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tv   Hearing on Immigrants Serving in U.S. Military  CSPAN  November 6, 2019 5:03pm-6:59pm EST

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>> follow the impeachment inquiry and the administration's response on c-span. unfiltered coverage live as it happens, primetime re-airs and any time on >> next, a house judiciary subcommittee hearing on the impact of the trump administration's immigration policy on immigrants who serve in the military. lawmakers heard testimony from a military veteran who was deported, a former immigration judge and an immigration law attorney. >> the subcommittee will come to order and with the indulgence of our witnesses before we proceed to the hearing, i think many of us would like to say a comment or two about the late john conyers who was a member of this committee for many decades, who gave his life to public service
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and who loved this committee very greatly. he passed away just a few days ago having served his country in the armed forces and in the congress, and so we do mourn his passing and it would be not in keeping with our traditions to from seed witho proceed without giving our condolences to his family and for those who sent him to congress to represent them. at this point i would like to recognize mr. nadler, the chairman of the full committee for remarks on mr. conyers. >> thank you, madam chairperson. americans across the country are mourning the loss of john conyers today, but nowhere is his loss felt so deeply than here in the judiciary committee where he sfefserved for more th0 years as a member of the committee including 20 years either as chairman or ranking
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member. john conyers was a true champion for civil rights for the oppressed and disenfranchised. prior to the service in congress, he was in the civil rights movement and was in selma, alabama, in 1963. he holds the distinction of being the only member of congress to be endorsed by dr. martin luther king jr., he hired rosa parks to work on his staff when her civil rights activism caused others to shun her. even when doing so, was a lonely pursuit. he authored universal healthcare legislation long before it became a mainstream idea. when he first introduced hr-40, legislation to study reparations for jim crow back in 1989. at the same time he had a long track record of working across the aisle to enact important bipartisan legislation such as the violence against women act and the fair sentencing act and
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the usa freedom act and the voting rights act. as a leader in the judiciary committee, congressman conyers spearheaded and passed such important legislation as the martin luther king jr. holiday act and the innocence protection act. his impact on the house cannot just be measured in terms of how many bills he sponsored and considered in committee. he was a founding member of the congressional black caucus and was a mentor to many members including me, who benefitted from his wisdom and grace. john was my colleague, my friend and my chairman. i am honored and humbled to serve in his footsteps leading this committee and i am comforted by the portrait that hangs above me knowing he's watching us and hopfully approving as we attempt to carry on his legacy and my thoughts are with his family and whose hearts are heavy today because of his loss and my heart is with the country who has lost the benefit of his leadership. may his memory be a blessing.
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>> the gentleman yields back. i now recognize the ranking member of the full committee, mr. collins for his statement. >> thank you, madam chair. i echo the chairman's statements about the accomplishments and the long list of accomplishments of -- that have been listed out and mr. conyers was amazing in the length and breadth and statements of what he made. i choose to emphasize also what he accomplished from his time as chair and also his ranking member when i worked with him on many occasions before his leaving the house, but the thing that i remember the most is just his kindness and his sense of humor, his dress, he was the sharpest dresser always in the room and especially when we got together at one of my highlights in my time in congress a few years ago in the police working group, he went to detroit and he was host for that and it was just a really neat time to let him show his city and where he
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came from and i was pleased with that, but the last memory i will hold dearest for me is when you get to washington you are amazed and i still am by everything and i can remember leaving this committee and we were going to the floor to the vote and we were going to the trains that take us to the capitol for this vote and we're coming back to the hearing room and it just happened to be me and him and i had only been here about a month or two, and i was introducing myself, and he said you're from georgia and i said, yes, sir, and we talked back and forth and just curious. you've been here a long time. what brought you to congress? and he starts chuckling a little bit and he looks at me and said i really wanted to come to be a judiciary committee to work on the voting rights act of 1964 and i stopped for a second, you do realize that was two and a half years before i was born, and he laughed and he said, yep, i've been here a while. he said if you stick around you'll see a lot of things and that was the gentleman that i
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got to know and the nation mourns that and this committee mourns that and it would be as the chairwoman said we'd be remiss if we did not recognize that. >> the gentleman yields back and all other members will be invited to submit whatever comments they might wish on mr. conyers at this time. it is my pleasure to welcome everyone to this morning's hearing or this afternoon's hearing on the impact of current immigration policies on service members and veterans and their families. over the last two and a half years the administration has implemented numerous policy changes that have made life more difficult for non-service members of the united states armed forces veterans and their families. in addition, the administration's heavy emphasis on immigration enforcement as well as the elimination of prosecutorial discretion when it comes to immigration enforcement has resulted in the removal or
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attempted removal of far too many lawful, permanent resident veterans who honorably served our country, but struggled with the transition back into civilian life, some who were disabled by ptsd. some would allow the sub committee to explore how these policy changes and the unforgiving nature of the unforgiving laws have impacted active duty service members, veterans and their families. at this point, i would like to, without objection, recognize my colleague, representative correa as a champion of this very important issue who will preside over this hearing and to whom i yield the remainder of my time for his opening statement.
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>> good afternoon. welcome. without objection, i would like request permission to submit these letters as part of the record and these are letters on the impact of current immigration policy asks service members, veterans and their families. first of all, representative, and chairwoman of the citizenship subcommittee for her leadership and i appreciate the opportunity to preside over this most important hearing today ask as we approach veterans day we have to recognize and honor all our veterans including veterans who served our country honorably in the armed forces from the revolutionary war to the recent conflicts in afghanistan and iraq. today there are over half a
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million foreign-born veterans in the united states. as recently as 2012 there were 24,000 immigrants as part of the active duty force. the philippine, mexico, jamaica and south korea account for the greatest number of these foreign-born veterans, and regardless of where they were born, immigrant service members are americans in every sense of the word. more than once, i've shared the story of marine corporal jose angel garibay who was born in mexico. corporate garibay was killed in action in 2003 after iraqi forces pretending to surrender ambushed him and his fellow marines. he was one of orange county's first combat casualties in the iraq war and corporal garibay was given posthumously
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citizenship. he made the ultimate sacrifice and he was a dreamer. when foreign-born service members and veterans are willing to defend the united states, a country they love, we have an obligation to uphold the promise to provide for these patriots american citizenship. sadly, since 1996, thousands of non-citizen veterans who took the oath of allegiance and were honorably discharged have been deported. no one puts the uniform who is honorably discharged should be subject to deportation, and as every soldier know, you never leave a soldier behind. sadly, the u.s. immigration and custom enforcement or i.c.e., does not follow policies for solving cases of potential removal of veterans and must
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track such veterans. as a result, i.c.e. does not know how many veterans it has deported and recently the administration has adopted policies that affect the naturalization process for military service members and veterans. as a result, military naturalizations have decreased by 44%, from 7300 in fiscal year 2017 to about 4,000 in fiscal year 2018. in august of 2019, u.s. citizenship and immigration service announced a change to the definition of the term residents, and in effect, children born to certain u.s. service members stationed abroad will now be required to naturalize under a lengthier and more complicated application process. together with my colleague representsive veronica escobar
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of texas we wrote a letter to the u.s. citizenship and immigration service, acting director asking for reconsideration of this policy and without objection i'd like to submit that letter as part of this record. in total, these policy changes negatively affect military recruitment and effectiveness and turn our back on immigrant service member, veterans and their families. this is unacceptable and we need to correct this situation, and i look forward to hearing the testimony of our witnesses today and it is now my pleasure to recognize the ranking member of the subcommittee, the gentle member of colorado mr. buck for an opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> immigrants have served in our armed forces throughout the country's history, recognizing their sacrifice, congress has provided in law for the expedited foreign nationals who served honorably in the u.s. armed forces.
