May 10, 2018

Castro Remarks at Congressional Forum on Challenges Facing Deported Veterans

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, made the following statement at a forum he hosted along with Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Mark Takano (CA-41), and Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03) yesterday that focused on the challenges deported U.S. military veterans encounter:

“Thank you, Mark, for all of your hard work on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and of course to my colleagues that are here to listen to the folks who are testifying on this important issue.

“Thank you to all of you, in each of your roles, for being here today. Last June, I led a delegation of Hispanic Caucus members over to Tijuana. We visited Hector, and also with other folks who were at a house, a deported veterans support house, and we had a chance to talk to them about their lives and their experiences. And their struggles for finding work, their struggles for getting VA benefits, the disconnection from their country that they have known as home, and from their families.

“And I think it is important for us to keep making the point that these are folks who put their lives on the line for the United States of America. And this is the greatest betrayal of somebody who served for a nation who accepts their service and then kicks them out of their country.

“If and when the leadership and composition of this Congress change, one of the first bills that should be presented to President Trump’s desk is a bill that will allow our deported veterans to come back home and make sure that this doesn’t happen again in the United States of America.

“So, I want to say to you gentlemen, sorry for this happening to you. I know that there is no apology that can make up for the years that you all spent away from your families and from your country. But thank you for your work in not just rectifying your own situation, because I know that has been tough enough, but also standing up and speaking up for other deported veterans who are in a similar situation.

“I think it is also important to note that oftentimes when we talk about deportations and any issue associated with immigration, both in Congress and sometimes in the American mind, people automatically think of Mexico and that this is an issue with Mexico. But as several of you have testified today, and as Mr. Giammarco is a testament to, this is not just an issue of Hispanics or of Mexico, that there are many other people from different countries or from the United States, but of different ethnic origin who are effected. I think Hector you mentioned somebody who was Russian-Ukrainian who was in Mexico.

“It’s important to know also that there are people who are not Mexican or Mexican-American who have been sent over to Mexico who were never even originally from there that are of different ethnicities or nationalities, so to speak, who then find themselves in Tijuana, Mexico. That is really just a bizarre occurrence. The whole thing is unfair. That is an especially bizarre occurrence.

“But I think we have to do what we can to break through this idea that whenever you talk about immigration or deported veterans that we are just talking about Hispanics and Mexico, because there is also a bias and a prejudice I think that attaches to that. And we continue to try and break that down as well.

“Thank you everybody for your testimony, to the ACLU, to the support societies, and everybody at the VFW that have continued to work on this issue and push on this issue. Thank you for all of this work. And I yield back.”

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