New Poll Finds Majority of U.S. Voters Support Protections for Noncitizen Military Service Members

October 23, 2023 9:00 am

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WASHINGTON – A new poll released today by the American Civil Liberties Union reveals overwhelming bipartisan support for protecting noncitizen military service members from deportation and enabling their access to citizenship. The polling, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the ACLU, surveyed over 1,000 registered voters in May 2023 and found that across party lines, large majorities of U.S. voters support legislation that would make it easier for noncitizen military service members to become citizens, including 94 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of Independents, and 83 percent of Republicans.

Other key survey findings include:

  • Among those who identify as “very conservative Republicans,” 81 percent support making it easier for deported noncitizen veterans to return home and 75 percent support making it harder to deport noncitizens or their families if the noncitizen served in the military.
  • Overwhelming shares of Democrats (96 percent), Independents (81 percent), and Republicans (83 percent) support legislation that would expand opportunities for noncitizen military service members, such as making it easier for noncitizen veterans to return home if they get deported.
  • The majority of Democrats (95 percent), Independents (81 percent), and Republicans (81 percent) support legislation that would make it harder to deport noncitizen veterans or their families in the first place.

“This survey confirms what we’ve known all along: protecting noncitizen military service members is not a partisan issue,” said Naureen Shah, Deputy Director of Government Affairs, Equality Division at the ACLU. “It’s time for Congress to get beyond partisan politics and honor the tremendous sacrifices made by these service members and veterans.”

The survey comes as more than 60 veterans, their family members, and advocates gather this week in Washington D.C. to urge Congress to pass the Veteran Service Recognition Act (VSRA), critical legislation that would support noncitizen service members and veterans in becoming citizens. The group is joined by advocates from the ACLU, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and Veterans of Foreign Wars, who are supporting veterans’ calls for protections that ensure all veterans, regardless of their immigration status, can live with the respect and assistance they deserve.

Introduced in July 2023, the VSRA would improve access to citizenship for noncitizen military service members and that the government considers military service in decisions on deportations of veterans and immediate family members, and create opportunities for deported veterans to return home. The bipartisan legislation has been endorsed by various veteran groups, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Union Veterans Council, among others.

Below is additional comment from:

Danitza G. James, M.S.W. U.S. army combat veteran and chair, National LULAC subcommittee on deported veterans:

“When someone serves in harm’s way, enemy bullets don’t stop to check the citizenship status of the person wearing an American military uniform. We pledge allegiance to the American flag and followed through on that promise, with some having that same flag draped over their coffins. By passing the VSRA, we honor their service and sacrifice by ensuring their contribution paves the way for future service members who serve honorably and consider American citizenship a privilege that is literally worth fighting and dying for in the name of freedom.”

Livier J. Lazaro, VFW 7420 commander:

“After serving 20 years in the Army and two tours in Iraq, I was shocked to know America deports veterans. To know that our brothers’ and sisters’ promise of citizenship had not been honored was disgraceful. My post VFW 7420 began a movement to let our comrades in exile know we leave no one behind and ensure we embody the VFW motto of no one does more for veterans. We will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. The Veteran Service Recognition Act will assist all branches in developing a standard and accountable way of ensuring the pathway to citizenship ends with actual citizenship. America needs to honor its promise and prevent any further veteran deportations from happening.”

Naveed A. Shah, army veteran and political director at CommonDefense.us:

“As an immigrant myself, I know what it means to join the military to serve and defend our adopted nation. Everyone who raises their right hand and swears an oath to the Constitution of these United States deserves all of the rights and benefits afforded under it. Anything less than that is a morale failure. Common Defense proudly supports the VSRA because it reflects what Americans know to be true: noncitizen military service members, including immigrants like myself, deserve the respect and opportunities they have earned through their service to a grateful nation. This legislation is a testament to our commitment to honoring the sacrifices of all those who have served, regardless of their immigration status, and ensuring that they can fully access the benefits and rights they’ve defended for us all.”

ACLU Letter to Members of Congress is available here.

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