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in periods of hostility that includes september 11, 2001, to present, if the individual has served honorably in an active duty status. naturalization is voluntary and not automatic, and not all in the military must apply for it, receive a favorable adjudication and take the oath of allegiance to become a naturalized u.s. citizen. as part of the process the department of defense must have honorable service which they often do and the alien has met the time and service requirement, in most cases, 180 days. this policy is a reasonable requirement to ensure and deter the termation by statue. the united states immigration agency has naturalized 130,000
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members naturalizing weil deployed abroad. today we will discuss non-citizen members of the military who have been removed from the united states. it's important to note that no one is above the legal consequence e criminal or otherwise, of their behavior. the cases of veterans and removal proceedings should be hand emed according to guidance that has been in place with several administrations and sensitivity to those who suffer health problems due to their service. ranking member collins, and hr-4803, the citizenship for children and military members and civil servants act. this bipartisan bill makes a technical change to the residents and requirements of sections 320 of the immigration and nationality act. this will ensure that children of the u.s. armed forces, members stationed abroad can automatically acquire citizenship where all other requirements are met. it will make sure they are not disadvantaged simply because
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their u.s. citizen parent is stayinged abroad. we introduced hr-4803 earlier this month and i am proud on the work on the bill since it shows a change in the law is necessary and it is possible for us to work together to get it done. i look forward to hearing from the witnesses today, and i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you, mr. buck. i will now recognize the chairman of the judiciary committee and gentle member from new york, mr. nadler for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. immigrants have served in the u.s. armed forces in every major conflict since the revolutionary war. according to the bipartisan policy center in 2016, there were approximately 511,000 foreign-born veterans of the armed forces residing in the united states. the children of immigrants also make up a substantial portion of today's veteran population. every day these brave men and women risk their lives in service to their country and we rely on them to keep our nations safe and to provide regions and
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to protect u.s. global interests. in return we must honor their sacrifices and give them every opportunity to become u.s. citizens. unimportantly, numerous policies, it peers that the opposite, the department of defense and the u.s. immigration services and uscis have implemented numerous policy changes that have undermined congress' clear intent to provide an expedited process for military service members and veterans. for example, in october 2017, the pentagon made it more difficult for military service members to receiver is the faycation of honorable service. the document which is essential to expedite the naturalization process. previously, certifications could be issued as soon as individual began active duty. now one must complete 180 days
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of consecutive service and one-third of the reserve. in addition, where certifications could previously be issued by the officer, it will have the military branch or commissioned officer serving in a specific pay grade. these changes are unnecessary ask cruel. they serve no purpose, but to make it harder for individuals serving our country to become citizens and they've had a measurable impact and the total military authorization has declined 44% from 7360 in fiscal year 2017 to just 4135 in fiscal year 2018. in addition because uscis has cut the number of naturalization services, have become much more limited. uscis used to provide such services in 23 international offices in 20 countries.
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this was cut from 23 international offices to just four offices. with uscis personnel on site to conduct naturalization interviews, only one week per calendar quarter. why would we make it more difficult for the men and women risking their lives in service to this country to become permanent members of our society? this is both short sighted and cold hearted. during the hearing we will discuss the plight of u.s. veterans who struggled with the transition into civilian life and were deported from the country they so nobly served. many of the veterans have been removed from the united states as a result of convicts and transgressions tied to post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd and trauma suffered during active duty and making civilian life more difficult. in other words, they served this country and suffered, and
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therefore they're deported. we can all agree that the individuals rightfully convicted of a crime should serve the sentence and once that sent sense served we should not turn our back to those who sacrificed so much in service especially if that may have been service related. there must be a better way to address these cases. our veterans deserve better and we owe it to them to bring compassion and discretion back to our immigration laws. i want to end on a positive note. last week i introduced the citizenship for children and military members of the civil service act who has served honorably in the services itself and subcommittee chair lofgren and ranking member buck. this bill will take effect today which makes it more difficult for children of the u.s. citizens serving our country abroad to be recognized as u.s. citizens. our bill will reverse the misguided policy and it will
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make it easier for the children to be granted citizenship. i am glad to reach across the aisle for this important legislation and i look forward to advancing our efforts in the coming weeks. i want to thank representative correa for holding this important hearing and i thank the witnesses for testifying and i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you, chairman nadler, and i would like to recognize the ranking member of the judiciary committee and the gentle member from georgia, mr. collins for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss military issues today because of the lieutenant colonel and the u.s. air force reserve command. i understand the issues surrounding military service and it is congress' place to determine if changes should be made to u.s. law governing men and women who served us, he and i along with chairperson lofgren and ranking member buck and colleagues from across the political spectrum introduced the citizenship for children and military civil servants act.
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the immigration services reesencely aligned a technical interpretation of the law that exposed a loophole. some children would not acquire citizenship merely because -- it's important to remember that immigrants also wear the uniform and have since the founding of on you are nation. in fact, historically the average number of foreign national enlistees have been around 5,000 a year. that number jumped to 7,000 in 2019. many of these patriots will go on to be naturalized for their service and from fiscaliary 2001 to fiscal year 2018 they naturalized 929,587 members of the military including more than 11,000 who at the time were deployed abroad protecting our country. our immigration laws sacrifice of the military and lay out the
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expedited foreign nationals including the time period after the september 11th attacks is eligible to apply to naturalize upon honorable service. the department of defense issued a policy mem o to have served 10 days to certify honorable service which is required to apply to naturalize. this aligns with the longstanding department of defense policy that for any citizen or non-citizen alike who has not served for 180 days. not all foreign nationals would choose to naturalize and those who do not remain subject to immigration laws. although we should not shield veterans from the lawful consequences of their actions, they should be sensitive to the veteran's honorable service. to that end, they would have special handling procedures for veterans and take into account the nature of the veteran's service in the armed forces. we must be vigilant about any
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enlistee, foreign and citizen alike that they do not intend harm. obama administration had military attention vital to the national interest program and halted enlistment, but military ascension is vital for meted foreign nationals with language or health skills vital to the national to enlist in the armed forces each here while on temporary visas. the screening processes were simply not up to the challenge of the population who had spent very little time in the u.s. in addition to lacking verifiable records and investigators discovered security issues with many applicants including questionable allegiance to the u.s., a preference to the foreign country. there's an even one publicly known case which a chinese spy enlisted through the military ascension vital to the national interest program. i know the department of defense is improving its security screening procedure, but remain concerned about vulnerabilities
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that could be by enlisting individuals on temporary status and i have supported the obama admin stralgz's decision to halt the national interest program. i believe it will be extremely helpful to are had the department of defense testify here today vital to the national interest program and this time in service requirement and the other policies we'll discuss today. i look forward to the witness' testimony and i thank them very much for being here with with that i yield back my time. >> thank you, ranking member collins and i introduce mr. hector barrajas bar ella, and director and founder of the deported veteran courthouse in tijuana, baja california. he grew up in mexico and grew up in california and enlisted in the army in 1995. he served for six years during which time he received multiple awards such as the army commendation medal, humanitarian service medal and despite a
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service to his country he's been deported twice since dishonorable discharge from the army in 2001. last near he became a u.s. citizen and remains committed to his organization and we thank him for his service and for being here today to share your story, sir. second witness, janeane pascarella, is the director of immigrant rights of the aclu of california and serves as a senior staff attorney at the aclu of southern california where she has worked since 2008. she specializes in immigrant rights and litigation and policy advocacy related to immigration enforcement and policy. she received her b.a. from bernard college, and her j.d. from georgetown university law center. margaret stock is a retired lieutenant colonel in the
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military police, u.s. army reserve and principal immigration attorney with the cross-border law group in anchorage, alaska. in 2013, she received the distinguished macarthur foundation fellowship for her outstanding work in immigration and national security. she has testified before both chambers of congress including this very subcommittee to discuss the issues ranging from dream act to the effects of immigration law on the military. she holds three degrees from harvard including her j.d., mpa and holds a masters in strategic studies from the u.s. army war college. we welcome her as well, ma'am. welcome back to this committee. >> the honorable mark metcalf is an immigration judge on the immigration court in miami, florida and a former federal, and state prosecutor in his home state of kentucky. mr. metcalf also held various
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positions with the u.s. department of justice and the department of defense from 2002 to 2008. he's worked as a private practitioner. he is a lieutenant colonel in the army national guard and serves as command judge advocate for the 149th maneuver enhancement brigade in kentucky. like miss stock, mr. metcalf has previously testified before congress and is an expert on immigration law. including his testimony before this subcommittee and the 111th congress he received his b.a. and j.d. from the university of kentucky. we welcome him back to the subcommittee and look forward to your testimony, sir. >> we welcome all of our distinguished witnesses and thank you for your participation. now if you can please rise, i'm going to square you in.
