Rep. Young sponsors bill to bring back deported vets

U.S. Rep. Don Young will start his 23rd term in January. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

Congressman Don Young is co-sponsoring a bill that would reverse the deportation of non-citizens who served in the U.S. military.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, estimates that hundreds or maybe thousands of veterans have been deported, often after committing crimes involving drugs or alcohol. Gonzalez has attributed some of the behavior to vets who were self-medicating for battlefield trauma or injury.

The “Repatriate Our Patriots” bill would allow honorably discharged veterans to return to the U.S. as permanent residents and apply for citizenship. Vets who committed major crimes like murder, rape and terrorism would be ineligible.

Gonzalez and Young sponsored the same bill last year but, according to the publication Roll Call, the then-Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee blocked it, seeing it as an immigration bill.

Through a spokesman, Young declined an interview request, but in a written statement he described the bill as doing right by veterans.

“It is inexcusable that service members who risked it all to protect us would be put through the deportation process,” the statement reads.