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CHC, Rep. Takano Applaud Progress in Restoring Benefits to Deported Veterans

Jan 11, 2018
Press Release
 
Washington, D.C. – The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Rep. Mark Takano, and Veterans Committee Democrats applauded the progress being made by the Department of Veterans Affairs in restoring access to disability benefits and health care for American veterans who were deported after their service.
 
On November 20, 2017, the VA formally established a location in Tijuana where deported veterans can receive a Compensation & Pension (C&P) Exam, which is a mandatory step that determines veterans’ eligibility for disability payments and health care. The facility is now scheduling appointments for deported veterans and is equipped to provide General Medical, Psychology, and Audiology C&P examinations.
 
“The opening of this VA center in Tijuana is a testament to the incredible work of Members of Congress on behalf of service men and women who honorably served our country,” said CHC Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham. “I applaud the countless veteran advocates and my colleagues for ensuring that our veterans, regardless of their immigration status, receive the benefits they have earned. Ultimately, we must stop the shameful practice of deporting veterans, until then we are committed to providing veterans, deported or not, with the assistance they deserve.”
 
“Establishing an examination location in Tijuana is an incredibly important step forward for the many deported veterans who are physically or financially unable to make the long journey to Mexico City or Guadalajara, which were previously the closest examination locations,” said Rep. Takano, the vice ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “With access to Compensation & Pension exams, deported veterans will finally have access to the financial benefits they are owed and the health care they need for conditions related to their service. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to this victory for deported veterans.”
 
In October 2017, Rep. Takano was joined by Reps. Lou Correa, Kathleen Rice, Gregorio Sablan and Norma Torres on an official delegation to visit deported veterans in Tijuana. Earlier that year, a group from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus traveled to Tijuana to raise awareness of the challenges facing hundreds, if not thousands of veterans who have been expelled from the country they served.
 
“I'm excited that the VA has established the new clinic in Tijuana, which has the largest identified population of deported veterans in the world,” said Hector Barajas, a deported veteran and the director and founder of the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana. “This is first step the VA has taken in 22 years since we started deporting our American veterans. Thanks to Congressman Takano and others who are trying to make sure that no one is left behind without access to exams. If we can't bring these men and women home anytime soon at least their quality of life will be better with some medical and economic support.”
 
The examination location was established four days after House Democrats held a press conference calling for three steps to support deported veterans: Institute a moratorium on deporting veterans, restore access to health care and benefits, and find a permanent solution that gives veterans an opportunity for return to the country they served.
 
Member Statements:
 
Rep. Gregorio Sablan 
“We need to do better by all of our veterans including deported veterans who have historically have faced obstacles accessing the basic benefits they earned through their service to our nation.  I am encouraged that the VA took the step of establishing a center in Tijuana where I visited with many deported veterans in October.  We will remain vigilant in making sure that our country honors its commitment to our former service members.”
 
Rep. Juan Vargas
"The establishment of a Compensation and Pensions examination location in Tijuana was long overdue and it represents an important step in the fight to give deported veterans access to the benefits they rightfully earned after serving our country. We must keep working in Congress to ensure that deported veterans have access to the benefits and the health care services they need and bring deported veterans home. Thank you to my Democratic colleagues in the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for prioritizing this important issue."
 
Rep. Tim Walz, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
“As a 24-year veteran of the Army National Guard, one of the codes I lived by was never leaving a fellow soldier behind. That is why I find it profoundly sickening that upon their return home an American soldier could find themselves deported for an infraction that a citizen veteran would be able to resolve in a veteran treatment court.
 
“While we work toward the ultimate goal of ending this ridiculous practice, establishing a system through which these veterans can receive the VA benefits they deserve is a commonsense first step. That is why I applaud VA for their decision to restore access to disability benefits and healthcare for deported veterans outside the United States. I also applaud my dear friend and colleague Rep. Mark Takano for his leadership on this issue, including a recent congressional delegation to meet with deported veterans in Tijuana, Mexico.” 
 
Rep. Ruben Gallego 
“For too long, deported veterans have struggled to access the benefits they earned by serving our nation in uniform. The VA’s establishment of a formal presence in Tijuana will help bridge the historic gap in access to critical services including medical, financial, and psychological health benefits for veterans who are unable to travel to more distant VA posts,”
 
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva
“We welcome this first step toward ensuring that deported veterans have access to the benefits that they have earned after serving our country. It is unacceptable that after enduring military service and the trauma of deportation and family separation, these veterans continue to face significant barriers to accessing basic health and financial resources. I applaud everyone whose work contributed to this victory and urge us to continue efforts of bringing our deported veterans home and taking care of them in the country that they valiantly defended.”
 
Rep. Adriano Espaillat
“We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude and support to those who serve and wear our country's uniform - regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, or citizenship. The thousands of deported veterans who have been left behind because of our broken immigration system should not have to suffer even more following their deportation. Today's announcement is a step in the right direction to recognize the selfless service and sacrifice of these individuals. Restoring access to the Compensation & Pension exam for these veterans will allow them to receive the disability and health care benefits they have rightfully earned and deserve.”
 
Rep. Norma Torres
“I’m encouraged to see the VA opening this new center in Tijuana because it will help many deported veterans, including a constituent I’ve been working with this last year. When I traveled to Tijuana last October, I saw firsthand the barriers faced by deported veterans and how convoluted the process has become simply for a veteran to receive the benefits they have earned. Establishing a center where veterans can now get their qualifying exam is just the first step in ensuring that our country follows with the commitment to take care of our service members.”
 
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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.
 
Media Contact:
Carlos Paz Jr.
202.525.0053