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>> please raise your hand. do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you are about to give is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, information and belief so help you god? thank you. let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmitive, and thank you and please be seated. please note that each of your written statements will be entered into the record and i will ask you to summarize your testimony in five minutes and to help to stay within the time limit please look at those clocks in front of you and we'll begin with mr. barajas. welcome. >> hello? chairman lofgren, ranking member correa and ranking mcbuck and other distinguished members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to
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career before the sub committee to testify about these important issues. my name is hector bara, jjas, ai was deported in 2004 and i am speaking on behalf of my fellow deported veterans. about my personal experience i would like to acknowledge that some formerly deported veterans join us in the room including miguel perez, jorge salcedo ajc and the green card veterans that are supporters. i am not proud of what led to my deportation and i am proud of mi military service and the m positive accomplish ams ments. i grew up in comp toton, california. as a child i remember pledging allegiance to our american flag every school americaning. i enlisted in the army in 1995 when i was 17 years old and i was a lawful permanent resident
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at the time and i saw service as a way to leave the environment in compton and possible ty to afford to go to college. i arrived in fort bragg and soon volunteered in airborne school, serving in the airborne from 1996 to 1999. i re-enlisted in 1999 and left the service with honorable discharge in 2001. i had trouble adjusting and made mistakes. i found myself in prison when a piper arm was discharged at a vehicle and i served my prison sentence. i was deported in 2004 due to my criminal record and because i was not a u.s. citizen. i came back to the u.s. illegally that same year, starte started a family and worked as a roofer. i was deported in 2010 for a traffic incident i had and they reinstated my deportation. i made the toughest decision of
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my life in 2010 and i decided to stay in tijuana and fought to return to the u.s. legally. i wanted to live in america without the fear of deportation. in 2013 through a combination of hard work and determination i opened up the deported veteran support house. i wanted a place that could help deported veterans like mine navigate the deportation. the separation from our families and the country we loved and served. the support house is a lifeline for deported veterans from around the world and we help them file for va benefit connect with pro bono attorneys. we also help with burial details so that our veterans that die can return -- to their families in america. under today's laws most deported veterans only come home to
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america with an american flag draped around their casket like enrique sal as and jose lopez. there's no honor in bringing deported veterans home to be recognized or thanked for their service only when they die. i became an american citizen on april 13, 2018. i qualified for citizenship due to my military service and a pardon from jerry brown of california. i am proud and blessed to be back home in america and to be a father to my daughter once again. i want to emphasize they am a firm believer in people being held accountable. being a veteran does not mean that you get a free pass and never have to pay the consequences for your actions. at the same time it does not make sense to me to deport our veterans after they have completed their sentence and paid for their actions. for veteran, deportation is a double punishment. as an example my friend roberto
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salazar is a former u.s. marine who is deported and today he runs a men's rehab center in tijuanaa his son joined the marine corps and his daughter was an aspiring young woman and passed away in an accident in 2017. we held a funeral service and burial in tijuana because roberto was unable to go to san diego to bury his daughter. i have recommendations on how to protect our veterans have deportation and encourage all service members to naturalize. i am blessed to be a u.s. citizen today and i believe it only acknowledges what deported veterans believe in their hearts. we believe ourselves to be americans. i know current law requires us to deport veterans. i do not think it makes it morally right. we must find a solution to protect our veterans and thank you again for the opportunity to testify and may god bless you and god bless america. >> thank you, mr. barajas, and i
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would like to call on miss pascarella for a statement? >> congressman cor rea ranking member buck and distinguished members of the subcommittee. congress has promised recruits expedited citizenship in exchange for their military service, but since 1996 the united states has betrayed that promise. we've instead deported thousands of our veterans. and every day we deport more. just last week i.c.e. deported jose segovia benitez, a two-time combat veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury and struggles with ptsd and sub dance abuse. he came to the u.s. as a 3-year-old child and knows no other home in the united states. now he fears el salvador. these deportations are unconscionable and immoral and they're the three forces working
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together, first, the punishing and unforgiving 1996 laws that created lifetime bars to naturalization and mandatory deportation. second, the failure of the u.s. government to naturalize non-service members while they are serving and third, hyperaggressive immigration enforcement particularly over the past decade. deported veterans are nearly all former lawful permanent residents. of those we interviewed for our 2016 policy report, half of them served during periods of war and most came to the u.s. under the age of 10, meaning the united states is the only country they know as home. the changes made to our immigration laws in 1996 were so excessively punitive that even convictions such as writing a bad check or possession for the sale of marijuana, even convictions for which a person may serve no time in jail at all, require deportation and bar naturalization for life. the 96 laws dramatically
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expanded the definition of the category of deplorable offenses known as aggravated felonies. today that term encompasses a whole host of non-violent misdemeanors that are neither aggravated nor are they felonies. the law made deportation mandatory for any lpr with anning a interest rated felony by eliminating all forms of judicial discretion meaning a single criminal conviction and one mistake can equal a lifetime of banishment with no exceptions. it means that when mario martinez who wrote a statement for the record of this hearing, when he goes before an immigration judge in march, the judge will want be able to consider whether deportation for his domestic violence conviction is a fair outcome. the judge will not be able to consider whether it's a fair outcome for a man who served honorably in the u.s. army earning the rank of sergeant for six years, he served who has lived in the united states for 52 years since he was 4 years old. who has a successful engineering career, two grown son, a
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granddaughter and an extended family who are all u.s. citizens. the judge will not be able to consider that deportation means forcing him to live the remainder of his life estranged from everything he knows and loves because the law says one mistake and you're out. citizen and non-citizen veterans equally struggle with re-entry into civilian life following discharge. substance abuse, mental health issues and anger can lead to contact with the criminal justice system and as a society we look to rehabilitative solutions to inflict the trauma that helps veterans, but the immigration policy looks the other way. jorge salcedo who is here today and sitting behind me with his daughter. was deported for spitting on a police officer and he paid for that crime and served one year in a connecticut prison and at the conclusion of his sentence i.c.e. was at the prison door.
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it was three and a half years without the right to be released on bail while he fought his deportation case and then they deported him. it didn't matter that he served eight honorable years in the army and it didn't matter that deportation denied his two young daughters their father. jorge sits here because a change in law allowed him to get a green card back. he's one of the lucky few. most deported veteran have no such option for return. the u.s. would not be deporting its veterans had the government kept its promise to them the first place and made them citizens while they were in the military, but over the years, numerous obstacles have stood in the way of service members naturalizing. none of those obstacles, and none are greater than the obstacles service members are facing today due to department of defense and u.s. citizenship and immigration service policies. the repatriated and naturalized veterans in the chamber today, hector, jorge, miguel perez who sits behind me, and the agc who
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sits behind me embody the veterans around the world that one day, too, they will get the chance to come home. their hopes lay at the fee of congress. they did not turn their backs on our country in its time of need. we must not turn our backs on them. thank you. >> thank you very much. miss stock, welcome. prern [ inaudible ] >> can you hit your microphone. >> sorry about that. >> thank you. >> congressman correa, chairwoman lofgren, ranking member buck and distinguished members of the subcommittee, my name is margaret stock and i am honored to testify today. the last three years have witnessed the administration using internal memos to undermine longstanding laws in an effort to stop immigrants from joining the military, and stalling their naturalization when they do join and preventing them from continuing to serve. the new policies do not make our country safer. they harm military recruiting.
