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Duckworth to DHS: Allow Deported Veterans to Attend Citizenship Interviews | U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois

February 18, 2020

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today wrote to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urging immediate action to establish clear policies that allow deported Veterans to attend their citizenship interviews. Duckworth also called out DHS for ignoring a letter she sent last year demanding U.S Marine Veteran Roman Sabal—who served for six years and received an honorable discharge after attaining the rank of sergeant—be allowed to re-enter the country to attend his citizenship interview after he was denied advance parole. Sabal, who was denied advance parole last year, missed his prearranged naturalization interview and remains separated from his family in the U.S.

“Veterans should not have to waste valuable time and money traveling to a port of entry to then have to cross their fingers and hope that the agency that approved and prescheduled their citizenship interview will also grant them parole to attend said interview,” Duckworth wrote. “Sergeant Sabal and other Veterans who complete the naturalization application for citizenship must be allowed to finish the final steps of the naturalization process.”

“As a United States Senator and Army Veteran, I urge you to use full discretion when considering deported Veterans parole applications to attend citizenship interviews,” Duckworth continued. “We owe noncitizens who risk their lives to serve the United States full support and assistance in attaining citizenship.”

Duckworth introduced legislation yesterday to help deported Veterans gain citizenship by ensuring that deported Veterans who have successfully completed the preliminary naturalization process, like Roman Sabal, can attend their citizenship interview at a port of entry, embassy or consulate without navigating the complex process of advance parole.

She also re-introduced three bills last year to protect and support Veterans and servicemembers. Her proposals—the Veterans Visa and Protection Act, HOPE Act and I-VETS Act—would prohibit the deportation of Veterans who are not violent offenders, give legal permanent residents a path to citizenship through military service and strengthen VA healthcare services for Veterans.

A full copy of the letter is available below and online here.

 February 13, 2020

VIA ELECTRONIC DELIVERY

The Honorable Chad Wolf                                        

Acting Secretary                                                                    

U.S. Department of Homeland Security                                

2801 Nebraska Avenue NW                                                  

Washington, DC 20528                                                         

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

I write to express my concern about your failure to respond to my letter regarding the administration’s policy to permit deported Veterans entry into the United States to attend their citizenship interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In my letter dated on August 8, 2019, I requested the Departments of State and Homeland Security (DHS) provide information regarding the specific guidelines used to grant parole to deported Veterans seeking entry to attend citizenship interviews. Public reports indicated that former U.S. Marine Sergeant Roman Sabal was denied entry, causing him to miss his scheduled USCIS citizenship appointment. I am further concerned by reports that Sergeant Sabal is likely one of several Veterans facing challenges re-entering the country for naturalization interviews.

The Department of State responded to my letter citing they do not have specific guidance regarding processing visa requests from deported Veterans. The agency explained that deported Veterans are subject to the same requirements as all other visa applicants. In addition, the agency also clarified that DHS has sole jurisdiction in adjudicating parole applications, and the Department of State has no involvement in processing or approving parole petitions.

Your agency neglected to respond to my letter and to explain how USCIS, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) adjudicate such parole requests from deported Veterans at the border. Veterans should not have to waste valuable time and money traveling to a port of entry to then have to cross their fingers and hope that the agency that approved and prescheduled their citizenship interview will also grant them parole to attend said interview. Sergeant Sabal and other Veterans who complete the naturalization application for citizenship must be allowed to finish the final steps of the naturalization process.

As a United States Senator and Army Veteran, I urge you to use full discretion when considering deported Veterans parole applications to attend citizenship interviews. We owe noncitizens who risk their lives to serve the United States full support and assistance in attaining citizenship. I write again urging you to act immediately and establish clear policies that allow deported Veterans to receive parole to attend their naturalization interviews. Additionally, if Veterans are denied parole, USCIS must make accommodations and conduct naturalization examinations at a port of entry, U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where they reside.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter.

-30-



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