Immigrant Vets Face Deportation

As of May 2010 there were nearly 17,000 non-citizens on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and up to 8,000 non-citizens enlist every year.  If they die while serving they get citizenship and a military funeral.  If they don’t and later run afoul of the law, they will find themselves deported, irrespective of their previous service and sacrifice.

Now advocates of non-citizen servicemen and women are trying to change that.  Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif) chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee is looking into potential changes in immigration law so that those who serve in the military can avoid deportation.  According to advocates thousands of veterans have been deported or are currently in detention.  Government representatives don’t have any accurate tally of just how many veterans have been affected.

The move coincides with the creation of parallel criminal jurisdictions for veterans–commonly known as veterans courts.  Veteran courts hear only those criminal matters that affect service members and dole out specialized sentences that take into account potential health issues (like PTSD) related to their service.  There are currently about 30 veterans courts in use with at least a dozen more planned.

The push also coincides with new U.S. Sentencing Commission rules that will make it possible for federal judges to consider a criminal defendant’s military service and mental and emotional condition as a mitigating factor in sentencing.

These rules, however, would not apply to immigration judges.

This distinction begs the question of just what value we ultimately place on military service.  We see this issue in great detail in the debate surrounding Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but it is equally fitting for those immigrants who also serve with distinction. 

photo courtesy of The U.S. Army via Flickr

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103 comments

Larry H.
Larry H.5 years ago

Anyone willing to serve this country and put their lives on the line should automatically be given the citizenship they have earned, after being honorably discharged from the military.

Lika S.
Lika S.5 years ago

So what next, are we going to charge our veterans coming home from war with crimes against humanity for doing their jobs? This is the most piss poor excuse I've seen. What is this country asking for? We're willing to tell illegal immigrants they can apply for citizenship via signing up for the military, and here these people saw live action while serving (already, past tense) our country and now we're telling them they have to leave? AFTER they put their lives on the line for the US?

Armando Morales
Armando Morales5 years ago

we all out of U.S. (Not America; america is a big Continent ¡ ) know very well that Non residents and afroamerican facing deportations and racism still today when running XXI century ¡ then Commitments for Citizenship Law are out of agenda or placed in last page¡

Petra Luna
Petra Luna5 years ago

If they are legitimate veterans, let them stay.

ruth a.
ruth a.5 years ago

There seems to be a lot of misinformed posters here today...

Donald E. H.
Donald E. H.5 years ago

My, my, my...I guess you've had a bad day Jaime...and...you're wrong on every count. I am NOT a REPUBLICAN nor a TEA BAGER. And as far as "finding the time to criticize and not be constructive"... my stating that being ILLEGAL is BREAKING THE LAW seems to make the point as well as the resolution 'self evident' or maybe you 'just don't get it'...because the "so typical for bitch bitch and not getting to the issue, ignorant as a dog barking to his own shadow" seems to be more your plight than anyone elses. You have a nice day...and, please, try to smile once in a while...you just look so sad.



gary leigh
gary leigh5 years ago

READ

gary leigh
gary leigh5 years ago

FIRST I'M NOT FOR AMENSTY! THIS CAME UP BECAUSE PEOPLE WHO WERE HERE AS NON RESIDENTS BUT DID MILITARY SERVICE THEN BROKE THE LAW MORE THAN ONCE, NOW CLAIM THEY ARE INTITLED TO BE HERE AS CITIZENS. TO ME WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES BUT REPEATING THEM YOU START TO QUESTION WEITHER ALLOWING SOMEONE CITIZENSHIP IF THEY HAVE A HABIT OF LAW BREAKING IS A GOOD THING. OUR PRISONS AND COURTS ARE FULL ENOUGH. WE NEED GOOD CITIZENS NOT OTHERS CAST OFFS. WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL ON THIS ISSUE.

Jane H.
Jane H.5 years ago

Back in Civil War days the Irish were forced into the North's army right off the boat--this is as old as our country is almost. These immigrants should NOT be deported. VOTE DEMOCRAT NOv.2nd!!

Jack S.
Jack S.5 years ago

Nobody said there were ILLEGAL!!!!! NON CITIZEN talking about permanent resident of course there is a background check!! If you are not a Permanent Resident of the US you cannot enlist into the US Army!
Do I think US MILITARY VET should be naturalized Hell Yeah!!!
Should they be deported if they commit crimes, I just believe they should be prosecuted just like any other citizen and get help is their problems is psychologically related, especially if they have PTSD from fighting and protecting America.