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they hurt military readiness and they prevent the united states armed forces from utilizing talented immigrants. the new policies fall behind rationales to conceal xenophonetic motives andec broen promises to those who would put their life on the line to the united states. to help non-citizen military members become citizens and expediting military naturalization practices have been e raradicated. there had been a 65% drop in the numbers applying for naturalization after dod issued a policy memo preventing them from applying. a follow-on story explained that immigrants serving in the military were more likely to be denied citizenship than civilians. military members can't file for citizenship for form n246
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stating they were served honorably. it was the military personnel office and spending a few minutes with any official who can verify a service. recently, the department of defense has changed the rules whereby it can be certified. it has an officer in the grade of 06 to certify the form. and the enlisted soldiers report they have grave difficulty finding an officer of this grade who is willing to find their forms. under the 2008 military personnel citizenship processing act, uscas was require for the applications versus six month, however the law contained a sunset date. when the law was in effect, the naturalization applications very quickly. today, however, uscs there is no deadline for processing these cases and they are now often taking years to process. in mid-2009, it had started a highly successful program
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whereby non-citizen military recruits filed for naturalization when they reported to training and in accordance with previous longstanding wartime practice, these applications were processed so that the soldiers graduated from training and became u.s. citizens at the same time. the current administration terminated this program in early 2018. last thursday i was at the uscis office at 26, federal plaza in new york city, only a few short blocks from the world trade center in one direction and in the other, chatham square with its eye-catching monument to chinese americans who had fought in the u.s. military, while i was waiting, a tv monitor on the wall played a continuous loop of a uscis film promising expedited citizenship for immigrants to enlist, the promises made in the film are false and there is no expedited military naturalization. today it takes much longer for a military member to naturalize.
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an application is much more likely to be denied. military members have had to resort increasingly to the courts just to get the agencies to follow the law. last week elena callyugna an active duty, had to sue dhs because they refused to make a decision on her naturalization. a decision must be made 120 days of an interview. she was interviewed more than three years ago. they had decided not to naturalize her until she was discharged citing new dod policies. she was discharged honorably last month without her citizenship. as i said earlier, it is now much easier for a civilian green card hold tore naturalize than for similarly situated green card holder and as a result, immigration lawyers are now advising green card holders not to join the military because it will make their naturalization
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process more difficult. dod has also made it much more difficult for non-citizens to join the military in the first place. while immigrants make up 13.5% of the u.s. population, they are now less than 4% of the military. military recruiters report to me that they are meeting recruiting quotas by enlisting less qualified native-born americans and they can't find enough candidates so they go unfilled. it's recently changed certain policies in ways that harm the family members of military personnel and veterans. policy changes are being made without transparency or accountability and without asking key stakeholers first. i would be remiss if i did not mention the broken promises made to certain foreign nationals who worked with certain soldiers in iraq anding a afg and they got special visas promised to them by congress and they await
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danger while they wait for background checks that drag on for years. when the united states government break the promises, and pass background checks, american foreign policy and the lives of military members are put at risk. our national security depends on keeping the promises that america makes to the immigrants who come here and keeping the promises we make when someone stands before an american flag and raises her right hand and takes an oath of allegiance to the united states. our security depends on keeping the promise that america is a nation of immigrants. given that dod and dhs together show no interest in reversing their misguided approximately s policy change e congress must act. i make ten suggestions for things that congress can do to force the bureaucrats to keep the promises that the u.s. government has made to america's fighting men and women. i thank you for the opportunity to testify and i'm ready to take your questions. >> thank you very much, miss
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stock, for your comments. mr. metcalf, welcome. >> mr. correa, thank you. it's an honor to be here. members of the committee, it's an honor to be here. i thank all of you and i think that the panelists for their statements. i'm a lieutenant colonel, soldier in my 28th year of service and combat veteran of iraq and i serve as command judge advocate and my unit and the 149th maneuver enhancement brigade comboe brigade known as the meb, to the government of iraq. with us were soldiers born in jamaica, cameroon and ukraine and in one case the naturalized citizen served as a combat arms company commander, all had earned their citizenship and thorough background checks were the rule and this brings me to the points, i believe, critical to good policy. first of all, we may have differences of opinions today, but all of us are americans.
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the policies conceived to advance the experience of immigrants is wide, large and it is generous. i favor aa 180-day active duty service requirement for non citizens. it allows basic yet thorough background checks to be completed to better identify individuals whose histories require further investigation before they continue for more rigorous insensitive training. this requirement is not onerous. in light of great responsibilities and opportunities service in the middle american military offers, a service required 80 meant permits suitability assessment, financial, criminal and loyalty issues are raised. i agree with policies that make it as certain as possible that military service by the foreign born and the consequence american citizenship received are conferred upon those for whom no credible doubts about their suitability exists. i
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turn now, if i may please, mister chairman, to the man of the program. it was created to and hence readiness, medical in language skills augmented through its application and threw it, some 10,000 foreign nationals were enlisted. still, mavny was halted by the administration in fall, 2013. 2016. generally u.s. borne recruits have verifiable public and private records. recruits from outside the u.s. do not may go the need to scrutinize history all the morp important to so noworthy candidate is denied membership in armed services it moves on to citizenship. i think scrutiny is already put in place by doj. meeting army experiences with the mavny program justifies this rigor and this flexibility. and i want to point out in my more illustrated statement to you, the incidents involving fraudulent applications, in one case a chinese national posing
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as a mavne recruiter only to be found out as a chinese espionage asset. i want to move on to the removal of veterans. first of, all if i had been an immigration judge sitting on this case i would have canceled his removal from the united states. as a judge in miami, i awarded 75 -- i-granted 75 to 80% of all cancellation applications. his was a perfect's case, in my opinion, for the grant of cancellation. and by the way, might grant of 75 to 80% cancellations was not unusual. the numbers from the immigration courts, if you start parsing them, mister chairman, will show that our immigration judges are very generous with the grant of cancellations. we both we lprs as well as nprs. we can talk about this at further hearings
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but i want to talk about that mr. barajas is a perfect example of what cancellation was intended for. i want to also point out that the cancellation process takes into consideration the kind of deep dive into the facts that the elements now being used by ice should have been using all along. i know, two veterans overall criminal history, his rehabilitation or hurt, family and financial ties to the u.s., employment history, health and community service in addition to the duty status, whether active or reserve. years in service, decorations awarded. all of these are proper considerations. to remove one veteran who should not be removed his one too many. to consider each case on a case by case basis, looking at all the facts applicable is the right approach and will always be the right approach. i thank you for your time today mister chairman. i'm happy to answer any questions you and members
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of the panel might have. >> thank you, mr. metcalf i would like to proceed under the five minute rule for questions and i will begin by recognizing myself. first of all, mister metcalf, the absolute right -- this is not a democrat or republican issue, this is an issue about justice for all our veterans who have served our country, who have put, essentially, their life on the line for a country. if i may respectfully ask the deported veterans, could you just please raise your hand, please who are here today. i just want to thank you very much for your service for our country. and my question is a basic one for mr. barajas which is, porque, when the soldiers turned their service, why did they not become citizens? are those resources not given to you? or were you promised citizenship when you enlisted? thank >> you congressman for that important question. there are two things that happened. i think the government needs to
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be held accountable when they promised citizenship and there needs to be some kind of program in place. >> when you say the government promised citizenship, what does that mean? >> the recruiters. they promised to citizenship and basically, one of the things that happens is somebody sits down with you and actually make sure you know what kind of forms need to be filled out and also, it's an individual responsibility but definitely the u.s. government needs to make sure there is some kind of program in place that they set aside for your time or have somebody that can show you what pat needs to be done. >> thank you, hector. miss stock. you mentioned the program being terminated, when you graduate from training in terms of putting you on a fast track to become a citizen, you said that program has been cancelled or suspended. >> yes it's a program that
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existed during the korean war program and has been cancelled. it's a program that existed during world war ii, world war i. korean war, vietnam war. it makes sense legally for the united states not to deploy people overseas when the people are not american citizens and fighting in armed forces. the checks by the way done on military members are dup before they enter the service or should be done before entering the service. >> is there a difference between quantifiable difference in you are marine, air force, army in terms of level of citizenships that may-folks that may become citizens after discharged? >> well all of the services have basic training naturalization until january 2018 when it was cancelled. now we have chaos. and we have. >> maybe can you be more specific. >> when yes every day i get call from a green card holder in the military saying nobody will help me file for citizenship. don't to you to file i can't get tieb to sign
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the n 426. they tell me i'm not eligible for stip high pressure no one will help me. >> when you mentioned hard forea green card holder in the military than outside the military to become a citizen, how is that. >> well civilians don't need to go through convoluted multiyear background checks by the department of defense before becoming citizens. they don't need to get an n 426 certified. don't need to find the officer in the ranks. >> i bet in my district i ask you that-i have the most latino district in the country. these kids i know from high schools that are residents don't ask how hard will it be for me to become a citizen. they just enlist. >> that's true. >> marine are there recruiters in the high school. kids with honors say i'm signing up. i don't think the thought of becoming a citizen is there. they're there to serve the country. this concerns me because we need to move ahead
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and go revert back to program just cancelled to make sure that these soldiers that are serving with honor have the right to become a citizen and that right is a meaningful one. >> the program was highly successful. >> where do we go here? do we present some legislation? something that maybe my colleagues can also support us to move in that direction? >> well, the law allows programs like this to exist. and they were common as i said world war i, world war ii, the vietnam war, korean war. this was the standard practice of the united states government. it was only reversed by the department of defense through internal memos that undermined the express intent of congress in a statute passed by congress more than 100 years ago. we have here lawlessness by the department of defense. they're undermining a statute with internal executive memos. >> judicial discretion, you mentioned that, or his pacific relevanta did you mention that? did the 1996 act take away judicial discretion? i know mr.
