Imagine growing up in America and loving your country so much that you voluntarily enlist in the military. Imagine bravely serving the United Sates military in Afghanistan or Iraq. Imagine facing death daily to keep your country and your fellow countrymen safe. Imagine returning home with physical and mental injuries that will mark your life forever. Now imagine that your government, after your sacrifice, deports you.
This is the reality for thousands of our military veterans. Immigrants have made up a portion of the U.S. Armed Forces since 1775. There has never been a U.S. military without immigrants, and the immigrant population serving is on the rise. Non-citizens do extremely well in the military. In fact, Marine General Peter Pace offered the following testimony before Congress about the importance of immigrants in the military:
“[Immigrant soldiers and marines] are extremely dependable … some 8, 9, or 10 percent fewer immigrants wash out of our initial training programs than do those who are currently citizens. Some 10 percent or more than those who are currently citizens complete their first initial period of obligated service to the country.”
Military service has always offered a fast-track to U.S. citizenship
Only citizens and lawful permanent residents can serve, and joining the U.S. military has always been one of the fastest ways to get U.S. citizenship. Thousands of troops with permanent residency (green cards) become citizens under the expedited military category. Last year alone, about 8,000 troops with green cards became citizens.
Unfortunately, soldiers are often shipped out before having the opportunity to apply and receive citizenship through the process called naturalization. Veterans who did not go through the process of becoming citizens can be deported, if they get in trouble, just like any other non-citizen. And it does not take much to get into the sort of trouble that can make a person subject to mandatory detention and likely deportation, often without availability of a pardon or an application that allows consideration of their great sacrifice for our nation.
Deported for writing a bad check?
If a veteran has two crimes involving moral turpitude –even simple misdemeanors – he can be detained by immigration authorities without bail and subjected to deportation proceedings. Crimes involving moral turpitude include petty offenses such as writing a bad check or getting into a bar brawl. Drug offenses are the most common reason for the deportation of veterans. This is particularly troubling given:
• The close relationship between drug abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder
• The lack of appropriate and appropriately available treatment for veterans
• Society’s knowledge that drug use is a related to physical or psychological addiction – not moral character
At present, it is estimated that over 3,000 veterans are incarcerated and face deportation nationwide. Many are being held under “mandatory detention” with no option of bail or release while fighting their case. These men are of ages ranging from the mid to late 50’s to the early 30’s. They have served in the Vietnam War, both Gulf Wars, the Kosovo conflict, and other recent military actions.
These soldiers protected us. Now it is our duty to protect them
Help us end this shameful chapter in our immigration history. Here is what you can do:
1. Contact your elected officials in Washington DC. Here is a link to find those your elected representatives: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.
2. Send your clear message: STOP THE DEPORTATION OF VETERANS NOW!
If you are a veteran facing detention and deportation, contact the attorneys at Antonini & Cohen Immigration Law Group at 404-850-9394. We have over 60 years of combined experience in deportation (removal) defense and all other aspects of immigration law.