News from the Week of December 30, 2018

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As we ring in the new year, members of the most diverse congressional class in history took their oaths of office on Thursday. Women now comprise almost a quarter of Congress, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) are the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. While this class is still far from reflecting the actual demographics of the United States, more diverse voices—including 22 new members who worked for the CIA or served in the military—will impact our national political conversation in 2019.

Speaking of veterans in Congress…check out this amazing tweet from Representative Brian Mast (R-FL). He shared this photo of himself with his fellow wounded veterans, freshmen Representatives Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Jim Baird (R-IN) after they were sworn in. Noting the combat injuries of each, Mast captioned the photo: “5 eyes. 5 arms. 4 legs. All American.”

As the government shutdown continues into its third week, thousands of immigration cases are being indefinitely delayed. ABC News reports that some immigration courts have closed amid the shutdown, leaving tens of thousands asylum applications and other immigration claims in limbo.

An online poll of active-duty members of the military and veterans by The Smithsonian, Stars and Stripes, and George Mason University shows support for protecting noncitizens and their families from deportation. Of the 1,031 respondents—922 of them veterans and 109 active duty—87 percent said noncitizens serving in the military should be immune to deportation.

Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva, (D-AZ), who filed a bill last year to address deportation of veterans, tells NBC News: "The American people spoke loud and clear in November they wanted action on immigration and that includes fixing the shameful practice of deporting those who served in the armed forces. Protecting veterans shouldn't be a partisan issue."    

If you are interested in learning more about deported veterans, check out the photojournalism initiative, “Discharged and Deported,” from the Ground Truth Project. Photographer Joel Angel Jaurez documents the experiences of this disenfranchised group. He writes, “The history of these men and women are often underreported or just barely scratched on the surface…in a way they have placed me on a mission to amplify their stories in the hopes that something can be done about their situation.”