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metcalf had a different perspective on that. tell me that. >> that is one of the most troubling aspects of the 1996 changes made to the immigration law, that it removed all forms of the jrnls discretion for any person with an dwrafted felony and again expanded the definition of aggravated felony. you have more people subject to deportation. even for misdemeanors for things we don't classify as actually-as aggravated. >> i'm out of time but i want to say in orange county we were one of the first pioneers on creating veterans courts. now the issues are very complex. so look forward to working with you on this issue. now i'd like to recognize mr. bigs for five minutes of question. >> i think we all understand that many veterans struggle with reintegration due to tbi and ptsd issues. that's why i advocate for my colleagues across the aisle to make access to therapy more available. that is and more easily. it's cold hearted to withhold support for this important therapy for
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veterans. so when i see mr. barajas indicate he was struggling to reintegrityre rereintegrate i don't think that's unusual. hba therapy will be helpful for that. but you also said there is no free pass. and that deportation is a double punishment. let me explain why that's not so. there is no free pass because you did serve the time for shooting at a vehicle. i mean that was the charge. you were convicted. you served your time. it became specific as well as general deterrent. you were later deported because you were not a citizen. there is nobody else that would get an exception to that who is here because because of any other rational. they would still be deportable as you were. you
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left and were deported and re-entered illegal and entered again. i'm happen happy for you you received the pardon but to say it's a double punishment is illogical for the first efficient for committh the coo imis the actual criminal sentence itself. the deportation is a emr. applicable to any person that is in the country that is not a citizen who is engaged in criminal conduct. that is not a second penalty that's the penalty that comes for failing to obtain citizenship. i read your statement and listened to you testify. you might have had a misunderstanding of what you needed to do to obtain citizenship. she's fair. that's a fair comment. but i also want to point out some data that i think is absolutely mind boggling that this wasn't brought up. miss relevanta pointed out in a person in jose benitez. deported after a kpat veteran. he was convicted among
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other things, corporal injury to a spouse for question which he received a 8 year sentence and assault with a deadly weapon and false. well, you know what, he didn't naturalize in the military. thus he is subject to deport ability. that is that's the way the law works. that type of criminal conduct do constitute aggravated felonies they aren't misdemeanors you said a result of the term aggravated felonies. we have heard about the higher denial rate for u.s. military application for citizenship. the rate is 17% overly it's 11%. but for military it's 17%. but you need to understand you're talking apples and oranges from from june 30th to there were 2,000 process compared to 683,000 civilian applications. us the cis compared to the 609,000 fop
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compared to 209,000 civilian applications there were interesting things when you manipulate statistics in the way i heard here today. gao reviewed the cases involving 87 of the 92 veterans ultimated reported from 2013 to 2018. 18 of those veterans, 21% of the total were convicted for sexually abusing a minor. two others convicted of sexual abuse. 21 convicted of a violent felony such as homicide, assault or attempted homicide or assault. that's 24% of the total. 9 were deported or for having about been convicted of firearms or explosives related crimes. and those cases i'm talking about over half of them were removals during the obama administration. and not under the trump administration. as so many of you want to focus on.
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so, mr. chairman i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record the following documents, department of justice pressure press release from september 25th you are working at hig subsequently believed to be working at the direction of a high level intelligence offer of the chinese state. also the october 2017 department of defense memo specifying that certification of honorable service may not take place unless security checks are at least complete and 180 days an active duty services demonstrate that doj take seriously the role in the nationalization of those serving our country honorably. and three honorably. and three uscis publicly available foj anatomicsing one the help line number and i see the time is expired thank you pr pr kmarm. >> without objection, received that letter. i'd now like to call on our chairman mr. nadler for five minutes.
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>> thank you, mister chairman. mr. barajas, thank you very much for coming here and sharing your story. it appears stories like yours are all too common. in june, 2019 gao report identified 250 veterans placed in proceedings from 2013 to 2018, at least 92 veterans were deported. as i mentioned in my opening statement, many of these veterans have been removed from the united states as a result of transgression's, ptsd, brain injuries and other traumas suffered while on duty. how can the government, especially the department of defense better inform military members that they are eligible for naturalization? >> can you say the question again? >> how can the government, especially d.o.d. better informed military service members and veterans about their eligibility for naturalization? >> we need to have some kind of program in place where they can explain the forms that need to
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be done. that's my suggestion to them. >> okay. now, miss stop. let me turn to you. in your testimony today you laid out how the trump administration has made life more difficult for green card holders who joined the military and apply for naturalization. were military service members and or immigration attorneys working on immigration nationalization on formed about these changes ahead of time able to provide any influence before the changes were implemented? >> no, they were not. >> was there any outreach? >> no, and there was no cost benefit analysis. >> that was my next question. there was no cost benefit analysis for this decision? >> none. in fact services were pushed back as a requirement because they say they are unreasonable and making it harder to recruit people. >> they pushed back the requirement -- d.o.d.? >> the service has sent emails to d.o.d. saying they don't agree with the new requirements. >> this didn't come from the service, came from d.o.d. upper
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levels? >> it came from d.o.d. which did not do any cost benefit analysis. there is no congressional hearing, no discover discussion about it externally with stakeholders. no cross benefit analysis on the impact it would have on the force or on military recruiting. >> -- -- i'll powers serving in the military and 426, request for military and naval service which is essentially signed by the proper authorities required by the october 32 the 17 d.o.t. policy changes? >> they put out the memo but they didn't do anything to educate people generally about what should be done. there was kind of haphazard memos put out that didn't reach to the lowest levels. in fact, if you talk to recruiters today they'll still tell you that soldiers can be naturalized at basic training. they don't even realize things have changed. people are told that it's easy to get your m-426 certified but you have to get to your first unit, and then when you get there you can find anyone who will certify it
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because there is no public education to tell people how to certify it. >> from your experience what is the average time it takes an average service member to receive a response of certification of honorable service once they complete the m-426? >> it's taken months, with the exception being if they email it to me i have a special email and i have someone who can get it signed in a couple of weeks. it's only if you know enough to email me, that happens. >> and if you don't, it takes months? >> it can take months. the forms are getting lost. people just never here back after they submit them. >> what signal do you think that these d.o.d. policy changes and lprs who are thinking about joining the military? how many lprs are currently serving in the military? >> unfortunately they send a signal that they're services not valued, that they are not welcome in the military and it also sends a signal that they should not join the military until after they get their citizenship because they are going to face a very long haul to get their citizenship if they try to do it after joining the military.
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>> and what d.o.d. or uscis support services are available to members while they're serving in the military? >> there used to be strong services because the basic training naturalization sites had teams that were dedicated to handling military cases on each of the basic training sites throughout the country. those have been dismantled, so now it's rather ad hoc. there is a military help line you can call, but you often get wrong information when you call the military help line. >> in other words, the bureaucratic requirements have increased and the resources were decreased at the same time? >> that's correct. >> now, from your experience, what is the average length of time it takes to process a military naturalization application? >> it used to only take a few months when they had basic training naturalization in place. now in many cases it's taking upwards of a year or two or sometimes three or four years. >> and uscis plans to closing most of its international field offices and consolidated overseas military naturalization, consolidating them into four hubs. i think they have 26 field offices and
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they're going down to four hubs. how will these changes impact service members and their families who are seeking citizenship while stationed abroad? >> the closures will make it much harder for individuals to get united >> one more question. how can we stop the deportation of the military veterans. >> one more question. how can we stop the deportations of military veterans? >> restore basic training naturalization. we will not have any deported vets if everyone gets naturalized before they leave the military. and i should point out that congress put an important safeguard in the law allowing expedited naturalization. the law says that if you don't serve honorably for a period or periods aggregating five years, you can lose your citizenship that you gained through military service. so there is no reason for these misguided policies, because the legal means already is in the law to take care of anybody who is a bad actor and misbehaves after they get their citizenship. >> no reason other than ill will. i thank you. i yield back.
