This week, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., the first Green Beret to serve in Congress, brought out a proposal to “direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to exempt the immediate relatives of servicemembers who were awarded the Purple Heart from naturalization processing fees.”
Waltz introduced the “Sergeant First Class Javier J.Gutierrez Purple Heart Survivor Naturalization Fee Relief Act” on Thursday with the support of U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif.
“Under this legislation, the naturalization processing fees for the parents, spouses and children of Purple Heart recipients who may be going through the legal immigration system would be waived. Gold Star families, the survivors of fallen servicemembers, would also be exempt from these fees. The current I-360 fee is $435, the N-400 fee is $640, and the biometrics fee is $85,” Waltz’s office noted.
The two congressmen weighed in on their proposal on Thursday.
“This bipartisan legislation demonstrates Congress’s commitment to support the families tendering care to the needs of our wounded servicemembers and to help those bearing the unbearable sacrifice of devotion to our nation,” said Waltz. “The very least we can do to help these Purple Heart and Gold Star families is to help them become Americans.”
“Members of our military and their families have sacrificed so much in service to our country, with some having paid the ultimate price. We can never repay them for their sacrifice, but this bipartisan bill will help ease the burden on Gold Star and Purple Heart families by removing a monetary barrier to citizenship,” said Carbajal. “My service in the Marine Corps helped speed up the process for me to become naturalized and I’m glad to partner with Rep. Waltz on this bipartisan bill to help patriotic families become American citizens.”
“Sgt. 1st Class Javier J. Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio, Texas, died February 8, 2020, from wounds sustained during combat operations in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. He enlisted into the U.S. Army in 2009 and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. At the time of his passing, his wife Elena was going through the legal naturalization process,” Waltz’s office noted.
“On behalf of my family, I’d like to thank Representatives Waltz and Carbajal for honoring Javier’s memory,” said Elena Gutierrez. “My husband was dedicated to service and helping those less fortunate, De Oppresso Liber. We appreciate that this bill is one less worry for families like ours. We miss him dearly but are tremendously proud of the honorable life he lived.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.
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