House lawmakers approve protection bill for veterans

3 months 2 weeks 5 days ago Thursday, December 08 2022 Dec 8, 2022 December 08, 2022 8:47 AM December 08, 2022 in News - Local
By: Santiago Caicedo

House lawmakers approved the Deportation Protection Bill for America's veterans.

They served our country, only to be forced out after their service. Others in the same situation are a step closer to avoiding that fate, thanks to a new bill — it still needs senate approval and the president's signature. 

This bill could be life-changing for a lot of people. 

"Like to go into the service, taking the oath would make you a legal U.S. citizen," deported veteran Noe Zapata said. 

Zapata is living in Matehuala, San Luis Potosí, he was a legal resident of the United States and enlisted in the army in 1989. After he left the service, he settled down in Donna, but in 2005, he was convicted of DUI, and was deported. 

"I know I made mistakes, you know," Zapata said.

On Wednesday, congress passed a measure that would help defend veterans during deportation hearings, and give deported veterans the option to return to the U.S. 

"With this bill, we're going to do more outreach in the Armed Services to assure that veterans who are not U.S. citizens become citizens by the time they're discharged," Congressman Vicente Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez says there are currently no options for veterans that are about to get deported or those that have already been kicked out — like Zapata. 

"We hired a lawyer, but he has me on the waiting list," Zapata said. "I have paperwork left and right here, looks like an office."

The bill does not protect veterans convicted of an aggravated crime, or those convicted of 5 DWI's within the last 25 years.

Not everyone agreed with this measure, South Texas Republican Congresswoman, Mayra Flores, voted 'no' on this bill, calling it 'misleading,' adding in a statement line that, 'it is a slap in the face to those who have been patiently waiting for legal entry into our country,' saying that some that were deported was due to criminal offense. 

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