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>> i'll recognize mr. buck, ranking member, for five minutes of questions. >> thank you. ms. stock, do you have a security clearance currently? >> currently, no, i'm retired. >> do you have any access to classified information that was involved in making the decisions about who would receive which veterans would receive citizenship? >> i only reviewed unclassified summaries. >> and would you be surprised to know that there were thousands of folks who for classified reasons were not allowed to receive citizenship because they had ties to foreign countries? >> that's not correct. >> you don't believe that? so you believe if someone has ties to chinese intelligence services that there will be a public statement identifying
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that person as having ties to chinese intelligence services. is that what you are? saying >> know, what i'm saying is when you go through the naturalization process you have to complete a form, you have an interview, and if you are denied naturalization you are given a written statement and writing explaining why you are denied naturalization. and a written statement in righty might not include the classified reason for it not to be given privilege of becoming u.s. citizen. i >> will tell you directly why are being denied. >> you are saying here today, that a top secret relationship -- a top secret information that has been developed during the obama administration by the way, as identified an individual that had a relationship and that is going to be identified in a public document. >> that's what i'm saying. what i'm saying is, when you have to apply precision ship there is a
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form that ask you questions including things like this that or the other thing we have to answer those questions. if you lie under oath they will say you are denying because you lied and this wasn't true. it's given to the individual, they don't need to release classified information they don't. >> they certainly have access to classified information when you make a decision on whether they grant citizenship. >> they don't normally, know. >> they don't have access to classified information? >> it's dhs on these immigration services. >> the government will work with another agency to determine whether they have a relationship with the government. >> the d.o.t. doesn't pass that information along in a court and saying recently that they have that information anyway. >> so --
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>> naturally shun proceedings were not classified. >> if no one has been denied or a veteran has been denied citizenship based on a relationship with a foreign intelligence group? >> the case that was raised earlier was never naturalized. >> my question is, your understanding that individual denied citizenship or a veteran was denied citizenship because of a relationship with a foreign country? >> i don't know of somebody being denied citizenship for more than 300 years but i do know in the terms of national security, they've been raised that has been overblown and been proven in a court case in seattle where they came into court and presented the facts to the judge and the judge seized these concerns as they were not valid. >> would you be in favor of neutralizing an individual or
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for an individual to become a citizen if they had a relationship with a foreign intelligence group? >> i'm not sure what you mean by relationship with a foreign intelligence group. >> worked for and receive money from a foreign intelligence group and provide information about the united states of america. >> if the individual is a spy, and they failed to reveal that information and the naturalization application and naturalized by accident, they could be de naturalized if the government found out at that information and deported. i'm certainly in favor of that. >> my question is, would you be in favoring of naturalize in that person? >> i'm not in favor of natural is in a meeting that doesn't meet the required to become an american citizen and that does not meet the requirements to be a american citizen. >> i appreciate that very much nicole back. >> you are now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mister chairman. i
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think the witnesses for being here. the military has required to protect our country within the united states with 2.4 million veterans but we also rely on the nationals abroad occluded iraq. in january of 2006, congress created a special immigrant visa oren s iv to the safety in the united states for iraq and translators who work in the u.s. with military and were in danger. this is a simple common sense in my view for people who put their lives on the line to defend our country. the only right thing to do is to make sure that they and their families are protected. for over a year now, i worked with congressman raskin and a member of republicans to advocate for a gentleman that i will call muhammad, a translator who worked for the u.s. military and several national or
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international agencies for nearly a decade. miss talked, in your experience virtually tonight colonel and the military police corps and the reserve, do you believe the assistance of the translators in the country like a has been critical to the u.s. military in those countries? >> they're absolutely critical. >> what makes them so critical? >> we can't operate in those countries effectively if we don't have those people by our side and if they don't understand the local culture. >> how are those translators putting themselves in when they agreed to do that job? >> they're putting themselves in extreme danger and many of them have been killed or murder cars they decided with the united states. >> can surprisingly people face retaliation as you know in their service and him and his family have faced the legal persecution including threats from the taliban. just one week ago he was arrested by military
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police and a possibility that will be disbarred and they have denied him in the application for the court discretionary basis. this is part of a larger trend and the data shows a 60% drop in siv issued and drop him on iraqis is worth from 2500 and 2017 to 181 in 2019 and a drop of wonder over 90%. miss talking, you're opinion what is causing these delays in this as mentioned? >> a lot of fear in the bureaucrats that are supposed to have background checks on individuals and iffy afraid to approve anyone and also a lack of resources and lack of attention by the leadership it doesn't seem to want to focus on the process of saving folks who put their lives on the line for america. how >> do we ensure to improve those programs for the safety
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of our iraqi allies in those programs. >> we passed a statute that set a deadline but they are ignoring the deadline so they will provide strong oversight and the statute will follow. >> what is the vetting process look like for these applicants? they served alongside our troops in quite a bit of heavy vetting with these individuals. >> they're already heavily vetted and those files filled with testimonials about her loyal service to united states and sometimes over a period of many years and it's unclear, what exactly is going on and that betting that seems to take place and from what i can tell, most of it is a file that we put on a self that evening. >> beyond the immediate humanitarian concern to protect those who have raised their lives for us, another thing is the message that are sending to potential future allies. how does this failure protect these
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people and impact our national security interests and the ability of our truth to safely do our jobs in iraq and afghanistan today? >> the people who are potentially there that help in the future are going to turn and look at how mohammed was treated and say i don't want to take a chance and i'm not going to help you next time. >> mister chairman, the people that are treated that fight our country is unacceptable and whether it's immigrants leaving here or try to protect our country are people abroad or despite significant threats to their families lives with our duty to stand alongside these communities and i thank you for holding this hearing and i yield back. >> thank you and i fully agree with you like to call on miss garcia from the state of texas. >> thank you mister chairman. thank you for convening this hearing on a very important topic and it's something in
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texas that we are very concerned about. people that were can given the medal of honor report in the united states. they are both to the second non citizen and second highest number of veterans in the nation. therefore, texas is home to a high number of non citizen veterans and especially important too many of those with my constituents. according to the 2017 report to the integration form. about 40,000 evidence currently serve in the armed forces and 5000 non citizens in list each year. we will not forget the people about the numbers of when mr. crews went to the united states and settled in texas. he graduated from high school and join the navy. then he says out of pride for the country.
