Stop the Deportation of Immigrant Military Veterans

They put their lives on the line in the service of the United States of America, and ended up being booted out of the country they fought for. They should be honored, not deported.

Immigrant military veterans of wars from Vietnam to Iraq have returned home from their service only to find detention and deportation awaiting them. More wound up on ICE's list after committing a criminal offense, most often drug-related. Veterans frequently end up in trouble with the law because they suffer from untreated Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which the country has done a notoriously bad job of taking seriously and providing treatment for. These veterans should and do serve out jail sentences for their crimes, like any citizen veterans; but to then also deport them from the land they served is despicable. They served our flag, and they are our responsibility, for better or worse.

Activists who work on the issue say that hundreds or even thousands of the men and women who served under the American flag have been shipped back to their birth country; an estimated 3,000 veterans currently await deportation in often-inhumane detention centers; and many thousands live with the threat of possible deportation hanging over their heads. Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn't keep track of this data because it just doesn't care whether you've served this country in war or not. More than 30,000 non-citizens currently serve in the U.S. Army, and immigrants receive more than 20% of Congressional Medals of Honor, but this award makes no difference to immigration officials.

There is a trail of broken promises to deported veterans. "When your tour ends," President Barack Obama vowed to those serving in the military, "when you touch our soil, you will be home in America that is forever here for you, just as you've been there for us. That is my promise." Military recruiters regularly promise citizenship to patriotic immigrants who volunteer to offer up their lives for America.

While service in the United States military can put an immigrant on a path to citizenship, the slightest blot on their criminal record derails that process. Though service members are required to take an oath of loyalty to America almost identical to the citizenship oath, America betrays their loyalty when it allows them to be deported. Ironically, many opponents of comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship say that undocumented immigrants or legal resident immigrants facing deportation should "earn" citizenship by serving in our military. Guess what? They already are, and getting deported anyway.

The group "Banished Veterans" is working to stop the detention and deportation of immigrant veterans of the U.S. military, and bring home those who have already been banished to a country they didn't offer up their lives and blood to. Banished Veterans is collaborating with the National Lawyers Guild on a resolution asking that all immigrant veterans be automatically recognized as non-citizen nationals -- people who don't receive all the rights of citizenship, but owe permanent allegiance to America, and cannot be deported. And they need your help: support their cause by signing this petition to send a letter to Congress demanding a stop to these deportations.

These immigrant men and women offered up their lives for this country; the least we can do is show our respect by promising they will always have a home on our soil.

Related Action: Stop the Deportation of Immigrant Military Veterans


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