Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2019

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EDITORIAL:

Whether citizens or not, veterans have earned a place in this country

An estimated 100,000 veterans of America’s armed services are noncitizens who stepped up to protect the nation. But an alarming new report has revealed that the Department of Veterans Affairs and President Donald Trump won’t protect them.

Last week, ProPublica reported that the VA did nothing to shield noncitizen veterans and their families from a new Trump administration rule making it far easier to deny green cards and temporary visas to immigrants. That new rule, known as the public charge regulation, gives federal officials license to reject immigrants who have accessed public benefits or are deemed likely to rely on some forms of public assistance in the future. Other criteria include applicants’ income, credit scores and educational attainment.

It’s a racist and xenophobic policy across the board, but it’s especially unfair toward the nation’s immigrant veterans.

Those commendable individuals displayed a commitment to our country by serving it in uniform. They earned the public benefits they accessed.

But now, with the policy set to take effect in October, they’re on the verge of being punished for accepting assistance they and their families deserved.

That’s unfair and un-American.

The Department of Defense certainly recognized as much in relation to active-duty military members. Unlike the VA, Defense officials worked extensively to protect current service members and their families from the policy. As ProPublica reported, here’s the result:

“Active-duty military members can accept public benefits without jeopardizing their future immigration status; veterans and their families, however, cannot.”

That means veterans will get black marks when applying for green cards if they’ve used public benefits, if they hold low-wage jobs and have meager savings, if they have no postsecondary education, and other factors.

Why didn’t veterans get the same protection as active-duty military members? Apparently, it’s because they get VA benefits that aren’t counted against them, like health care for service-related medical problems and stipends for education. And unlike active-duty personnel, veterans are free to take higher-payingjobs.

But as ProPublica pointed out, not all veterans receive VA benefits. Plus, those benefits aren’t designed to replace food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of public assistance that form the broader social safety net.

So think of the injustice of this. While serving, many of these veterans were locked into low military salaries and needed assistance. But now they’re being punished for it.

It’s unclear how many veterans haven’t obtained green cards, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is no way to treat anyone who served honorably in a U.S. military uniform.

Surely, even Trump’s bootlickers in Congress and his supporters understand what a gross injustice this is.

There’s time to fix this before October. To demand change, Americans can comment to the White House by visiting whitehouse.gov/contact.

Meanwhile, here’s a show of support for Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford for signing Nevada into a lawsuit against the public charge regulation, as well as the many state leaders who expressed outrage over the measure and vowed to fight it.