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following an honorable discharge he went out to serve in the army national guard and also worked at a local department at the affairs office. while covering at the navy, came in the ship crew would do it many do when they would dock, that club drinking and perhaps using it as a way to cope with there and society about the war. later in life, unfortunately, he was convicted of a dwi unable to afford an attorney and was deported to mexico. when they asked him why you can just a life, delay cruise response with this is in my life. >> it's true that immigrants are the most patriotic americans and experience a deal of different races and truly appreciate the context of how wonderful it is to live in the united states and it's been noted that not citizens will join me on services and a
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revolutionary war and since then have idolized the ranks and followed alongside counterparts to every major complex on more -- of 1812 and the current complex in the middle east. i think our witness here today for the veterans who have been deported and joining me today and gaseous. i begin my question with you sir. mr. gonzalez. you said that you don't want to get the details about the process. do you get any legal assistance? >> unfortunately, when i was in the military you could go through but there is nobody that really directed me and i was a failure on my part and there were squad leaders and
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that make sure it happens. >> do they get legal assistance now? >> i'm not sure what it is. i know it some kind of department that the military has for about over 20 years. >> my colleague can's all as introduced a act and a simple bill that allows us to have citizenship and veterans includes those individuals who are honorably discharged and have not been convicted of involuntary manslaughter or sexual abuse of a minor or related to terrorism. do you support messages of those? >> yes. >> do you -- (inaudible) >> it's pasquarella. >> i have not reviewed the bill so i can confirm a yes or no but it's something like that. >> this was mentioned by one of
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my colleagues about a double punishment but the land of the free and no to the brave and the rights might be entered into the record? not citizens have joined our forces and it really is a double punishment because you have those in the criminal justice and that conviction is looking to to pour you and then you're deported. it's a double punishment and said i forget what my colleague said and had a logic to that and agreed or disagreed that it is double punishment? you ma'am? >> thank you. i absolutely agree it is 100 present double punishment. people serve their time in criminal custody, they pay the price for that crime and they should go home and be a better citizen and go home. instead, they face lifetime and
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it's like they're serving a life sentence and cannot be with their family, they can speak with everyone i know in life which is in the united states. >> thank you know you'll that mr. german. thank >> you very much i'd like to call the state of colorado. >> thank you mister chair. thank you for hosting this important hearing. i also want to start by thanking our veterans in the room for your bravery and thanks to you and others fighting for our country and that are here today. it's been said by many of my colleagues is administration in my view is under constant attack including those fighting for our feet him and served in the military and they continue deserve today. most are permanent residents and about 511,044 veterans are residing in the u.s. and represent 3% of the total veteran population of the 20 million. they play vital
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roles when there are not enough u.s. citizens. for example, certain nationalists as we mentioned served as interpreters and will be allowed to apply for lp are status which will make and insisting in the u.s. and in numerous policies within their families or make it harder for military members with their families to adjust status and protection for deportation and in my view, we should be focused on the veterans perceive the care that they earn with their immigration cases. customs enforcement as a policy that requires the cases that have been removal but however, a report by the u.s. a sound they were unaware and a place for veterans and that is beyond this to hear that our
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veterans are not being given the appropriate level on their immigration cases and it is an american to report immigrants fighting for our safety and our freedom. which should not leave them to feel abandoned and hopeless. mr. hector, i want to thank you for your service to our country. thank >> you. >> you chose to list in the army at 17 answer for five years and earn an honorable discharge into thousand one. as a veteran, and a green card holder you have the protection of citizenship and will the deployed after serving time after discharged. can you walk us through how this may have been different if you received advice on how to apply for citizenship shin after coming to this country? >> i believe if my squad leader would say that you shouldn't
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hold your hand and were not there to hold your hand but were there to show you how to march and make sure that your attorney is there so why not would you asked the soldiers to best take a care of it whether they go to that afghanistan or vietnam. it's very important to take care of our soldiers. >> thank you. lieutenant colonel stop. thank you for you're leadership as well. i believe in your testimony as i suspect as well you mentioned the department issued to significant policy changes that made it harder for military service members to capitalize. and your experience, what is the average time they take the service member to receive a response or a request of honorable service once they complete the u.s. port six? >> as i mentioned earlier, very
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dramatically but sometimes they don't get a response at all and takes many months for the policy checked. it used to happen in a matter of minutes, you can walk into your military personnel office and he put in a form and can you say that i served honorably. they would look up your record in the system, it get an officer siding your former mediately. but now it takes a lot of months. >> a matter of minutes to now a matter of months. potentially never receiving an answer. >> they send the forum in they never hear anything back. >> what messages that send to lpr? >> it sends a terrible message and a reason why a lot of lpr are contacting me and they decided not to join the military in their way to they get their citizenship which is more than six months right now in most parts of the country. they can file electronically and if they have to send a
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package to chicago through the mail which gets lost and military people their pockets have been lost in sacramento a few weeks ago and had all is training and eligible for citizenship and walked in the building and the officer said, sorry, you're on a lawyer flew here but we cannot find your packet in the building and we've lost it. we will let you know when we find it that we have not heard from them since. >> thank you lieutenant colonel and the stories you shared today our stories we need to hear and i hope we are all listening and thank you mister chairman. >> i like to call miss debbie mucarsel-powell from florida. >> thank you for sharing your stories. florida is home to one of the largest populations in the country and we actually have the third largest population veterans in florida around 1.5 million. my district
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is also home to some veterans that have been waiting for a naturalization process and one of the things that i want to make very clear as those that have served our country and sell a role of you here are showing our deepest respects and our gratitude but i also hear service members that are serving our country and their families and their children to members sacrificing a great deal and so with their loved ones. we should not be making the lives of service members and their families any harder. men and women in uniform park their lives on the line and have a privileged to live and work in our country. i'm a naturalized citizen myself and i know how hard the process is to become a legal u.s. citizen.
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we have members and we need to fight for our freedom and make sure the process is much easier. but under this administration, there's a number of them that of declined will be unacceptable and should not be more difficult and military service. my first quick question is can you explain to us why those numbers have dropped significantly in the past few years? >> they've dropped for a couple of reasons. one they've made it harder for a green card holders to join the military. second, if you don't join you can't apply and they made it harder for them to get the form signed to apply and can't apply without the form and if you can't you're not eligible to reply. they made it more difficult to get citizenship
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and applying different standards to military people that are appropriate. one example, a woman who is sitting in the audience today, was wrongly denied a naturalization from u.s. citizenship and immigration and denied her application while serving on active duty in the military. she then reapplied for naturalization, was discharged from the military and approved after the bailed of sued the government. they were wrongly denied citizenship and were approved for citizenship and it makes no sense. >> i'm assuming she wasn't a chinese by? >> i think she's from south korea. >> (laughs) was there a reason given to her that her citizenship was denied? >> they said she lacked good moral character. they said that she lacked good moral character so when they have come up with
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some excuse in the military so they said they will accuse you of lacking moral character. >> it seems a lot of these changes are just cruel without an explanation. what is the purpose of changing this do you think? >> as i said earlier, it's driven by xenophobia. >> can you prove that to us right now? i don't think my colleagues will understand that exist. >> it does exist. i can prove it by directing the distinguished members of the subcommittee. you're taking a look at the background checks that the d.o.d. is using in the military. they are laughable and they say things like, you have a relative who served in the south korean military therefore there is derogatory information and is discharge from the military and are now ineligible for american
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citizenship. if you're parity from a foreign country that stir derogatory information up. by definition, all of our parents are foreign. if you're parents or citizens they wouldn't beak immigrants and if they were being told that this derogatory information would make you discharge from the military. >> when not question. i want to ask you if you could speak a little bit about what happened with the u.s. cia's decision about military service members that's residing in the u.s. and requiring u.s. citizenship so kids that are born outside of the united states that are now being denied can, you talk briefly about that i'm very concerned about this? >> this is not something the agency warned anyone about ahead of time and i'm told internally that they didn't have it with anyone understood immigration law. they learned
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that lots and children could be affected by this but because they don't understand immigration law they, didn't realize there are only 25 children affected. what happened was, they said, basically, the punch people who -- lived in the u.s. but because their kids are not going to get i will have to file called bullet files. >> thank you i've run out of time. >> that's correct. >> i'd like to call miss escobar from the state of texas. >> thank you for having this very important hearing today. many thanks to our witnesses and we really appreciate the time that you spend to educate the subcommittee on these issues. i want to thank the veterans and their family who are in the audience. especially who flew to washington d.c. to
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hear your voices and the voice that we bring with you and had to endure the trauma that you all have which has been being served our country and thank you for your service and share our gratitude and what we had with our fellow service members who had the same kind of trauma in their service. i represent el paso texas, which is a great, safe community around the border and at a home in one of the most important military nations in the country. many of these issues for me, el paso is an intersection and with the attack of migrants that we've
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seen with this administration and also trying to uplift and support the veterans and the military personnel and it's been very difficult to watch how our country has turned our back not just on allies but how we turn our backs on service members who have fought amicably for our country and yes this, is a double punishment. there is absolutely no doubt and i want to remind some like all leaks that we seem to have come a long way in recognizing how veterans after they have served space these really incredible challenges in ring entering and the committee after seeing them more and so we know the extra step have
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created veterans and services programs and created specialty course for veterans convicted or being tried for dwi so that we can be there for veterans who have been there for us it's a different story when the only touch an immigrant.. miss top, you mentioned something that i touched a little bit on. you mentioned the background check and you said some really interesting things about the challenges of which cto de background check. is there an appeal process for personnel who want to appeal to some of the things that maybe outlined when someone was questioning you? >> some of the immigrants father lawsuit and there is a lawsuit pending and a report
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from the district of columbia and the lawsuit has decided with some sort of cross due process because the immigrants were being kicked out of the military without being told why and now, the army has agreed they will have to process and if you look at these background checks they don't have anything to do with eligibility and the military is applying the top secret immigrants and the top seeded guidelines in the forms or derogatory. it is a mistake to supply those guidelines and determine whether immigrants are eligible to serve in the military. it's a massive rate for background checks because all the immigrants of foreign parents and have foreign back accounts because they upgrade from a foreign country but therefore relatives who served in the south korean military and that's something that causes a failure. d.o.d.
