Kerrie Orozco First Responders Family Support Act: Bill Summary

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska) introduced the Kerrie Orozco First Responders Family Support Act (H.R. 2378) on April 29, 2019 with a bipartisan group of five co-sponsors. The bill would permit a surviving spouse, child or parent of a U.S. citizen public safety officer who died as a result of their service to be eligible to immediately apply for naturalization. The bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, where it awaits a vote.

The House of Representatives previously passed the bill in the 115th U.S. Congress on September 25, 2018 by voice vote. The Senate received the bill but did not act on it before the Congress ended.

Who qualifies as a first responder?

  • Under the bill, “public safety officer” means federal, state or local government law enforcement, firefighter, chaplain and/or emergency response personnel, including Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel performing duties related to certain major disasters or emergencies.

What does the bill do?

  • The bill would permit a surviving spouse, child or parent of a U.S. citizen public safety officer who died as a result of an injury or disease incurred or aggravated by their employment as a public safety officer to naturalize without having to meet the five-year continuous residence and 30-month physical presence requirements for naturalization, which most applicants have to meet.
  • The bill requires that the surviving spouse, child or parent still meet the following standard requirements for naturalization:
    • Be age 18 or older at the time of filing (though a child younger than 18 may naturalize as a derivative if his or her parent naturalizes);
    • Be a lawful permanent resident (“Green Card” holder);
    • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English, and have an understanding of U.S. history and American civics;
    • Be a person of good moral character; and
    • Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution.
  • A surviving spouse must have been living in marital union with the U.S. citizen public safety officer spouse at the time of the public safety officer spouse’s death.

Why is the bill a good idea?

  • Immigration law should recognize the sacrifice that families of first responders make when a spouse, parent or child dies in service to his or her community. Patterned after legal provisions that allow members of Gold Star Families to quickly naturalize after the death of active-duty family members killed in military service, the Kerrie Orozco Act would provide an opportunity for family members of first responders who die in service to the community to naturalize more quickly. The Kerrie Orozco Act is an important, commonsense effort to aid the families of those who sacrifice their lives to keep us safe.

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