further action. I am working to pass this bill in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and ultimately have President Donald Trump sign it into law. A little over one month ago, I had dinner with the president at the White House. During the dinner, we discussed deported veterans and the president is also supportive of my legislation.
A pardon from you would make it more feasible for them to return to the country they love and served: The United States of America. At least one other governor in the United States has pardoned deported veterans, and I believe Texas should follow suit. I encourage you to pardon our patriots and I look forward to working with you to bring Texas’ heroes home.
Should you have any questions, or need more information, please do not hesitate to contact me on my cell phone (956) XXX-XXXX or Louise Bentsen of my staff at (202) 225-2531.
Member of Congress