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acknowledge that they have a problem and they can't get out of it causes a bureaucratic struggle it's going on and they follow the adjudication guidelines even though they don't apply to immigrants. there is now supposed to be something but it's bodied. they will be discharged and are not told why they were discharged. they were not giving a chance to review wrong information. it's a travesty and i hope congress will be right for a ceo investigation and i would add that the government is upon thousands and thousands of dollars and spending thousands of dollars to find out that these people have foreign parents. >> i'd like to call miss jackson lee from texas. >> thank you very much mister chairman and thank you to the witnesses that are here and if
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i might have those who served in the united states military raise your hand. thank you very much for your service other men and women here that serve in combat. thank you so very much. i recall being here for 9/11 and i'm not trying to give an anxious voice but i remember as the call came for individuals for the passion and commitment to one country. there were numbers and numbers of legal permanent residents who were for both the war and afghanistan and the war in iraq and interesting me enough i have no recollection of any ice
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involvement on anything. i remember a series of initiatives that will provide for opportunities for soldiers in to be naturalized. naturally sin naturalization ceremony going on. the country was a need, men and women who were immigrants themselves or immigrant parents were going to put on the uniform unselfishly and offer up their lives. these were permanent residents that were in the military today. from the iraqi an afghan war. i am baffled about where we are today. i think this is a very important hearing but i also believed that they should be brought to the attention left because it's a joint legislation in combination with the armed services committee
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and the department of defense can wake up so forgive me if these questions or been answered. but there is a standard that ice is supposed to utilize when they're addressing veterans. they need to consider the criminal history of a patient's family and the health and community service. it's come to my attention with my report that some of the folk and ice don't even know they're supposed to do that or have a list of criteria to even address. if i could ask both hector barajas and jane pasquarella, actor, if you can tell me what kind of
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complexity that put your remember members who are not given any fair assessment by the local ice officer. they are not in washington they're seeing ice or they are. can you answer that please? >> sure. it creates a problem in the way it could be fixed is when i was a child they asked me if i was a veteran or not and they went through the procedures and usually they don't ask you if you're a veteran or not. they don't know what procedures they should take and they make sure that we hold the government accountable. >> we need to put in a separate construct and should require both immigration services and ice components. you have to ask the question and you have to prioritize veteran immigrants in your assessment of processing how i've lost the
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packet. can you help us with the work that you do and the sensation? >> congressman yes. we were there on two fronts. first of, all on the front and, the person is kept that is counter ice that is a requirement and every person they encounter and that the first thing i know they are not doing that they should actually implement the policies they have to really improve the policy and will determine the weighing acutest on whether removal actually is accessible but then on the back and, were not quite sure even if it into proceedings that our law accounts that somebody may
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have served our country and remain in the united states. i want to correct something that was said earlier by mr. metcalf to that's really important. the law has eliminated all things including the removal and cancellation who is not available for actor when he is being deported from the country because they have eliminated to consider any other equities. we have to address it with ice, with a sensible policy but we have to refund the law. >> miss jackson-lee. mr. metcalf you want to respond to that? i >> want to tell you. i was a judge in miami, i can't tell you that every case that would come across that has been testified what have survived a challenge on cancellation from the government. we had 75%, 80% of our application and let me
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also add specifically and judges across the country but when you had and if i may, when you add the veterans in his or her rehabilitation and the financial ties and his health and community service and the duty status and decorated members awarded and that's all on the judge to do a deeper dive and also on the agency working with that person and, i suggest you that when judges have that kind of rush in front of them on this administrative take or to consider that in their judgment it certainly is in the informed mind of people that are not in front of me as veterans what is people who have had a host of problems which prompted the u.s. to
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remove so i want -- miss pasquarella i'd like to pat at information. >> i would like to yield. >> the disconnect here bars statute under cancellation of approval for a green card that's convicted of a aggravated felony. if i may, i can give you an example and some people are serving on active duty and there is a person who long ago was convicted of obstruction of justice in virginia. at the time, a very minor offense and was told you would not have any impact on the military career at went on to serve a full career in the united states navy and when he applied for citizenship, he was told this was an aggravated felony and was not eligible for citizenship. they said he would not be to port it until he left a navy so he tried to pull off on his retirement but he wet in
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front of the honorable mark metcalf you would not be part of the removal because it would be an aggravated bellagio nudge of ineligible for cancellation. >> thank you very much for that. >> they require us to look through the options of the individual who has victimized so i yield back and thank you. >> thank you. if i can, i call miss scanlon. >> thank all of you for this very important issue and on the current immigration policy and it's really important that we look at the impact of the cost of our national security and our national honor of the current administration policies in the impact they're having on our arms forces and the fact that we are breaking our word through the men and women that put their lives on the line for
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this country is profoundly disturbing to me. i also want to know the irony that the people that hang on the floor of the house of representatives is george washington and one is a for national who is the marquee to lafayette. we have a very long history of underlying upon goodwill who may not be american citizens. with respect to the impact on national security i, have some familiarity on the issue of the iraqi and of ghani nationals who have worked with our armed forces before i came here almost a year ago and worked with the iraqi troop which was students and law firms who volunteered the iranian afghan a translator who worked with our armed forces and i recall
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one gentleman who worked with our armed forces as a translator for five years and when he recognized a taliban member on one of our spaces and reported him they were saving the lives of many of our forces and he remain in hiding for four years while his application was in the process and went to a long process and had additional folks who had difficulty and warren are able to get their applications processed at the impact on national security -- i can't recall if you had figures on what the processing rates are and if you could respond to that? >> it's in my written testimony. i would refer to that. >> the same rates that has gone down. >> the taliban has affected
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these applicants and were also seeing people who have been approved but suddenly for mysterious reasons has been revoked and there is a process that doesn't work and they send in their request for information and they don't hear anything again and we heard rebel for the hearing and we have a response to allegations made after they were granted and he sent his rebuttal and his allegations were incorrect. >> our case was very similar and we had various officials and took it up on court appeal. with respect -- i was concerned about the testimony concerning joining our military with the expectation that they would become citizens. the fact that our military is having trouble
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recruiting citizens. can anyone on the panel speak to that? >> the system either having trouble finding people who speak the languages and the country they're operating. this has reached a critical point and they can't find people at the other group of people that were helpful are to folks that know about cyber war and the fact that we have a lot of legal immigrants in the united states who have great cyber skills and they can't put them to work for the united states unless are american citizens and you have to be an american citizen to get a security clearance and it can't get their citizenship and i can't go to the ranks of cyber command and that's whether short people right now. a >> country that is always relied on talents of immigrants were being tucked away from one of our highest and most important cities. >> thank you. i >> yield back. >> like you very much miss
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scanlon. let me first of all conclude today's hearing but i want to make a couple of comments. a lot of the policy were talking about here is not democrat democrat or republican issue. it is the proceeding that recurrent the administration. i'm hoping my colleagues from the side of the aisle will come up with some good common sense legislation and the witnesses here today we'll have some very solid decisions and proposals and we need to move forward. this is about america, keeping a commitment to our veterans and public ensure that no soldier is left the hind. i'm hoping we can move forward and i want to thank all the witnesses and you can never thank you enough for your service in our country. i
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want to conclude this hearing by once again, thanking the panelist, witnesses and without objection all members with having five legislative days to submit questions and for the witnesses and other materials for the record. we look forward to continuing to work with you without objection this committee is now concluded. >> thank you sir. [background
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